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No More Clutter!

A Calm Bedroom

A pristine kid's room may be an impossible dream, but one that's presentable  -- even neat  -- is achievable. The key is making it easy for your little one to help pick up. And that means streamlining the room's contents, says Pauline Hatch. Start with the obvious: Shelves and drawers will turn into dumping grounds unless you divide and conquer the stuff.

Group similar items, such as hair bows, in SMALL BINS OR BASKETS to be placed inside a dresser or a desk drawer. Egg cartons and oblong pencil holders are also handy for little things. Chris Kerridge, of Lone Tree, CO, says cleanup has gotten faster and treasures have stayed safer  -- and dust-free  -- since she began using the zippered clear plastic bags that bedding is sold in to contain 6-year-old Cody's Pokemon cards and Matchbox cars.

Have your child turn shoe boxes into catchalls with markers, construction paper, and glue. (To make it easy for little ones to remember what goes inside, tape a picture of the contents on the side of the box.) These containers can find a home under a bed or on a shelf.

If there's room, put a low BOOKSHELF inside your child's closet, or try an assortment of the bright plastic STACKING BOXES found at home stores.

As in the family room, put larger toys in plastic bins and books in tubs. A toy net hung in the corner of the room can keep stuffed animals off the floor. Put outgrown toys in a lidded bin or an old PACKING BOX and store it on a high shelf, until they're ready for a younger child or the charity pile.

Install decorative wall shelving. Kids love to see their treasures displayed; it's the perfect, out-of-the-way spot for that ceramic music box, porcelain baby cup, and other fragile toys.

Try a hanging shelf unit for clothes. And for bulky items like a bathrobe, tutu, or firefighter's hat and coat, install kid-height PEGS.

Set out an easy-access hamper to encourage kids to deposit their dirty duds; also try a corner-shaped WICKER BASKET or plastic laundry basket.