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Calm Bedrooms

A child's bedroom isn't just a haven for afternoon tea parties and secret outer space missions. Although kids' imaginations undoubtedly take up a lot of space, it's the weight of clothing run rampant that will eventually drive both of you insane. The key is making it easy for your little one to help pick up. And that means streamlining the room's contents. To keep your feet on the ground  -- and the clothes off of it  -- make use of these easy organization essentials to create an organized kids' room like you've never imagined.

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.

Reconsider dressers for small children. "Drawers can be frustrating because kids can't see what's underneath the top layer, and every extra step makes it harder for them," says Sheila McCurdy, owner of Clutter Stop, in Uplands, California. Instead, store preschoolers' clothes in milk crates labeled with pictures of pants, shirts, dresses, and underwear to help youngsters find what they need.

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.

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.

Some quick fixes:

* Hooks installed on the inside of the door can hold frequently used items like jackets, hats, or pajamas

* Wire baskets that slide out let kids see and get at underwear, socks, and folded clothes. (Out-of-season clothes can go on top.) A good option if hanging clothes only take up half the closet

* A dresser can be moved into the closet for more floor space in bedroom

* Hanging rods can be hard for children to reach. Reserve the higher bar for out-of-season, rarely worn, and to-grow-into clothing. Then install a second, lower one (you can also buy an extender rod that attaches directly to the high rod at housewares stores) so the clothes your child currently wears are at her level

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