Names & Ages: Phia, 12 and Anthony, 5
Location: Yonkers, NY
Room Size: Approximately 200sf
Sara has a knack for organizing and zero tolerance for clutter. Both of these traits are clearly evident in Phia and Anthony's shared bedroom. It's no easy task to divide a room between a twelve-year-old girl and her five- year-old brother but a combination of cleverly arranged shelving units, distinctive paint colors and a few good-natured children make it all work wonderfully.
How would you describe the look and feel of this room? Open, private, combined and separate all at once. Full of things my kids love; art, collections and knick knacks. Colorful and bright, but not completely out of sync with the rest of the apartment.
What is your favorite piece or element? The Ikea Expedit shelving unit we used as the room divider has been the most successful idea to date. I love that it gives each of them a place to display who they are and offers functional storage and as well privacy. The height allows natural light throughout the entire space and the piece itself can be customized and changed along with the kids needs.
What was the biggest challenge decorating this room? So far the biggest challenge has been floor space and storage. The kids do not have dressers, instead they have customized Elfa closet systems and some drawers incorporated into the Expedits for smaller clothing items. Also, everything has a place to be put away. Small spaces tend to clutter up easily so we all, even Anthony, pick up every night before bed. Privacy is our next big challenge ... 12 year old girls spend a lot of time in their rooms, and 5 year old little brothers are usually not invited.
Do you have any advice for parents creating a room for two children? Keep the furniture pieces simple, clean lines and neutral colors, if possible try to incorporate a second use/life for each piece, for instance the loft bed can grow from a play space to a desk space underneath.
It is important to be flexible--if something isn't working, change it. I started out with open shelving and large toy bins for Anthony and it was always a mess and hard for him to navigate, so we bought a second Expedit shelf for his toys and books and it is working out so much better. Also, Phia had a beautiful, but huge, Victorian Cast Iron Bed that proved to be a space hog, so back to the California frame that came with the mattress set.
If you are not dividing the room, the way I have, then make sure that each kid's personality is clearly defined by something; different bedding or even personalized art work is great. This is their space and they have to feel it!
Edit, Edit, Edit! Small spaces require organization and constant editing. Kids can accumulate a lot of stuff, be mindful of what comes in, keep an eye and what is actually played with and purge seasonally.
If money were no object, what's your dream source? If money were no object I would hire a carpenter to build a six foot high partition wall with a pocket door, built-in window seat and floor to ceiling bookshelves. I would still do all my shopping at Ikea, Target, tag sales and consignment because I love the process of finding it and making it all work together.
Where do you look to for ideas and inspiration? The pegboard truck storage is particularly clever. I am always thinking about how to make things easier and more accessible. I have ideas, try them out and see what happens. The Bruder Trucks became an issue last year. My boys (husband & son) love to get Bruders for Christmas, they have 9 so far. I was cleaning up one day and thought that they were like little sculptures and should be displayed not put in a toy box. The peg board was already up on the divider for privacy but we were not using it for anything and I thought we should, so I went to the hardware store, bought the hooks and it worked. I have expanded the pegboard storage by using garage/work shop baskets for little doo-dads like Bakugans and Transformers.
How do you see this room evolving as your kids get older? The kids' room changes all of the time, the space lends itself to change. We moved things around last weekend to give Anthony the 2nd TV. Anthony's space will probably change the most going forward; he will need a desk in the next few years and won't have as many big toys. Phia wants to rearrange her furniture every other day so really who knows.
To what or to who do you attribute your organizational prowess? Prowess? Limited space and funds, necessity? Not sure, I just know when something doesn't work and can usually immediately see a way to make it work better without spending a bunch of money. I like things orderly and neat because I HATE to waste time looking for things. So add limited time to the above answer. Once you put in the work to get it organized keeping it organized requires very little effort.
Your business obviously spills over into your home life. Can you describe it in a few sentences? Simplify by Sara is a small company based in Yonkers, New York offering cleaning, organizing & de-cluttering solutions, with a focus on "green" options. The goal of SbS is to find a place for everything whether we decide to keep it or not, and to be accessible to all income levels. Organization, great use of space and good design is not just for the wealthy.
Paint Colors: Benjamin Moore Antique White, Feel the Energy (green) & Authentic Pink
Shelving Units, Loft Bed, Desk, Chair: Ikea
Autographed Derek Jeter Photo Montage: Fred R. Conrad (one of one signed by DJ for a charity auction)
TV Stand & Elfa Closet Systems: The Container Store
Trucks: Bruder Toys
Handmade Folk Art & Cross Stitch: Grandma & Grandpa Peluso
Thanks Sara for sharing your cleverly arranged room and your insights on space and organization. Sara has her own blog, Simplify by Sara, where she shares tips and offers inspiration. It's also where you can find information on her consultation and organizational services.
(Images: Brad Trent)