Stylish Storage Pieces for Living Spaces Shared with Kids

After becoming a parent, I quickly found out just how much stuff kids can accumulate. As our little guy became more mobile, our living room started to look more like a kid’s playroom and less like that stylish space that we always wanted.

Unfortunately, we are in a situation where we don’t have much of a choice but to have our living room double as our day-time playroom (especially in the winter when it is too cold for the parks and courtyard). Now I have no problem having the room look like a playroom while it is being used as a playroom. But based on my best approximation, over 80% of the time our living room is NOT serving as a playroom.


So what do we do to make sure that the collateral damage from the ~20% playroom use doesn’t carry through and make it impossible to feel like we still have our ‘adult’ space?

The real answer for us is not to avoid the playroom-aspect altogether – but rather to create a space that can quickly and easily convert from a playroom back into a stylish and sophisticated adult entertaining space when desired. This means storage, storage and more storage – and not just any storage, we need stylish storage options.

Here we’ll list out some types of storage options that we feel stand on their own merit in an adult space but will definitely help manage the clutter brought on by the kids. We will be posting on each of these in more detail providing some recommendations and inspiration images.

  • Storage Ottomans: we love storage ottomans – you probably have or need one anyway, they look great, provide a ton of storage space and provide easy access for the little ones to get to their toys. These also provide fully hidden and integrated storage – once you throw the toys in there and close it you’d never be any the wiser that there were toys all over the place just a few minutes ago.
  • Storage Coffee Tables and Side Tables: just like storage ottomans, these are pieces that you would probably utilize regardless of having kids. Getting a table (or set of tables) that hits on the key 4 factors (view prior post – style, safety, durability, storage) can provide that balance between kid-friendly and adult-style.


  • Bookcases: bookcases come in wide range of sizes and storage options. We prefer bookcases that have built-in cabinets at the bottom to provide some hidden storage and the ability to lock to keep the kids out as needed. Adding a bookcase is very dependent on the size and shape of your space so may not be an option for everyone. These can also provide some level of safety risks due to stability, falling objects, hard corners and kids trying to climb them.
  • Built-ins: this is the often-more-expensive relative of the bookcase but that custom built-in look is undeniably great. We still prefer to have some lower cabinets for that hidden storage and you lose some of the safety hazards (like stability and toppling) when opting for a built-in.
  • Baskets: a staple for parents, baskets provide the easiest and cheapest storage. The trade-off is that these are usually uncovered and don’t necessarily hide the kid’s stuff out of sight. But there are covered options and baskets can really look great when added to bookcases and built-in shelving. We do really want to avoid having open baskets full of toys in plain sight but that is still a work in progress over here.


  • Secretaries: another relative of the bookcase, a secretary can fit into a more traditional living space very nicely. These can double as a workspace for both adults and older kids. We have one in our apartment and it works great (with a surprising amount of hidden storage) but these are definitely not a style fit for everyone.
  • Chests: chests are great for toy storage (I know I had a great wooden toy chest growing up). For a living room these can look great and we would definitely go for the more antique/vintage chest look that doesn’t scream ‘toy chest.’ A chest could function nicely either against a wall or as a coffee table/ottoman. These do generally have hard edges and finger-pinching potential so be on the lookout for safety issues and age appropriateness.

The Top 4 Design Challenges when Sharing Space with Kids

You know the drill – you want to keep your living room looking sophisticated and chic but your kids (and all their  stuff) have other ideas.  You can fight back by focusing on these 4 key factors when designing or updating your space.


  • Style You don’t have to give up your personal style just because your kids are dominating your personal life.  We won’t lie – you may need to pivot your style in order to check off the other three key factors (for example if you love sharp corners and glass coffee tables you may need to rethink your approach when the little one starts moving).  But know what all style-conscious parent face this challenge.   Look for our posts tagged ‘Style‘ for inspiration.
  • Safety:  Nothing is more important than your child’s safety.  There are many factors to think about – chemicals, sharp corners, hard floors, small pieces, outlets, wires, furniture stability, fireplaces, among many others – and the  process of ‘childproofing’ can feel overwhelming.  Not to mention that the tighter safety criteria can severely limit your options when shopping.  We will explore these safety hazards, share resources we found helpful and touch on our own challenges along the way – look out for posts tagged ‘Kid Safety‘.
  • Durability:  Kids will definitely put the durability of your furniture to the test.  Are your couch cushions less ‘cushiony’ after daily jumping and fort building sessions?  Does your ottoman all of a sudden feature your child’s latest art endeavor?  Are there race-car lanes etched into your hardwood floor?  Hopefully you can answer “no” to these questions – but I’m sure many of us can’t.  Our posts tagged ‘Durability‘ will provide a little commiseration (i.e. disaster images) as well as some recommendations to ensure your space looks great throughout and despite all the wear and tear.
  • Storage:  One of the most surprising aspects of parenting for me so far is  the amount of ‘stuff’ that one little guy can accumulate.  We are constantly struggling with where to put it all and are always looking for the right storage solutions that work with our overall design.  Posts tagged as ‘Storage‘ will contain some ideas that we think work well to keep your kids stuff out of view but still accessible.