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Fact: Living with kiddos means living with their toys. Although it’s not realistic for toys to be neatly hidden away at all times in a living room that looks like it belongs in a magazine, there are some great design tricks out there to mitigate toy clutter. (Check out AT’s sister site, Cubby, for TONS of inspo for living, decorating, organizing, and cleaning with kids.)

Homeowner and mother of four Stephanie Barnett’s basement was (understandably) taken over by kid’s toys for three years until she decided to take storage matters into her own hands.

“I have never been able to execute toy storage with functionality and style,” she explains. “I have tried the open shelving, the bookcases, the bins and baskets, but it always looked too cluttered for my anxious mind.”

“After measuring the space (and memorizing the IKEA website) I finally had created a sketch that combined several IKEA pieces with a butcher block desk,” Stephanie says. She ordered and assembled the furniture (a combination of IKEA’s PAX, BILLY, HEMNES, BERGSBO, and KOMPLEMENT pieces), and then her husband tagged in to create platforms, attach the furniture to the walls, trim around the furniture, install the shiplap, mount the TV, re-wire the outlets, cover their water shut-off valve, hang the floating desk, and mount the light fixtures. (Whew!)

“I wildly underestimated the electrical work component to this project, but my husband critically problem solved those roadblocks,” Stephanie says. “There are still a few stray big toy items that cannot fit in the drawers or cabinets, but overall it has the perfect mix of functionality, open space, and design I was craving.”

If she could change one thing about the project, it would be to add some color to the cabinetry, which is now painted white (Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace) to match the walls. “I love the look of having a bold, monochromatic look for built-ins,” she says.

As for Stephanie’s gorge green sofa? It’s an IKEA find as well: an ERKTOP and matching ottoman with a green velvet cover. Her blue sofa is from Wayfair, and everything else is a Craigslist find. Because Stephanie used secondhand and low-price finds, she was able to keep costs for the redo to around $2000.

“I am most proud of seeing my vision come to life,” Stephanie says. “Of course, buying a new, shiny, beautiful home would be lovely, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the process of seeing the potential in a space and watching it emerge.”

Her advice for future DIYers? “I would encourage everyone to accept their limitations, embrace the process, and be thankful for the space you have been given because it likely is a privilege to even be contemplating a DIY,” she says.

Sarah Everett

Editorial Assistant

Sarah is Apartment Therapy’s editorial assistant. She recently completed her MA in journalism at the University of Missouri and has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Belmont University. Past writing and editing stops include HGTV Magazine, Nashville Arts Magazine, and several outlets local to her hometown, Columbia, Missouri.