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The question

We share our living room with a two-year-old. Do you have a favourite method for organizing (i.e., concealing) toys that is both grown-up-looking and child-friendly?

The answer

I am a firm believer that people should make kids adapt to the rules, as opposed to childproofing a house. That means learning to use the word "no" and, at the same time, teaching children manners. It is unbelievable how many children today have the worst table etiquette and don't know the difference between playrooms and formal rooms. This is more confusing if your formal room is also the playroom, so, to avoid therapy down the road for both you and them, enroll the kids in a manners class to teach them how to treat one's surroundings and fellow playmates with respect.

Show them, too, how to conceal their toys. They can store them, for example, in beautiful boxes that can be slid underneath the valances of the sofas or in an armoire. And enforce the rule that, when the toys are not in view, the room is not a playroom. It also helps if you make playing in the living room special: Spread a blanket on the floor and have a picnic together (while also saving the carpet). Ultimately, lead by example: Instead of telling them how to play, show them how to play by playing with them, no cellphone allowed.

Follow architect and interior designer Dee Dee Taylor Eustace on Twitter: @ddtaylorddd. Have a design dilemma? E-mail