swellmama, about the basement space - I'm not tempted at all to use it for more - and I love having that space almost completely empty. When we had toys and things down there I often didn't make it down there during my "morning rounds" to see what messes had been made and deal with them. I tried assigning the kids to that space and it didn't work very well. Now, if they use something down there, it's generally not much - they use that space for running and climbing and jumping but I prefer to keep the messy and small-pieces-play up near the kitchen so I can keep track of what's going on and stay on top of cleanup.
I don't let my kids have free access to art/craft stuff except for paper and drawing pencils (and, recently, crayons). Too much potential for mess and destruction with my kids. I learned this the hard way. I have all our other art/craft stuff on a bookshelf in small tubs in the garage right outside the kitchen, a remnant from the days when I had to "lock" up messy and dangerous stuff or my boys would decorate the walls, furniture, etc. This is also why our knife block is on top of the fridge!!
DBZ – what part of MA are you from? (Curious, as I'm near the MA border and grew up in MA). About house size…our house feels TOO BIG. I know that probably sounds ridiculous to someone with a really small house, but it's true. Maybe when I have teens I will reconsider, but with smaller kids I think for my family 1500-1800 would be a much better size. We are planning to downsize in a few years anyway (buy land and build a smaller house) so I am thinking in terms of living in a smaller space anyway. I have tried to centralize our "space use" to the kitchen/living/dining rooms (also my desk is in the office, and the boys have some things in their room). I also encourage my kids to play outside a lot. Not sure if that helps...
monkeyprincess, about the cabinets in laundry room...the cat litter is under the sink. My seed-starting and gardening supplies fill a lot of the cabinet space, and some canning supplies also. And our "pool stuff" (we have a pool) - goggles, pool toys, etc. The highest cabinet has my cleaning supplies and one drawer holds my Scooba. Puzzles are in one cabinet. The cabinet above the sink has all the DVDs and VHS videos (because when the kids were little they would help themselves and damage them if I didn't store them out of reach). Um, what else? Re-useable grocery bags, which I mostly use for scooping the cat litter into. That sounds like a lot but actually some of the cabinet shelves are completely empty. I'm trying to wean myself from using that space in anticipation of living with less storage space.
I should disclose that we use our garage for storage and right now it's full of some big things I'm planning to sell in the spring (crib, filing cabinets, strollers, changing table, etc). We could fit our cars in the garage if we got rid of that stuff (a major accomplishment - I've gotten rid of 75% or more of the stuff that used to be in the garage). Also we have a small shed where I store all sizes of kids' clothes and shoes in tubs, plus our camping gear.
I want to say again that the pics I posted are really and truly of the normal state of my house after a short tidy-up in the morning. Less than 1/2 hour and my house really looks like that, without hiding things in closets or boxes or under the bed....like I used to...LOL!
I hope you don't mind me writing so much about my stuff. I feel like I've gotten this to work and I want to share! I've gotten so many good ideas in this forum, I want to pay it forward.