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My 3 key principles to (almost magically) organize your kids' toys

Since March, we’ve been collectively dealing with the pandemic for over FOUR months now. It’s been waves of shelter in place orders and closed schools and day cares. That means four months of having everyone at home full time, four months of keeping up with housework (which is even more time consuming because everyone is home ALL THE TIME), and four months wrangling kids to keep their areas cleaned up - sometimes multiple times a day!

And if you’re anything like me, you’ve been buying a few new toys here and there to try and keep your kids occupied while you’re simultaneously trying to do a zoom call with your colleagues. And now, every time you look away for more than 2 seconds, there’s a new toy that’s been pulled out, played with, and tossed aside. It’s enough to make anyone crazy!

I have two small boys, and they have piles of Legos, Magnatiles (if you don’t have these yet, finish reading this post and then go and get some!) and Paw Patrol vehicles. Couple that up with my own personal tendency to be OCD about keeping my house not only clean but organized, and you’ve got a recipe for conflict.

Except that it doesn’t have to be.

"A good system shortens the road to the goal" - Orrison Swett Marden

When my oldest was able to start to sit up and crawl around, all of his toys could fit in this lovely little basket that we had in our playroom.

As time went on, and we added another child to the mix, and the toys grew -- exponentially! We knew that we needed a solution to keep their things organized, and out of our daily living spaces.

Realizing that not everyone has the space for a separate playroom, there are still lots of key strategies for "toy management." Part of that is regular purging of toys and donating them to younger cousins or charities.

But after 5 years of contending with toys that are played with regularly, here are three principles that I use to create family-friendly spaces that allow the toys to (almost!) organize themselves:

  1. Close it up!

  2. Show it off!

  3. Use (gasp!) adult furniture

I'm going to share my organization strategies and give you a few of my favorite pieces from my projects. These pieces gracefully corral clutter, and can be used in playrooms, family rooms, living rooms, bedrooms and finished basements.

Close it Up!

When you have those open bin organizer sets, sure, you can store your kids toys there, but, you’re going to see every Lego, My Little Pony, and Buzz Lightyear figure. And no matter how they’re sorted, they still are going to look like this:

It's OK, but we can do better friends.

Closed Storage Units

We have the KALLAX unit in our home, and I love it!

There are different sizes and colors, so you can easily choose a unit that meets your needs.

The key to making this SUPER functional are the bins (here’s a grey flannel one, but there are many more options) and doors that provide closed storage. I outfitted ours with a mix of doors and natural seagrass bins. Trust me when I tell you that there are LOT of toys behind those doors!

Classic toy chests

The classic toy chest hides those larger toys that may not fit neatly in a bin. I love this classic version from Pottery Barn Kids with the added details of leather handles.

Show it Off!

Does your little one have a collection of Star Wars figures, favorite Barbies, or piles of beloved books? Get them up off of the floor and turn them into a curated collection! Do you notice how the books are neatly lined up on the reclaimed wood bookshelves?

What’s part of the appeal of heading to a brick and mortar bookstore? Being able to see everything on display! Here’s a shelf that’s practically made for displaying books – it has the perfect lip on the edge to hold them in place:

And imagine this shelving unit with a collection of your child's favorite stuffed animals!

One of my clients put up "tracks" on her playroom wall to allow her boys to organize all of their matchbox cars. They have fun lining up all of their cars, and the playroom gets cleaned up. Genius!

Use (gasp!) Adult Furniture

Media consoles and sideboards

Not every storage solution needs to specifically be kids furniture! Try out a sideboard or media console – with all of the closed storage, you can fit a LOT in there. Just make sure that the doors are solid (no glass) and that the space isn't chopped into a lot of little tiny drawers.

Ottomans and tables with secret compartments

Don’t forget your seating doubling as storage – check out this ottoman that has hidden storage capacity! Bonus that you can choose from a variety of fabrics!

Look for other furniture like this coffee table that has hidden storage inside!

Those are my 3 key principles to organizing and concealing toys in your home! Now if anyone has tips on how to shorten bedtime from a 2 hour process, I'd really appreciate it. ;)

Some of our favorite projects are designing spaces that incorporate lots of family-friendly storage options! Reach out today at and let's start your project!

Stay well friends,


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