Great toy storage ideas for small spaces

November 3, 2020

I’m still working hard on our playroom makeover — so as we prepare to make some big changes, I’m sharing my some of my favorite toy storage ideas for small spaces.

Our playroom isn’t small, exactly, but it’s also not huge.

Here’s a recent photo of the space, which I took before we swapped out the area rug and did away with the table and chairs set:

modern colorful kids playroom

Not to mention the playroom is one of the first rooms you see when you walk through our front door, which is why I’ve spent so much time lately researching great toy storage ideas.

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The challenge: How to organize too many toys

First things first: We’ve got to talk about the elephant in the room.

It’s the fact that you probably have too many toys in your play area.

We’ve all been there. Here’s a “tidy” photo of our playroom that I snapped earlier this year.

There’s so much stuff.

colorful kids playroom design

If you’ve streamlined your children’s toys and have zero stray puzzle pieces or broken crayons laying around … I’m beyond impressed.

I am 100 percent guilty of having too many toys in our playroom.

And I’ve learned that you can’t effectively organize toys if you’re hanging onto things your kids no longer like or use.

That’s why my first piece of advice is to go through everything in your kids’ playroom, and decide what you love and what you no longer need.

Yep, take the LEGOs out of their bins, go through all those art supplies you shoved in that cabinet … look at everything in the room.

Create three piles: One of things your kids still use and love, one of things to donate or sell and one of stuff to toss in the garbage.

I’ve got an entire post on exactly how to declutter your kids’ playroom right here.

I try to do a playroom cleanout session every few months, and in the beginning of every decluttering session it does feel a little daunting. 

But once I start the decluttering process, I quickly begin to feel really good about streamlining the space and only holding onto the things my kids love.

How do you store toys in a playroom?

Now that you’ve figured out how to declutter the playroom, how do you store toys in a playroom?

There’s no “one size fits all” answer to this question, but after conducting lots of toy-purging sessions in my own home, it’s this:

Store toys in a way that will encourage your children to keep them organized.

In our case, that means keeping toy storage simple.

ikea toy storage and organization ideas 1

It means using wire or clear plastic storage bins so that my kids can actually see what’s in each container — meaning there’s no question about the fact that toy cars belong in one bin and train set pieces go in another. I’m working on replacing our opaque storage bins with clear ones, knowing that this will help us all be more organized. (I’m buying most of my new clear storage bins from this place.)

It means placing baskets or bins or puzzle boxes on shelves that are low to the ground so that your kids can reach them easily (and put them back in their place when they’re finished using them).

It means keeping toys separated by type as much as possible.

I don’t do a great job of this today other than categorizing our puzzles and board games, but it’s something I want to be better about because I think it’ll make it crystal clear to my kids where each of their toy “categories” belongs.

ikea toy storage and organization ideas 2

How you store toys in your own playroom might be different than our method, and that’s okay and expected. 

The whole point is to create a system that makes sense to you and encourages your kids to help keep the space tidy and organized.

What’s the best type of playroom storage?

Again, there’s no right or wrong answer here, and it really comes down to what will work well for the types of toys you have to store.

In our case, though, we’ve liked having a large cube organizer — our IKEA Kallax shelf — to store everything.

playroom before

I know that to some of you, this seems like it’ll take up way too much space in your room.

But the beauty of this shelving unit is that it uses your vertical wall space wisely. You can store a lot of stuff on this bad boy without taking up too much square footage.

ikea toy storage and organization ideas 3

I use the lower shelves to store the items that the kids are free to play with at any time.

Think puzzles, building blocks and LEGOs.

I try to use the middle shelves to store toys that require some supervision — like board games that require multiple people (AKA a parent or two).

The highest shelves are used to store the things that they absolutely need an adult for, like complicated board games or my daughter’s favorite science experiment kit for kids. 

ikea toy storage and organization ideas 4

I am also a big fan of storage cabinets, because sometimes there are toys that are really hard to keep organized and it’s better when, quite frankly, you can close a door and not have to stare at everything.

This is how I feel about craft supplies, for example.

We have a ton of craft kits and other supplies and I keep it all in a closed cabinet.

See that left-hand media cabinet in our family room? The one with the orange lamp on it?

It looks inconspicuous, I know — but it’s where I store all the kids’ craft supplies. (Shhh, don’t tell anyone!)

My favorite toy storage ideas for small spaces

There are a lot of clever ways you can store toys even if you’re short on space.

My favorite ideas — all of which work equally well in a playroom or family room — include:

Cube shelving

I love cube shelving for all the reasons I mentioned above.

Plus, cube shelving comes in enough colors and finishes that it can work seamlessly with any decor style.

Media cabinets

Nope, media cabinets aren’t just for your cable box anymore.

Just like we did in our family room, use media cabinets for storing toys — nobody will ever know there’s kid stuff in there!

These are the exact white media cabinets we have in our family room.

Storage coffee tables and ottomans

Speaking of nobody knowing your kid stuff is stashed inside the furniture, coffee tables and ottomans that offer storage are amazing.

Our hammered metal coffee table (pictured below) has storage — the lid comes off.

I’ve also got an entire post on the best family-friendly coffee tables, many of which have storage.

You can read my post all about the best family-friendly coffee tables right here!

colorful traditional family room

Think outside the box when it comes to toy storage.

Toy storage doesn’t have to look like a brightly colored bookshelf or a big toy bin with a character on it.

Choose storage options that fit more seamlessly into your decor style — you’ll be happy with the aesthetics, and your kids will have beautifully organized stuff.

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Love these small space toy storage ideas!

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About Kate

Hey! I’m Kate — I love decorating with color and pattern. I also love finding decorating “easy” buttons: quick DIYs, simple organization hacks and amazing steals at Target.

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