Stuffed animals in every corner, LEGO bricks underfoot, crayons run amok: if your house is anything like ours, it’s toy chaos. Now’s the time to try out a few clever toy storage solutions. We’ve rounded up genius playroom storage hacks guaranteed to organize toys and more importantly—your life. Whether your house is being overtaken by art supplies or your headaches are caused by board games, we have a solution for you!
In the Bag
Problem: Too many LEGO, not enough time to sort them all.
Solution: If we're being honest, we know that even the best laid out LEGO organization system is no match for a kid who isn't in a hurry to pick up and put away. It's difficult to keep bricks color-coded or grouped by type or set. Everything—eventually—winds up mixed all together, so make it easy on yourself by ordering a few Swoop Bags. These bags have a six-inch edge to help contain small pieces, are offered in small, medium, or large (this one doubles as an activity mat), and you can choose between all sorts of fun colors like royal blue, green grass, sunshine and Seattle gray. Basically, it's a storage and carryall solution in one!
Bonus: It comes with an easy pull-cord that doubles as a carrying strap.
Hang In There
Problem: A hoard of stuffed animals is crowding your kid out of her bed
Solution: Stuffed animals have a tendency to multiply quicker than rabbits. Organize toys with a soft hammock for a good night's sleep. After you put up a brightly colored toy hammock in a bedroom corner, like this one from Together in Love ($40), you'll have a place to put your little one's second, third, and fourth-best lovies to snuggle all night. Plus, you can pick a color that will match your child's room. If you can crochet, you can find a free pattern and make your own.
Paper or Plastic
Sometimes we just want to throw all of our kids' toys in bags and be done with them. Now we can with this clever recycled storage bag perfect for organizing playrooms. We love this cute DIY storage bag from Hello Wonderful because it's easy to make, and it makes a one-stop spot for loose toys. All you need is a few paper bags, some paint, and the instructions over at Hello Wonderful.
Problem: Toys jumbled together in one bin.
Solution: Playroom storage solutions with individual bins, like this Ikea TROFAST unit, are fantastic - until the time comes to put each toy in its proper place. Who can remember which bin holds toy cars, and which one is just for dominoes? Luckily, there's an easy way to organize toys: order a custom set of vinyl labels from Made by Sunni (from $3.50). They're sturdy, and the pictures make it easy for pre-readers to figure out what goes where.
Problem: You can never find a pencil when you need it
Solution: Pencils and markers rolling all over the place? Set up a study station with a lazy susan carousel ($19.99). With six storage spots, you'll have a home for sharpened pencils, erasers, markers, and more. We love that these clear storage spots can do double duty as craft central: think puff balls, paint brushes and paints.
Problem: Inspire kids to put tiny LEGO pieces away.
Solution: There’s no denying that stepping on them is painful. But parents know that getting kids to clean up those devilish pieces can be equally as painful. Give them a reason to sort and store their favorite building blocks with these functional LEGO storage bins you can find at the Container Store ($27.99 ea.). Drawers easily pull out to maximize storage, even when they’re stacked.
Problem: You’re drawing a blank on loose craft supply storage.
Solution: If keeping track of loosey-goosey art supplies at your craft station has you re-thinking just how important art is to your kiddo, follow the lead of blogger Tiffany at Raising Lemons. She takes an in-sight-in mind approach to storing art supplies that couldn’t be any cuter. Looks like it’s time to hit the dollar store to track down candy jars ASAP!
Problem: It’s too hard to find board games in the game cupboard
Solution: Your kids love to play. It’s no wonder you have so many games in your game closet. But short of pulling them out one by one, it’s hard for the kids to find what they’re looking for. That’s why we love this simple game board storage idea that doubles as playroom art, developed by Beckie at Infarrantly Creative. Find out how to get double duty from your board games here.
Problem: Sticks, stones and shells need a spot in your home.
Solution: It’s inevitable. Every time you and your kids go for a walk around the neighborhood, at the beach or in the forest, they come back with plenty of Nature they just can’t live without. Short of tossing these treasured finds when no one is looking, you can display them instead. A spare clear glass vase lets your kids look in on their finds whenever they want, and leaves room for every rock, stick and shell they’ve yet to find.
Problem: Stuffies multiplying at an uncontrollable pace.
Solution: It's been the default gift from relatives since your kid was a newborn. Now, all of those stuffed animals are gathering dust. A kiss here or a hug there is about as much playtime that these plushies get. But isn't it funny how our littles know exactly when one is missing? To make everyone happy, try this stuffed animal storage bag by Boon ($29.99). Instead of just taking up space, you can store tons of stuffed animals in this soft bag, which doubles as a comfy seat.
Problem: Stuffed animals migrate throughout the house
Solution: Sure, they all start out in the right place, but for some reason, you seem to find stuffies in every corner of your home. Store them in a rolling cart and you’ve got an easy pick-up solution for the stuffed animal lover in your house. Call clean up time, then have your kiddo make the rounds, returning everyone safely to the nest. Roll the cart under a bed or into the closet to finish the job.
Problem: Flimsy cardboard puzzle boxes lead to lost and mismatched pieces.
Solution: We're not sure why, but this hanging closet organizer, while great in theory, rarely gets used for its intended purpose. If that's the case at your house, take a cue from the Money Saving Sisters and repurpose the space taker as a puzzle organizer—they're in the box, they're off the floor, and they're easy to sort through.
Bonus: You can also use the closet organizer to tame those board games.
Read All About It
Problem: Favorite bedtime reads are hard to find stuffed into a bookshelf.
Solution: Tots love books, and they love to pick out their own books during story time. Bookshelves can be too tall (and dangerous if you have a climber on your hands), so your best bet is to keep your little one's literature at eye level. This easy-to-make book swing makes book selection a walk in the park. For how-to instructions, visit the Penny Carnival blog.
Under the Bed
Problem: Too many LEGO, not enough space!
Solution: Outta sight, outta mind, is what you’re looking for all those hundreds of little LEGO pieces. You want a clean look. Whether you’re dealing with a small space or just want to maximize playable square footage, this DIY under the bed LEGO storage option designed by The Happy Housie will make things easy. Just load them in and slide for quick, clean storage option.
Store That Sword
Problem: Your knight has nowhere to put his sword
Solution: Poor knights, wizards and Jedi. It’s so hard to store their most prized possessions with any sort of semblance. But you can easily re-purpose a plastic bag dispenser, like this one from Ikea ($2.99), for the job. Simply mount it in a closet or zip tie it to a bedpost to keep swords, wands and light sabers safely secured...just like magic!
Problem: Bedtime buddies and books don’t have any place to sleep
Solution: You’ve finally gotten your kids settled in for the night. They’ve drunk all the water, checked the closet for all the monsters and they’re about ready to fall asleep when they realize …”Oh! This book! It needs shelving!” Help them stay put with an over the bed rail organizer ($11.99). It’s the perfect spot to put all the things once their eyes are getting heavy.
Problem: Puzzle boxes breakdown with so much use.
Solution: Your kids love to pull out puzzle after puzzle and piece them together. But with so much use, their cardboard storage boxes get beat up and losing pieces is bound to happen. Move your puzzles to plastic food storage containers that’ll hold up under repeated use and include a cut out of the puzzle on the front. If you’re feeling fancy, add a label with the important details—like age range and the number of pieces.
Problem: The baby dolls have more clothes than you do.
Solution: Keeping doll clothes fresh and wrinkle-free isn't easy when they're stuffed in the bottom of the toy bin (or in a plastic baggie). Store and display the cute threads by fitting a bamboo stick or wooden dowel through the side of a plastic laundry basket. Ta-da!
Zip It Up
Problem: Magnetic dolls desperately seeking storage.
Solution: Whether your crew loves magnetic dress-up dolls, has loose tangram pieces, or can’t quite find the right place to keep their felt board figures, zippable pouches ($17.88) should do the trick. Buy a bunch, label them clearly, then hand them out at clean up time. Once they’re full, tuck them away in a storage box, cupboard or bin. It’s the easiest way to keep those loose pieces of your kid’s favorites together!
Problem: The bath toys rival bubbles for space in your tub.
Solution: Bath time at your place is all about fun. And that means toys, toys, toys. Whether they squirt or spray, they come out of the tub dripping wet just like your kid. Keep them out of reach while they drip dry before the next round with this cute and surprisingly simple idea dreamed up by 8FootSix. All you need is a hanging fruit bowl to get the job done!
Easy Crayon Caddy
Problem: Crayons are found all over, in various nooks and crannies.
Solution: Your coloring cutie may be a Picasso in the making, but all is for naught when a specific crayon color has gone missing. Help keep your kid organized by making an adorable DIY crayon caddy, explained by How Stuff Works. Simply cover a tissue or sandwich bag box with dot stickers and drop the crayon collection inside. The box is the perfect size for small hands and the perfect solution for frustrated parents.
Problem: There are a bazillion toy cars strewn everywhere. Traffic jam!
Solution: Clearing the toy car traffic jam is a cinch by making a pint-sized parking garage that doubles as a carrier and storage case. This brilliant solution from Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls is made from a wooden crate, cardboard, and poster size cardboard tube mailers. And, that's it! Find out how to make your own here, then watch your little ones fill'er up and get to vroom-vrooming.
Calling All Superheros
Problem: Fitting all those capes, masks and tights into a tight space.
Solution: When it comes to playing dress up, your kid has tons of gear. And it’s hard to sort through it all crammed into a box or plastic storage bin. For moments when your kid needs to spring into action without delay, try this sweet IKEA hack, thought up by Emily over at Small Fry Blog. She’s all about easy access to everything your kid needs to save the day!
Keep it Rolling
Problem: Your car is competing with balls for space in the garage.
Solution: Whether your athlete is into soccer, baseball, basketball or volleyball, it’s time to get your balls in order! You can invest in a simple-to-hang storage basket like this Rubbermaid ($23.48), or you can try your hand at DIY-ing one for just a few bucks. Learn how to put one together at 100 Things 2 Do. Now your car can sleep easy.
Problem: Barbie, Ken and friends are looking for a place to crash.
Solution: Your kid will be able to locate the Black Panther, Ironman or Barbie and her friends courtesy of this storage idea that has made its way around the Pinterest universe. An over-the-door shoe organizer is all it takes for your kiddo's favorite action figures, plastic dolls, or small stuffed animals to take up residence in an organized fashion. And when the door's open, these guys and gals are out of sight, out of mind.
Problem: Loom bracelet bands lurk around every corner
Solution: Once your crafter has opened that baggie of loom bands, it’s like they multiply right before your eyes. And keeping track of them once they’re out of the bag? Forget about it! Use a craft organizer to keep them at bay. Bonus points if it has movable dividers so you can fit the loom and tools in there too!
Problem: You’re feeling derailed by the surplus of wooden train tracks.
Solution: Storing Thomas and his friends is one thing. But tackling the never-ending wooden track they travel on … well, that takes real creativity. Thanks to the Play-Trains! blog, parents can look as smart as their kids feel when they use a simple IKEA hack during cleanup time. Ikea's SKUBB box with different compartments just right for holding different train track pieces.
Problem: Kiddie ride-ons need a garage of their own
Solution: As far as you're concerned, you’re ready to build your tot her own garage to store her cars, trikes, scooters and more. Before you submit your building plan to the city, check out this much easier DIY option from Sara at Mom Endeavors. What you can build in an afternoon will take care of your kiddie car storage problems forever—well, at least until she gets her license.
—Oz Spies & Allison Sutcliffe
Feature photo: iStock