Quick — what’s the messiest room in your house? If you have kids, we’ll bet it’s their playroom.
Whether your kids keep their toys in their bedroom, a designated “playroom,” basement, or beyond, odds are high this area is a wreck. Sifting through massive piles of Lego blocks, books, stuffed animals, and army men jumbled together is enough to drive a parent mad.
The fix? Smart, good-looking storage options that organize toys while also creating an appealing space to play. But your ultimate goal: create a room that’s easy for your own children to pick up after themselves. It can be done!
“Having an accessible toy area is a great opportunity to teach kids about organization, routine, and being accountable for their own stuff,” explains Katie McCann, an organizing pro at Haven. This starts by clearly marking what goes where (use pictures if necessary) and making sure kids can reach the bins they need.
Of course, always keep safety in mind.
“Low, open-faced shelves ensure that the item won’t fall on a child if she decides to climb, and avoid hanging or wall shelves, which are notorious for coming loose when kids hang from them,” warns Marty Basher, an organizing expert with Modular Closets.
Read on for eight nifty ways to keep those toys in order.
1. Sturdy woven baskets
In a word: burlap (it’s tough). Or try a heavy-duty woven basket. Toy storage takes a beating and must be strong, say the pros.
Jeanine Boiko, a blogger at Okio B Designs, uses sturdy wicker baskets for her younger son’s stuffed animals.
“When he was a baby, we used a toy hammock to keep them handy but off the floor,” she notes.
McCann prefers a canvas tote to keep fluffy friends corralled.
“You can even fold ‘putting the animals to bed’ into your nightly routine so your child understands that toys are put away each day,” she says.
2. Chalk or cork wall
Sure, a kiddie easel is fine, but it takes up precious real estate. And while a type of wall isn’t exactly a storage option, it’s a way to keep artwork from piling up in the playroom.
Paintings and other scribbles can be pinned to a large piece of cork board, and kids can doodle all day on a chalk wall and not create a single piece of paper to store. (Bonus: Who doesn’t like the idea of drawing on the wall?)
“Cork and blackboards encourage creativity and a sense of pride at seeing their own artwork decorating the room,” says Rachael Sheridan, designer at Decorating Den Interiors—Kozar Design Team.
You could also string up a clothesline for hanging artwork, offers Julie Coraccio, the organizing pro at Reawaken Your Brilliance.
3. Plastic bins
Clear plastic tubs are lightweight (for easy access), and each will show what’s inside so your kid can get what he needs.
Boiko stores all of her boys’ Lego blocks in a big bin that lives under their air hockey table.
“They’re able to pull it out, dump it, to find what they need, and then everything goes back inside,” she says.
Basher notes that the plastic storage bins from Lowe’s or the Home Depot are the best for surviving rough play.
4. Book rack
Mounted book racks got more votes than the classic bookshelf in a kids playroom.
“You can customize it to fit your wall space, and displaying books this way makes them easy to pull out and replace,” says Sheridan. But be sure to count and measure your books before you commit to this option, and purge books on a regular basis to keep it neat.
5. 2-in-1 table
“Anytime you can use something for a dual purpose, you win—because you save time and money,” says Coraccio. And storage cubes, ottomans, and toy benches can grow with your child.
“Fill them with stuffed animals now, and then later on they can hold extra clothes and video game components,” adds Sheridan.
Hampers are often overlooked in a playroom, but keeping a couple on hand will supply you with an easy-to-move storage solution (and those with a lid keep items out of sight when not in use). Store large toys like dump trucks, musical instruments, and sports equipment.
7. Over-the-door rack
Door racks and shoe organizers are inexpensive ways to store toys, and because they hang unobtrusively, they’ll save you floor space. Pop in action figures, tiny dinosaurs, Barbie and her myriad outfits, little cars, Lego blocks, and art supplies.
8. Mason jars
Who doesn’t have a set of these jars lying around? Use them to corral small art gear like markers, colored pencils, crayons, paintbrushes, glue sticks, and scissors. Or just run a few pasta jars through the dishwasher to clean, and try those instead.