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Game-Changing Toy Storage Ideas From a Mom of Seven

Christmas has come and gone and that probably means your house has a number of new toys. If your house is looking like the local toy store blew up, I’ve got a ton of toy organizer tips to help you out!

It’s time to head into the new year with an organized toy solution.

As a mom of seven children, ranging in ages from 1 -13, you can bet that we have a large variety of toys in our home! Here are my best tips for organizing your kids’ toys. I know it can feel like a monumental task, but it’s so worth it when you have a good toy organizational plan. Let’s go!

Choose the Best Toy Storage Solution You Can Afford that Fits Your Space

I get it. We don’t all have the same budgets when it comes to toy storage. Our family is not wealthy although we are in better shape financially now than when we had our first baby.

Over time, my budget for toy storage has expanded and with that, I’ve been able to expand my toy organizational capabilities.

We’ve also lived in homes of varying square footage. We’ve lived in homes with playrooms and we’ve lived in homes without them.

No matter what your situation is, I’m here to help you find a toy storage solution that works for you!

I’m going to show you some examples of what we’ve used over the years and the budgets you’ll need for each of those options.

Toy Storage Options

There are quite a few different ways to organize your kids’ toys. As a mom of 6, I’ve probably tried them all! I’m going to break down the different options that are out there and our experience with them.

Toy Boxes

I’m going to be honest and say that for the most part, toy boxes (sometimes called toy chests) are my least favorite way to organize toys. Things tend to just get thrown into them and they become a big mess very quickly.

We started with 2 toy boxes when we just had 2 kids. What I noticed very quickly was that after everything got thrown into the box, it was such a jumbled mess that my kids couldn’t find all of the pieces to the toy they were trying to play with.

Messy Toys

Personally, I don’t recommend buying them. IF you already have one (like we do), there are still good ways to utilize them.

  1. Use toy boxes if they are the big plastic kind outside for storing balls and other outdoor toys. They are great for this, especially if you have a covered porch or garage where you can put it.
  2. Use toy boxes to store dress-up clothes. We are currently living in a smaller rental house with limited space and doing this with our big plastic toy box.
  3. Use toy boxes to store stuffed animals.
  4. IF you need to use your toy box to store toys, you need to have them organized into resuable bags or small containers, like plastic shoe boxes.

Use Bare Wall Space

Your walls can be a great place for storing toys and costumes! In my boys’ room at our old house, we created one of these NERF Gun Walls quickly and easily on a Saturday morning.

They LOVED it. They loved it so much in fact, that it encouraged them to keep their guns picked up!

They loved hanging them back on their wall to admire and show off. (Check out our DIY How To Build A Nerf Gun Wall Post for easy instructions on how to make your own!)

How To Build A DIY Dart Gun Weapon Wall {Instructions}

We moved a few months later and haven’t put it back up yet, only because we’re currently living in a small rental home and just don’t have the wall space, plus we didn’t want to put any holes in the wall.

We’re hoping to move again soon though and this will for sure go back on the wall then!

Consider Non-Typical Storage Items That Can Be Repurposed

In the meantime, I purchased a tall metal hamper that has worked well for storing the NERF guns, swords, lightsabers, a stick horse, etc.

I felt great about this purchase because once they no longer need it for NERF items, we can continue to use the basket for laundry.

A tall metal hamper used to store boys toy guns, swords, and other similiar items.

I also used Command Hooks to create an area for them to hang their many costumes and capes at our old home. This made it easy for them to access their costumes and put them away when they were done.

Plus, when we ended up moving a few months later, it was easy to take it down.

Kids costumes hung on the wall using command hooks. How to Organize Kid's toys

As a side note, I love Command Hooks for organizing in kid’s rooms! They are also great for hanging things like bathrobes, hats, backpacks, coats, ect.

You can even use them as an easy place for kids to hang clothes they are taking off but will wear again (because we know otherwise it’s going on the floor or in the laundry).

Another great idea I’ve seen is to use a shoe organizer. Hang it inside of your child’s closet to organize small dart guns and bullets, Barbies, toy cars, and other toys like that.

Clear Pull-Out Drawer Toy Storage

When my budget was less, I bought this set of two 3-drawer Sterilite Storage Carts and put them together. By combining them I didn’t lose valuable floor/wall space.

organize your child's toys

I’m going to be honest though that once you start adding a lot of heavy toys to the drawers, it starts to take a toll on the unit. The drawers were tougher to open and the plastic frame definitely sagged at times under the weight.

That being said, we still have these drawers years later and they are still useful for storage. We’re currently using them to store winter gear in, but I’ve used them for multiple things over the years.

This is not my favorite toy storage solution but it is one that works when you are on a tight budget. It’s great because since the drawers are clear, kids can see what is in each one.

Plus, it’s another one of those things you can repurpose in later years.

Bin Toy Storage in Combination with Shelving

This is by far my favorite way to organize kids’ toys and definitely what we have found to work best for us. Canvas bins that can be easily filled with specific, sorted toys and offer easy access for children were a game-changer for us.

They can easily get out their own toys and quickly pick them up too.

As an added bonus, they are pleasing to the eye and can be set up in a way where others won’t even realize it’s toy storage. Plastic bins, basket bins, and metal bins are a great way to organize too.


A tall bookshelf is great vertical space storage for books, art supplies, and larger toy sets.

Cork Bulletin Board

Okay, this is not for toy storage, but since we are talking about storage and organization, I wanted to mention that a cork bulletin board is a must-have for your kid’s room!

My kids always had little papers and crafts they wanted to save and not enough places to put them. This solved that problem!

Girl's bedroom with a cork bulletin board.

They each had a board to display their creations but when they ran out of room, they needed to throw away the ones they were tired of.

IKEA Toy Storage Solutions

IKEA was so instrumental to me in finally getting a handle on toy storage that I feel it needs its own section in this article. I realize that not everyone lives close to an IKEA (I’m sorry!).

I will say that my closest IKEA has always been at least a 90-minute drive. For us, making that drive has been worth it!

My husband and I recruited family members to watch our children and made a fun date-day of it! We have done it a few times now.

Just make sure you take a vehicle with plenty of room for hauling things home (ideally a truck or a van with seats removed).

Having purchased furniture from Target, Walmart, and IKEA, my husband and I both feel like the quality from IKEA tends to be better and more affordable or the same price.

On our first trip to IKEA, I waited until I had a good bit of money saved so I could get everything I wanted during that one trip, that way it was more worth the long drive.

I spent hours researching the best IKEA toy storage solutions so I knew just what I wanted before we went.

One thing to note is that they have had supply issues lately (like everyone else) so check online to make sure the items you want are in stock at your store before you make the drive.

We have now outfitted two different homes with IKEA toy storage products. I’m going to show you what we’ve done in each home since the space we have has greatly changed.

I realize that not everyone has access to IKEA. You’ll find many similar products like these at other retailers, just look for them.

IKEA Toy Storage in a Large Home with a Play Room & Kids’ Bedrooms

My last home had a playroom. It was GREAT! We had a really long wall and I knew that spot would be perfect for storing toys.

I purchased 2 of these KALLAX storage units that each had 25 blocks – giving me a total of 50 spaces!

Then I purchased 30 canvas bins to go along with them, which left 10 blocks open for books and 10 blocks open for larger toys. I also had the top of the unit then for extra-large playsets.

IKEA KALLAX unit for toy's storage

The total cost at Ikea for both shelving units was $358 plus tax. We also purchased 30 bins to fit in them. The cost of the bins was 119.70 plus tax. Prices can change (right now it appears the shelf units are even cheaper!) so this is just a rough estimate of what you can expect to pay.

At the time, it was tough to spend nearly $500 on toy storage and it did take quite a few hours to assemble them (assemble them where you want them because once assembled, they are heavy and difficult to move) but I was SO pleased with the result!

IKEA KALLAX toy storage idea.

If you look closely you can see that I used different colors for my bins and this was intentional. The top row in white had all of our crafting items. I also put them on the top row so my kids needed my help to reach them.

Then on the bottom two rows, I had a row of blue bins and a row of tan bins with white polka dots. The blue bins contained toys that my boys tended to play with the most and the polka-dot bins had toys my girls liked.

In addition to the KALLAX units, we also purchased some of IKEA’s TROFAST Toy Storage Bins to go in my kids’ bedrooms.

I wanted these for things my older kids played with in their rooms, like LEGO toys and Barbies. These toys had little pieces that I didn’t want my baby or toddler to have access to.

TROFAST comes in various sizes of height, length, and bin sizes, so it’s easy to find ones to suit your toy storage needs. Since the bins are available in various depths, they are great for little toys so you’ll have less wasted space.

We purchased 6 TROFAST units and 18 storage bins of various sizes, costing us about $280 plus tax.

For something like LEGO storage, I prefer TROFAST over the KALLAX unit because a full canvas bin of LEGOs would get very heavy, making it hard for a child to carry and causing extra wear to the bin.

The TROFAST units were also nice because they were small enough to keep in my kids’ closets.

The total we spent at IKEA to organize our playroom and kid’s rooms was approximately $775. It wasn’t cheap but I will tell you that it made clean up so much easier on myself and my children that to me it was well worth the investment!

IKEA Toy Storage in a Small Home and Small Spaces, Storing Toys in the Living Room and Kids’ Bedrooms – No Playroom

We had to sell our home and move a few hours away a little over a year ago for my husband’s career. We decided to rent and are renting a home that is much, much smaller than our old home.

(We went from 4400 sq feet to 1500 sq feet!) We’ve had to really get creative with our toy storage!

In our new home, the bedrooms are smaller and we do not have a playroom. There were no spare walls even big enough for my beloved extra-large KALLAX units, so I had to rethink storage.

Living Room Toy Storage Ideas

I still turned to KALLAX for my storage needs, just chose different sizes. I knew we would need toy storage in our living room, so I purchased 2 KALLAX units that have 4 blocks all in one row and set them up vertically on each side of our tv stand.

Each unit has 3 bins and then the top bin is open for books and photo albums.

Living Room kid's toy storage using the KALLAX units from IKEA.

One of the lower bins we use for storing throw blankets, leaving the remaining 5 for toys. I also have a 3rd Kallax unit in our living room that has a total of 4 blocks but this one is arranged 2×2, into a square shape.

We keep toys in 3 of those bins and board books in the 4th. It also doubles as a stand for my kids’ hermit crabs.

Kallax 4 block unit being used for kid's toy storage plus a stand for hermit crabs.

I like that with the KALLAX units, you can’t even really tell they are used for toys in our living room. Plus, we can repurpose them for other things when we no longer need them for toy storage.

Coffee tables are another great piece of furniture that can double as toy storage. We bought this coffee table at IKEA and since it’s open underneath, we can slide our canvas or metal toy bins under there as well.

Storing kids' toys under a coffee table using canvas bins from IKEA.

Kids’ Toys Storage in Bedrooms

In my kids’ bedrooms, I’ve used a combination of Billy bookcases, Brimnes bookcase, Trofast, and KALLAX. Although I didn’t have the wall space for a 25 block KALLAX, we did have enough room in one bedroom for a 16 block one and it’s worked out great in my girls’ room.

The top is perfect for larger playsets that just won’t fit anywhere else.

KALLAX 16 block unit for toy storage

I also purchased some taller TROFAST units so I could maximize as much wall space as possible. My girls can store a lot of stuff in just these two units – Shopkins, Barbies, Polly Pocket, Enchantimals, ect. I also use the top of these for large playset storage as well.

Tall TROFAST unit for toy storage

While my girls got the KALLAX and TROFAST units in their room, my boys got 2 Billy bookcases and TROFAST in their room.

Billy Bookcase for toy storage

Especially in a small house, I always look to get storage solutions that are as tall as possible to maximize my storage. That’s one of the reasons I like the Billy bookcases at our rental.

They are narrow but tall, so we can store a lot of board games, books, toys in bins, and larger-sized playsets (like Playmobil) on the shelves. Having tall shelves also allows me to put items out of reach of my younger boys.

Billy Bookcase for Toy Storage

Let’s Get Organized!

Now that you have your basic toy storage items, it’s time to organize those toys! Set a day aside and get the job done right! Here are my best tips for getting the toys organized and keeping them that way.

Have Your Supplies Ready Before You Begin

You’re going to need a number of supplies and it helps to have them all ready to go. Here’s what I used:

  • 2 heavy-duty garbage bags: 1 for trash and 1 for yard sale/donating. If you will have a lot of items to donate/sell, a large cardboard box can also be used.
  • Organizational bags in varying sizes. I chose these bags because they are easy for my young children to zip closed without my help, they are sturdy, reusable, and I could order them on Amazon. I got various sizes based on what I knew we had.
  • Background music/noise. While this might sound unnecessary, it can really help pass the time while you are working on such a tedious task. I find that I don’t mind the work nearly as much if I have my favorite music or television show playing in the background.
  • Storage drawers, tubs, bins and/or shelving assembled and ready to go. The number needed will depend on the amount of toys you need to organize. Using ones that are clear will enable your children to easily see the contents inside. Make sure you read the beginning section of this post to figure out which storage solutions are best for your family.

Organize Toys When The Kids Are Gone

I know this is not always possible, but if there’s a chance that Grandma, Grandpa, an aunt or uncle, or even daddy can take the child(ren) out for the day while you organize, it will make the job so much easier!

It’s much easier to toss out broken toys when little ones aren’t there to notice!

If there are certain collections that need to be thinned (books, stuffed animals, etc.) you can wait and do that with your children so they can choose their favorites. Decide on an amount you will both be comfortable with.

I’ve always told my children that we are going to give their unused items to other children who don’t have any toys and they are eager to share.

If your kids need to be there while you work on toy organization, then make them part of it by giving them very specific jobs. For example, “find all of the loose LEGO pieces and put them in this bin.”

Keeping them busy during the task will make it easier for everyone!

Gather all of the Toys Together and Start By Sorting

The very first time I set out to organize our toys we had two large toy boxes; both were filled so high that the lids couldn’t close. Not only would they not close, but the contents were such a mess that I noticed my children rarely played with anything stored in them.

Their closets were also a mess, and I found hidden toys under the beds and couches too. It seems like so much to organize, I get it, but we can do this!

Start by emptying all toy boxes and pulling loose, unorganized toys from under couches, beds, and closets. Put everything in a big pile (or 1 pile for each level of the house) and then begin to pull things from the main pile to form smaller piles of toys that go together.

This is where that background noise or television can really come in handy to pass the time. I fired up Netflix and finished sorting the toys in no time.

Broken toys should immediately be put into the trash bag unless they are fixable AND an item your child played with frequently before it broke. 

I also threw away all of those kid’s meal toys we’d accumulated over the years that were never played with. (A little tip I recently discovered — our Chick-Fil-A will let you exchange unopened kid’s meal toys from their restaurant for a child’s ice cream instead, cutting down on the extra junk toys in our house.)

When you come across toys that are still in decent shape but your child hasn’t played with them in the past 6 months, put them in the donate/yard sale trash bag.

The only exception would be if it was a well-played-with toy that your child has outgrown but you have younger children who would probably enjoy it in the near future.

If that is the case, and you have room to store it, put it in a labeled storage tub in the closet, garage, attic, or basement.

I know it can be hard, but don’t hold onto a toy for nostalgic sake or simply because it was a gift. Sure, save 1 or 2 of your child’s favorite baby toys, but part with the rest!

There’s no reason to clutter your house with toys that won’t be used again.

By the end of my sorting, I had quite a number of piles, including:

  • TinkerToys
  • Various animal figurines/action figures
  • Dress-up clothes
  • Toy weapons
  • My Little Pony
  • Littlest Pet Shop
  • Blocks
  • Trains
  • Balls
  • Board and card game pieces
  • Wooden Puzzles
  • Wooden Blocks
  • Action figures
  • Kitchen set foods/dishes
  • Toy cars
  • Wooden Train Set Pieces
  • Dolls
  • Craft Supplies


Once you have sorted all of the toys into appropriate piles, it’s time to organize. Heavy, bulky items like LEGO DUPLO do well in plastic tubs or canvas bins that can easily be transported from room to room yet hold a large amount of product.

I like my canvas bins from IKEA stored in the KALLAX for those, but TROFAST works well too (or something similar).

Smaller collections can be grouped together in reusable zipper bags or plastic shoe bins. I found that these were perfect for flashcards, board games with boxes that were falling apart, small toy collections, ect.

They are sturdy so they can stand up to being opened/closed over and over again.

board game storage in plastic zippered bags then in canvas bins to save space

You can then put a few of the bags/boxes into a larger canvas bin or a toy box if you’re using that. We needed to save room in our small rental house, so I got rid of most of our board game boxes and put our games into these bags.

It has saved us so much room!

Below is our game of Battleship in a zippered bag. It takes up so much less room now! The only types of games this won’t work for are those with large game boards.

storing board game in zippered bags to save room

Toys that need supervision should be placed out of reach, while toys your children play with daily should be the ones most easily accessible to them.

If you don’t have a lot of room for toy storage in your playroom, living room, and/or child’s bedroom, if you have a basement or garage where you can store toys, consider putting some of them into bins and rotating them in and out.

What To Do with Small Toys and Small Toy Collections

Maybe your child has a variety of small toy collections. For example, 15 Shopkins, 20 Tsum Tsum toys, 45 army men. For things like this, you’re not going to want to have to take up an entire big canvas bin.

The best ways to organize them is to put these collections into the small containers or zippered bags I recommended above and then combine them into a larger bin or bins together.

Stuffed Animals Storage and Organization

With six kids, we have a ton of stuffed animals. Even my almost 12-year-old still loves her stuffed animals and is not interested in getting rid of many of them.

Over the years we’ve tried a few solutions for stuffed animal storage and have found them all to be quite useful. Some of the best options out there for storing stuffed animals are stuffed animal hammocks, bean bag bags that you stuff with plush animals instead of filler beans, and stuffed animal chairs.

If you are short on space, like we are right now, I have found that these hanging mesh bags work well for stuffed animals as long as you don’t stuff them too heavy.

Stuffed animal mesh bag

Card Game and Board Game Organization

We’re a family that loves card games and board games. So, we needed a great way to store our growing collection. There are a few good options for that.

You can use a bookshelf for the board games and a basket or bin for the card games or if you are able, dedicate a closet to your game storage.

We had a closet for games at our last house but no closet at our new home. Instead, I’ve done a combination of using a bookshelf for the games with big boards and zippered bags for the games with small boards (or no boards) that I then placed in a larger canvas bin in a storage cube organizer. (See photos of that above.)

If you are able to dedicate a closet to your board games, I highly encourage you to place your games in the closet on their sides. (See photo below.)

Board Game Closet

By organizing them this way, it’s easier to get the game you want out of the closet and put it away too. Otherwise, inevitably someone wants the game on the bottom of the pile, puts it away on the top of the pile, and things start getting messy quickly!

Now Stay Organized By Making Future Clean-Ups a Priority

You’ve spent all of this time getting things organized, now keep it that way! I am constantly reminding my children that before they get out a new toy or move on to another activity, they need to clean up the one they are currently playing with.

When I’m able to directly supervise them, that’s easy to keep up with. On days I get busy, I make sure I take 5-15 minutes twice a day to make sure all of the toys that have been played with are put away in their correct locations.

When your toys are well organized it is much easier for your child to keep them organized. And, the more often you remind them to clean up after themselves, the more likely it will be that the next time, they will do it without asking!

Velcro Press and Lok Bag

Now that the toys aren’t scattered all throughout toy boxes, it’s made it easy for my kids to grab a toy or toy set and play. I’ve seen them spend hours with sets they hadn’t played with in months simply because they can find all of the pieces now.

When they are done, they just dump the items back into the bin they came from, put it back, and move on to the next thing.

Playing with Animals

Ashley Parks

Sunday 3rd of December 2023

We've got a toy "armory" wall in our garage with Nerf blasters and bows, etc and it has been such a great way to store and organize the toys. I should have made it larger though. I wish we had a closet area for all our games and puzzles. We have a large shelf, but I would love to be able to close it off.

Ilyoung B

Thursday 16th of February 2023

So organized and clean! Thanks!

Peggy Nunn

Wednesday 14th of December 2022

I like using the pegboard for organizing the things. That is great and customizable.

Ashley Parks

Sunday 11th of December 2022

I love the storage wall! We used to have the kids' toys much more organized, but since we moved we don't have a big playroom anymore. All the toys are separated into different rooms. We do have a toy shelf with bins in each of the kids' rooms though.

Sandra Dufoe

Saturday 12th of November 2022

Amazing storage ideas it makes it easier for them to help clean they know where everything is suppose to go.