playroom & toy organization

May 23

since sharing our playroomΒ on the blog, i have received a lot of questions from readers about our playroom set-up and details about the playhouses. but the question i hear most often is “how do you organize the toys in your playroom?”.

toy organization has been on my (very) long list of blog topics. so, after receiving the questions about this organization area, i figured i would bump this to the top of my blog to-do list. πŸ™‚

when it comes to toy organization, my personal feeling is to go with what works for you, your child(ren) and your family. our organization process has changed a lot over the years. we’ve gone through various systems and it all hinges on the ages and stages of our kids. we’ve also gone through various stages of parenting – where we suddenly realize what is and isn’t working in terms of keeping those toys organized.

we have 3 children and i think no matter how many children you have, doing what works best for you and your family is always the way to go. that goes for organizing anything! it has to work for YOU and your family – or it just won’t work.

each year (sometimes every 6 months) we make it a point to thoroughly go through the playroom to sort and purge. we also take the time to evaluate the organization systems and re-adjust if necessary.

what i am sharing in here now is our current organization system. and if it changes or we tweak things in the future, i will be sure to share the details in here!

in our playroom we have 2 great storage closets. a few months ago i shared how 1 of the them is organized. we set up aΒ game/dress-up closet. our kids love to play games and dress-up in costumes, so having a designated space for those items has been an absolute blessing. it really helps to keep all of those game and puzzle pieces out of the general play area.

inside this closet is an old shelf from our office closet that works well for keeping the games and puzzles organized…

on the opposite side, there are 2 hanging racks and 2 shallow shelves that are great for hanging costumes and storing the dress-up accessories…

in the other closet, we store most of our toys. this closet has changed over the years to fit the organization needs of the toys the kids are playing with. but here it is in its current state…
if that photo alone doesn’t scream “hi, i’m sam and i’m OCD” i don’t know what will. πŸ™‚ i can’t help it. it’s me. why fight the feeling? i love to see things organized and i love symmetry. it makes this girl very happy.Β 
the playroom and closets have odd angles so we worked with what we had. you can see below how this closet is in the shape of a “v” and comes to a point at the far end…
i’m not complaining – i will take any amount of storage that is behind a door!as to what is inside the closet and how we organize the contents?….

*the white mesh bins are from the container store (13″ cubes) and work really well with the depth of the shelves. they are $6.99 each, but i bought them with a 15% off coupon. $6.99 is still a pretty good price though.
*every toy category has a bin.*the rule in our playroom is “one bin in, one bin out”. this has helped to keep the playroom chaos under control.

*the bins up top are there for a reason – you need to ask mom or dad’s permission. this includes toys like nerf guns, lightsabers, play-doh and play-doh shape cutters, and small pieces that easily get lost in the carpeting. basically, toys that need adult supervision live up high.
*the mesh bins are easy for the kids to carry because there is a handle on two or the four sides. it’s also easier for them to put items away when it’s not a container with a requirement – meaning a slot for specific items that only fit a certain way. with this bin all they need to do is throw the toys inside and the job is done. in my 7.5 years of parenting i have found the easiest way to get our kids to help clean up is to make clean up easy. if it’s a chore, they will fuss about cleaning and you’ll end up doing it yourself.
*i opted not to label our mesh bins. don’t get me wrong – i love labels, but the kids’ interests change frequently. and, as you can see in the photo below, it’s evident what is inside each bin. no need to label when we already know what’s there. for us, i found not labeling these to be easier. but i’m sure some of you could come up with some cute labels to pop onto these…
*the bottom shelf holds the boys trucks and big clunky cars. it’s easy for the kids to get to…

*the only 3 items on the floor are a bin of toy story toys, a bowling set, and a bin of chunky legos – all items too large to fit on a shelf.

*there are some smaller bins that contain small items like flash cards, balloons, mini plastic animals, rubber stamps, etc…

*when we see that a toy isn’t being played with anymore, we move it out. although the kids never feel they have enough toys to play with, mom and dad know better. i think the toy closet proves just how much they do have to play with. so, if they aren’t satisfied with what we own, it’s time to pass on a few toys in order to buy some new ones. it’s not always an easy battle, but once they have a new toy they are pretty happy.

*our 3 kiddos range in age from 7.5 down to 2. so, if any of you are interested in knowing exactly what is inside our toy closet, here is a complete list:

all sorts of blocks
little people
small action figures
big action figures
nerf guns & lightsabers
cars
cars movie cars
large chunky cars
wooden cars
trains
spiderman & batman toys
tea set & accessories
play food
instruments
mr & mrs potato head
peter pan & scooby doo toys
plastic animals & sea creatures
airplanes & helicopters
toy story toys
mega lego’s
a bowling set
playmobil toys
a race track
play tools
flash cards
magnet letters & numbers
we do our best to keep the main playroom floor clean…
funny how the kids will play more up here when the floor looks like the above photos.and i think open, free space is just as important, if not more, than having toys. when the kids have free space to play they are more apt to be creative and imaginative. we really try our best to keep this floor space clean.

trust me tough, the playroom does NOT always look that way. we are real people with real kids…and i’ve shared in here before just how messy the playroom can get….
those mesh bins have helped tame the mess in this space – along with the “one in, one out” rule.
moving on to what is out on the actual play floor….
any toys the kidsΒ play with daily are stowed away inside the 2 playhouses. here is the inside of our daughter’s playhouse…

she is 2 and still into playing with little people and some of the bigger, clunky toys. it works well to just line the perimeter of her playhouse so she can walk in and play…

here is the inside of the boy’s playhouse…

there is much less in here because they are older and play with most of the items inside the toy closet. at the moment we are waist-deep into cars movie cars.

also on the play floor is a slide and a melissa & doug easel with a magnetic board for playing with letters and numbers…

an adjustable height plastic basketball hoop and a small geo track race track. you can’t see this from this viewpoint, but on the other side of the couch is a small basket of balls and a large PB tote of stuffed animals…

there’s also a playtable for the boys and a small drum set…

and tucked away in one corner is our lego table with a 3-drawer bin of lego’s…

in between the playhouses we have a kid’s table with 4 colorful chairs…

if you own a thomas train table or a similar one, the 13″ mesh bins fit perfectly underneath…

i hide away our calico critter dollhouse pieces under the table i transformed for our daughter a few months ago…

if you have a train table with all of the trains, these mesh bins would be a great solution for keeping a tidy train table area.

because of the carpeting in the playroom and the ages of our kids, we don’t do any arts, crafts or coloring in the playroom. instead we do all of that at our kitchen table that sits on hardwood – which is easily cleaned up. i shared a post loooong ago about our craft caddies and where they are stored away in the kitchen office nook. you can find that post here, if you are interested!

and that is a more detailed look into how i organize our playroom. for those that asked, i hope i answered your questions! if not, make sure to leave a question in the comment section where i can answer you directly. πŸ™‚

since we are talking about toys, and because i love to play too, i thought i would share some of my our daughter’s current favorites. we have an oreck vacuum and have owned one for about 10 years. we can’t live without it and it’s one of my very favorite home cleaning products. a while ago when i had the vacuum in for a service, they had this adorable mini-oreck sitting in the store…

our daughter was with me and immediately started playing with the vacuum – it turns on, lights up and the tiny colorful foam balls float around inside the window area. oh. my. gawd. – toooooo cute, huh?

as we were leaving the store, the owner gave her the vacuum to bring home. she was in heaven…

another favorite is this melissa & doug mailbox…

it comes with lots of wooden mail, stamps and a key for opening/closing the box. i don’t know which of our children fought over this more on Christmas morning. a really fun toy!…

finally, she loves to play with this set of blocks….

our doctor’s office has a similar set and each time we are there she sits to play with the blocks. when i looked it up online as a possible Christmas gift, the price was steep. then a few weeks later at toys r us i found this imaginarium brand that is almost identical and for much, much less money. we love to build the blocks up high and knock them down and we love to sort the blocks into the openings on the lid. a toy with more than one play option – love that!

comments +

  1. Nadia says:

    I loved this post because I LOVE toys too and play right along with my kids!!!

  2. Anna says:

    This is fabulous! I will be featuring it on the Weekend Warrior this weekend! πŸ™‚

    Anna
    http://www.askannamoseley.com

  3. Mrs. Lay says:

    Ok, I'm not even sure where you live, but I saw the pics of your play room and was like "Hey! That looks so familiar." Was your house in a parade of homes?

    • hi!

      no, our home has not been in a parade of homes, but that sounds like so much fun! where do you live? we live in the mid-south region of the US. i think there is a parade of homes your in our area, but in generally includes food as well – like a cooks and homes tour. always sounds fun but we have never been on one, or had our home featured in one.

      thank you so much for stopping by! i peeked in on your blog too – your kids are adorable!!!!

      samantha πŸ™‚

    • Mrs. Lay says:

      Thank you! I live in Utah. It must just have a similar layout as one I saw. I remembered it because it was so unique & I loved it. Our local home builder's association has a parade of homes every year that's pretty big (around 25 homes)and all new homes. It's so fun to go & see the newest products, ideas and trends in appliances, decorating, home building, etc. Most of it I could never afford, but still fun to dream πŸ˜€

    • How funny! I wonder if there is a home there in Utah similar to our layout. I would love to see that! If you ever run across photos or a link, shoot it my way. Sounds really cool – and I love seeing homes and getting inspired by them. It is so fun to go see them, you're right! Especially new homes πŸ™‚

      Thanks again for stopping by!
      Samantha

  4. Ashley says:

    That playroom is so awesome!! Just found your blog through the IHeart Organizing blog hop!

  5. cherrylej says:

    I so love your kids' playroom! very spacious for them. Although you really have to clean them everyday and it's to big, I think they're really having a great time in there πŸ˜‰ Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

    • hi!

      thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a comment!

      yes, the playroom is very spacious – which is my favorite part about the room. i love that the kids have space to run inside when the weather outside isn't so great. oh yes, a messy playroom is not my favorite, but they are doing a pretty good job with these bins in place. πŸ™‚

      thanks again so much for popping in!!
      samantha πŸ™‚

  6. Angela says:

    This is inspiring to get my bootie in gear, reorganizing my kids closet! Thanks!

  7. I love your playrooms! Question though, are these actual cutouts from your walls or does it just look that way?

    I have an 11 and almost 2 year old and I would probably sing from my rooftop if their playroom looked that clean and tidy.

    You definitely get an A++ and 5 gold stars for this post and that organization!

    • hi jennifer!

      thank you so much! your comment is so very sweet!

      yes, the playhouses are actually part of the house – built in by our home builder. those are the real walls πŸ™‚

      oooooohhh, trust me – the playroom doesn't always look this tidy. especially during the summer with all 3 kids home to enjoy the space. we are definitely up there a few times a week cleaning up. we are real people! πŸ™‚ lol!

      thank you again so much!!!

      all the best,
      samantha

  8. Wow, Sam. Not even sure where to begin. What lucky little ones. This playroom is unreal. Those two playhouses are precious. Love the see through bins. Very smart with little ones. {and how cute is that vacuum} Thanks so much for linking up!

    • hi Courtney!

      thank you so much for leaving a sweet comment! i didn't even know you commented because for some reason it ended up in my spam box here on blogspot. strange! anyway, so sorry about that!!!

      and thank you for the sweet comment, again!

      best,
      samantha

  9. Megan says:

    I am loving all of this organization! Those see through bins are genius! I'm your newest follower! πŸ™‚

    • hi megan!

      thank you so much!!! i love the see through bins, too! they are just see through enough as to not be too much visual eye clutter. πŸ™‚

      i saw your own toy organization post a few days ago and loved it! that was genius on your part incorporating it into your pretty living space. smart!

      thank you again!!! and thanks for following – i follow you too! πŸ™‚

      best,
      sam

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