Organize Family Room with Toys?

Updated on July 03, 2012
❤.M. asks from Santa Monica, CA
15 answers

Help me organize my great room.
It is our family room & it is very large.
We live in this room.
It houses our TV, entertainment center, couches & all of my kid's toys.
They play in this room w/the toys so I don't want to re-locate their toys.
My question is how can I best organize the toys.
Currently they are in toy boxes and see-through bins.
Help me better organize, sort, box up.
We have dolls, mini kitchen, cars, blocks. Everything is in the clear toyboxes hidden behind a rom divider but I still
need help organizing, storing etc.
They can't go in another room.
I've given away toys they no longer play with so these are staying & played with daily.
Any ideas?

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answers from San Francisco on

I looked at my kids' preschool for guidance and inspiration in this area. I noticed how THEY had things organized. Puzzles and games on shelves. Dress up/pretend play on hooks and racks. Pretty much every thing else in clear bins with colorful labels, sitting in cubbies or on shelves.
They also didn't have EVERYTHING out at once. They kept quite a bit packed away and every few weeks or so rotated the toys in and out. Not only was it easier to control the clutter, it made clean up easier for the kids and it kept things fresh and interesting.
If you haven't joined yet I suggest you do it today, SO many great ideas there!

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Missoula on

My brother has a HUGE cubby shelf thing that nearly reaches their ceiling. The bottom 3 shelves have those colorful bins, kid books, etc. for their 2 children to play in. Over those 3 shelves, the left side (2 cubbies in) has all of my SIL's books, and the right side has my brother's books... The area between the 'book areas' is full of pictures, figurines, etc. It really looks quite nice and homey. :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

The best thing we ever did was to buy two large armoires at Ikea. In there we stacked board games, car bins, balls, etc. The have drawers on the bottom and doors on the top. When they are closed, they look NICE!
It's amazing what fits into those! If your room is large and you have the dough, that's what I'd do.

I'm glad we got something that look nice and can grow & adapt as our son gets older and the games & toys change & mature. You can buy bins & shelves and bins and shelves, but I'm glad we spent the money to solve the problem and the stuff can truly be OUT OF SIGHT!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

You need shelving or cupboards, that have doors on it.
That way, you can stick stuff in it, (even those plastic see through boxes), but because the shelving has doors on it, it will "hide" everything... and thus the room will look neater and more organized.

THAT is the trick. To get a piece of furniture/shelving/cabinetry, that has DOORS on it. So everything in it is hidden and not "visible" and it will just look more organized, neater and more styled.
And the kids can just go to it and open it and take out whatever toy/clear plastic boxes they want to play with. Then when done you just stick it back in the cabinet and close the doors!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

A cubby like this - - or bigger -

then get baskets and line them with a color - your childs favorite color - then their toys go into that basket. They are responsible for it.

Games can be slid in the cubbys as well.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Bloomington on

We bought the cubed shelving units from Target. They have 9 cubes. We bought two of them. I then got fabric bins in different colors, but only bought 14 or so. That leaves about 2 open on each shelving unit. We put books or odd shaped toys in those.

I then organized the toys into similar categories, took a picture of each of groups, and used the picture in a clear name tag holder to label the front of the fabric bin. My girls (ages 2 & 4) can see what is in the bin, and where to put the toys back.

I also rotate out the larger toys (for instance we have a Dora playhouse and accessories.....that rotates out with the Fisher Price farm, plane, and bus. The stored items go into the closet for a month or two at a time.

In our mini kitchen, we found colaspable totes to store all the fake food and dishes in that fits in the refrigerator of the kitchen. So if you can, find some baskets or bins that fit in the crannies of the kitchen to hold that stuff.

The last item that I LOVE is the clear, over-the-door shoe holder. We put it up using command hooks where it touches the floor. All of the baby doll accessories, and dress up accessories go in that. It has many compartments, it is easy to see things, and EASY to put things away. Necklaces, rings, wands, phones, cameras, diapers, baby-doll clothes, etc. You could use it for matchbox cars, Beyblades, small toys, etc. We use the top pouches to put things they don't need, because they can't reach them.

Do you have a closet in that room? Can you use it to hide any of the larger items or use it for storage? A place to store games and puzzles that YOU get out when they really want to play them?

Remember, if everything has a place, it is easier to put it in its place. My girls can clean their rooms pretty easily now because we have made it easy to put things back.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

In my family/great room that is also very large, I have a great BIG leather coffee table that has a lid and lots of toys go in there...and then I have a big wooden book shelf thingy that I bought wicker baskets for and the rest of the toys go in there. So basically all the toys are there and can be put away but it looks like I only have 'adult' furniture, Ha!

I make sure the big things like the doll house and kitchen goes in their bedrooms!

Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

First, ask yourself "For how long do the kids play within each area/toy collection?"
Kitchen play

...what else is there that they play?

Next, I would try to see how the toys get played with, and by whom?

Something to consider:Toys that one child prefers to play with independently, I would actually move those toys to the child's room. Kids need invitations to play in their room and take alone time each day, so if you have a son that likes to play cars/track by himself, that's where he should do it. This is not a punishment, it's about keeping group activities in the common areas and single-player activities in areas more conducive to this sort of play. You don't have to do it this way, but it's something to consider.

Another thing you can do is to just cut down on what's available. Instead of having 30 Hotwheels cars out, let your children pick out 10 and put the rest away. Let them know that they could change out their cars once a week, but that you have a maximum of X amount of cars per kid at one time. Do the same for the mini-kitchen toys if you feel like you have too much available. Let them pick out some and store the rest. Store the 'extras' in marked bins in the basement, attic, or under the bed in your room or in the garage in plastic bins. Or put the bins in large, marked paper bags and hang them on nails in the garage, up against the wall. (I was unsure if they couldn't go into another room due to storage or preference).. We do this at our house and my son loves it when he can 'go shopping' or 'swap out' toys.

For dolls, I would sort by type, with each type's clothes, and have a small variety available at any different time. If dolls have their own select clothing, consider storing the clothes in the bottom of the box, cover with a small 'blanket' (scarf or fabric scrap) and use those as 'beds'. Store extras covered.

Small sets (polly pocket, legos, etc) should be stored by type. Limit the number of 'smalls' as well.

Flashlights, binoculars, kaleidoscopes, cameras-- a 'vision' box.

Dress-ups do well in a fabric bag or basket. Pare down to the most open-ended costumes.

If you are wanting all the storage in just one place, consider a piece of furniture which would facilitate that. IKEA has some shelving into which fabric boxes fit, and this might do for your needs.

Honestly, since I am not in your house, it's harder for me to go on from here. As a nanny, it was often my job to organize/sort out household playrooms and toys and arrange systems like this. (This is what I did in my preschool classrooms, by the way. In that case, though, we had overhead shelves so that much of my manipulatives baskets and puzzles were up and had to be requested....which meant that we cleaned something else up.)
PM me if you want more details.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Buy cubbies with pull out baskets or fabric bins. Label them dolls, blocks, cars, etc. Make sure the kids clean up at the end of each day, or when they are done playing with something, to keep things from getting out of hand. If the kitchen doesn't have enough storage, get a basket for all of the accessories (food, pots & pans, etc).

Something like the closetmaid cubeicals (available at Target) would work really well: Then you buy different fabric drawers to go in each cubbie.

Pottern Barn Kids makes cute ones too, just more expensive, of course.



answers from Oklahoma City on

I found myself constantly cleaning and cleaning and cleaning. Toys were always underfoot. I made a rule that toys stayed in the bedrooms. If a toy found itself in the living area it found itself in time out. They didn't like that so they quickly started leaving their toys in their rooms. It made it easy to have family time in the family area and not have to constantly pick up toys just so someone can watch the news or weather. It made it easy to find time to read together and do crafts and artwork. With the toys in the other rooms we seemed to have more space and time. They did stay in their rooms more with their individual toys and that was nice too.



answers from Kansas City on

I agree with getting some furniture to help you out. Those square bin shelves are great and they have some at all price levels! We just bought a small one for my son's room yesterday and I'm already in love with it! ;) You could even use a book shelf with colorful baskets or bins on them too. That's what I do. I havce two bookshelves on either side of my fire place. One is for kid stuff, one for adult books, photo albums, etc. My kids toys are in the toy box underneath and in bins on the shelf. It still screams "kids play in here" but at least I can stack things neatly and it's organized. Our play kitchen is also down there and all the food and pots/pans fit inside the kitchen. If they don't fit, I get rid of them.

The ottomans that have storage are also good. They can be multi functional! Check out Target or Ikea if you have one close and you may get inspired!



answers from New York on

IKEA has this great shelf system that is made of up 4, 8 or 16 squares. The 8 square unit (2 squares wide by 4 tall) can be stood up or laid down longways. If stood up the top sholves can be used for your stuff (DVDs, books, etc.) If laid down the kids can get to all of the shelves and the top serves as a credenza. They also sell sqare baskets, cloth bins and plastic bins that fit perfectly into each square and act like drawers. The 16 square unit can even function as a room divider is your family room is that large. We have one of the 8 square unites for each kids' room. My 16 yr old will change the configuration of hers (up or down depending on her mood that month). After a while you get tired of looking at plastic bins don't you?


answers from Los Angeles on

I use the cubed shelving from Target, and it works great because everything is hidden : ) They go on sale about once a month, and will definitely be on sale for back to school. They come in various sizes, we have the 9 cubed ones. They sell the cubes in most every color of the rainbow, even child themed ones, and you can put pictures of the front of each cube to show what's inside and kids also know where to put toys back. If you leave a couple of the cubes open you can use them as bookshelves or for stacked puzzles.


answers from Chicago on

This is what we have, and it is GREAT!

Trofast system from IKEA.

We have the white ones, and I have 3 of them. 2 are in the family room and are along a wall, under the window. We have large & small bins for them (the ones that are pictured on the right side). Love them, and it was a pretty cheap solution.



answers from Los Angeles on

I have 3 white shelfs that have doors on them. I think we got from ikea. Each of my kids have their own shelf.

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