How Do you Keep Toys From Taking Over Your House?

Our Work | October 22, 2010

ha!  you should see my house now….plastic toy central.  honestly, i have lots of baskets that i stuff everything into…i am not good at organizing so baskets allow me to just throw the toys in there when they are done playing. TJ Maxx has great deals on baskets/ storage bins that are cute and so i buy lots of them…i place them under a console or on shelves in their rooms.  i am also a sucker for vintage locker baskets so i snatch those up whenever i run into some!
-Shannon Darby Pink Wallpaper 
For me I don’t buy a ton of toys because I have learned early on that many can be so wasteful and just create clutter.  Trust me the ones we do have still take over the house and we are working on trying to figure out a better system.  Right now we have bins put in place and in theory one bin out at a time would take care of many of our toy woes.
-Christina Brian Full House  
Edit, Edit, Edit. I have five children, ranging in ages from 18 months – 10 years.  If I wasn’t careful, I would tripping over skateboards + baby strollers all day long.  First, we don’t buy toys for our children on every trip to Target.  Even if it’s just a little matchbox car or polly pocket.  A little here + there can add up to a lot over time. Secondly, I take inventory of the children’s toys on a quarterly basis. At this time I re-organize the toy storage, toss broken toys and donate unused toys. 
We are also lucky enough to live in a home with a basement. Our rule is that all toys stay in the basement. My girls baby dolls are of course in their bedrooms, but everything else gets left in the basement. This way, my front room and main living area are free of clutter and typically tidy. 
-Danyelle Mathews Dandee Designs 
The toys are piled in our bonus room, which is basically a space the kids have taken over for themselves. The toys make their way to other areas of the house, but at the end of the day everything is put back and the doors are closed! And can I add, there is not a single photo of this room posted anywhere!
-Janell  Beals Isabella and Max Rooms 

I am not the kind of person who likes to have a million toys lying around. We put some toys in bins in the garage or closets and rotate them. Kids get bored with toys very quickly and rotating them keeps their interest, it’s like new toys every couple weeks. I have also created a place for everything, if everything has it’s place then its way easier for your child to help put the toys away when their done. It ends up being a kind of game and it teaches your child good habits and helps with memory!

-Leah Hill The Way we Are 
We have a limited amount of toys, whatever can fit on the toy shelf, everything else gets given away or donated.
-Jordan Ferney Oh Happy Day 
Most every piece of furniture has to do double duty.  Coffee / end tables that double as toy storage.  Stuffing toys in beautiful baskets.  Have custom built in’s made in standard size closets for toys to be organized and hidden away.
-Michelle Hinckley Three Men and a Lady
Great storage pieces; chests with big drawers, baskets on open shelving, storage benches.  Also, one rule that I follow is that for every new toy that comes into the house, one must go.  It is imperative to purge, or your house will quickly become overrun with toys.  Once a month I clean out the toys and make donations to school, friends, etc. 
I am a big believer in using beautiful storage pieces that can hold lots of “stuff.”  I use a lot of dressers (with drawers crammed full) and I have a big armoire in our living room that holds all of their art supplies.  We also have a “bonus room” where my kids pretty much have free reign.  I very rarely enter.  It’s a crazy mess most of the time, but it keeps most of the toys in one room.  
I think that when you have a baby {under one} they almost do take over the house. It’s just not realistic to think everything can be put away all of the time. And all of those play mats, exersaucers and swings take up so much room. But after our children turned the corner and didn’t need those big ticket items, we became really selective with what was out and about.
 Tip #1: our master bedroom is a toy free zone. I want that to be our retreat or “escape” for lack of a better term and the children don’t need toys in every room.
Tip #2:  whichever rooms you choose to keep toys in, you have to have a system. The earlier the children are taught to put their toys away before leaving that room, the easier your life will be. Whatever system you use {baskets, bins, cabinets} just be sure the kiddos know they are expected to put those toys away after they finish playing with them. Most young children love the cleaning up process anyway!
Tip #3:  Constantly purge! We are not big on the children needing the house to look like a toy store. We have discovered that they play much longer with things that require them to build, create, or use their imaginations. So art supplies, household items to make musical instruments,books, blocks, etc. are key to have around.  No need to go overboard. I know I have gone around and filled up a plastic bin from Target with a bunch of toys. I store it  in a closet for a couple of months. So I have gotten rid of the clutter and then when I pull it out the kids are so excited about their “new” toys. Those come out of hiding and the ones laying around the house go back into the bin for a while.
-Courtney Fernan A Thoughtful Place

 Emily’s Playroom is amazing. Even in it’s “everyday state”. 
I keep them stashed in bins and baskets around the house.  We have a pick up time every night, so that I don’t have to wake up to toys everywhere.  But it’s inevitable that I step on a matchbox car or 20, everyday.
I have a toy chest for storage in his room, and baskets in our living room that keep his toys and books. I rotate them every few weeks and don’t keep to many out at one time. That way its impossible for the house to be invaded by toys:)
-Anna Liesemeyer  In Honor of Design 
The toys are going to be there regardless, so your choice is in how to handle
it. Anyone who has read my blog for any length of time knows that I am a huge
believer in “a place for everything and everything in its place.” So you need to
find a place in the living room, the kitchen – wherever your child plays or spends
any length of time – to store toys. In my living room, we have a large cabinet
over which the television is mounted. At first, I used it to store diaper changing
supplies, burp cloths, bibs and the like. Now, it stores toys, DVDs and more
– and my children are old enough to open the cabinet and retrieve their toys.
When Henry and Charlie were younger, I used baskets in the bookshelves built
into our kitchen island. Those baskets stored board books and small toys, and
Henry and Charlie could easily pull their things out. You could certainly do the
same thing with a low cabinet drawer.
When their toys are in reach, children aren’t as tempted to make a toy out of your crystal bowl.
Well, if you read along on my blog, you’ll notice that I don’t STORE toys in my kids’s rooms.

The rooms are just WAY too little.
My husband and I are VERY FIRM believers in the fact that rooms are for relaxing.
A sanctuary away from toys, noise, and the craziness of the day.
Isn’t that what you use YOUR room for?  Isn’t that why we try to choose paint in bedrooms that calm and make us feel happy?
I don’t think it’s any different for our kids.
We DO store books in our girls’s rooms, under their beds in a basket, or in their drawers… so they are easily accessible.
So where DO we keep the toys???

Well…in our house, we actually have a designated ROOM in our basement for toys.
It’s NOTHING special.  Just a plain ol’ room with some simple bins and things for my girls’s “stuff”.
I have never been huge on the whole “Completely Pimped Out Play Room” craze… only because I feel like small children grow out of it SO FAST.
Before you know it, your having to turn it into a “cool” study / friend hangout. (which is a phase that I think lasts a LOT longer)
So in only a year or so, we’ll probably start working on a great space for the girls to have… to be able to sit, relax, and have a few of their favorite friends and things around them, to enjoy and play with.
I like the idea of how these rooms have storage for… whatever!  Toys, books, cd’s magazines…
They are really “transitional”  and not filled with too many “age appropriate” themes… making the rooms easy to live in, at ANY age.
-Shelley Smith  House of Smiths

Go through with a bag and take to it to the shelter when no one is home. I would never throw away a favorite toy but things just have to be thinned.
Holly Mathis

Take a look at Stephanie’s amazing toy organization idea here!   
Get rid of half your toys. Or at the very least hide half of them and then switch them out every few months. There will be less toys to clean up and the kids will feel like they are receiving new toys. It’s a win win. Kids seem more interested in specific toys more than a huge lot of ’em.

– Stephanie Stephmodo

I keep my kids toys in clear storage tubs; one tub for each “set” of toys. The clear tub allows us to easily see the contents, and I love that they can stack on top of each other. As each collection of toys grows, I transfer the toys into a larger tub. They are only allowed to get one tub out at a time.

– Autumn Design Dump

I keep the toys in the family room in cute baskets and the toys in her bedroom go in the closet when they aren’t being played with.  I am always on the lookout for cute toy bins…ZARA home makes the best ones! I hide the big toys like the ball table in the closet when I have guests over:) 

We have tried all sorts of bins and toy organizing systems – but I’ve come to realize that level of high organization just doesn’t fit with our busy lifestyle. So, I have a big wooden Chinese trunk that holds all the toys. Even if every single toy has been taken out, it really only takes about 5 minutes to round it all back up again. And (here’s me admitting to being a mean mom), when it’s time to clean up and the girls are dragging their feet a little, I tell them they have X minutes to clean up all the mess then whatever is left on the floor gets thrown away. Instantly then the scampering ensues! I think having one large receptacle for the toys helps them help me keep our home tidy.

Also, we do what I’m sure many of you moms out there do – we rotate toys. I try to keep out only about half of the toy inventory at once. Every month or two I bring out old toys that seem fresh again to my kids. That has really helped to keep the toy quantity at bay. And I’m not spending a fortune on new toys all year long, every year.

I am always considering toy storage when looking for new pieces for my home. An old antique trunk as a coffee table, stylish baskets in a bookshelf, or a sofa table with storage are all great places for toys. Labeled plastic bins also keep the stored toys neat, organized, and easily cleaned up. I try to keep the majority of our toys in one room, keeping most of the mess confined and allowing me my sanity.
Danielle Oakey

Tomorrow I will be featuring YOUR playrooms. I received some amazing submissions. You’ll be sure to want to check them out and until then how do you keep your toys from taking over the house?