Toy storage solutions? Reader Q&A

We have wood crates, with toy fruit and veggies, crafts, blocks, trains, etc., but no way to store or organize them. Do you have a toy storage solution? Do you dump everything by category into bins or baskets, and shelve them that way? Thanks in advance, and while I am at it, thanks for another great year of very cool picks! -Elizabeth

Oh Elizabeth, I love your question because I feel your pain: With three kids and a slight obsessive neatness streak, I am always reassessing my toy storage situation, especially after the holidays.

One solution that has worked for us is to mix the type of storage containers we use, from wide open baskets to bigger pieces of furniture which hold lots of related items or those toys I’d prefer to be out of sight.

I’ve rounded up a few different toy storage solution ideas for you here. I hope that you find something that works for your family! -Christina

Consider having a fixed piece of furniture to hold a lot of toys in one place. It’s a great idea, especially if it is something that blends, rather than clashes, with the look of your decor.

Oeuf Toy Storage

I love Oeuf’s standing toy stand called The Toy Store because everything is easy to access. You may choose to store all your play food in the bins, or mix-and-match to separate toy cars, LEGO pieces, craft supplies, and so on.

Toy storage cubes by Via Toy Box

For a very versatile option, we’re big fans of the colorfully modern cubes from Via Toy Box which can be configured to fit your needs. They can work as stand-alone boxes, or be fitted with accessories to turn them into shelving or even a kids’ desk. They look great in a playroom, if you are lucky enough to have one of these magical rooms in which to toss all the toys. (Alas, I am not so lucky.)

Eiffel Bookcase

If you’d prefer to keep your toys in the wooden crates in which they were purchased, or if you have games and puzzles piled up, you may like this modern Eiffel Bookcase from Argington. I have a version of this in our home and love it. Just be sure to measure your crates–it fits most of our games but not every single size.

Expedit bookshelves from Ikea

If you are lucky enough to have an Ikea nearby, check out their affordable Expedit bookshelves. I have four–yes four–of them in various sizes and finishes, in different rooms from my son’s bedroom to the office. With one of their bins tucked inside, they hold a lot and can also be used as a bookshelf once the toy trains are outgrown. Plus, as with many things Ikea, you can’t beat the price; though get mentally prepared for the assembly.

Also see part 2 of our answer to our reader–our favorite bins and baskets for toy storage!

[photo at top: jj cole]


Senior Associate Editor Christina Refford loves homeschooling, running, cool kids’ music, and coffee. Not in that order.


  • Reply January 9, 2011

    Globe trottin' mama

    we have an ikea expedit 5×5 shelf in our living room. two slots are dedicated to toys, one slot to legs, most slots to books, one slot for wine, one slot to dog bags. i like the variety of the shelf and that it all looks put away when need be.

  • Reply January 9, 2011

    Megan H

    This could not have been posted at a better time. I swear you ladies can read minds…

  • Reply January 9, 2011

    Wendy @ Cattiwampus

    Don’t forget ELFA at Container Store. It is 30% off this month an dis a very stylish solution.

  • Reply January 9, 2011

    Jen W

    We have the Ikea trofast units. They are great for toy storage and the bins are sturdy. My twins love the bins and can take them out by themselves and even help put toys back in. There are 3 different size bins and they really help keep toys organized. Bonus, the bins double as both a drum and a climbing platform when flipped upside down, which my boys love but mom tries to deter.

  • Reply January 9, 2011

    Shannon Longcore

    I love the cute cubbies shown, but none of those seems to be quite big enough for us. We have gone to the big clear plastic bins stacked in a corner. One for dolls/clothes, one for musical instruments, one for Lincoln Logs, one for blocks, one for Legos, one for cars/tracks, one for Playmobile, etc… plus a train table with drawers with train gear on one side, and Little People on the other side. I would LOVE to have some sort of wall cabinet. I drool over the looks of the Pottery Barn cabinets, but even that wouldn’t hold the quantity in our bins. I need volume and variety. 3 kids, different ages, sharing one playroom… lots of toys! Almost like I need a deep cabinet to slide the BiG bins in, with doors on it??

  • Reply January 9, 2011

    Mari, Small for Big

    Great ideas and the perfect time to be researching!

    My favorite solution is to find a vintage Cedar Chest, I found a mid-century mod Lane Chest with little legs underneath, it’s absolutely perfect to hide toys away, and the right height for my girl to dig in when she’s in the mood for it. Plus, putting toys away makes them more interesting when she rediscovers them 😉

  • Reply January 10, 2011


    love the ikea shelving but it is not eco friendly…it is particle board which emits certain chemicals, just fyi..

  • Cool Mom Picks
    Reply January 10, 2011

    Cool Mom Picks

    Shar, our understanding is that IKEA’s MDF and particleboard exceed the strict German E-1 standards for offgassing. VOCs are very low and formaldehyde is minimal if at all.

    Here’s some more info:

  • Reply January 10, 2011


    Another YES vote for the Expedit units. My grade-school kids each have one in their rooms and we have another in the family room. LOVE!

  • Reply January 11, 2011

    RookieMom Heather

    Love me the expedit, but I’m curious. Which sizes/finishes do you get away with for other rooms of the house? I have the 5×5 unit for the kids room but I’m contemplating an office upgrade. Thanks.

  • Christina
    Reply January 11, 2011


    Heather: I have two Ikea Expedit units in black-brown against the wall of my dining room/school room (we homeschool and it holds all of our books, science kits, art projects, etc). We have another one in black-brown in my son’s bedroom. While I’d never say that this finish is going to last generations, it has definitely held up very well with daily usage, especially downstairs with me pulling books out of it every day.

    In our office, we have the birch effect finish (two big Expedits runs the length of the wall). It’s a good neutral for the office, though I prefer the black/brown finish personally for my downstairs rooms.

  • Christina
    Reply January 11, 2011


    Hi Shannon,

    For tall, bulky items, I tend to use baskets to store them standing up (light sabers, guitars, Nerf weapons, etc).

    The Exhibit also comes in a large 5 square x 5 square configuration and can be outfitted with drawers or doors.

    Editor Liz has a Billy system from Ikea that she finds to be pretty deep as well.

    I also like Ikea’s Hopen bedroom cabinets which will run deeper than a bookshelf but could be configured to fit into a playroom space. Plus, as drawers (not shelves) everything will be hidden out of view.

  • Christina
    Reply January 12, 2011


    Also Shannon, check out Ikea’s Pax line of wardrobes (here is one example: )—they have doors on the front, run deep and can be configured in many different ways to be skinny or very wide.

Reader Comments