In order to keep things organized when children and their toys are involved, you need a plan and some smart strategies. This is important in any room where toys live, but it’s especially important when you need to have a space work double duty and don’t want it to be overrun by visual (or real) clutter.

Here are some things to consider once you’ve decided to tackle the mammoth task of organizing your children’s toys.

A woman placing labels on toy storage bins

What is a toy organizer and how can it be used effectively?

Toy organizers are essentially organization systems that can be anything from storage shelves to storage benches to special units with colorful open or closed containers. Basically, anything that keeps those action figures and tea sets out of sight. Regardless of style, they’re lifesavers when it comes to keeping things under control — after all, no one wants to accidentally step on a building block and end up teaching their kid a new “adult” word, right?

Want to know the best way to use toy organizers to your benefit? Implement the following tips on proper storage for toys:

1. Establish boundaries

Decide where toys will be allowed in your home (and where they won’t), since you’ll need to find creative and good-looking storage solutions that complement those areas. Will you need living room storage for toys? Do you have a dedicated playroom space? There is no hard and fast rule about boundaries; it depends entirely on your preferences and your family’s routine and needs. 

2. Make a plan

If you have the space and want to achieve a certain look, do some research and collect inspiration images to guide you. There are all types of styles, shapes, and sizes of portable storage options, toy organizers, storage benches, toy boxes, and the like. Make sure you have a plan before you start making purchases.

3. Decorate with some toys

If you want your space to have a touch of childhood flair, consider using shelves and toys as both decorative and organizational tools. You can save space and money decorating with most-loved toys and beautiful books that actually get read instead of buying generic artwork you’re sure to get bored of in no time.

A little boy putting toys in a donation box

4. Declutter the rest of the toys

You may have to do this on your own if your kid gets overly attached to things, but if your little one is more open to the idea of letting go, this is a great time to instill the importance of donating to good causes and those less fortunate. You can frame the idea of letting go of good (but no longer needed) toys as sharing with a child who wouldn’t otherwise have cool toys to play with. You may be surprised how quickly kids tend to get on board with this empathetic narrative.

Pro Tip: Organization is impossible without decluttering, so if there are lots of toys that aren’t being played with and are just taking up space, finding a good solution is a must. Have some toys, baby clothes, or priceless family heirlooms that aren’t needed anymore but that you want to save for the future grandkids? Load them up in PODS portable storage containers and store them in a secure PODS Storage Center until you’re ready for them.

5. Group like things

Make little sets of books, stuffed animals, wooden toys, you name it! When you group similar items in little “collections,” things tend to look a lot more organized than when there are a million small trinkets everywhere. Just be sure not to overdo it. A couple of collections on display are cute, but too many and it will look cluttered no matter how nice your child’s things are.

6. Coordinate by color

Make a rainbow with all of those toys and books! When you color coordinate, it visually reduces the perceived clutter, even if you have to leave lots of things out either for practicality or because there’s not enough space to put everything away somewhere else. Added bonus? Having things organized by color makes it easier for your child to put them away!

7. Use odd numbers

When decorating, it’s important to know that things arranged in odd numbers look much more pleasant to the human eye than those arranged in even numbers. Three is the golden number, but other odd numbers such as five or seven also work nicely.

Large storage bins full of toys

How do you store lots of toys?

If even after a big decluttering, you’re left with a ton of toys, you may want to invest in some shelving with heavy-duty storage bins or baskets. These toy storage shelves are easily one of the top go-to options for parents because of their ease of use and versatility. They’re sold at almost every home furnishings store and come in many different styles, so it’s easy to find a good option that both you and your child like.

The downside is that most toy shelves marketed as such come in understandably childish styles and colors, so they may not be a great option if you want to subtly incorporate them into a more grown up space.

Don’t despair, though. They are very easy to make, so you can fashion one that will perfectly match the look and vibes you want in a space.

Q: How do you make a toy storage shelf?
A: It’s pretty easy to make a toy storage shelf, if you prefer not to buy a ready-made one. You can make one simply by adapting almost any bookshelf and outfitting it with bins, baskets, and other types of containers. There are lots of styles of storage bins these days, so this option is so versatile, it could easily fit into any room of your home. Want to use this idea for storing other items, too? Go for it! This type of shelving can be used for anything!
A large basket with toy teddy bears in it

How do you store big toys for kids? 

Now, let’s address the (stuffed) elephant in the room. Large toy storage is a challenge for most spaces. If they’re big but not massive, your best bet is to use large baskets (hopefully with lids), trunks, chests, or other furniture with big drawers or doors, so they can be kept away and out of sight.

If everything else fails, you’ll probably have to tuck them away in a closet or other creative storage space in your home. No space left inside? Try some space-saving garage storage hacks. And, of course, if you have the budget and are up for a bigger project, you could always get some custom-made furniture. Storage benches, poufs, tables with hidden compartments, or special drawers under the beds may be just what you need.

When it comes to storage ideas and solutions for toys, it’s all about balancing your need for order and beauty with the practicality of having things at hand. Feel free to try, tweak, and iterate these suggestions, as no one knows your family’s needs more than you. Want more recommendations, tips, and tricks? The PODS Blog is here to help you make the best of any space for any need!


Ivonne Spinoza is a freelance writer and a frequent contributor to the PODS Blog. Her work has appeared in Matador Network, PBS’ Independent Lens, and The Chicago Tribune, among others. When she’s not snuggling her cats, she’s either Kondo-ing someone’s life or fighting jet lag at some airport.

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