We Live in a Small House and My Kids Share a Room — Here are 10 Ways I Organize All Their Toys and Belongings

published Jul 17, 2022
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train and boys storage under a kids bed
Credit: Chantal Lamers

As a parent, I’m constantly on the lookout for solutions to kid clutter and toy clutter, ideas that will help keep my kids’ toys, art supplies, and clothes organized while also making sure they’re easy to access and clean up. Tuck toys out of sight, and you’ll forget they exist; make putting items away complicated, and everyone will end up feeling overwhelmed and frustrated.

Depending on the age of your kids, I recommend asking for their input when organizing spaces. What methods are they most excited about? What blocks should go in what bin? Getting their organizing say now will pay off in the long run. Need some ideas and inspiration? Here are 10 child-tested and affordable storage solutions from my own home that have made our lives easier and more organized.

Credit: Chantal Lamers

1. Don’t underestimate the power of hooks, everywhere.

Whether long shaker peg racks or single pegs, hooks are an easy, affordable, and accessible way for children of all ages to learn to organize and display their favorite bags, toys, hats, costumes, and more. We get creative when adding them to our home, in spaces ranging from the entry to their bedroom, bathroom, and other play areas. Our kids love to see their belongings out on display and it makes for a quick and easy clean-up, too. 

Credit: Chantal Lamers

2. Hook them up with bedside storage.

From cribs to single beds and bunk beds, a little storage at arm’s reach is perfect for stashing stuffies, flashlights, and books. Soft storage is ideal, because there aren’t hard edges for kids to hit their heads on when they’re getting in or out of bed, and sleeping. We found these handmade quilt organizers, and my daughter loves filling up each pocket. Somehow, having these little treasures close by makes falling asleep at night a little more comforting.  

Credit: Chantal Lamers

3. Mix-and-match bins and baskets.

Sometimes it seems nearly impossible to find matching, one-size-fits-all storage solutions. Don’t get caught up in keeping everything the same; instead, coordinate the size basket or bin with the toys itself. I bought this shelf from a thrift store for $20, painted it, then filled it with $2 to $5 secondhand baskets (they’re very sturdy) and small wood crates from IKEA. We use an assortment of coordinating shapes and colors to accommodate blocks, doll clothes, toy cars, Legos, and more. Also, limiting a collection to a single bin makes it easier for kids to choose one activity at a time and simplify the cleanup process.

Credit: Chantal Lamers

4. Deck out an art cart.

A go-anywhere art cart, like the classic RASKOG cart from IKEA or this metal utility cart from Target makes it easy-peasy for kids to create where they feel inspired most or, wherever their parents say so! Despite three shelves of art supply bliss, keeping pens, scissors, paint, glue, paper and pipe cleaners organized within that space is essential to keeping it organized. A place for everything makes it easiere to clean up after an art project, so invest in cart accessories keep everything in its place. You can buy art cart storage accessories or get creative with items like empty jam jars, old milk cartons, and egg cartons.

Credit: Chantal Lamers

5. Add playful storage under the bed.

Under-the-bed storage can be tricky: hide too much stuff under there and it’s easy to forget all about it. But make it purposeful and suddenly you have a functional go-to play space that kids are drawn to. We opted for a simple wood tray with wheels which makes the perfect storage and play destination for a LEGO village, car or train track, and more. My husband built ours from scrap wood; you can find tutorials for building your own online and on YouTube, or you can buy a readymade rolling cart.

Credit: Chantal Lamers

6. Make room for the little things.

Kids are notorious for collecting all the little things, so we make the most of it and designate a display space. When they’re old enough, you let them decide which toys goes where, and limit the miniatures to what fits. I bought this vintage curio shelf from Etsy almost eight years ago, but you can also find them at antiques stores and purchase new versions as well. 

Credit: Chantal Lamers

7. Make closets cool again.

Children’s closets can quickly become wastelands, stuffed with games and toys and clothes. But leaving some shelves free makes for a magical play space, especially when covered with a wallpaper or colorfully painted. Allocating shelves for playtime can transform a closet into a stuffy pet hospital, mouse house, or teddy bear hotel. My daughter pushes the hangers to one side to create an indoor playhouse where she feels independent. 

Credit: Chantal Lamers

8. Play around with pegboards.

Pegboards make excellent, graphic spaces to display toys, artwork, and store craft supplies. Traditional pegboards are really affordable and easy to find at hardware stores. You can also purchase newer, modern versions from makers on Etsy. Add it to an open space or prop it inside a closet for a truly decked out art space that will wow your little ones. We have one in our hall closet, and another traditional pegboard in our shed for easy-to-access gardening tools and accessories. 

Credit: Chantal Lamers

9. Make walls musical.

Hanging instruments, like a kids’ guitar, on the wall has two benefits: 1) It doubles as cute art for a kid’s room, and 2) It keeps instruments safely off the ground and less likely to get damaged. You can DIY an instrument hook or purchase hooks made for specific instruments from music shops. Either way, I like to think that keeping them handy encourages more frequent playing and practicing from my kids. Before you know it you may have a family band on your hands!

Credit: Chantal Lamers

10. Add a vertical library.

Depending on the space, you can get incredibly creative with wall-mounted bookshelves. Line a series horizontally under a window, or stack three vertically on a wall. Have kids pick a handful of books they want to read each week so they are easy to access, and make it a challenge to read all of the books each week. When it’s bedtime, or reading time, kids will be able to find their book of choice in a snap. We hung a bookshelf for each of our children on the wall next to their bunk bed, and they love having a designated place to tuck books when they are done reading at night and ready to turn off the lights.  

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