Kids' Rooms Organization - Juniper Home

Kids' Rooms Organization

Kids Room

Lindsay was hoping to get some quick advice from me about organizing kids’ rooms. I’m sure she would love to get your input, too. Here’s her email:

Hi Jenny,

I am new to your website and I have to say love it! I too am a mom (of 3) and married to a law student. With a limited budget its always fun to get creative, and inexpensive decor ideas (like the paper alphabet in the nursery! That is my project today).

My kids ages are 4 yrs., 1.5 yrs., and 4 mo. With the youngest two’s ages, I still have a ways to go before they are out of that destruction mode. I’d like some ideas on how I can decorate my house with child friendly accessories, but still have the feel of an adult space with class. Another thing is we currently live in a small apt. and, as much as I’d like my girls to have a playroom, we can’t. Therefore all the toys are in their room, and it is always a mess. I feel like it is a full-time job just cleaning and reorganizing their toys. I am tempted to buy tubs and put the toys in there, put them out of reach and only pull one or two tubs out at a time. That way I can limit the amount of mess, and they can learn to pick up their toys themselves. What do you think of this idea?

Is there a better way to have a stylish childrens’ room that can be clean, organized, and free of destruction?


Well, Lindsay, there are a lot of toy organization systems available, but not all of them are functional and stylish.

Just like you, we don’t have room in our townhouse for a playroom. Some of our toys are in the girls room, stored in painted baskets under the crib and under the play table, but many of the toys are downstairs in the living room. I found a solid wood toy chest at Ross two years ago that had a sailboat painted on it (not cute). But the shape was classic, the hardware was nice and the price was $20. I painted glossy black and added some gold accents. It looks great in the living room and is super functional, though some days I hate having toys in that space. The toy box looks sort of like this one (but ours is painted):

Here’s a pretty toy box for sale on your city’s Craig’s List for $20.

Or here for $30.

Or here.

I’m pretty sure one of my first purchases post-graduation will be a few of these Land of Nod bins ($150 each). They look well-made and sturdy, and I think the functionality is obvious. Toy organization and clean-up would be a breeze, even for the kiddies. (Seleta loves these, too)

IKEA’s Expedit system ($159) is a really good option for storing a lot of toys without making a huge footprint in the room. I would fill some of the shelves with soft canvas baskets from HomeGoods, Target or IKEA. Virtually any store with home furnishings will sell these bins.
You could also use galvanized buckets from Home Depot in some of the shelves. These look great in their original finish, but can be painted any color you want to match your nursery. They are perfect for blocks, Barbie clothes, flashcards, really any smallish toys that need corralling.

And the Expidit shelves are obviously good for book storage too.

You could paint or paper the insides of the shelves to make things more interesting.

via flickr

This Ohdeedoh reader painted her Expedit shelves with chalkboard paint.

via Ohdeedoh

Here are a few Expedit shelves from your city’s Craig’s List:

here, $50 (comes with the two baskets, which you could paint)

here, $40
and here, make your best offer.

Another option that’s worth looking into is Target’s version of the Expedit system, called the itso system.
If you’re looking to go another route, I like the idea of refurbishing the inside of an armoire.
The great benefit being that you can shut the doors and not see any toys in the room.

This is a great armoire from your local Craig’s List. I like that it’s lower and wider, so the kids can easily reach their toys.

You could put this antique wooden case on top for extra storage.

And/or these mail slots. These look straight out of Anthropologie.

These wooden shelves are really narrow and would take up very little floor space. They could look really great with a few coats of paint and some pretty paper on the backs and sides of the shelves.

I know it’s not exactly an armoire, but this antique cabinet could be gorgeous with a little TLC (including a new base made from MDF). Only $20.

This armoire is another good option.

Storage ottomans are also great for hiding away toys. These below are new from Target and cost $130 each. One of my clients is considering buying a pair of the brown trellis printed ones for under her small entry console. There are lots of other great color and print options to check out, as well.
As an alternative to the above, you could buy this leather ottoman and reupholster it in a fun, youthful outdoor print for the nursery or in something more sophisticated for the living area.

A whole different direction would be this canvas and chrome rolling laundry basket. Toys could be tossed inside and pushed into the closet when not in use.This Ohdeedoh reader shared her idea for hanging galvenized buckets on the wall for small toy storage. Love it.

Library-style book display shelves can be really pricey, but I think so worth the cost and space. I coveted the Pottery Barn Kids Schoolhouse book shelf ($$$) for a long time before they discontinued it. This $22 bookshelf could really do the trick. {Isn’t it just screaming for a paint job?} And, to save space, you could mount the shelves on your wall.
Here is one of my favorite ideas that I can’t wait to try. We all have seen (or used) these cheap plastic crates that are available at most home stores, like Target and Walmart. I have never used them because they’re pretty ugly and small items always fall out through the holes. Frustrating.
This genius woman is sharing her easy tutorial for making cute and functional crate liners. These now-adorable crates would be perfect inside an Expedit shelf or just stacked, like below. She used Amy Butler and Heather Bailey prints here.

Do any of you space-savvy mothers have some additional tips for Lindsay? What is the best trick you have for keeping toys off the floors when not in use?
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What did you think?
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0 thoughts on “Kids' Rooms Organization

  1. As always, great post Jennica. We are lucky enough to have a playroom, but I have still come up with a couple ideas to reign in the toy craziness that could easily apply to a bedroom.

    I have the expedit system from IKEA. I use clear tupperware for my storage. I LOVE IT! My son and daughter can see what all the toys are and they all get played with! I mixed toy shelves and book shelves and stuff actually gets used, unlike when I had it dumped in buckets. And, I have a theme to each shelf, which makes clean-up easy: animals, baby toys, play food, etc. So, even my 2 year old knows how to clean up, because he can see where it goes.

    Here is another trick: do not feel like you have to keep all your toys out. My mom sent me out a huge box of all my old toys and although they are awesome to have, I boxed up a lot of them and I rotate toys. When I see that they have stopped playing with something, I rotate in a new toy and put that one up for a while. It helps my sanity so, so much. And it keeps toys interesting. We do have a couple buckets: one for blocks and one for stuffed animals. My one year old loves dumping those out, but they’re easy to clean up as well.

    Toy organization is always a struggle, but I think limiting toys is always the way to go. I go to my friends’ homes who have endless amounts of little (junky) toys everywhere. That is so not necessary. Kids do not need that much stuff. Find your favorites and figure out how to organize those and put the rest up for later – or give some stuff away. A clutter free home is the way to survive having children.

    I have the same attitude towards clutter in a 2000 square foot house that I did in a 600 square foot apartment – I just don’t stand for it. And then, I don’t accumulate stuff I don’t need or really want. And, I can have kids and their stuff around without feeling overwhelmed by the chaos.

    Good luck. Sorry about the long post :) I guess I should leave this to the expert – Jennica :)

  2. I, too, have the expedit system and love it. But if she is keeping her toys in the kids room, I think I like the idea of hiding everything away in an armoire. Especially if it is a small room. It would be nice to not see toys everywhere all the time!

    Great post! I am totally buying that colorful bookshelf today (but I want to paint it really pale blue).

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. I have a friend who groups toys according to rooms of her house. She says it is because kids want to be whever you are. She has kitchen stuff in her kitchen, blocks, games, and books in her living room, and keeps most everything else in the kids rooms.

  4. Jennica, great post right up my alley. I like out of sight out of mind and rotate our toys. However they are in clear totes so the kids can see what they have. Colored lids add flare. I love our Toy box that we keep in the living room. It doubles as extra seating. We got it from a big joannes fabric store with our 40% off coupon. It was only $40 and we put it together and stained it to match our decor. When we have a larger room it too will go in the play room. All toys are in the play room except for the musical instruments.. naturally. Anyhow, i love the tote idea because when it is time to rotate the toys i just switch out the totes…no dumping and rearranging.

  5. When we were in our tiny apartment, I had an easier time with the toy system, because we purged a lot more often. Now that I have two kids, and I feel the need to keep everything around in case the second one likes it when he’s older, I feel BURIED by toys. They’re EVERYWHERE.

    Two things not mentioned that helped when I had things under control: 1. Try not to be TOO into the idea of putting “like” toys together. Obvs, barbies don’t go with baby toys, but it’s not going to kill you to put your hot wheels in the same box as your Thomas trains. Keep it Simple, so the kids don’t get overwhelmed trying to help. They won’t do it otherwise.

    2. I love the Target/IKEA systems, with the cubes, but mostly just for books, or to display the bigger toys, or toys they play with often. Otherwise, I like under the bed storage (especially for the dinky McDonalds toys she likes to keep around, that I’d rather not have to look at. I also love that our entertainment unit has a place for canvas boxes that we can put our “easy to put away” toys. You know what I’m talking about.

    Great post though.

  6. I too keep toys in different parts of the house, including a small bag in the “master” bedroom of our 800 sq. foot apartment. These “Mommy bedroom toys” – the ones with the smaller pieces – make for super easy cleanup because it’s a smaller confined space than the living room.

    We have a ridiculous assortment of bookcases in our living room (seriously, do PhD students have some sort of book quota they have to meet every semester??), and on a few of them I’ve removed the bottom shelf/shelf next to the bottom of the base of the unit so that Laurel can easily store her bigger toyS there. e.g Her Fischer Price farm set fits flush inside one of the bookcases, and so do her assortment of bouncy balls – most of her toys I store out of sight, but I confess that I really love seeing a bit of “kid” in my house. (Although that mindset may change as I add more children over the years.)

    Jennica, I’d love to see a pic of your black/gold accents toy box. Sounds so pretty!!!

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