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Tackling Toys

Clients come to me with various design dilemmas all the time, from paint colors to TV eye sores and everything in between. I have tackled it all. One big question I get asked a lot is "how do I deal with all these toys?" In a perfect world, all the homes with children would have a designated play room with doors to hide all the toy junk. However, that is not always the case, and even when it is, toys can still quickly get out of hand. Every family is different and what works for one may not always work for the other.

Image from Liberty Furniture

I recently worked with a client that had a four year-old with lots of small toys. They kept all of her toys in her bedroom. I chose a storage bed with drawers in the foot board so she would have easy access to all her toys.

This Liberty Furniture bedroom set is the one I chose for her.


In our home, we turned the eat-in kitchen into a playroom for our girls. The location works wonderfully for our family because I can keep an eye on the kids while working or cooking. Unfortunately, our open floor plan makes the room visible to visitors. I was tired of tripping over a billion toys and constantly having to pick up buckets of spilled blocks and cars. Finally, I decided to implement what I call a toy rotation.

Toy Rotation

A toy rotation is where you only leave out a limited number of toys and store the rest in boxes or bins. Each week I put away one bin and pull out another. The result is less toys out at a given time. This method takes a little leg work in the beginning but I am absolutely in love with the result and it saves a lot of time in the long run.

We have been using the toy rotation for about a year and a half. After using it I noticed my daughters would play with their toys longer and are more engaged. There is less to overwhelm them and since we have eight bins, each time I pull out a new bin it is like Christmas. Also, since there are less toys, clean up is much easier. This also helps to keep toy pieces together and I find our toys stay in good condition longer.

How to Set Up

To set up a toy rotation for yourself, first gather all of the toys in your entire house. All of them. From each bedroom, from the playroom, from the living room. I found it was easiest to do this while the kids were out of the house. Then after gathering all the toys I separated them into different categories. I created a pile for blocks, puzzles, cars, dolls, etc.

Toys separated by category

Once all the toys were separated, I divided them into the eight bins. The idea is to have a little bit of each category in each bin. I included age appropriate toys for each child. I put a couple "baby toys" in each bin for my one year-old first, then divided the older kid's toys. I would put one or two puzzles in each, a pretend-play toy and so on.

I also created an "inventory" for each box. I wrote out each item so I would know exactly where each item was located. This was really important for us. I learned the hard way when my daughter desperately wanted a toy and I had to tear apart four boxes before finding it. So trust me, the inventory is important.

Toy Inventory

Once all the toys found a home in a bin, I stored my toy bins in my daughter's closet.

Toy Bins

I pull out one bin a week and empty the toys onto a small book shelf in our play room.

As I said before, this method works great for us and I know it may not work for everyone. Let me know in the comments what you think. Also, what works for you and what toy dilemmas do you have?

Don't forget, one free room e-design is up for grabs! I will be drawing a winner on March 31st. To enter, subscribe to my blog and share this post.

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