Clear the decks in time for Christmas with these neat ideas for keeping toys tidy
“Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat, now’s a great time to clear out all the tat.” OK, maybe that’s not quite how the rhyme goes, but for those who share their house with children, the arrival of new toys on Christmas Day is magical for the kids, but slightly less enchanting for the adults who then have to find somewhere to stash the new arrivals.
Try sorting through the stuff they already own (ditching anything that’s broken or has bits missing, and re-homing toys they’ve grown out of), and then set up some nifty storage. That way, there should be plenty of space for whatever treats Santa brings lucky children this year…
It’s easy to default to bog-standard white units when it comes to toy storage, but it pays to think creatively, as different styles of furniture can work just as well.
This 1960s wooden dresser does the job perfectly, as it offers a good mixture of shelf, drawer and cupboard space. A piece like this will stand the test of time, too, as storage needs change.
Colourful woven plastic baskets provide additional space for bigger items, such as soft toys.
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Using matching raffia baskets to store toys instantly gives a more grown-up feel to a space than canvas or plastic boxes would, so a set-up like this would be ideal in a living room or kitchen-diner that needs to look good for adults as well as children.
Choosing baskets with handles is another neat trick, as they can get heavy when full of toy booty, and the handles make them much easier to lift on and off a shelf.
Raise up bikes
New toys come in all shapes and sizes, and a new bike may well be at the top of many a Christmas list. If you don’t have the luxury of a shed or garage to store one in, how about fixing it up on the wall by the front door, as seen here?
Face out books
It’s good to encourage reading from an early age, and for those with younger children, a front-facing bookshelf is a smart choice.
Not only do many children’s books have lovely, colourful covers that add instant decoration to a room, but little people will be able find the book they want much more easily by being able to see the front cover, rather than just the spine.
There are lots of styles like this available to buy, or you could make something similar using wooden dowel rods attached to either side of an existing set of shelves.
Incorporate a desk
If you’re designing a child’s room from scratch, think what will work in the future, as well as just for now. Younger children tend to play mainly on the floor, but as they get older, drawing, crafting and then homework needs come into play, so a solution like this one, with integrated shelves, cupboards and pull-down desks, has long-term potential.
Create a theme wall
One way of dealing with a group of similar toys is to make them part of the decoration. Fun aeroplane-style shelves house a carefully chosen selection of blue and red toys that match the colour scheme of this bedroom.
Under-bed drawers and a couple of large canvas and wicker baskets are then used to stash away other toys that don’t quite hit the design brief…
Keep it uniform
A run of neat wooden crates in a simple partitioned and painted unit is a tried-and-tested way to keep clutter out of sight.
A style like this would work equally well in a bedroom or living room, and the spacious nature of the boxes means bulkier items, such as gaming paraphernalia and board games, can be stowed away, along with any smaller bits and bobs.
Divide and conquer
As kids get bigger, toys tend to get smaller. This sounds good in theory – no more ride-on plastic trucks or enormous dolls’ houses to contend with – but in their place come hundreds of fiddly little bits. Lego springs to mind, but also cars, miniature figures, beads, pens, you name it – all in need of a home that isn’t the floor.
A cabinet like this takes inspiration from the larder, with lots of smaller drawers hidden away behind neat doors. It’s worth looking at tool storage, too, as many designs have lots of see-through compartments that can be ideal for storing and sorting tiny toys.
Slot in some drawers
On the windowsill, a lovingly curated collection of aesthetically pleasing wooden toys. In the drawers below? Well, it’s anyone’s guess, but the lurid-pink plastic monstrosities that most house-proud parents love to hate would be nicely out of sight with a set-up like this.
Low, deep drawers provide the double whammy of blending in seamlessly when closed while providing good toy storage that’s easy for a child to access, making getting out and putting toys away a doddle. A bay window like this is the perfect place to consider putting in this sort of solution.
How to have a stylish home with kids
Make the most of a cupboard
Small people have small clothes, so rather than wasting the area underneath the clothes rail, use this empty space for drawers or shelves to store toys.
Put smaller items in a colourful canvas bag to keep them all together, and remember to place toys that are used most near the bottom, so children can get to them easily. You can always reconfigure the space as your little one grows.
Tailor a tub
No matter how much we may like the idea of a toy-free living room, the reality for most is that they get… everywhere.
A hard-wearing plastic trug might not sound like the most stylish solution in your living space, but, as seen here, swapping garish brights for more muted colours, then housing them in a low-level wooden unit, provides a smart, practical home for toys when the kids have finished playing.
What methods have you used for keeping toys tidy? Share your ideas in the Comments section.