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How to Reduce the Toy Mountain in Your Home

Try these clever ways to accommodate play and toy storage throughout your home

Houzz Ireland Contributor. I’m an an Architect and House Consultant based in Dublin…. More

If you have young children, you may just feel like your life is being taken over by toys. Every birthday and festive occasion prompts an avalanche of fresh playthings and gizmos – all to be accommodated in an already bursting home. If you have a playroom, your only issue will be how best to store the toys. If not, you’ll need to find ways to blend play and toy storage through the different rooms of your house or flat. If it all seems too much, just remember that by the time your children are teens, their only ‘toys’ will probably be hand-held smartphones.

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Go mobile
A trolley of toys could be a flexible solution for an apartment, where all the rooms are on one level. The wheels include a braking system, so there’s no chance any of those toys will fly away on their travels. It’s also a fine option for the budding artist, allowing all manner of paint or craft materials to be accessed easily, moveable to whichever room they wish.

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Set up for study and play
A homework desk is an essential element of an older child’s bedroom, and a version that’s part of a shelving unit is a good call to pack in extra storage. A fold-down desk will work well in a confined space. (Just make sure the shelves are tall enough for school books, the tallest of which will be in the order of 32cm.)

Over the years, the storage needs may morph from space for toys into room for gadgets or sports paraphernalia. Opt for a build-it-yourself design, so that you can really tailor the storage to what is required. For example, the more untidy your child, and the more aesthetically challenging the things you know they’ll need to store, the more the focus should be on closed storage rather than open shelving.

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Make more of your kitchen
If you have a pre-school child, it can feel like he or she is magnetically attracted to you – they just want to be close to wherever you are. Let your kitchen planning embrace this, by making sure to leave space for a play area near your kitchen if you have a big enough room or open-plan space.

Position it far enough away, of course, so that your little one isn’t in any of the space you’ll use for cooking, which could be dangerous.

Something as simple as a low table will be perfect, with storage tubs underneath for toys not in use. Set up a little play kitchen, too, if you can, which will fit the theme beautifully.

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Work the island
Sticking to the kitchen for another tip, but specifically with larger or open-plan rooms in mind, the focus is on the island. Borrow the part of your island that faces away from the work area and requisition it for long-term toy storage. Use tubs and baskets to conceal toys if you have open shelving, or reserve that for children’s books, as seen on the bottom shelf here, and hide toys inside closed cupboards. You can then retrieve the space in later years for cookery books and kitchen overflow.

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Boost a bay window
A window recess is the perfect place to create a cosy seat that doubles as a play surface. Fit drawers beneath for concealed toy storage or stow toys in tubs on open shelves for easy access.

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Even if your existing windows don’t have a natural recess, it may be possible to artificially boost what’s there…

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…or even to create one from scratch, especially if you’re extending the back of your house and creating new windows (see how this could work in the home office pictured above). Talk to a designer and get their opinions on what might be possible in your room.

Find an architect or building designer local to you in the Houzz directory

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Flank the fireplace
A low storage bench works well, too, either side of a chimney breast. This can double up as extra seating when a large gang gathers, as well as a useful surface to place a television. That’s multi-tasking at its best!

Drawers, like these, might be more practical than a lift-up top depending on your space and whether you are likely to pile more than cushions on the top surface.

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Tuck it inside a smart cupboard
This is a super-clever storage unit. It has two big toy storage cupboards, each with doors that glide away and shelves that pull out to form a play surface or desk.

Look around and see if you could make space for something like this – it doesn’t have to fill a full wall, of course. It would be a good solution either in a playroom or on a wall in any room in the home, and you’ll have great toy storage that can be magicked away with a flick of the wrist.

Adjustable shelves in the cupboards will work well, with clear-faced tubs like these a bonus for easy access to toys and small pieces.

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Be flexible
Whether within a cupboard or open to a room, adjustable shelves allow your toy storage to adapt to every stage of childhood.

An adjustable table is a handy option, too, as it is capable of growing with your child and progressing from play surface to study desk in later years.

Add storage boxes on wheels under the table for maximum flexibility.

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Let your dream larder inspire you
Nurture the collector or small-parts enthusiast with storage as clever as your fridge or larder and packed with pull-out storage drawers or baskets.
Fit a few compartmentalised drawers to the main cabinet, for really practical storage.

Bespoke is the obvious way to go for this, but you might be equally able to adapt an affordable off-the-shelf kitchen unit for the purpose, or even use one as it is – but simply install it elsewhere in your home. Once you’ve made your choice, max the space even further; line the doors with shallow pockets sized to accommodate even the smallest of pieces, as here, or consider hanging storage.

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Box off the bedroom
Make your child’s bedroom wall multi-task by creating the snuggliest of built-in beds.

Deep cupboards each side of the bed can house toys and clothes. Add drawers beneath and high-level shelves over the bed to make best use of every last centimetre.

You’ll have more floor space for play and for those large toys of early childhood.

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Face up to books
You’ll want to nurture the early reader and have books visible where your little ones play. Storing the books with the covers facing outwards produces a colourful display and needs minimal depth, a great solution where space is tight.

Buy lengths of ready-made picture ledge or make your own. You’ll need a depth of just 15cm, manageable in even the tightest of spaces.

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Boost your staircase
The smaller the child, the bigger the toys it seems. Stow those trikes or toy kitchens and garages of early childhood beneath the stairs. They can make way for sports gear and bags in later years.

Even if you can’t stretch to a fully bespoke design like this one, you should be able to DIY some basic shelves into the space for smaller items.

Get more ideas for maximising the space under your stairs for storage

How do you store toys in your home? Share tips (or vent clutter-based frustrations!) in the Comments section.

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