How to Organize and Store Toys

I have to admit, I have a soft spot for toys. Vintage looking wooden ones are my favorite. I guess my inner child is alive and well, which as a former Art and Play therapist, I take as a good sign! This is definitely an area where I have difficulty purging our home – a. I love toys, and b. they have sentimental meaning to me because they remind me of when the kids were little.

As a little girl, I would play for hours with my dollhouse, Cabbage Patch Kids and Barbies. I didn’t have any Playmobil growing up, I was first introduced to it by the adorable girls that lived in my neighborhood when I was a teenager. Hi Becca, Karesten and Patricia and mama Sue! They had a pretty extensive collection and I was fascinated by it! What I both love and hate about Playmobil as an adult is the teeny tiny bits and pieces – whoever designs these toys- and what a fun job that would be – puts so much thought into the littlest details, and I am all about the little details. However, this makes for storing and organizing these toys a bit of a challenge! Which brings me to today’s topic!

All 3 of my kids have owned and enjoyed playing with Playmobil, but it’s my youngest who has always enjoyed it the most. She will spend hours setting up little scenes, or what we in the design world call vignettes.

Over the years we have developed quite the extensive collection. I have struggled with where and how to store this stuff, and I have finally landed on a solution that works for us, so wanted to share it with you guys! And even though today’s post is about storing Playmobil specifically, the solution to my storage problem could work for many types of toys – I’m looking at you lego!

Just like in real estate, one of the biggest factors to consider when storing toys is “location location location”! In my experience it is always best to store toys where the kids most frequently use them. If that means they have to live in the common areas of your home, it’s great to be able to find a spot to hide them when they are not in use. When we bought our current house 5 years ago, one of the things I was most excited about was to have a playroom in the basement.

I had so much fun creating this fun and playful space for my kids, and I was really excited for Stella to have a place to set up her Playmobil. I was MOST excited to have these toys in a specific area that wasn’t underfoot and that I didn’t have to walk past all day long.

But guess what. there was a fundamental flaw with this plan. Stella didn’t feel comfortable being in the basement by herself, which unless she has a friend over, is how she likes to engage with her Playmobil toys. So even though we had the cutest playroom, it was in the wrong location!

So we moved her stuff upstairs to her room, which seemed like a good place for her to play.

Wrong again. He bedroom is quite small and the floor space is very limited. She would set everything up and spread it out over the floor, but then it was a nightmare to try and navigate in her room. Imagine stepping on this stuff in the middle of the night in your bare feet! And as the collection grew, storage was also becoming a problem.

It became clear that we needed to come up with a better location for this collection, but I was struggling with where to put it! As I have mentioned in a previous post, our main “formal” living room is the biggest room in our house, but sees the least amount of action. For whatever reason, we spend the majority of our time in the kitchen and family area. I decided that the living room made the most sense as a place for Stella to play with her Playmobil. It’s a big wide open space, it’s on the same floor but is removed enough that she can have some privacy, which is important to her when she submerges herself into this little make believe world!

Even though we don’t use the living room very much, I still wanted this to be a space that could look neat, tidy and “grown-up” when the occasion calls for it. After thinking about this long and hard, I finally came up with a system that is working really well for us, so I thought I would share it here in case this is something that you struggle with…

I thought about purchasing a piece of furniture that could function as hidden toy storage, and then I realized the perfect pieces were already in place.

These cupboards on either side of our fireplace are perfect! They are deep and have shelves and drawers, so they provide ample storage. The only downfall is that their main function is to house our TV components, so those had to stay. But there was still tons of room.

Once I had a designated area to store our Playmobil collection, I quickly decided to buy some clear plastic see through bins to put everything in. Stella and I went through and figured out how to break things into groups. I have learned that this is pretty essential when organizing things for your kids – make sure you have a system that makes sense to them, then it is easier for them to put things away.

These bins from Ikea are my favorites for storing things. They are good quality, come in different sizes which are stackable and they are affordable. But the main key to success here is that they are see through. That way, you can tell as soon as you look at the bin what it should contain. Again, makes cleaning up way easier. Because I have a love of labeling, I took it one step further and used a paint pen to write on the outside of the bin. There are many ways you can label your bins, some of them pretty darn fancy. I decided to keep it simple!

Some of the oversize items don’t fit in a bin, but just so happened to tuck into the cupboards quite nicely. The only things that didn’t fit were the wooden dollhouses. When they are not being used, they get tucked over beside the couch.

If we have anyone coming over and need the space to be free of toys, I can easily move these to a different room temporarily. At this stage of life, with only one kiddo left who is still playing with toys, I am totally okay with this set up.

I am learning how quickly our kids grow up, and in a few years our Playmobil collection will be irrelevant. Inset ugly crying here. But for now, I will enjoy having my living room look like this…

…knowing that with a quick tidy-up, it can look like this:

So to sum it up, the two things that helped me solve our Playmobil storage problem were:

  1. Finding the best location – knowing where my kids are using their toys and how they play with them.

  2. Identifying a piece of furniture or cupboard that can be dedicated to toy storage.

  3. Using the appropriate-sized clear plastic bins to store the toys when they are not in use.

I am so happy that we have a system that is working for us…for now. Do you struggle with toy storage? Do you have any systems in place that are working well for you and your kiddos?

Hope you found something useful in this post, and as always,

Thanks for Reading!

xo, Kerri