Toy Organization

September 8, 2014


My oldest child is 16 so I’ve been “trying” to keep toys organized for quite a few years.  I’ve attempted every technique imaginable and to no avail, the mess returns.  I can finally say, I’ve found a system that works for us!

Toy Organization via A Bowl Full of Lemons

I bought this Ikea Expedit shelf a couple of years ago, & we used it mainly for game organization.  I purged most of the games so I gained extra space for toys.  I purchased 25 bins (yikes) from Target and labeled each bin with clear 24 mm label tape.  I opted out of the fancy toy labels because it wasn’t necessary for my kids.  I wanted the organization to be as simple as possible.  After I labeled each bin, my kids had the pleasure of organizing their toys.

Toy Organization via A Bowl Full of Lemons

Our bins are labeled as follows: 

  1. Play Food (2 bins)
  2. Play Food
  3. Littlest Pet Shop
  4. Barbie Furniture
  5. Barbie Misc (shoes, purses, etc)
  6. Barbies
  7. Arts & Crafts
  8. Skylander
  9. XBox
  10. Wii
  11. Legos
  12. Games
  13. Polly Pockets
  14. Dress Up
  15. Strawberry Shortcake
  16. Monster High Dolls
  17. Monster High Furniture
  18. Monster High Misc
  19. American Girl Clothes
  20. American Girl Misc
  21. Bitty Baby
  22. Build a Bear
  23. Doll House
  24. Rainbow Loom
  25. Barbie Clothes


Toy Organization via A Bowl Full of Lemons


They’ve been using this system for a few weeks and I can honestly say the mess has stayed away.  There are 5 key points to remember, if you want this system to work for you.

  1. Teach your kids to clean up every evening.  If they don’t know how or are not going to be held responsible for this chore, the system will not work.  If they skip a day, 1 day will turn into 2, and 2 into 5.  Then you have a mess on your hands.  Repetition is key.  Don’t give up.
  2. Label each box clearly.  If they see what’s supposed to go inside, they are more likely to organize correctly.
  3. Use boxes with lids.  I’ve tried organizing toys in “bins” with no lids and the problem with that is when it’s time to clean up, they will just throw the toys into the closest bin (because it’s easy).  You can find boxes with lids just about anywhere.  You may even have some at home.  This small investment will save you so much time & headaches in the future.
  4. Keep it simple.  Kids need simple!
  5. Re-organize the bins at least once a month.  Sometimes a stray toy or 2 will get thrown into the wrong bin and before you know it, the box labeled barbies is now everything but barbies.


Toy Organization via A Bowl Full of Lemons 5

The last tip I have is to store the board games separately.  We keep ours under the play room coffee table.  When the kids want to play a game, it’s right below the table they are going to play on.  Convenient and simple organizing.

Toy Organization via A Bowl Full of Lemons


Happy Organizing!


36 comments on “Toy Organization

  1. brenda says:

    where did you buy those stripped bins? love how simple and chic it looks

  2. Sharon says:

    Great look here! I love it! My question: Did the bins from Target come striped or did you get crafty as well as organized?

  3. Sly says:

    I think this is a great idea. Realistic size containers, since kids have so many toys. I agree bins get messy so quickly. Thanks for the post.

  4. Aisha says:

    Great! Are all toys kept in the playroom? How do you organize toys in their bedroom!

    • Toni says:

      90% of them are in the toy room. The american girl dolls, books and stuffed animals are kept in bedrooms.

  5. Lana says:

    I have almost the same set up. This one is by far cuter! I love the stripe bins!!

  6. Nicole says:

    Love the toy wall organization! Do you have any suggestions on Lego storage/organization? Ours is getting out of control! I just don’t know what to do anymore! Do I organize by worlds, toss them all together, keep each thing separate? I have two boys who love Legos, and I need to get a hold of it before it is one giant mess. Any tips would be greatly appreciated. 🙂

  7. Jenny Lynn says:

    I found that polly pockets and barbies were some of the messies toys to have around. These days, I find piles of clothing, jewelry and books are what I am trying to get my children to clean up. Long gone are the toys. I like how you have used bins and labels to keep it all organized.

  8. Kelli says:

    Can you still get the expidit??? Have not been able to find one?

  9. Stefanie says:

    Toni, what size are the totes?

  10. Chris says:

    That looks like a great idea. I’ve been trying to find that 5×5 shelving unit. I don’t have an Ikea near by and it’s not on their website. I’d love one for my office/studio redo.

  11. Morgan says:

    I LOVE how streamlined and functional this is, it just looks great!

  12. Tabatha says:

    Where did you get that sofa? love the color!

  13. Melissa says:

    I love that, looks so great! What labeler did you use to make those giant labels?

  14. Erin says:

    I need toy organization when there isn’t a playroom or a basement. I LOVE this idea though and may try to incorporate it into bedrooms somehow.

  15. Melody says:

    A nice concept, but what if you or your husband aren’t around to reach toys on a high shelf? Is there a ladder for the kids or they just can’t play at that moment…?

    • Toni says:

      My youngest is almost 8 and she will get a chair if she cant reach something but most of the toys on the top shelf are for my 12 year old. 🙂

  16. Robin says:

    I didn’t see your answer on the size of the totes (Stephanie’s question). I was wondering what the wall units dimensions are. Thanks

  17. Misty says:

    Do your children have any other types of toys or do you limit them to the categories listed? Are there any toys that you only have a few of that would not warrant an entire bin?

    • Rachel says:

      They do have other toys, some kept in their rooms. If you are finding you have smaller ‘collections’ of toys, use smaller containers to store inside bins. This can also be done with the smaller accessories such as Barbie’s shoes.

  18. Colin says:

    Wow what a great post! Practical organization with a pleasing aesthetic is a beautiful thing

  19. Jocelyn says:

    Are those rubbermade containers? What brand? When did you purchase them I’ve looked on target website & nothing

  20. Darcy says:

    This system is fantastic! Love it! What would you recommend for all the miscellaneous toys that don’t fall into a particular category (and there aren’t enough of each type to warrant their own bin)? We seem to have random happy meal toys, ‘spy gear’, action figures, musical instruments, etc…its these type of toys that drive me crazy! Should I just have a misc bin??? Your blog is such an amazing source of inspiration!

    • ilovethemso says:

      We use bins too and have 2 different sizes, but junk toys don’t get a bin. If you’re talking about the kind that get forgotten after a day or a week, let them enjoy for that long and then get rid of them or keep them all in one bin. We have a little bin in each bedroom to keep treasures. Something like that allows them to week out as they get new treasures and is a great way to learn to balance in & out! :> If you don’t want to waste them, donate them, put them in a piñata, keep them in a car bag for using when boredom hits while you’re out, but it’s much easier to not let them in the door at all whenever possible.

  21. ilovethemso says:

    GORGEOUS! We have regular white bookshelves with 2 different sizes of bins; so it doesn’t look as neat. I love this! Very inspiring to pare down a bit more!

  22. Heather says:

    I’ve been using a similar system with my four kids for a few years. Some things I do different. I have full height and half height bins. I have some broader categories like “vehicles”, “animals” and “characters”. This system helps me to limit quantities of toys and to rotate. I only keep one building set out at a time like blocks OR Lincoln logs OR duplos. One set of dolls Barbie OR Monster High OR Polly Pocket. In general we only keep as many toys as can fit in a bin. If all the vehicles can no longer fit in the bin (excluding big Tonka trucks) we need to weed some out. I’ve gone through three sets of bins trying to find what works best. I agree with you, clear Rubbermaid type containers with lid work best.

  23. Jessi says:

    you mentioned American Girl dolls are in their bedrooms. Would you mind sharing how you organize/display them? They are always beautifully displayed in the AG stores but I find it difficult to do something that looks nice in reality at home. Thanks!

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