Do toys end up creating a mess in your living room? Figuring out how to organize toys in a family space while creating a play area near the toys in your living room may present some storage problems. This blog post will offer storage solutions for a play space in your living room.
There are best practices on how to organize toys in a living room, such as making it easy to clean up, sorting by category, and limiting the number of available toys. The living room is a central place in your home to organize toys since family often gathers there.
Toys in a living room make sense. Parents can sit on the couch while kids play. Setting up a living room with a rug, sofas, side tables, and a toy area makes your home feel cozy.
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Read on for:
How to organize toys in a living room
Which is better for toy organization: clear bins or hidden storage?
Creating a clean-up habit
Arranging a living room with toys
Hiding toys in a living room
Organizing too many toys
Incorporating a playroom into a living room
Example: How we organize Lego
How to Organize Toys in a Living Room
For reference, my children are ages 9, 8, and 6 at the time I am writing this blog post. My children's generation is known as Gen Alpha, which includes kids born between 2010 and 2024.
Whether you like clear bins or baskets that disguise what is inside, toy organization can be simplified using the following four steps.
The first step to organizing toys in a living room is to reverse declutter. The first thing to do to tackle toy clutter is to pull all the toys in one area and get ready to reverse declutter. To reverse declutter, decide what to keep first. Which toys do your children play with the most? Which ones are definite favorites?
Asking your children which toys are favorites is a great way to declutter with children and include them in the process.
The next part of reverse decluttering is to evaluate the toys not chosen as "keep" and consider why you did not select them. Ask your kids which toys are their favorite toys and why. Set them aside as keep and encourage them to be honest about how they feel about certain toys you are considering decluttering.
Decluttering these toys may feel difficult because questions arise that make you doubt letting them go. Questions like:
What if they want to play with this later?
What if they ask for this toy after I've donated it?
I spent money on this toy. How can I recoup my investment?
Answers to these questions will range and will feel scary. Do your best, and do not force yourself to let go of items just for the sake of decluttering. Try using the 20/20 rule to declutter potentially useful toys.
Simple living is about living intentionally with your items and recognizing what is extra in your life. That takes time and practice. There are many advantages to slow and simple living, and decluttering toys will help you see those benefits in your home.
The second step to organizing toys is to sort by category. Duplos with Duplos. Magnatiles with Magnatiles. Cars with Hot Wheel tracks. Dinosaurs with dinosaurs. Action figures with action figures. Large toys may be another category.
Grouping the type of toy with similar toys can help consolidate the storage requirements (craft supplies with glue and paper, toy cars with tracks). Note that you might declutter again after you have categorized. Categories may stand out as not played with any longer.
The third step in organizing toys is to decide on storage. After trying several options, the clear and lidless storage bins work best for my children. Transparent storage is not hidden storage. If you like to hide toys, baskets with lids may fit better in your living room.
This third step is when I purchase storage. After determining what is sticking around and how many categories we have, I decide how many bins I need. We've repeatedly made the eight on our toy shelf work, and I've not needed to buy more storage. We do not use toy rotation. As one category phases out, the label gets changed.
Birthdays and Christmas influence toy organization as the kids receive new toys. Evaluating every few months is the best way to ensure the most appropriate categories are available for play. The older the kids get, the smaller the pieces. Organize small toys and small parts for sets with zip bags (we use these zip bags for lego kits) or inside Sterilite bins inside a basket.
Birthdays and holidays tend to surge the number of toys we have to manage in our home. The one-in-one-out rule can help you declutter toys by category, but will not help you during those toy seasons of life.
The last step to organizing toys is to label storage containers for easy access. Labeling promotes independent clean-up. For young children, use an image instead of a word. A picture of train tracks will teach them which bin to put their train tracks back into after playing. At the end of the day, teaching kids to clean up and to care for their toys are important life skills.
Which is better for toy organization: clear bins or hidden storage?
Clear or hidden storage is 100% your preference and how it functions in your home. I've tried hidden storage (pretty baskets) with lids, but it complicated the clean-up process for my kids. In our house, the kids need to clean up their toys independently (because I do not want to do it for them any longer). Therefore, clear and lidless containers work best for our family.
I love hidden toy storage. Visually it's just NICE and a great idea to organize toys in a living room. Functionally, it adds extra steps for the kids to be able to clean up. Cas the Clutterbug has an excellent quiz for which type of Clutterbug you might be. I tested as a butterfly; she says most children are also butterflies. We need clear toy storage to keep it easy!
Creating a clean-up habit
Please allow me to explain how long this step took me to teach the kids and put it into daily practice. In hindsight, it took more than a year for me to nail down the best storage types for us (thanks again, Cas!), teach the kids, and prioritize a daily toy tidy-up.
We spend 5-10 minutes each morning and each afternoon on a daily reset. Alexa fires up some dance music offering an easy way to get in the mood to tidy up together. Toys get cleaned up, surfaces get cleared, clothes get put away, and I do a bit of spot cleaning.
Larger toys rest on the top of our toy shelf instead of taking up too much space in one of the bins.
How can I arrange a living room with toys?
After you have completed the four steps listed above, think about your living room in zones. A "play zone" will have a space on the floor for kids to play with their toys nearby. A gathering zone would have seating with side tables to chat with guests and family. Another zone will face the TV or fireplace.
Our larger couch faces the television, with a loveseat facing the window. A matching chair sits in the corner as a reading nook that faces the center of the room to allow an extra seat for guests. The L-shape forms a gathering space to visit with friends and family while also functioning to watch tv.
The toy shelf sits behind our large couch, with space for them to play behind the couch and on the rug in front of the sofa. Two benches under our window add extra seating.
Here's a picture of our living room.
How can I hide toys in my living room?
You can hide toys in baskets with lids, wicker chests, and baskets tucked inside coffee tables or shelves. Small labels will help keep it organized, and keeping each basket 50-75% full will help keep it tidy.
Our main toy categories are kept in clear bins on the toy shlef in our living room. Two hidden storage bins are housed in our coffee table for Lego kits. Our coffee table is a lift top coffee table which has additional storage inside (I store my Bible study supplies in it).
How do you organize too many toys?
Too many toys in one area make it difficult to organize and manage daily. Too many toys make it hard to tidy and keep track of in your living room. Declutter broken toys and toys with missing pieces. In general, toy rotation solves the problem of too many toys.
Decluttering and simplifying will help, but you could also try a toy rotation. Using the four steps noted above (declutter, categorize, organize, and label), you would intentionally organize and label in different storage for some categories.
With toy rotation, you only keep a few categories available for play in your living room. Store the remaining categories in storage, such as a garage or basement. Build a monthly habit of rotating categories available for playing.
Try the boundary method for organizing toys in your living room, then determine if the remaining categories should be decluttered or stored for toy rotation.
How do I incorporate a playroom into my living room?
Adding a playroom into your living room requires designating a play area and a toy storage area. Ideally, the toys and the play area would be near one another. Use a rug to create a boundary for a playroom in the living room, and position furniture to separate the playroom from the living room area.
Employing lower shelves will encourage independent play and easier clean-up for children. Stowing toys with small parts on higher shelves is an excellent option for creating a safe play space for young kids.
Here is our toy shelf. It sits behind our large couch and has a play area on the floor in front of the toy shelf. The kids also tend to play on the rug in front of the coffee table. The bins wander to our dining room table sometimes, too.
How we organize Lego
Our toy organization system has branches. Lego has one dedicated toy bin on our toy shelf or those miscellaneous Lego pieces.
We have a basket under our coffee table with zip bags for the Lego kits. We take these to doctor appointments, sports events, etc., for the kids to build.
Lastly, the kids keep assembled kits on shelves in their bedrooms. In this video, I show you our lego organization and discuss the anxiety triggered by a Lego mess on our dining room table.
Organizing toys in your living room may feel challenging, but it can feel cohesive with some thoughtful furniture arrangement. Remember how easy you want to clean up toys, the categories of toys you own, and how simplifying the number of toys available will keep your living room feeling cozy and welcoming.
As a final note, this blog post was specifically about organizing toys in a living room. My kids have toys in the bedrooms, also. We have two large baskets at the foot of my son's beds, which house trains, tracks, and blocks. My daughter has dolls, Barbies, and a doll house in her bedroom. Barbies have shoes, purses, and other smaller toys that she keeps in a small basket near the Barbie toys.