We’ve come to terms that our living room is also our playroom. That when we have adults over, it is very likely they can trip over a toy truck. Our friends understand the dangers also. This is the condo city life we are currently living, but there are ways to utilize the space in a better way!
We had developed a little system that worked for a while- until it didn’t. It worked for one baby, then one toddler and a baby and now that there are two toddlers and Christmas happened- oh man! The clutter and madness was taking over- so I made a plan to turn the living room toy organization into a better system.
They have a little craft corner and play table in my three year old’s room. Other than that, the majority of toys are right smack in the middle of the living room. No nook to the side or corner hidden away. So I’ve always tried to create something that at least flowed well with the room. But it was time for an update. This is what happened with my first system…
Hmm, we had a little overflow problem. This was soo not working anymore.
Even my labels needed an upgrade. More about those later…
Get Rid of Toys!
First things first, going through toys and giving away what is not played with is a must for managing clutter. As I reorganized and put things in piles- I also had a trash bag ready. Broken toys, used up coloring books, and toys with missing pieces. All that goes!
Pick Out Furniture
Next step is deciding your furniture and storage system. In our staircase were two bookcases filled with my husband and I’s books. We decided we could go through and reduce our book amount, then switch them out with the bookcase in the living room (I had transformed it into a super cute bar before kids- I’m still hopeful it’ll go back to that one day. This should explain the wine cork top and wine glass rack. 🙂 )
It was a win win since it made us purge books that we probably are never going to open again- like those 10 year old textbooks from college that we kept “just in case”. Does anyone open those again?? Maybe- I guess it depends on the field. Anywho…
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Our bookcases came from different places since we both had one before we met- but they are practically identical! There are a few places to find a unit like this: Ikea, Walmart, Amazon, Costco or Target.
Since we had those, I wanted to buy bins or crates that were “living room nice”- to keep some resemblance of an adult space. Which meant steering clear of the bright ones that screamed playroom. I got mine at Target (on sale!) These are similar ones: here and here.
Make Labels & Organize
Finally, you want to assign a “home” to each of your toys. This makes play and clean up go a lot smoother. Something I had started before that really really helps with clutter is making labels, where similar toys were grouped together. The pictures on the label help them put away toys on their own- probably can start at 18 months, but my oldest got really good with it after his 2nd birthday. A couple of things this avoids:
Your son (or daughter) dumping out every single bin to find one Thomas the train engine.
Your son stuffing one bin with every single toy when cleaning up- which leads to it breaking because it wasn’t meant to hold 1,000 toys.
Added benefits are your kids learn more about categories, which helps them make connections. Who knew cleaning up could also mean learning new things!
What’s even better is when my three year old corrects someone when they put a toy in the wrong place- I guess there’s no question that he’s my son huh?
Side note: If you can, laminate the labels so your 18 month old doesn’t rip them off (this happened to me 🙁 ). I attached mine with zip ties I got at Home Depot.
!! Make sure you anchor your tall furniture! Our base boards kept the bookcases 2 inches away from the wall, so these straps were the best fit. They also have excellent reviews.
Beyond the Storage Unit
The space is still tight, so there are a few large items that had to be organized around the shelf. Riding toys are kept in the hall closet and other toys (if you can believe it, even more trucks) in the bottom drawer of a large filing cabinet/storage furniture that is on the other side of our tv. We’ll rotate those toys in to keep the choices fresh.
I just ordered this puzzle rack that we’ll be adding soon to organize all the puzzles on the top shelf.
Overall, I’m happy with the transformation. The toys aren’t completely hidden but we are past that point- everyone knows the kids run our lives, no point in trying to hide it! But at least it’s not completely overwhelming- where toys are overflowing into the entire living room.
It can seem like a big project, but I promise it’ll feel amazing when you are done!
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