How to Organize Toys in the Living Room: 2 Easy Principles

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If you live in a small home like ours, you may be facing the tricky question of how to organize toys in the living room. We have no playroom or family room, and the kids are too young to be playing in their bedroom unsupervised, so that leaves the living room. But how do you organize toys in the living room so it doesn’t look like a toy store went through a tornado everyday? How do you make the living room an adult hang-out space as well as a kids play area? 

a set of matching baskets in cubby holes and a cube basket full of colored building blocks

This has been a process for me over time, and I still don’t have it perfected, but I’ve learned a few things in the journey of making our living room a multi-purpose space which can apply to this issue. 

Two easy principles help when it comes to how to organize toys in the living room: simplify toys first, then utilize the best hidden storage options when storing what remains. 

How to Organize Toys in the Living Room: Simplify Toys First

Before you do anything else, start with decluttering. We often spend a ton of time figuring out how to stuff every toy our children own into some nifty organizing system. I know I’ve definitely done this. However, the stress immediately goes down when I’ve purged and there’s less stuff to be organized. 

Books, Games and Random Clutter Sitting on top of a wood coffee table with a chair and a tv on a dresser in the background

Get rid of broken toys, pass along toys that are no longer played with or your children don’t seem to love. This process can definitely be done with your children, but at my kids’ ages (2 and 1), I do it for them. Once you’ve simplified the toy collection, you will begin to see what you’ve got to work with and how to organize toys in the living room well. 

If you’re looking for more help on simplifying toys, here’s a great YouTube playlist on the subject from The Minimal Mom.  

How to Organize Toys in the Living Room: Utilize the Best Hidden Storage Options

Once I get through decluttering, I’ve found four main types of storage work best in our small living room to help with organizing and hiding away the kids’ remaining toys. 

Cube Storage or Baskets

Good old cube storage. We have this bench from Amazon with three cubes underneath. With such a small space, we really need our furniture to have more than one purpose, so this attractive storage unit stores toys and is also a bench seat for guests pulling their shoes on and off. 

Open baskets have also been a lifesaver for storing toys easily and tidying them up quickly. My husband got this coffee table at a garage sale before we were married and it’s been awesome for toy storage. I added these baskets and it makes cleanup in the evenings a breeze.

Shelves

a small bookcase filled with kids board books against a gray wall with a curtain

I picked up this shelving unit off the side of the road for free. It’s the perfect size for a toddler bookcase! Our kids love the independence of being able to pull out books to look at themselves. With having a little bookcase like this, it’s easy to see what you have (way easier than a book basket, which is what I did before). Finally, it’s a quick job to shelve books and tidy at the end of the day.  

two multi-colored toy dump trucks sitting in the bottom shelf of an end table against a gray wall next to a copper chair with a throw pillow on it and an ottoman

We also have a handy little shelf on the bottom of our end table. This is where I store the kids’ dump trucks. Now true, this is not technically “hidden” storage, but it’s off the floor and out of the way, so that’s good enough for me. 

Drawers

Another option if you’re looking at how to organize toys in the living room is drawers. If you have any furniture in the room with drawers, I’ve found this works well for toy storage also, particularly for things you want to put behind a child lock. In the top drawer of our little entertainment center, I keep our nicer books with real paper pages (toddlers love tearing book pages, don’t they?) and some fun little puzzles and games which require mom’s assistance. 

Curious George, Make Way for Ducklings and other children's books along with games and puzzles, DVDs and remotes in an open drawer on a black dresser

Again, this is an example of furniture serving multiple purposes. The entertainment center is essentially for the TV, but it also holds photo albums and toy storage. With living in a smaller home, I do my best to maximize every square inch of storage we have! 

Closets

We have a small closet in our living room, and I make use of this for bigger toys that would be awkward to store anywhere else, or would just have to be shoved up against the wall at night. It gets a little chaotic in there sometimes, but overall, it’s worked beautifully to store more bulky toys. You’ll notice we don’t actually have many toys in here, but that’s honestly because we don’t keep many oversized toys around the house. The kids have some for outside, but we keep things fairly limited due to space constraints, and the kids don’t seem to mind at all.

An open white closet door with coats, a vacuum, a toy basketball hoop, and a top shelf with two baskets and a clear plastic box with blankets in it.

Conclusion

Sometimes, it can be tempting to think if we just had more space, everything would be awesome. We wouldn’t have to figure out how to organize toys in the living room! We’d just throw them in a playroom and shut the door. 

Top photo is a storage cube with colorful building blocks in it, bottom photo is an open drawer in a black dresser with children's books and games, DVDs and remotes in it.

The truth for me, however, is that living in less square footage forces me to make decisions about what we truly need to keep, what we should get rid of, and how we can most effectively organize what remains. Even though it’s hard some days, it’s definitely worth it to have a decluttered and peaceful home. 

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