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How to Declutter Kids’ Toys and an Organized Playroom Tour

Get a peek into my process for how to clutter kids’ toys and take our organized playroom tour! (Yes, it’s possible to have an organized playroom! 😉 )

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Can I be honest? I needed to write today’s post more for me than for anybody else! 🙂 Of alllllllll of the things I organize in our home, the kids’ toys can be one of the most challenging, and our playroom was getting a little bit crazy.

Sure, it looked innocent enough when we showed it in our one year home tour a few weeks ago…

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…but in reality, there were a lot of issues going on in this space. I felt like every single shelf was packed to the brim with stuff, much of which the boys never even played with.

Not only did this make it hard for the boys to find the toys they were looking for, but the room was always a mess because not everything had a designated spot, and it was hard to put things away.

I also wasn’t crazy about the layout of the space. We had brought in the card table as a stand in piece when the boys outgrew their much smaller lego table, but it took up too much of the useable floor space. The result was that the boys’ actual play space was really limited and the room always felt crowded.

I finally decided that I couldn’t take it anymore when I walked into the playroom and it looked like this:

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About every 6 months or so, I try to go through all of the boys’ toys and help them purge anything that they’re not loving or using anymore, and we were definitely due for a good clean out!

Pegboards with Art Displayed

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How to Declutter Kids’ Toys

I thought I would first talk about the process we go through to purge and declutter the kids’ toys, and then I’ll show you what we ended up with for our final organizing systems!

1. Prime the Pump

A few weeks before I know I’ll be doing one of our major playroom purges, I start trying to pay extra close attention to what the boys are playing with and what they’re not. When I’ve gotten a good idea of what toys seem to be on the way out, I will start casually mentioning that it might be time to let those go soon.

I’ll say things like, “Caleb, you don’t really seem to play with those Imaginext toys now that you’re getting so big! Since you seem to be liking your Legos better these days, why don’t we think about giving the Imaginext castle to a younger kid who might not have one?”

Having these types of conversations helps me further gauge the boys’ level of attachment to certain toys, and it gets them thinking about whether or not they’re ready to let them go.

2. Make the First Pass Alone

Once I’ve gotten the boys used to the idea of a toy purge, I try to go through the room and make the first pass of decluttering by myself. This lets me get rid of the stuff that really needs to go (think: broken toys, things that unsafe or worn out, trash, etc.) without the boys there to protest.

I definitely don’t get rid of anything they’re still really attached to. These are more items that they’ll never miss and that will be better for all involved if they’re gone for good. 🙂

3. Bring in the Kiddos

After I’ve done the initial pass through everything, I’ll bring in the boys to help. They know their toys way better than I do, so they know what’s missing pieces, what hasn’t worked for a while, what they’re not using anymore, etc.

We go through each and every bin and really try to be as ruthless as possible. At this point, they know that they’ll be happier if their playroom is organized and not packed to the brim with stuff, so they’re pretty good about knowing what they want to keep and what they should let go.

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This step will probably look different for each and every family. At 6 and 8, my boys are a little older now, so they are able to stay fairly focused for a good amount of time and we can get through things fairly quickly.

When the boys were really small, I mostly went through the bins by myself and only asked them for input if something seemed borderline keep or toss. When they got a little bigger, they might help me do one or two bins and then we’d wait until the next day and do one or two more. You know your own kids and what they can handle!

4. Donate and/or Sell!

We of course throw away trash and anything that is unsafe from the playroom, but if we have toys that are still in good condition, I try to either donate them or sell them on Craigslist or Facebook yard sale groups. (I’m not a big consignor myself, but that is also another great option if you have kids’ consignment shops near you!)

Since we had a lot of larger sets that were in good condition that we were finished with, I checked with the moms from my church’s MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group this time, and was able to give away almost all of our items to younger kids who were in the perfect phase to play with them.

Our church also has a yard sale every year to raise money for the youth mission trips, so I will sometimes save a bunch of items to donate there. There are often other local mission organizations or shelters looking for toy donations as well. And of course many thrift stores will take toys too.

5. Evaluate Space and Storage

Once I see what we have left, I try to see how I can make everything easily accessible for the boys– both to take toys out and to put them away– while making the very best use of my space.

Do I really need all of the storage pieces in the room? Is there a different piece in my house that would work better? Is there a different storage piece that would be worth investing in? Would switching around bins or containers make sense?

I thought this was going to just be a quick decluttering, but we ended up getting rid of several larger items, so I was able to rearrange almost everything to give us a space that met the boys’ needs so much better! Let me give you the grand tour! 🙂

Our Organized Playroom Tour

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

C’mon in!

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I almost feel like I breathe a sigh of relief when I come in this room now! It feels so much more open and spacious, and it functions so much better too!

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Right when you walk in the door, we have a shelf to store large toys. This was a really inexpensive IKEA shelf; it was originally just unfinished wood and I whitewashed it.

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We used to have two of these in the space, but when we got rid of some of our toys we were able to move one over to my office (it now holds my throw pillows–yay)!

With this shelf and all of the large storage pieces in the room, we always make sure to anchor them to the wall so they don’t tip over and hurt the boys. If for some reason we no longer have the original anchor system that came with the shelf, we have used these anchors, and they’ve worked really well for us.

On the next wall, we have a little bin for the boys’ stuffed animals and then a KALLAX cube unit for more toy storage.

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The striped bin on the left holds the boys’ nerf guns.

We had two smaller KALLAX pieces in here before, but this one had been down in Donnie’s office and he wanted to get it out of there, and it really ended up working better with the room configuration anyway, so we brought it up!

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We were using six fabric storage bins to hold different categories of toys but were able to go down to just four after our purge! On each one I have an adhesive bookplate with a label so the boys can easily tell what goes where.

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On the next row up I have some plastic storage bins with lids that hold some “sets” or pieces that I want to keep together. I used my Silhouette cutting machine and adhesive vinyl to label each one.

We have books on the upper two shelves, with Caleb’s being a little lower so he can reach them and Connors being up on the top shelf.

Above the storage unit, the boys helped me frame some comic books they already owned to be used as art. This was such a quick, easy, and inexpensive project, and they absolutely love it.

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On the back wall of the playroom, we created a little art station for the boys…

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We got rid of the old card table and instead brought in this desk that was an extra I had in my office. I lucked out and found the cute chairs in IKEA’s “As Is” section for a steal a few weeks ago, and they are perfect in this space.

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The boys know I must really love them because I gave them my aqua rolling cart that I love so much and turned it into a little art cart to hold all of their craft supplies.

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I used some acrylic organizing boxes to hold each of the items, so it is really easy for them to pull what they need over onto the desk and then put it back when they’re done.

I also hung a magazine rack that we had used in the boys’ old room to hold their coloring books and paper…

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…and these curtain wires (also used at our last house) were the perfect way to display the Cs’ artistic creations!

Finally, the last wall in the room holds alllllllll the Legos!

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I could go on and on about my theory behind Lego storage, but for now I’ll just say that we use these towers to hold all of our miscellaneous Lego pieces, only separating out the Lego “guys.”

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The wall map was a gift to the boys and is Discovery Kids brand. I don’t know that it is sold in regular stores anymore, but you can sometimes find it on eBay.

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Finally, we wanted to have somewhere to store the boys’ finished Lego creations, so we installed ALGOT shelves (now called BOAXEL) in the closet so they can display their sets proudly.

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We keep one file box for each boy at the bottom of the closet to hold some mementos from each school year. You can read more about how we handle kids’ paperwork in this post.

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Well that was probably more information than you ever wanted to know about kids’ toy organization!! 🙂 If you’ve stuck around this long, congratulations!! Let’s take a quick look at the before and after:

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What I love the very most about this transformation is how the boys can enjoy their space so much more now. I was at Target the other day and Donnie texted me and said, “It’s like Caleb has rediscovered all of his toys!” And it’s true! It’s amazing how much of a difference it makes when the boys can easily see what they have because it’s not cluttered up by all sorts of things they aren’t even using.

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The room has also stayed much, much cleaner since we reorganized because everything has a specific spot to go back to and it’s easy for Con and Caleb to put everything back in its place (which cuts down on the whining about cleaning up too– bonus)!

Of course, everyone’s kids and space and needs will be different! There is definitely no “one size fits all” answer when it comes to toy storage. But I hope that this tour has sparked some ideas you can use in your own home that will work perfectly for your kids and your family.

Sources

IKEA HEJNE shelf

Furniture anchors

KALLAX cube unit

Striped bin

Fabric storage bins

Adhesive bookplates

Silhouette cutting machine

Adhesive vinyl

Desk

Chairs

Rolling cart

Acrylic organizing boxes

Curtain wires

Lego storage towers

BOAXEL shelves

For more ideas on getting organized with kids, see these posts:

An Awesome and Organized Tween Hangout Room

LEGO Organization Strategies to Help Save Your Sanity

How to Organize LEGO Instruction Manuals

An Organized Boys’ Bedroom

5 Tips for Decluttering Toys Before Christmas

5 Ways to to Maximize Space in a Shared Kids’ Room (Townhouse)

Our Organized Playroom Area (Townhouse)

How to Stay Organized When You Have Kids

How to Get Your Husband and Kids on Board with Organization

Free Printable Chore Charts to Help Kids Get Organized

[Psssttt… You can find ideas for organizing every single room of the house in this post!]

Happy Organizing!

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

30 Comments

  1. Brittany L Wise says:

    I love how well you organized the playroom! We are planning something in the future for our own little ones. I am trying to find a balance between practical and pretty since its a well traveled area. Thank you for sharing several different options for us to consider!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      We had to do the same thing in the townhouse! Most of their toys were in the living room so I was constantly trying to find ways for it to be organized, functional, and also cute! 🙂 It can be a challenge for sure! Hope you’re having a great week, Brittany!

      ~Abby =)

  2. Matt Weil says:

    Nice post! I guess my room is my “play room” lol.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thanks so much, Matt! Have a great day!

      ~Abby =)

  3. Great ideas. We don’t have a dedicated playroom, but I’m looking to redo some areas where the kids toys are stored, so you gave me some inspiration! Thank you!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      We didn’t have a playroom in our townhouse either which certainly makes keeping the toys neat and organized more tricky but definitely doable! So glad the tips were helpful for you, Beth! Have a great day!

      ~Abby =)

  4. Chandra Poll says:

    So awesome! I love it! It makes me wish we had a house big enough to even have a play room. 🙂
    What do you do with the Lego instructions that come with the kits? I never know what to do with ours, but I don’t want to throw them out. The Lego all get placed in bins, but they don’t remember how to put the kits back together once they take them apart. What’s your strategy?

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Hi, Chandra! I have a file box in the bottom of the playroom closet where I separate the instruction books in hanging folders by type. (So Ninjago sets in one folder, Star Wars sets in another folder, etc.) They’re out of the way but also easy to find when the boys want to look at one. I hope this helps!

      ~Abby =)

  5. Love the new playroom. Really like how you put all the Imaginext into one bin. We have a lot of those toys also.
    We use the Kallax in our playroom. When I tried to put books on the shelves, they always fell towards the back of the cube. Any tricks for keeping them up in the front?

    Also, I have an almost 6-year old who is into legos. Do you find that your youngest son likes using the Trofast for his legos?

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Hi, Amy! The boys will occasionally push some books toward the back of the cube, but it hasn’t been a big problem for us. If it’s an ongoing problem and you like that storage method otherwise, I would just put a filler back there, like an empty shoe box, that would be hidden behind the books but also keep them from being pushed back.
      We really do like the TROFAST for Lego storage! I just bought a second one actually, since the boys’ collection has expanded! 🙂 Hope you’re having a wonderful week!!

      ~Abby =)

  6. I love this playroom. Awesome job on the organizing! I just put up an art wall for my kids using an old wooden frame and I love that. Have a great day!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thanks so much, Sarina! Aw, I’m sure your kiddos love it, too. Such a cute idea! Happy Thursday! <3

      ~Abby =)

  7. Jessica Evans says:

    Love the simplicity! I struggle with my girl’s playroom terribly. Keeping it organized seems to be our biggest issue. You always give me the inspiration to give it another shot!

    By the way… I see a familiar item, is that teal rolling cart a relocated piece? ?

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Lol! You are good! 🙂 It has made it’s way into many rooms in both of our houses! Lol! Hope you’re having a great weekend, Jessica!

      ~Abby =)

  8. Cheryl@Uncluttered Simplicity says:

    Ah…Lego storage. My nemesis! Once {during a rather frantic control-freak spell of organizing), I decided to organize all of my sons’ legos {thousands and thousands of them} by COLOR!

    Yeah, that “system” lasted all of 3 days.

    What was I thinking?

    I’d love to know your take on lego organizing!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Oh, wow! You go girl! 🙂 Lego storage is definitely on the list… has been my nemesis as well! Happy Saturday!

      ~Abby =)

  9. Great post! Yes, I am interested in your theory about Legos.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      It is definitely on the list! 🙂 Thanks for watching, Jean! Have a great day!

      ~Abby =)

  10. Isabel Freitas says:

    I love how much better they can use the space now. The removal of that center card table really made a big difference. I’ve been wanting to change up the organization of the toys here in our home for a while. They have a lot of teeny tiny toys and I had no idea of what to do with them. They’re in the bins with bigger toys and they end up going unnoticed, so the boys never play with them. I love the two towers that hold the Legos. They’re a great idea for smaller toys, as well as the plastic containers in the Ikea cube unit (which is what we also have here).

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thanks so much! I agree. Getting rid of the card table was my favorite change! 🙂

      ~Abby =)

  11. Rachel @ The Improved Me Project says:

    Love the ideas! My daughter is 3 and we are just about to create a playroom for her (all her stuff lives in the living room now!). But I honestly did not know where to start and was already feeling overwhelmed. Your post gave me great ideas! Thank you!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thank you so much for your sweet words, Rachel! And 3 is such a fun age! Have fun with your playroom project!!

      ~Abby =)

  12. Maira qadri says:

    I totally loved this post! Even though my boys are much younger,I’m pretty sure having an open space in their playroom will help their creativity, rather than all toys ending up in the family room!!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful for you, Maira! <3

      ~Abby =)

  13. Abby, I love the color you chose for your dining room. It is just beautiful. The rest of your house looks great. You two have really worked hard. Thank you for sharing.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      You are too sweet. Thank you, Robin! Happy Monday! <3

      ~Abby =)

  14. Hey Abby! I hope you don’t mind, but I added the link to this post to my newest blog post.

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      I am so honored!! Thank you so much for sharing, Michelle!

  15. Sierra Iwanicki says:

    Do you have the link for the plastic bins that fit in the cube storage areas?

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