A Storage Solution for Big Toys (and an IKEA hack!)

Use this storage idea for large toys to keep them neat and tidy. This storage solution for big toys can be modified to work in almost any room!

Organizing Big Toys in a Kids' Playroom

If you have been reading this blog for long, you know that we do not live in the biggest house on the planet. Our home is a 3 bedroom townhouse, and it may not be the fanciest thing ever, but it’s ours and we love it. 🙂

Though we don’t have a dedicated toy room, we have a large living room area, so one side houses the couch, coffee table, and TV, and the other half is toy heaven. When our boys started accumulating a lot of toys and games, we purchased an EXPEDIT (which has since been replaced by the KALLAX) from IKEA, labeled some bins, and called it a day.

previous toy storage system

But then something started to happen. As the boys got bigger, so did their toys. Things that didn’t fit in the cube unit were put in the “toy corner,” and eventually, we ended up with this:

big toys sitting next to the cabinet

It was a big hot mess of toy clutter that was driving me crazy. And this was a good day. Sometimes it was all just thrown in a pile– eeek!

So when Christmas happened and was closely followed by Connor’s birthday which meant that even more big toys made their way into our house, it was time to do something about the toy situation. (I got rid of a bunch of toys, I promise! They just really like the big ones! 😉 )

The Easiest Way to Store Large Toys

I went on a search for some sort of storage something that would tame this craziness, and I stumbled upon the perfect thing at my oh-so-trusty IKEA. I should have known they would have a solution!

We ended up bringing home two HEJNE shelving units, which were technically from the pantry section but were a great size for the toys we had as well. (And they were pretty inexpensive too!)

two unpainted IKEA storage shelves side by side

Donnie put them together for me and we were in business! Except… the raw wood wasn’t really doing it for me. Around here anything that can be painted usually does get painted at some point, and these little babies were no exception.

Because they are in our main living area that we use all the time, I didn’t want any crazy colors or kid-themed designs even though they were going to hold toys.

I also knew that with as much as I change things around, I would want to be able to use them for something else if I needed to. Ultimately, I decided to whitewash them and (spoiler alert!) I really love how they came out!

How to Whitewash Unfinished Wood

I had done a little whitewashing before, but I wanted to make sure I was doing it the right way. So I checked out several different tutorials before I got started and each one recommended something different!

One said use two parts water to one part paint. Another said use two parts paint to one part water. A third one said that I should stain before I whitewashed. And yet another one recommended glaze. I think I ended my research more confused than when I started!

Fortunately, I found this process pretty forgiving and after trying several different methods, I found that what worked for me was to do a mixture of about 60% paint and 40% water. I painted it on my surface with a brush and then used a rag to wipe off some of the excess.

close up of painted shelf with a white rag

The result was the exact look I was going for: softer and lighter than the plain wood but still allowing some of the wood grain to show through. I snapped this photo when one of the units was painted and the other wasn’t so you can see the difference:

one painted and one unpainted storage shelf to store big toys on

(Just ignore the fact that there are toys everywhere and some of my Christmas decorations are still up in the background, mmmk? 😉 )

I finished painting the second storage unit and I had two beautifully whitewashed toy shelves! Yippee!

large toy storage shelves after painting them white

Storage Solution for Big Toys: Final Thoughts

These truly ended up being the perfect pieces to hold all of those big, bulky toys. Everything is super easy to find and there is no more toy explosion in the corner of my house, so that’s a plus.

finsihed shelves storing large toys

Tips for storing toys

Before brainstorming toy storage solutions, declutter first! Over the years, kids accumulate a lot of stuff. Getting rid of broken toys, ones with lost pieces, and those that aren’t played with often will make organizing much easier.

side view of large toys on our new IKEA shelves

3 Other Storage Ideas for Large Toys

If these storage units won’t work in your space or you prefer something different, here are a few ways to store bigger toys out of sight:

Ottoman and Coffee Table Storage

Not only could can the toys be hidden, but here’s the chance to add a new piece to the living room that looks nice but is also functional.

Shop Coffee Tables and Ottomans with Storage


If there’s room to add an armoire, this is genius. Sometimes there can be found for a fairly good price at thrift shops and yard sales. It would only take a little work to rearrange the shelves inside to accommodate bigger toys.

Shop Storage Armoires

The Closet

There may be a closet in the house that is in need of reorganizing where the larger toys would fit perfectly. It’s also possible that shelving could be installed to maximize that space, without totally giving it up for toys.

Toy Storage: Frequently Asked Questions

For starters, clean out any toy that is missing pieces, not played with, broken, or those that the kids have outgrown.

Keep toy purchases to a minimum. During holidays and special occasions, explore experience gift options with kids versus a ton of toys that are going to pile up.

Create an organization system that kids can help with, so they always put their things back in the correct spot. When everything has its own place, clutter becomes easier to manage.

Want to save this post to revisit later? Be sure to pin the image below so you can find it easily!

How to Organize Larger Toys

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

What is your system for storing big toys?

abby signoff


  1. Emily, Our house now a home says:

    This is a great solution to the big toy problem. I am really spoiled. Living in the mid west our home has a full basement. We have a play room, game room, spare bedroom, and office down stairs. Along with our kids bedrooms. We have been toy free in the living room and study since my youngest mastered stairs. It is glorious. So I am not needing to organize them a ton. In their rooms we have shelves to put their toys on, and some hang out on the floor. BTW my boys have almost identical groups of toys, thought that was funny.

  2. What a brilliant idea! We have the same issue in our house right now and I have been struggling with what to do about it…I just might need to make a trip to IKEA now 🙂

  3. My kids have many of the same toys. Those Imaginext toys can take up a lot of room. My husband had to hang a shelving unit in my youngest son closet after his birthday and Christmas this year to store all the new huge Imaginext toys he received.

  4. Christy@Confessions of a Serial Do-it-Yourselfer says:

    My youngest would love coming to play at your house! Love this inexpensive solution for the big toys! XO

  5. Kim@NewlyWoodwards says:

    The big toys really are the hardest – and any solution that gets them off the ground is a winner in my book. This looks great!

    I’ve been toying with the idea of building a little outdoor toy “garage” for all the big outdoor toys this summer.

  6. My son has every one of those toys and they are currently spread across my living room floor. Apparently Imagnext is popular 🙂 Great storage solution.

  7. A Toy storage is something that I really need! I have two boys and believe me, there are toys everywhere on the ground! I need some place where the toys will be nicely stored! Thanks for the ideas! Greets, Storage Noakhill Ltd.

  8. Amber Slocum says:

    LOVE how these came out Abby. I have been in serious need of a solution for our large toy situation and this looks like it could be the ticket. Can you buy additional shelves for the unit? Or is 4 the max?

  9. Hi, may I know if it is a must to mount them to the wall? The Ikea instruction says that it has to be mounted but I am just wondering if it is stable enough on its own. My landlord does not allow any drilling so I am having trouble finding a cheap shelf as I am only staying for a few months.

  10. Thank you for this!!

  11. Paula Appleton says:

    This IKEA storage solution is a great idea Abby! It gives you a lot of flexibility for the larger toys. I believe IKEA has a standard size toy box as well that could compliment this for some of the smaller toys! Great ideas! Thanks!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So true, Paula! Thanks so much and have a great week!

      ~Abby =)

  12. I found your blog while searching for the same kind of solution! Then I went on a wild goose chase. They changed the name to HEJNE for this shelf. I’m so excited to have found it, bc this is exactly what I needed! Thanks for the idea! I couldn’t deal with all of these on the floor either. I have girls, so white the toys are different, we still have the same issue. Planning to get the same size Kallax, too!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Oh, good! So glad you found it, Lauren!

      ~Abby =)

  13. What are the dementions?

Comments are closed.