Taming the Clutter: Organized Toy Bins

*A huge thanks to Silhouette America for providing some of the heat transfer material for this project. My favorable opinion of {and borderline obsession with} all things Silhouette is 100% my own. 🙂 For more information, see my disclosures here.*

Labeled Toy Bins at JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

Hey there, friends! I’ve been meaning to share this post with you for a while, but then something always seems to come up, so I am just finally getting to it today! I kind of think that’s better, though, because now that we’ve lived with our new system of toy organization for a while, I can tell you that it is still working unbelievably well– woot woot!

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Our toys have been through numerous organizational systems. We started with a toy box. When Con accumulated too many toys for that, we purchased an Expedit (now discontinued but replaced by the very similar Kallax) from IKEA. For some reason, I just went out and bought cheap little bins for it instead of using the {still inexpensive} ones at IKEA.

Toy Organization at JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

{Our old toy bins at Christmas. Looking a little beat up, and way too small for the Expedit.}

Tip: Just spend the extra few dollars on the IKEA bins! Not only are they more durable, but they fill the full cube and therefore hold way more stuff. I loved having the extra storage space once we moved to the bigger bins, but since we could no longer see over the top of the bin to tell what type of toys it held and I didn’t have a labeling system in place, the Cs would just dump the whole bin of toys on the floor when they were looking for something. Not cool.

Labeled Toy Bins at JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

{Bigger bins but no labels = mess on the floor constantly. Except when I cleaned it up to take pictures for the blog. 😉 }

So when I discovered Silhouette’s heat transfer material, I knew exactly the project I wanted to do with it– bin labels, here we come!

Toy Organization at JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

Before I even started in on the labels, though, I had to get our huge mess of toys organized. I started by doing what the Cs always do– dumping everything out on the floor! Once I could see what all we had, I was able to tell what types of bins would make sense, and I organized the toys by type. I threw out any broken toys or toys with missing pieces, and I put things the Cs were no longer using in a “donate” pile.

Toy Organization at JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

We had 10 bins, and here are the categories we ended up with:

  • Train sets (3 bins)
  • Track
  • Puzzles
  • Games
  • Play food
  • Big trucks
  • Small trucks & cars
  • Action figures

Can you tell I have boys? 😉 Next I had to design the labels. I decided that I would use white vinyl as my base color for the design on each bin and then use the dark and light blue to add some interest. I went into the Silhouette store and purchased the images I would need.

Toy Organization at JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

Then it came time time to arrange the different shapes to be cut. This was a little challenging to figure out because I had to know which pieces needed to be cut from the white vinyl, which from the light blue, and which from the dark blue. I created one Silhouette file for each color and sorted out the shapes as needed. Then, because I’m cheap and wanted to get the most out of my vinyl, I worked to fit the shapes on my grid as closely together as possible.

Toy Organization at JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

*When you’re using heat transfer material, remember that your shapes will end up as a mirror image of how you cut them. If you’re cutting words, for example, you will need to use the mirror tool in the replicate window to flip them before you cut them like I did in this post.*

Once I had arranged all of my shapes, I loaded the heat transfer vinyl (HTV) into the Silhouette with the back side up and had the machine cut my shapes for me. I used the settings recommended by the machine which were blade 2, speed 8, thickness 4 for the smooth HTV and blade 3, speed 5, thickness 33 for the flocked (fuzzy) HTV.

Toy Organization at JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

I laid everything out to make sure it would work the way I was picturing, and then it was time to start ironing. I’m not gonna lie, friends, ironing this many pieces took a while. Most of the labels had several layers, too, so it was a multi-step process.

Labeled Toy Bins at JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

I slipped my empty bin over the end of my ironing board and placed the first layer of my design where I wanted it. I then placed a pillow case (folded in half) over the design. With my iron on the highest setting (steam off), I pressed the iron down onto the pillowcase, holding it for about 45 seconds. I repeated the process until I had ironed down all parts of my design. Sometimes the HTV didn’t “stick” the first time, so I would let it cool for a few minutes and then go back and press it again. When my first layer was completely adhered and totally cooled down (1), I would move on to the second layer and repeat the process (2), and finally I would add the third layer (3).

I did 10 bins, so this project took a large chunk of the afternoon, but it was the type of work where I could watch a movie or listen to a podcast while I was doing it, so the time went quickly. Plus, it was totally worth it in the end when we had our labeled bins!

Labeled Toy Bins at JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com
Labeled Toy Bins at JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

I know they may just be organized toy bins, but they have truly made a big impact on the state of our home! The Cs’ toy area takes up one half our our main living area; our couch/chairs/TV is on the other half, so it was important to me to create some semblance of order in this space so we didn’t always feel like we were living in chaos. With the toys organized by type and the bins labeled, there is no more dumping of the toys to try to find what you want. Clean up time is less of a battle because everything fits easily back into its designated spot. And after the Cs go to bed, Donnie and I can actually sit and enjoy a clean living room without having to step over toys all the time. AND if we ever don’t want to see the labels for any reason, we can flip the bins around and use them on the blank side.

Labeled Toy Bins at JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

I know toy organization can be a struggle– a lot of times they just seem to take over the whole house! I have found, though, that the key to taming the clutter (with toys or craft supplies or whatever!) is to (1) find the storage pieces that work for your space, (2) purge what you don’t need and with the items that are left, put like things together, and (3) label, label, label! Keeping it organized will always be a process, but with a solid system in place, that process is a whole lot easier!

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What are your best tips for taming the clutter and keeping toys organized?

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*A huge thanks to Silhouette America for providing some of the heat transfer material for this project. My favorable opinion of {and borderline obsession with} all things Silhouette is 100% my own. 🙂 For more information, see my disclosures here.*

30 Comments

  1. I love it how it came out. Our kids are pretty good about picking up their toys and putting them away and they each have their own clear bin so they can see what’s inside without dumping the contents out!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Love the idea of clear bins, Ana! Sounds like your system is working perfectly! Have a wonderful Monday!

      ~Abby =)

  2. Amy | Canary Street Crafts says:

    I needed this post! We have the exact same setup in our play room, minus the labeling, and my kids dump all the bins out on the floor every time they play in there. It drives me bonkers. Labeling the bins with pictures is a great idea! Definitely going to try it!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thank you, Amy! I so hear you! It can turn into a big mess so quickly! (Yet somehow takes forever to clean up… 😉 I hope the labels will help you like they’ve helped us!

      ~Abby =)

  3. Kim {Pinspired Home} says:

    I’m so with you on the picture labels. They make it so much easier for kids to find and (gasp) put toys away. 🙂
    I’ve found that the less toys Kiddo has, the more he plays, so I try to keep the toys to a few categories that I know he likes. Purging is definitely key!
    Loving your new set-up!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Yes, love the pictures. The English teacher in me wanted to do pictures + words so they might start recognizing some of the words by association, but we’ll see if that actually works. 😉 Great call on keeping the toys to a minimum. I know I’ve put bins of toys away before and brought them out on a rainy day, and it’s like they’re brand new again! Hope you have a wonderful week, Kim!

      ~Abby =)

  4. Sarah Woods says:

    The toy clutter is a constant struggle for me as well. I love the idea of putting those labels on the bins. I’m looking for a way to store toys in the living room and this is the PERFECT idea! I see a trip to IKEA in my future.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Hooray for IKEA, lol! It can be tricky finding something that is both practical and pretty when the toys are part of the main living space, but it can be done! (And I always remind myself that we won’t be swamped with toys forever. 🙂 Have a wonderful week, Sarah!

      ~Abby =)

  5. Sarah @ An Inviting Home says:

    Nice! We use to have those smaller bins too and they got so beat up. We finally switched out to something else too. Great job with the labels! 🙂

    ~Sarah

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thanks, Sarah! I remember that your playroom reveal was one of the first posts I read on your blog, and I totally loved it! Such a great place for kiddos! Hope you’re having a wonderful Monday!

      ~Abby =)

  6. This is great! I think we definitely need to work on purging at our house! With 3 kids, toys accumulate very quickly!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      I totally feel like I need a purge-fest every other day, lol! I have no idea where it all comes from! I’ve snuck toys away before and they’ve never even missed them. 🙂 Hope the Bowersox fam is doing well! Have a great day, Andrea!

      ~Abby =)

  7. Theresa @ AMomInTheMaking says:

    I love this!! We decided to use treasure chests for organization… mostly because they were adorable and I wanted to buy all of them 🙂 But they are nice because they were slightly bigger and had lids to cover.

    We ended up kicking out our bookcase, because baby Charlie was only happy once every book was thrown on the floor. With a treasure chest he could actually help with putting things away so it was a big bonus.

    You’ve inspired me to redo our labels… they’re ok right now, but just a fancy font with white paper. Now I’ve thinking about what I can use to put on plastic 🙂

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Aw, treasure chests are such a fun idea! It’s like a pirate adventure every day, lol! Let me know when you do your labels so I can check them out! Have a great week, friend!

      ~Abby =)

      1. Theresa @ AMomInTheMaking says:

        I definitely will!

        I originally wanted a chalkboard theme but now I’m thinking out doing some kind of a cutout like yours… that would stick on plastic 🙂

        Hope you have a great week too!!
        Theresa

  8. These labels are awesome! i have these bins and have tried using velcro to hold laminated labels but the velcro doesn’t stick. any ideas how i can do something similar without the silhouette machine?

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thank you so much, Henna! The heat transfer material would work whether you cut it with a Silhouette or not, so you could print the pictures you want on to cardstock, cut them out and trace them onto the HTV, then just cut it out with scissors. It would be a little more tedious, but totally doable. Hope you have a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  9. JaneEllen says:

    Oh boy do I love that system you have for toy storage. See no reason why it couldn’t work for craft supplies or?. You are so organized Abby, don’t ever surprise me by coming over ok? Or as I did one time when oldest son came over in KY, I jammed everything in entry closet and of course son opened closet door. Durn kid. That must have been quite a job ironing all those labels/images but so worth it when done.
    Boy where was all this wonderful storage stuff when my kids were little. With a girls toys and 2 boys 16 months apart I was out of my mind sometimes cleaning up. I did start teaching the kids to put their toys away as soon as I could but then a certain little Tasmanian devil (youngest boy) would dump them out again. Its a wonder I have any hair left, lol. I used to baby sit other children at same time as mine were little so I had to develop lots of patience.
    How are you feeling? Hope recovery is coming along well. Happy week

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Oh I hear you! I have two little Tasmanian devils around here! Clean up time can be a challenge, but they’re catching on. 🙂 I’m feeling good, thanks so much for asking! I’m tired a lot, but not in pain, so I can’t complain! Hope you’re having a wonderful week, JaneEllen!

      ~Abby =)

  10. Yasmina @ Mina and Her Blog says:

    Ohh man! You convinced me to get the Silhouette( except it kinda feel complicated, hope not!)
    You done great job and so organised! I agree, Ikea Bins are so much better and can fit loads of toys. Money worth !!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      You could do it! There is a little learning curve, but if I can’t figure something out, I just pull up a tutorial on YouTube, and I’m in business! Hope you’re having a wonderful week, Mina!

      ~Abby =)

  11. Megan @ Our Pinteresting Family says:

    I so needed this! Great idea.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thanks so much, Megan! Yay for taming the clutter! 🙂 Enjoy your week!

      ~Abby =)

  12. Kendra @ www.joyinourhome.com says:

    What a fabulous, organized space, Abby! Totally what we need! We have the same bins but you can never tell what goes where… now I just *need* that Silhouette 😉 Have a great week!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thank you, Kendra! Yes, I swore up and down for years that I could do everything without it, but now I’m pretty much obsessed, lol. Hope you’re having a wonderful week, my friend!

      ~Abby =)

  13. I absolutely love this! I’ve been getting so frustrated with our toy organization and need to make a change. I really like the pictures on the front so the kiddos know where to put things away.

    I don’t have a silhouette, but maybe I need to get one? Haha

    1. justagirlabby says:

      I love the Silhouette! I spent years swearing I didn’t need one, but now I’m pretty much obsessed. 🙂 This project could always be done by using scissors to cut the vinyl instead, though. 🙂 Thank you so much for your sweet comment, Miss Alli! Enjoy your Sunday!

      ~Abby =)

  14. Great idea Abby! I love how you used an image plus words for each bin. That way they can learn reading too. Right now my little one just has a big toy basket that we keep all of her toys in. It is getting to the point of overflowing. I am going to have to come up with something like this soon. Thanks for sharing:)
    -Shonee
    http://www.hawthorneandmain.com

    1. justagirlabby says:

      We started out with one little toy box too– it’s amazing how quickly the toys accumulate, right?! Thanks so much for stopping by, Shonee! Enjoy your Sunday!

      ~Abby =)

  15. Organizedmarie says:

    I love this!! Thanks for the great idea! xo

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