Shop My Amazon Store
Shop Now
Living Room

Managing Toy Organization Without a Playroom – The Struggle Is Real

This post is sponsored by Better Homes and Gardens at Walmart. All opinions are 100% my own.

Taming the toy clutter when you have a three-year-old is no joke. I’ve been wondering if toy organization was even a real thing. I remember when P was first born and people would tell me “oh, babies don’t need anything except for milk and diapers.” Sure that’s true – but if you want to survive and maybe even get a little sleep you pull out all of the stops and go for the swing, and the jumper, and the play mat thing. Then they get a little older and you want to “stimulate” them so you buy the ball thrower thing, the little car or horse or whatever they can ride, and my personal favorite all the makers of noise (WHYYYY). Before you know it you have a legit house full of baby stuff and toys. Anyone with me?

Managing Toy Clutter Without A Playroom

Luckily, we’ve got ample storage space for all of the baby stuff we’ve saved and I’m really good about going through the toys that become dust collectors and retire them to storage. The thing is, without a proper playroom, and without proper organization, my living room gets taken over with toys. In our old house we had a small alcove underneath the stairs that was the perfect hideaway for all the toys. We put a cubby under there and all of the toys (except the giant circus tent – yeah…) were perfectly hidden from view when you stepped inside our house. Now, they weren’t necessarily organized but they were out of sight. This house, doesn’t have that kind of hideaway so I needed to come up with something easy on the eyes as well as functional for toy organization.

Toys in the Living Room-2

Since we’ve moved in the play area has looked like this. Oh yeah – that storage bag is full to the brim. Sadly, this isn’t even half of it. I broke down and put some toys in her room so we could feel as though it was a living room and not a toddler’s pink palace.

Summer Home Tour6

Yesterday I shared my summer home tour, and you can’t quite see the play corner of this space but on the other side of that side table on the left is where the chaos begins. It’s right in our living area.Toys in the Living Room1-2

For your convenience, there are affiliate links below. Simply click the links below to see the items and sale prices. At no cost to you, I may make a small commission on your purchase. Thank you so much for supporting MHB. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

As soon as we moved in, I began hunting for the perfect toy storage space for our living room. I love this 8 cube organizer I found at Walmart. I scoped it out online and picked it up in our store. I love the weathered wood finish but it comes in multiple other finishes. It fits perfectly in this corner of our living room keeping the toys corralled.
Living Room Play Area-2

Play Area-2

Fabric BasketChalkboard DIY

This new cube system houses all of the toys that are most played with in our home. Puzzles, books, Doc McStuffins, play food, etc. I added a handful of baskets to stash the smaller toys (similar baskets here and here). Then, place the puzzles and wooden sets, along with the books on the shelves. You’ll see the play kitchen has been relocated to the closet to be brought out when we want to play with it. It’s so nice now that everything seems to have a home instead of digging through the depths of that storage bag for the smallest dinosaur figurine.

Surviving Toys in the Living Room-2

This wooden box houses all of her craft supplies. I love how it’s disguised as a decorative accessory.

Wrangling Toys in the Living Room-2

The chalkboard is a DIY project you can find here but I found a similar one for sale here at a reasonable price!

This post is several years old – see our current organized playroom ideas here.

Overall, I can’t be happier. This space cleaned up so nicely all because of a simple piece of furniture. I love that we can feel as though the space is family friendly without being completely overrun by toys.

Have a bunch of tiny toys? See how we organize my daughters’ favorite small toys here.

Looking for anything in this post? Click the images below to be taken directly to the retailer!


I’ve been busy organizing other spaces in my house. You can join our organization challenge here.

Join the Conversation

70 thoughts on “Managing Toy Organization Without a Playroom – The Struggle Is Real

  1. Love this! Your play area is awesome! It blends into your living room so well. The chalkboard is amazing too!

    1. Thank you! That’s exactly what I was hoping for – a nice blend without it looking like a daycare center 🙂 ha. Have a great day!

  2. This is perfect chelsea. I wouldn’t have thought of this, but it definitely is a fabulous solution. She can see everything and the chalkboard is a wonderful addition.

    1. Thank you Marty! It’s already made such a huge difference. Now everything has a place and she’s getting really used to putting everything back where it goes. A mother’s dream 🙂

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this. I had no idea Walmart had these cube storage units. I have a smaller one that we got at Lowe’s some time ago, and have been thinking we need a larger one. Get this — we are grandparents and we still need toy storage!

  4. This looks so awesome and it’s great that it’s so functional too! Great job, Chels!

  5. I have a cheaper version of one of the cube organizers but haven’t felt very motivated to get the clutter on it. Seeing how pretty yours is inspires me to get on it!

  6. Pingback: 6 DIY Storage Ideas + YTTS #36
  7. This looks amazing! We will be moving into our home in a few short weeks and this has given me inspiration for what to do with the toy clutter. I love the chalkboard too! Is it a DIY or store bought? Do share…thanks!

  8. Pingback: Five Friday Faves – July 3, 2015
  9. Chelsea, I love this room! We don’t have a playroom either so we worked with what we had and blocked a third of the family room with a couch. Behind the couch we have a big mess. We probably have the exact same layout as yours minus the beautiful shelf. We have a toy organizer that kind of, sort of does the job but the toys are not as concealed. Thanks for the inspiration and for keeping it real!

  10. Pingback: Let’s talk about the kids cleaning their bedrooms | Life:The Bitter and The Sweet
  11. Pingback: 25 Home Organization Ideas
  12. I had a similar problem at the beginning of summer-I looked at tons of organization ideas and bought one of those shelves too. Filling up pink and green cloth boxes helped me keep so much stuff at hand without having to look at it all. I put a diaper changing station on top and it functions as a dresser/toy box:).

  13. We keep a limited supply of toys out at a time. Every couple of days, I switch toys out. Books are always out. But instead of three battery operated crazy toys out at once, only one is. And one puzzle. And one set of blocks, and one giant dump truck. He has enough to play with this way, but it still keeps it interesting. Also, like you, toys are displayed. Not all together in a box to be dumped out.

    1. Hey Maggie – that was a DIY. There’s a tutorial here on the blog. In the search box on the upper right, type in “oversized chalkboard.” It’s an easy afternoon project for fairly inexpensive.

  14. Just found your blog post via Pinterest & I LOVE this idea!! Your little girls’s play space looks so great! Certainly pinning this for future reference!

  15. This is great! I’m struggling with keeping toys organized and our living room looking like a circus! This helps a lot!

  16. I have a cube organizer like this as well but I can’t find the perfect baskets!! Where are the wicker baskets from???

  17. I love your idea! We have waaaay too many toys and if I only put what fits nicely in the cube organizer we can definitely pare down! Thanks for the inspiration!!

    1. We’ve got more toys for sure – but as I mentioned, we keep some in my daughter’s room to keep the living area free of too many toys.

  18. bought the same one for my little’s toy clutter! where did you get the baskets?? im trying to find the perfect size and keep coming at a loss.

    1. Hey Morgan, the seagrass baskets are from Target, the wire ones are from Home Goods a longgggg time ago. The “milk crate” style baskets seem to fit perfectly. Hope that helps!

      1. I bought the same baskets from Target, but they were slightly too wide. They didn’t work for us. I’m still trying to find baskets that work.

  19. Really starting to fall out of love with our living room its just been taken over with the girls toys. Hoping to take some nspiration from this post!!!

  20. All looks great to me! Can’t read the whole blog right now: going to see my grandchildren!
    I’m not a fan of holidays: I miss all my loved ones who are gone. And it hurts.
    But I’m going to visit my sweeties to get a dose and some love!
    Chelsea, I need help with my studio apartment. It’s starting to looked cramped (well it’s been this way for awhile). Talk yo you when I return!

  21. Pingback: 16 Organisation & Storage Hacks For Terraced Houses - Bespoke Home Design
  22. In your photos the weathered wood finish looks like it has a grayish tone, which is what we are looking for. When Iook online the weathered almost looks tan. Can you clarify for me? I love the look of yours!

  23. Beautiful! How did it hold up with the children? We have a daughter that has aspergies and it seems impossible to organize her and keep her from being so ruff with things. Love your idea <3

  24. Pingback: Good Stuff Saturday - Making Home Base
  25. Pingback: 30 DIY Organizing Ideas for Kids Rooms - DIY Joy
  26. Hi I’m not sure why but I cannot get the link to the shelf to work… it just takes me to walmart.ca (I’m in Canada). Is there an item number or something I can search? Thanks:)

  27. Hi Chelsea I’m with the other lady that posted about the cubby. Is yours the weathered or rustic grey option?

  28. Pingback: 25 Fab Ideas for Organizing Playrooms & Kid's Spaces - The Happy Housie
  29. Pingback: 13 Kid-Friendly Living Room Ideas to Manage the Chaos - The Most Viral collection of feel good stories & videos, delicious recipes and awesome DIY projects
  30. Pingback: How To Manage Toy Clutter Without A Playroom – It's A Moms' Life
  31. Pingback: 12 Toy Organization Ideas - Classy Clutter
  32. Pingback: Book Nooks and School Rooms: Design Inspiration - Maison de Pax
  33. Pingback: Apartment Decorating Ideas - How to decorate a rental like it's your own
  34. Pingback: Toy Organizers - Space Saving Toy Organization Hacks for Any Space
  35. Pingback: 13 Ways To Effectively and Quickly Organize Kids' Rooms - Real Mom Help
  36. Pingback: Best of MHB 2017 a Recap - Making Home Base
  37. Pingback: The Best Ideas for Organizing Your Life - Sense & Serendipity
  38. Pingback: Good Stuff Saturday - Making Home Base
  39. Pingback: The Easiest Way to Declutter Kids' Toys (with Free Printable Decluttering Calendar!) - Just a Girl and Her Blog
  40. Pingback: How to Get Organized When You Live in a Small House - Just a Girl and Her Blog
  41. Pingback: 7 Smart Ways to Keep Toys Organized in the Living Room - Mommyhooding
  42. Pingback: HOW TO GET ORGANIZED WHEN YOU LIVE IN A SMALL HOUSE – Jiwaka Students & Graduates Association Inc
  43. Pingback: Organizing Toys in 3 Simple Steps – Sunny Side Design
  44. Pingback: 36 Tips for Getting Organized - Four Generations One Roof
  45. Pingback: Bedroom: 30 DIY Organizing Ideas for Kids Rooms – ByNotio.com
  46. Pingback: How to set up a playroom for kids when you don't have a lot of space
  47. Pingback: 15 Minimalist Playroom Organization Ideas » LADY DECLUTTERED
  48. Pingback: 17 Amazing DIY Projects You Can Do For The Kids’ Playroom – Rabobo News Space
  49. Pingback: 17 Amazing DIY Projects You Can Do For The Kids' Playroom | Dakotadave.com Home Decor
  50. Pingback: Organising a small home: HOW TO GET ORGANIZED WHEN YOU LIVE IN A SMALL HOUSE | Boarding Studios