Toy Storage for Living Rooms: The Hidden Playroom

Remember that life you had before kids? When your home was an adult space, and didn’t resemble the toddler zone at a low budget theme park? Remember when you could invite friends over for drinks of an evening, and they could get inside the door without stepping over the ride on fire engine; and the dining room was actually for eating in, not finger painting and pasta collage? You need to get your home back… and get some stealth storage on the go. Sneaky, clever toy storage for living rooms, because not everyone has a dedicated playroom they can close the door on; and as a parent you deserve to have some downtime without a block of Duplo or a homemade American Girl outfit in sight.

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**This post contains affiliate links. This means I may get a small commission if you decide to purchase from a store I link to. It does not affect the price of the item.**

 

Last month I published a post called ‘How to Create the Ultimate Playroom‘. It has been by far my most viewed post, and still brings new readers to Twin Pickle everyday. It seems people want to know how to give their kids the perfect play space, whether their motive be to enhance their children’s educational growth, or just create somewhere so awesome that Mom and Dad get the break they need.  I love to dream of the big time, and take inspiration from those all-singing-all-dancing homes with a bottomless budget. There’s always a piece of it you can bring back to reality, and it helps get the creative juices flowing. But in the real world, few of us are lucky enough to have a apartment sized play space to install a jungle gym and a tire swing. So today, we’re going the other direction and thinking small and sneaky… what is the best toy storage for living rooms, so our home can return to an adult zone after bedtime? 

I live in a lovely family sized home in Arizona, but when my daughter was a toddler we lived in a Victorian terraced house in England. For those of you struggling to imagine what scale of house the working class built for themselves in the Victorian era, the bathroom was outside, the kitchen is usually a lean-to addition on the back, and furniture (and people) were a lot smaller than they are now. Despite loving old houses, I didn’t want to live in one of ‘those’ kid houses; I was an Architect in my late Twenties, and still in denial that I could do, and have it all. Some things have changed, but my policy on living in a toy box have not. Some people must love to live amongst toys… children’s TV presenters for example. Slightly obsessive toy collectors. Who knows who these people are, but I’m sure they’re out there somewhere. If on the other hand you’re like me, a tidy home means a tidy mind, and I can’t think straight when the living room looks like Toy R Us after a monsoon.

5 Tips for Successful Toy Storage for Living Rooms:

1: Do not ‘add’ a toy box.

Do not keep a house full of your pre-kid furniture and add a personalized painted toy box in the corner of your living room. Little Johnny will be just as happy pulling his toys out of whatever vessel you offer, so unless it’s going in their bedroom, save yourself the evening eye sore and keep the exterior to your toy box adult friendly. Ditch your coffee table or end table and swap it for something with storage. Toy box by day, scattered with magazines and cocktails by night. Here are some of my favorite containers acting as toy storage for living rooms:

Storage Trunks

The light in this space is wonderful, but I’m featuring it for the lovely coffee table. Look how many toys you could fit in there, and in the evening no-one would have any idea they were there. Similarly, the blue dresser could be crammed with toys and art supplies for all we know! The great thing about trunks is they often come with nice rounded corners, perfect for wobbly toddlers.

 
My favorite picks for something similar:
Steamer Classic Storage Trunk
ZallZo Commander Aluminum Storage Trunk
Safavieh Navarro Storage Trunk
Clever Coffee Tables

There are loads of clever coffee tables about with slick openings and cubby holes perfect for toys. This contemporary living room in Colorado, remodelled by Studio2b, has plenty of hidden storage space for those pesky toys. The slide opening coffee table would be perfect for crafting or Barbie’s wardrobe

Photo by samantha_bales – Source: Houzz.com

 

My favorite picks for something similar:

ioHOMES Luxer Coffee Table
Dann Coffee Table
WYNDENHALL Elliot Coffee Table
Baskets:

Baskets are usually child friendly, light with soft corners, and come in an endless number of shapes and sizes. I’ve got living room envy over this beautiful home designed by Bungalow Design, and I can see loads of potential toy storage for living rooms:

Photo by Bungalow Design – Source: Houzz.com

 

My favorite picks for something similar:

Rush Storage Basket
Natural Wool Houndstooth Basket
Deco 79 Seagrass Basket

2: Purge toys as they grow and consider size when you buy.

We used a wooden storage box for a side table in our house in England, and I was pretty ruthless with the number and size of toys I bought. Anything that didn’t fit in the box went to the charity shop. Of course my rules were constantly blown to shreds when Grandma went shopping… hello pink ride on and pop-up tent; honestly, that tent was bigger than our dining table. It might seem mean to limit the number of toys your children have, but now we have a large playroom, the tidying (and arguing associated with tidying) has become a real burden. If you remember Elsie’s talent for what we’ve quoined ‘poopcrastination‘, she doesn’t like to tidy up, and the more toys that can potentially cover the floor, the bigger this problem becomes… leading to my next point below!

3: Keep things contained and easy to tidy up.

I know what it’s like… you’ve finally got the kids to bed, all you want to do is crack a beer and put your feet up… screw the tidying up. But being in a toy free zone for a couple of hours in the evening makes all the difference, so make life easier for yourself and check out a couple of nifty ways to keep toys contained and quick to put away…

Lay-n-Go Activity Mat & Toy Organizer

I am in love with this idea, I haven’t tried it myself as I’ve only just discovered it in researching for this post, but it does look pretty genius!

Lay-n-Go Activity Mat
Lay-n-Go Activity Mat
Lay-n-Go Activity Mat
Trundle Storage

Although designed to slide under beds or cribs, if you have the right sofa, a trundle could work well as toy storage for living rooms; perfect for train sets, lego, cars, jigsaw puzzles and pretty much any of those annoying kit-of-parts toys that take forever to pick up – the alphabet jigsaw is the worst. Carefully measure your sofa and see if it just might work!

Orwell Wooden Trundle
Delta Cot Trundle
Trundle Bed Storage Drawer
4: Find or create a nook for the big stuff.

Don’t leave the ride on, the multistory car ramp and the singing bubble mower out on display, find a place for everything and your home will be transformed. We had a nook about the size of this one under our stairs in England, and it was perfect to tuck a couple of those bigger items that family can’t resist to buy. And in case you’re wondering, this beautiful staircase is the work of Best & Company in New York.

 

5: Keep it behind closed doors.

If you have the space, build in some floor to ceiling cupboards and fill them with all your kiddo’s goodies. This fun set up at ‘Number 23’, by MATT Architecture in London, is the perfect way to give kids the color and ownership of space they crave, without allowing it to take over your house. I love that they have one each and all three are personalized. 

 

And one last thing to think about… dual purpose furniture:

For the perfect playroom/living room combo, think about flexibility and how you can combine functions. Not all kids toys/activity tables have to be ugly, what about a coffee table that doubles up as a ping pong table or a dolls house? Brilliant…

Huzi Design Table Tennis Set
QUBIS DESIGN Coffee Table And Doll's House

Just because you have kids and you don’t have a playroom, it doesn’t mean your house has to look like the set of the Teletubbies… so get thinking about toy storage for living rooms, be savvy, and find somewhere to tuck away those Legos!

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*This post contains affiliate links. This means I may get a small commission if you decide to purchase from a store I link to. It does not affect the price of the item.*

29 Comments

  1. You’re so right about the storage containers – there’s no reason that it has to look child-like. I love the idea about using storage trunks, especially one that can double as a coffee table. Genius!

  2. Great tips! Our old house didn’t have a playroom and the toys were EVERYWHERE! Our new house has a playroom right off of the living room and at the end of the day, the kids know they have to pick up all the toys and take them back into the playroom.

  3. I love these ideas. I don’t have kids myself but I’m going to share this with my friends and family that do have little ones! Recently one of my friends was actually just complaining about how her modern living room got taken over by toys. It’s so easy to just add a storage ottoman or a few nice baskets to hide the toys and keep your decor going strong.

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