I shared Eliza’s (finally) complete playroom a couple weeks ago and while I was excited to bring the room design I’d concepted for years to fruition, the part of the playroom I was most excited about was the storage aspect. The storage solutions and organization plan were key. With toys having accumulated all over the house, even with set baskets and bins to stash them in, having so many spread out cluttered my mind and made it difficult to keep up with items. I looked forward to the day we would have a space and proper home to house them all — where everything would have a dedicated spot. And now, we do. With a heavy focus on the Elfa playroom closet, in this post, I’m sharing all the playroom storage ideas and solutions found throughout Eliza’s play space!
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See Eliza’s full playroom reveal HERE.
Sources: Light Fixture (similar) | Wallpaper Mural | Teepee Tent | Faux Sheepskin Rug (similar) | Felted Pom Pom Garland | Mushroom Basket | Table | Chairs |Dandelion Stems (similar) | Pin Board | Butterflies | Rug | Tufted Storage Bench | Green Tassel Pillow Cover | Round Cushion w/Pom Poms | Floral Pillow Cover | Velvet Pillow Cover
In any project, purging items that are no longer used is advised but when it comes to allocating space for toys and creating playroom storage solutions, it’s imperative. We don’t gift Eliza a ton of toys throughout the year and we try to be strategic in what we do gift her. She doesn’t ask for anything, cycles through and revisits all toys, and can generally be happy with anything put in front of her. She has an imagination and loves to play outside too, so while she has fun with her *things*, she also has fun without her things. There’s things I want her to have and toys I think she would enjoy if she’s really “into” something at the moment but I try to keep a good mix and focus on pieces that she can grow with.
Playroom Storage — Toy Storage Closet
Because Eliza’s playroom was first a guest bedroom, it held spare bedding, old jackets, suitcases… even my wedding dress. We had to find new homes for about half of the items but transitioning this space into a playroom forced us to consolidate and organize a few other areas, too. The closet in this room formerly had a single wire rack for hanging, running across the full length, and I knew from the beginning we would need a custom solution to manage all the toys, dress up clothes, art, etc.
I’m a big proponent of Elfa closet solutions and have used them many times in lots of spaces — they are super secure and are easy to add to or change as needs shift and evolve. It’s the same reason I used Elfa shelving in Eliza’s closet as the size of her clothing changes 😉 You can see the result of installing that solution, before Eliza was born, HERE.
But, before we get into the specifics, let’s go ahead and take a look at the playroom closet!
Here’s the thing. Eliza’s playroom closet is totally customized to her and her storage needs. When you see a completed custom closet, it can be overwhelming to consider how it went from a blank space to being filled with bins, shelves and drawers, so here is a breakdown of the the steps I took…
- First (and I do this before any Elfa design), I sat down and listed her general storage needs (art, puzzles, games, blocks, dolls, figures, balls, etc.)
- I made note of any special needs and space requirements (space tall enough for grocery cart and doll carriage, hanging bar for dress up, open shelving for large wooden toys, etc.)
- I took measurements not just of the space, but of items I was planning special spaces for (like the grocery cart)
- You can use the online closet designer tool HERE, but I typically take my measurements in store and have them create a mock-up with shopping list and have them place the order. I also take any photos of items that may be needed.
- When designing, I try to make use of every bit of space — that means using the doors if depth allows and even a more shallow top shelf (they have shallow shelf options which work better for access when. you have a tall closet that goes a bit higher than the door frame)
I ultimately split the closet wall into three sections. Based on the dimensions of the closet, you each third is adjustable and can almost operate independently of the section(s) beside it. Here’s what the rendering looked like (I shared this in a post a while ago!)…
The reality and result of the initial sketch is pretty dang close!
When I had my design and measurements completed, it made it much easier to pick out bins that would best fit the items (using their individual measurements) and planned a bin for each shelf space that wasn’t pre-allocated for another purpose (like board games and abacus). I didn’t actually determine what each bin would hold until the closet system was installed and then I went through all the toys and piled them in like categories. Ultimately, I went with THESE for their affordability and maneuverability. I have woven bins in the pantry and they work great. But, they don’t slide nicely and pieces flake off over the years. These plastic bins are perfect for kids, stack well, come in four size options, and the large is currently only $6.99 HERE. And then, I created labels.
THESE black clip labels are SO amazingly priced and much more affordable than other metal bin clips I’ve used! I knew I was going to be using a lot so I researched other options and am so glad I did. While they are made of plastic, they are well constructed and clip firmly. They ship free on Amazon, come as a set of 32, are currently under $24 for the full set, and come in black, white, and combo color packs HERE. The black labels comes with a white chalk marker; the white labels come with a black marker. But, I ordered black tape with white text and used my label maker (HERE) to create the labels 😉
As Eliza’s belongings and needs shift, we can label and relabel without having to purchase new clips! And, while I opted for mostly deep drawers to accommodate block sets and larger toys, I used adjustable dividers in some to create custom-sized compartments.
I photographed this space over a month ago and while at that time, I used Ziplock baggies for corralling small pieces, I’ve since become a BIG fan of THESE reusable zipper pouches. I used sets of the larger sizes for puzzle storage but just purchased the multi-size set for Eliza’s toys — the set comes with 21 pouches in six sizes, currently for under $17 when you clip the coupon. Plus, they ship free and fast via Prime HERE.
Eliza has a small step stool but I help her with any toys on upper shelves. This also helps prevent getting too much out at once before cleaning up a bit. Also, while we have more than a little room to spare with our current configuration, we could easily add additional shelves.
I wanted open storage space for games and added THESE shelf dividers for separation and to help “book-end” the boxes. If you don’t have an Elfa system, I love THESE acrylic shelf dividers for solid shelves!
There’s even unused baskets on the doors for additional items and again, additional baskets can still be added.
Having a little hanging bar for Eliza’s dress-up was a must-have for me. In order to have enough width for drawers in the center and a space wide enough for the grocery cart on the left side, this side of the playroom closet had to be more narrow — the hanging bar is only 18″ but has plenty of room for her dress-up and hanging jewelry bags (basically a collection of selected hand-me-downs from Mommy 😉 ).
If you want a dress-up closet but don’t have an elfa system or cant allocate closet space to dress-up clothes, here are a few other ideas and ways to integrate those costumes right in the bedroom or playroom.
- THIS cute freestanding kids garment rack! There’s a great steel option too, HERE.
- THESE industrial wall-mounted pipe garment racks can be hung inside the room. You can hang a full length mirror beside it!
- THIS little tree coat rack is perfect for bags, accessories, capes, and more!
- Use an old armoire with doors as a dress-up wardrobe
And as always, if depth allows, using door storage creates so much extra space and reserves other prime real estate! Even if you don’t install a full elfa closet solution, THESE door racks require no tools and are so simple to install on the doors! They also involve no screws — just the clamps for either side of the door! Browse pre-configured door systems with bundled components HERE or build your own HERE.
I don’t let Eliza create art in her playroom on her own just yet (we choose supplies and head to the kitchen table!), but after using my office for her storage, I was happy to free up a little space in my domain and relocate her arsenal. She hasn’t pulled anything without asking yet so so far, we haven’t encountered any issues with her having easier access.
Also, being able to store all the art supplies flat on the back of the door has saved SO much space!
I switched to THESE clear pencil cases and ditched the cardboard boxes for two reasons — 1. to be able to easily store everything on the door, and 2. for Eliza to be able to more easily return her tools to their proper homes, on her own (the cardboard boxes are so tight!)
Playroom Storage — Blended Baskets
Beyond the main playroom storage zone in the closet, there are a few other storage moments worth mentioning. I’m all for a basket and using little basket clusters — I used THIS cute pom pom basket (under $20) for some of her woodland “friends” but THIS lidded mushroom basket was a favorite find. It’s under $40 and ships free HERE.
Playroom Storage — Upholstered Storage Bench that Doubles As a Window Seat
Another area I had strategically planned for long before the playroom became a playroom was adding an upholstered storage bench as a “window seat”. With the closet carefully planned, I didn’t think I needed (nor did I have the space) for storage shelves/cubes in the main area of the playroom. I also didn’t want to spend the money on a custom built-in unit as I did in my office and a much more affordable upholstered storage bench was a no-brainer.
I measured the distance from the floor to the window sill and tried to select a storage bench with interior height (while still sticking to a more narrow depth) for ample storage. THIS mid-century modern style bench fit the bill perfectly. It has hundreds of great reviews, only required me screwing the legs on, and Eliza can easily and safely access what she needs. The lid is on a hinge and you have to push the lid down to close.
Playroom Storage — No Floor Required Book Ledges
Eliza has a bookshelf in her bedroom that is full but I wanted a place in her playroom to rotate out some favorites and display them more visibly. She can sit at her table, cuddle up in her tent, or lounge on her Nugget — books are Eliza’s favorite. Floating shelves — especially clear shelves — can get expensive and while I didn’t want to spend a lot, I did want them to be good, substantial quality. There are so many brands out there but I am thrilled with the set I finally chose (HERE). They have a 5* rating with a couple thousand reviews, come as single shelves or set of two and four, and come in three length options (ours are the 24″, middle size). They ship free via Amazon HERE, are easy to install, came with a small level and I would purchase them again and again.
Sources: Acrylic Floating Shelves
They’re thick and sturdy and I have no reservations that they’ll hold up well.
Playroom Storage — Play Kitchen
Play kitchens will come with their own “storage” by default but there are just a few additions I made to the play kitchen area. (By the way, I’m borderline obsessed with this little section 😉 ).
Sources: Play Kitchen | Rug | Step Stool (similar) | Butterfly Poster | Poster Frame (pack of 2) | Clock | Blushing Bird Art | Apron | Bins | Pots and Pans Set | Silicone Marble Utensil Set | Utensil Holder (similar)| Wooden Utensils | Round Ceramic Vase | Olivewood Serving Board | Rectangular Marble Board (similar)
Like a real, working, full-sized kitchen, even the smallest play kitchens can get overwhelmed with all. the. things. Especially without drawer space, I came up with ways to hang several items to cut the clutter and to save cabinets and fridge space for food, dishes, and cooking.
I used THIS towel bar, coupled with THESE S hooks, to store the silicone utensils, measuring implement, and cookware. Not only did it free up space and is incredibly functional, but I think it looks adorable.
Inside the fridge, we coupled like items together and along with a few organizers I had on hand, used some of the smaller versions of the white bins as we have in the playroom closet (there are four sizes available HERE).
Sources: Play Kitchen | Salad Kit | Cutting Fruit Set | Cutting Food Set | Pizza Play Set | Refrigerator Food Set | Condiment Set | Pasta Set | Canned Goods Set | Wooden Cookie Play Set | Toaster Set | White Handle Bins
Everybody is different and views on the playroom, in general, are so different. A lot of people don’t see the need for separate playrooms and a lot of people swear their house can’t function without them. Some people clean the playroom once a week, some every night, some on their own, and some leave it to the kids. Some don’t care the state of the playroom and just keep the door closed. What has worked well so far for our family is cleaning up as we go. The less time that goes by before things are picked up, the easier it will be. So, if I see a big mess is on the verge of transpiring, I’ll tell Eliza it’s time to pick up a little bit before we take anything else out. Keeping things picked up is an expectation I have and will have of her and so I started early that each evening, before it’s time for bed, that we make time to tidy up wherever we were — whether that’s in the living room, her bedroom, or playroom. I still pick up alongside her sometimes, and sometimes she finishes before I can even begin to help. But, I never do it all for her. In my mind, having a playroom — and everything that fills it — is an incredible privilege so I want to teach her that we have to take care of our things and we pick up after ourselves. She mimics me and is so influenced by our home habits, I try to set the example I want her to follow. Knowing this and hoping these habits that are forming while she’s young will stick is what motivates me on the days when I want to skip clean-up or think it would just be quicker to do it on my own.
If you missed the main space, you can see the full playroom reveal HERE. I was hoping Eliza’s big girl bedroom would be finished by now but her bed was lost in transit and had to be re-ordered — the earliest delivery is now showing late June so at best, we’ll have a mid-summer finish and reveal.
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Playroom & Playroom Storage Sources
Playroom Closet Elfa Components: Door System Mesh Baskets | Mesh Drawers | Easy Hang Track | Wire Shelf | Bracket Cover | Wire Shelf Liner | Wire Shelf Divider | Utility Door and Wall Board | Closet Rod Holder | Closet Rod | Closet Rod End Caps | Drawer Dividers | Elfa Door Storage Racks
Art & Walls: Wallpaper Mural | Blushing Bird Art | Batik Forest Art | Clock | Acrylic Shelves | Over the Door Mirror | Pin Board | Butterfly Poster | Wooden Poster Frame — framing butterflies (pack of 2) |Gold Art Frame w/Mat (for personal art at entry)
Decor: Rug | Faux Sheepskin Rug (similar) | Felted Garland | Mushroom Basket | Pom Pom Basket | Green Tassel Pillow Cover | Round Cushion w/Pom Poms | Floral Pillow Cover | Velvet Pillow Cover | Dandelion Stems (similar) | Butterflies
Kitchen Items: Play Kitchen | Towel Rod (for kitchen utensils) | S Hooks (for utensils) | Butterfly Poster | Poster Frame (pack of 2) | Clock | Blushing Bird Art | Apron | Bins | Pots and Pans Set | Silicone Marble Utensil Set | Utensil Holder (similar)| Wooden Utensils | Round Ceramic Vase | Olivewood Serving Board | Rectangular Marble Board (similar) | Tea Pot | Cutting Fruit | Cutting Food & Board | Wooden Toy Dishes | Wooden Kitchen Tools | Stainless Steel Kitchen Tools | Mixer | Pasta Set | Pizza Set | Cookie Set | Canned Goods Set | Fridge Food Set | Condiment Set | Salad Set
Other Featured Toys: PB Kids Pink Gingham Puppy Sleeping Bag | Maileg Mice & Animals | Raccoon Plush Animal | Flamingo | Elephant | Abacus | Gingham Sleeping Bag | Shopping Cart | Lovevery Play Kits | Magnatiles