Hiding Toddler Toys {living room toy storage}

Our living room.  It’s where all the action happens.  And by action I mean drool, spit up and lots of toy cars and trains.  Our relatively small 20′ x 20′ living room is right off of our kitchen and dining area and it is where we spend the large majority of our time.  Since the room is visible from many parts of the house, it is the obvious place for Ike to play.  And although I wouldn’t have it any other way, there are times I like to pretend that I have a grown up living room, even if it only lasts for an hour at a time.

Which is why I have hiding places for our toddler toys.

See those six baskets at the bottom of these shelves?  Yeah, that’s where the toys hide.  But you wouldn’t know it unless you look inside!

I started with just one of the blue patterned flexible baskets about a year ago and I have slowly expanded my collection.  Back in May we picked up these Expedit shelves at my maiden voyage to IKEA and slowly we’ve filled them up.

I’ve found that these baskets work perfectly because they are lightweight and flexible, which means Ike can pull them down and even put most of them up on his own.  They flex around awkward toys, fit a decent amount of cars, blocks, etc., and they don’t look like obvious toy storage.  Score.

As you can see, Ike pulls out baskets as he wishes and plays with what is inside.  Surprisingly, he learned very quickly where each toy is kept.  For example, he knows which of the brown baskets holds the train, and which of the blue baskets holds the blocks.  And don’t try to mix the cars with the blocks, he won’t have it (he is rather obsessive about his toy storage…I wonder where he got that?).

The two square baskets (from Home Goods) hold puzzles and a variety of other toys. (As a side note, the vehicle puzzle on the right makes noises when you put the puzzle piece in place…and at random times when you are nowhere near the puzzle and the rest of the house is silent…not freaky at all.)

The blue baskets (purchased at one of my favorite local shops, Window Panes) hold the blocks and a mish-mosh of cars, trucks, helicopters and other plastic pieces.  Another fun toy note…Ike has decided that the king  on the “K” block is Daddy and the queen on the “Q” block is Mommy…he looks for us regularly in the block bin.

And in the bottom two brown baskets (also from Home Goods) are train pieces and stuffed animals.

Now, I have to admit that these toys represent only about 40 percent of Ike’s total collection.  He has a basket of books under the coffee table, a selection of toys in the nursery, and a whole set of toys that we are keeping in the guest room while we consider creating some designated play space there.  Sometimes toys come out of the other two rooms and hang out in the living room for a while, but Ike is quite good about putting toys back where he found them…even if they are in a different room.

But back to the living room shelves.

There are a few spots that Ike can’t reach, and I’ve styled those spaces to help me pretend that I have a grown up living room.

It’s good to pretend.  Especially since right now my living room looks more like this…and the toddler isn’t even home!

How do you hide toddler toys in your home?  Any good tips and tricks?




  1. Julie says:

    We have the same puzzle and it also makes noise in its own…weird! Love your toddler storage baskets. We have a bookshelf in our living room for J’ s books, toys and games. They are not hidden but they are consolidated to one corner of the room. :)

  2. I love all those baskets, esp the ones on the bottom. It’s great that you’ve been able to hide so many toys. Our problem is volume – there are simply too many toys and D would notice immediately if I got rid of any of them, so I don’t. It’s bad! Oh, and we removed one of our living room chairs down to the garage to make way for a massive Melissa and Doug train table. Yep. The kid has the run of the place!

  3. Heather says:

    That looks great! We actually use a buffet from my parents’ OLD dining room suite (from the 60’s!) in our living room as an accent piece. It is also FULL of toys. I’ll send you a pic. :)

  4. Courtney says:

    We have those puzzles too, and I hated how much they made sounds at totally random times! I eventually gifted them to my parents so I could get them out of the house. :) Love your storage, btw. We have a similar bookcase set-up in our breakfast area with 5 bins, but it’s the toys in the living room that are completely overtaking everything!

  5. Jenny Sue says:

    Wow. That puzzle is pretty popular (Melissa & Doug, right?) I also had it but couldn’t take the random noises so I recently got rid of it.
    Great toy storage- looks great. How great that Ike puts knows where to put things away!

    We keep the toddler toys in his bedroom closet and haul them out to the living room when wanted. In the living room I keep the baby toys in a wonderful medium sized Rubbermaid Bento Storage Box that I happened to win from one of my favorite blogs ;D

  6. Lisa H. says:

    As a rule, my son’s toys are stored in his bedroom–in a basket/bookcase combination similar to yours. However, like any boy, he likes to roam, so I keep an empty basket under a table in our family room for quick cleanups. As soon as I get sick of stepping over cars, dinosaurs, and the like, I grab the basket and start tossing in toys. Typically, I just stick it back under the table when I am done–which Brannon likes because it means his toys are handy if he wants them again. When the basket starts to overflow, I haul it back to his room and start the process again.

  7. I love these baskets so much. The rope handles are awesome. I am on the lookout. I love having toy storage that hides everything away and out of sight. We have a great big basket from Target that we use.

  8. rachel says:

    Those puzzles have light sensors, so when the light dims a sensor, makes the sound, which is why I keep it in a drawer. It only goes diff when the drawer closes

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