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Storage Furniture for Kids

Updated on June 29, 2013

5 Steps to Organised Kids Storage!

Find tips and advice on choosing the right storage furniture for kids! There are so many options out there, but it's all too easy to keep buying furniture, boxes and shelving, only to find that they still don't meet all your needs - especially if, like me, you find that your kids toys just breed and breed and breed!

With a new baby on the way, I am in the process of giving my 3 year old daughter's room a makeover. Her original nursery furniture and toddler bed is going back in the nursery, and I have been tearing my hair out trying to find the right furniture and storage items to house her plethora of toys, games, puzzles and cuddlies, not to mention her mountain of books!

I finally cracked it, so thought I would share my tips on getting the right storage, and making the best use of small spaces, so that you can skip the tearing out of hair part!

Photo Credit: Children's Storage Rack

Photo Credit: My daughter's room in progress as we add more storage solutions. Image copyright of the author

There are lots of options around these days when it comes to kids storage. Cupboards, desks, shelving, toy boxes, toy racks, bookcases, even complete storage systems. But if you go buying something here and something there, it is all too easy to end up with an unsatisfactory storage system in your home. A bit of quick and simple planning is required, so that you can hunt down the exact things you need - and then hopefully, all your tidying up prayers will be answered!

  1. Make a written or mental list of your kids toys, books, clothes and so on. Divide the toys up into groups - soft toys, action figures, small toys, play toys, games, puzzles, bricks, dressing up and so on. How much space does each area of toys take up?
  2. What size and shape of storage would best suit each of the groups? How much storage will you need? What do you need more of - shelving for books, flat space for stacking puzzles and games, somewhere to put a mountain of soft toys?
  3. Do you want everything to be accessible by your child (thus requiring child-level items that they can reach, either standing or with a step)? Do you want certain items away in a cupboard, rather than in a box, to avoid gathering dust?
  4. Measure the bedroom! What can you realistically fit in? Are there other rooms that can house certain things, rather than everything having to fit in the bedroom? For example, my office doubles as an arts and crafts room, so all the kids craft stuff is in a dresser in there. Big toys that require setting up or lots of room go in a trunk in the living room, and so on.
  5. How can you make the best use of space? Can you utilise corners, walls and areas behind doors using innovative storage like corner cabinets, wall pockets or hanging organisers?

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1: Making the Most of your Main Bedroom Furniture - Choosing the Best Sized Wardrobe, Chest of Drawers and Bedside Table

My daughter's new wardrobe from Ikea
My daughter's new wardrobe from Ikea

Photo Credit: The wardrobe we purchased for my daughter's bedroom, with plenty of storage options inside!

The main furniture for your child's room, such as wardrobe, bedside table and drawers, are integral parts of the room but also serve as storage in themselves, too. Make the most of these larger furniture items, and the battle is halfway won!

WARDROBE

Do you just want it to store clothes, or do you want it to store other items like towels, bedding and dressing up clothes? If not, what will use instead - a chest of drawers, storage trunk, or dresser? Do you want shelving? How many drawers? Two door or three door? Look closely at your child's clothing and think about how it will change over the next few years, too. Do you want to store both winter and summer clothes inside, or will seasonal clothing be packed away for half the year?

The wardrobe pictured above is the one we recently acquired for our daughter's Thomas the Tank "blue" bedroom makeover. It's from the Ikea Mammut range but we managed to find one second hand locally on eBay. It was perfect because I wanted one that had internal shelving for shorts and trousers, towels and bedding, and a drawer for nightwear, underwear and so on. When we got it home, everything I wanted to fit in it, fitted, with room to spare! I was worried that the actual hanging space looked a little on the short side (being blue, it was aimed at boys and probably was not designed with dresses in mind!) - however, everything was a perfect fit!

This is a prime example of researching what you want - it took a lot of looking at wardrobes online to find one that had the internal structure I wanted, but it was worth it!

I was also really pleased with the cool and funky design, especially the rounded shape at the top - more interesting than a plain old rectangle!

You can buy this fabulous wardrobe, complete with 3 internal shelves and a nice deep drawer at the bottom, from Ikea. It is available in blue or red and is part of a matching range that includes toddler bed, bedside table and chest of drawers (we also bought the latter and are getting the bedside table next).

Click here to purchase in the UK or here to purchase in the USA.

CHEST OF DRAWERS

What are you going to use them for? Clothes, bedding, toys, games, comics? What do you want to fit in each one, and consequently how deep do they need to be? How many drawers? How tall - short enough for your child to reach them all safely, or taller?

Originally I wanted a taller chest of 4-5 deep drawers, in order to fit in a large collection of dolls, My Little Ponies and other toys. I figured my daughter could reach the top drawers standing on her step. However, when it was decided that the room was going for a blue theme and we found the Mammut range, I compromised and had a smaller chest of drawers from this range. I'm glad now because they are sturdy, easy for my daughter to open herself, and the top is low enough that the storage tubs full of small toys we have placed on top can also be reached by her very easily.

BEDSIDE CABINET

Do you want the bedside table to be purely that - a nightstand for a lamp, drink and other essentials? Or would you like it to have a little storage, too, such as a cupboard, drawer, or both?

I decided that extra storage was no bad thing at all, and felt it would be a perfect place to store my daughter's jewellery box and other trinkets.

Ways to Utilise the Storage Space of your Kids Bedroom Furniture

DAILY ACTIVITY ORGANIZER - 6 SHELF HANGING CLOSET - 11"x11"x48"
DAILY ACTIVITY ORGANIZER - 6 SHELF HANGING CLOSET - 11"x11"x48"

Don't despair if your wardrobe doesn't have any or much shelving space - if it's reasonably wide, you can add this organiser and use it for folded clothes, socks, undies, towels and so on!

 
Fantasy Fields - Magic Garden Thematic 7 Drawer Wooden Cabinet for Kids Storage | Imagination Inspiring Hand Crafted & Painted Details   Non-Toxic, Lead Free Water-based Paint
Fantasy Fields - Magic Garden Thematic 7 Drawer Wooden Cabinet for Kids Storage | Imagination Inspiring Hand Crafted & Painted Details Non-Toxic, Lead Free Water-based Paint

If you want more drawer space but the gaps in your room are limited, then this narrow but tall drawer cabinet is ideal! Lots of drawers but not so tall that your child can't access them all. I love the pretty design, too - ideal for girls. A car or dinosaur one would be great for boys!

 
My daughter's dresser from Ikea, housing both books and tubs of toys
My daughter's dresser from Ikea, housing both books and tubs of toys

2: Adding Storage Furniture to Meet your Needs

Choosing Between Complete Storage Units, Bookcases, Cupboards and More

The next items of furniture you need to choose after the main ones are the secondary, but still bulky items like bookcases, cupboards and so on. Depending on how much stuff you are wanting to house, and the amount of space you have in the room, you may opt for several pieces of furniture, or one big storage system that you can add to or customise, or one or two key items.

Here are a few points to consider:

BOOKCASES

How many books does your child own? Are they an avid reader? My daughter LOVES books and we possibly have more of them than we do toys. I was never keen on the idea of the school-style sling bookcases where you can display picture books from the front, mainly because they don't hold very many, and as your child grows older, they are pretty useless for normal sized books. So, I opted for a proper bookcase. Luckily I had an old white one of mine which was perfect, but due to restricted space in the bedroom, I put it on the landing just outside the room. This works nicely as when baby number two arrives, they will be able to share the bookcase for books.

Photo Credit: Hensvik Cabinet with Shelf in my daughter's bedroom - image copyright of the author

CUPBOARDS VS DRESSERS & OPEN UNITS

When my daughter first moved from the nursery to her big room, we got this dresser pictured, from IKEA. It's great as it has shelves for either books or toys (we went books initially, before transferring to the bookcase - now it houses toys and playsets) and then large deep shelves for tubs, which are great for plonking lots of toys in. The small top shelf was also ideal for displaying her collection of Tinker Bell fairies!

However, as we now transfer over to the "blue Thomas room" I am wanting more cupboard space - firstly because I want plenty of flat space to house things like boxed puzzles, games and so on, and secondly because I want things away behind doors - for general neatness but mainly to keep the dust off! This is something to consider when comparing open fronted and closed fronted storage options. Or you could opt for the best of both worlds, which is what we are doing...

STORAGE SYSTEMS

If you have the room, then storage systems are a wonderful solution! I love the range that Ikea do - many of them are a mixture of open-fronted shelves, and closed cupboards and drawers. Some can be added to with open cubes, and others have shelving space to use with plastic tubs. A little bit of everything - which is more often than not what you need in a kids room, because there are so many different things to put away - big toys, small toys, awkward shapes, flat things, bulky things, soft things, delicate things... you get the idea!

This is what we will be buying from IKEA next week:

Photo Credit: STUVA Storage Combination with Doors/Drawers - buy from IKEA USA or IKEA UK

This is the ideal storage for what we need - it's large but not too large, with a mixture of cupboard space, deep and smaller drawers, and open shelving. I can't wait to see how much I can fit in it - watch this space and I'll review it when we get it home!

Storage Furniture for Toys, Books and More

Lang Furniture Madison Book Shelf, 12 by 28 by 37-Inch, White
Lang Furniture Madison Book Shelf, 12 by 28 by 37-Inch, White

This is an ideal bookcase for a child's room - it comes in a range of colours to match your decor, and it has adjustable shelving, so you can cater for tall books as well as small, to optimise your book space!

 
Guidecraft Moon & Stars Media Carousel
Guidecraft Moon & Stars Media Carousel

This is a nifty idea if you have limited space - you could pop this in a corner and not worry about access because it revolves, allowing you to house a lot more books than you might otherwise have been able to.

 
South Shore Savannah Collection Door Chest, Pure White
South Shore Savannah Collection Door Chest, Pure White

This is a great choice for a cupboard combo - you've got drawers, open shelving, and behind the door are four more spacious shelves - storage heaven!

 

Toys, Books and Games, Oh My!

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3: Adding More Space with Storage Extras - Storage Racks, Shelves, Tubs and Boxes

Labelled storage tubs for small toys
Labelled storage tubs for small toys

Photo Credit: Labelled plastic tubs filled with small toys, to stack inside or on top of larger storage units. Image copyright of the author

I'm a big fan of tubs. Be they large or small, we have quite a lot of them right now. Let's start with the large ones - there are many storage options around now called storage racks (or bin storage), as well as storage units built to house plastic tubs. They come in varying sizes and are great for adding to main furniture to add that little storage boost.

I love the themed bin storage racks, there are so many to choose from and perfect if your child has asked for a theme (Thomas the Tank Engine in our case - see left!).

These usually consist of a sturdy wooden frame containing 6 or more "bins" in either plastic, wood or fabric. The frames are generally brightly painted with the character or theme of choice - think Hello Kitty, Thomas, the Gruffalo, cars, dinosaurs, fairies...

The bins are removable, so like storage units with removable tubs in, they are wonderful because you can designate groups of toys to each bin or tub, and take the whole box out onto the floor, or another room entirely, to play with ease.

We use these for bricks, or collections of toys like farm animals or vehicles.

Other great storage methods on a smaller scale include shelving (below left, perfect for adding storage space to the walls), storage racks or units designed for holding tubs (below centre - we considered these before opting for a storage system), and toy boxes and chests (below right, ideal for soft toys and larger items, as well as doubling as a bench!)

Photo Credits: Shelving in my daughter's room - image copyright of the author, Trofast Storage Combination, from IKEA, and toy storage box in my daughter's room - image copyright of the author

Storage Racks, Tubs and Toy Boxes

Tot Tutors Kids' Toy Storage Organizer with 12 Plastic Bins, Natural/Primary (Primary Collection)
Tot Tutors Kids' Toy Storage Organizer with 12 Plastic Bins, Natural/Primary (Primary Collection)

Organise a ton of toys with these bright and differently sized tubs which tilt forwards in the rack for easy viewing and access.

 
Kidkraft Nantucket Toybox with Out Cushion
Kidkraft Nantucket Toybox with Out Cushion

This fabulous toy box offers spacious storage as well as doubling up as a beautiful bench (add cushions for comfort). The lid has a safety hinge and cutout to prevent little fingers getting trapped.

 
Step2  Lift and Roll Toy Box
Step2 Lift and Roll Toy Box

A toy box you can take around the house! Great if your child likes playing in different rooms. Stores toys neatly away and allows your kids to move from room to room, play with the toys, and put them back with ease.

 
Underbed storage table with drawers
Underbed storage table with drawers

4: Making Use of Small and Awkward Spaces

Handy Storage Fixes for Walls, Corners, Under Beds, Behind Doors and More!

Whether your child's room is large, medium or small, you can still take advantage of every available space, using cleverly designed storage solutions!

We will be buying this ingeniously designed Underbed Storage Table from The Great Little Trading Company. It fits under the bed, is on wheels for easy access, and combines a play table (with double sided surface - white one side, blackboard the other) with storage drawers. So it not only provides extra storage, but extra play space, too! I've not come across any other underbed storage quite like it.

Other ways to utilise the space in the room include:

* Corner cabinets and units to make the best of tight spaces

* Hanging organisers or toy hammocks to store soft toys

* Little push along trolleys to store toys in (and transport them about!)

* Stacking tubs or boxes (perfect for fitting in corners or storing under the bed)

* Underbed drawers or boxes

* Fabric wall pockets to store soft toys etc on the wall (perfect for gaps between furniture or even making the most of the wasted space behind the door!)

When we hit the IKEA store for our storage system next week, I also have a shopping list for other cool storage items, too. From left to right below, I'm going for these fabulous wall pockets, to pop on the wall behind the door, the hanging organiser for all those soft toys, and the brilliant open-up castle window mirror, which has concealed storage inside for hair brushes, accessories and other trinkets!

Photo Credit: Find these and other amazing small storage ideas at IKEA UK or IKEA USA

IKEA 6-pocket Kid Wall Pockets, Orange, Kusiner
IKEA 6-pocket Kid Wall Pockets, Orange, Kusiner

Here are those fab fabric wall pockets from IKEA again - perfect for small spaces and great for storing small toys, flat items, comics, books, drawings and more.

 
Prince Lionheart Jumbo Toy Hammock
Prince Lionheart Jumbo Toy Hammock

Finally, something to store that mountain of soft toys in... and brighten up a corner at the same time! Now all those cuddlies can be on display without taking over the bedroom.

 

Don't Space Out!

Which awkward spots would you love to fill out with the perfect storage?

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5: Kids Storage Furniture for Other Rooms - Clever Ideas for Stopping the Toy Spread!

Play table with storage
Play table with storage

Photo Credit: My daughter tries out a play table for size in our local toy shop - image copyright of the author

No matter what, toys seem to spill out of the kids bedrooms and take over the entire house. If despite your best storage efforts, toys are still making a break for it in your other rooms, then opt for storage solutions in those areas, too!

We are in the process of clearing and organising the dining room better, to turn it into more of a family room. This will be the perfect place to house a play table with storage drawers - my daughter has already been trying them out for size in the local toy shop, above! She adores trains so this is the perfect solution for keeping her train set out AND storing more items away neatly.

Another example can be found in my home office. I have turned half of the room into an arts and crafts area for my daughter, using this lovely arts dresser to store paints, craft kits, glue and more.

The drawers hold pens, pencils and other stationery, along with all her comics, activity and colouring books, small craft items and more. All the Play Doh, paint, glue and fun kits can be found here, along with craft books too!

There are lots of other ways to bring storage harmony to the whole house, but one final way that I want to do it is by providing an organiser for bath toys in the bathroom. Sick of having toys all over the bath, drying from yesterday's splashes and annoying me when I try to have mine, I will be purchasing a hanging organiser from IKEA to hold all the toys, along with flannels and other items too. They can then be stored away, and they can dry off inside it, too!

Photo Credit: Arts and crafts dresser for craft kits, paints, colouring and more - image copyright of the author

Where to Find Toy Storage for Other Rooms

KidKraft Lego Compatible 2 in 1 Activity Table
KidKraft Lego Compatible 2 in 1 Activity Table

Need storage in the living or dining room? Drowning in Lego? This awesome table has a double sided surface, one is a play board suitable for train sets, jigsaw puzzles and so on, and the other is a Lego play board to stick bricks to! There is also ample storage space underneath the play board. What's more, it comes complete with a 30-piece train set AND 200 pieces of Lego!!

 
Jolly Jumper Bath Tub Toy Bag
Jolly Jumper Bath Tub Toy Bag

What to do with all those bath toys? Stress no more - pop them in a bath toy organiser like this one! Suction cups stick it to the side of the bath with ease, and you can both see and store all those toys!

 
Child's Wooden Toy Box Chest - Pecan Finish
Child's Wooden Toy Box Chest - Pecan Finish

If you want toy storage in the living or dining room, then opt for a wooden chest that matches your furniture.

This is a superbly sturdy toy box with a safety lid to prevent little fingers getting trapped. Ideal for storing larger toys, cuddly toys, puzzles, games and more.

 
Make storage part of the play!
Make storage part of the play!

How to Keep your Storage System Working!

Getting your Kids to Use their Storage Properly

Of course, all the storage in the world doesn't mean that your kids are going to actually tidy their toys INTO said storage facilities!

But there is plenty you can do to encourage them. How about...

* Using favourite characters, either as a themed piece of furniture or by adding wall decal stickers to the storage units, to encourage use

* Using play items as storage - for example, my daughter had this lovely IKEA play kitchen for Christmas, along with a whole heap of play food and shopping toys. Thankfully, all her tea sets, play food, shopping baskets and wooden food sets all fit inside the kitchen's spacious cupboards, and she has no qualms about tidying them away as it's all part of the play kitchen game!

* Introduce a reward system, such as a star chart, to encourage children to pick up their toys and put them back in the right places. Help them by grouping toys into different boxes, drawers etc. Colour coordinate, label and so on - if your child is not of reading age, you can still label boxes by using picture stickers instead!

Photo Credit: My daughter playing with her play kitchen - image copyright of the author

Star Reward Chart for Tidying Away Toys and More

Magnetic Reward / Star / Responsibility / Behavior Chart for up to 3 Children. Rigid board 16" x 13" (40 x 32cm) with hanging loop
Magnetic Reward / Star / Responsibility / Behavior Chart for up to 3 Children. Rigid board 16" x 13" (40 x 32cm) with hanging loop

Hang up this magnetic, wipe-clean reward chart with 80 magnetic stars, and include toy tidying and storage in your list of daily tasks to ensure that everything gets put in its place!

 

Have You Mastered the Art of Storage Furniture for Kids? - Leave your Comments, Tips and Feedback here!

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    • Elaine Chen profile image

      Elaine Chen 3 years ago

      what a rich content about storage solution for kids! It definitely worth Purple Star :-)

    • teelover profile image

      teelover 3 years ago

      Great selection! Right now, when we are moving to the new place, we are looking for new storage furniture. Thanks for sharing!

    • Missmerfaery444 profile image
      Author

      Missmerfaery444 4 years ago

      @makingamark: That's great! I often find ideas for craft room storage when looking for kids items! IKEA is brilliant :)

    • makingamark profile image

      Katherine Tyrrell 4 years ago from London

      My other half refers to my study/computer room as my playroom! I'm also looking to review storage and although this lens is focused on kids it's also given me some ideas. I must confess I'm a huge fan of IKEA!

    • Missmerfaery444 profile image
      Author

      Missmerfaery444 4 years ago

      @LisaAuch1: Oh yes, the clear boxes are great for seeing everything inside easily! It definitely helps to plan ahead. Having had a bitty messy toy system thus far, so happy to be getting it right with some planning this time! :) Same here with the reward charts too, amazing how motivating shiny stars are! ;)

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 4 years ago from Scotland

      You have hit the nail on the head, I used a reward chart for tidying up and it works! But seriously thinking about what you really need save lots of hassle later on, we used the clear boxes which stored nicely underneath my daughters bed!