The Toys

Operation “Organize the Top 10 Areas of Our Home that Need it Most” continues today with the always growing amount of TOYS! Like anyone else with kids, and especially after the holidays, we find ourselves really needing a good toy reorganization.
I have rarely shown this space in our home because it’s not been anything worth seeing.  It was designed to be a “media room” – mostly a guy’s space to watch games and hang out.  For a couple years, it was just a storage space for unused furniture after we moved from our townhouse.  As we’ve cleared out the furniture, there became more space and James started playing in there.  Christmas 2013, my parents got him the big basketball hoop that he and his friends enjoy playing, so it’s here to stay for awhile.  I meant to have the walls painted a dark, manly blue, but it came out crayola blue  instead and we never fixed it. I’m thinking of painting it a darker gray in the future.

As for the endless amount of toys, we didn’t have any real organization happening and James still has so many baby and toddler toys.  With his 5th birthday approaching, I knew we needed to let go of LOTS of those older toys and organize the space.





One of our biggest problems is that the toys are not relegated to upstairs.  Of course James likes to play with his toys at the counter where he eats breakfast and in the living room so he can be with the rest of the family.  We’ve cleaned up and organized the toys before, but it’s a constant battle to keep them organized.


We have two toy boxes that sit on either side of the media cabinet, but that doesn’t hold all of the big stuff.
That big basket is for his dress up costumes, lightsabers and swords, but lots of other toys have gotten dumped in there.


And behind the couch are more toys.  James wanted to get in this picture. 🙂
sort | toss | organize
Call me crazy, but I decided to tackle the toys while James was home.  You might think it would be easier to clean out and organize the toys while the kids are at school, but actually, I needed him to tell me what half of the toys were or what pieces go with what.  And he knows every single piece!  I kept asking, “is this garbage?” and he’d tell me, “no, that goes with my megazord” or something like that.
Also, I knew we needed to donate a lot of toys and I didn’t want to get rid of anything without him knowing.  He was somewhat reluctant at first, but I am really proud of how many things he ended up donating.
The first step when I do this (and this isn’t the first time!), is to gather all the toys, including everything in the toy boxes and sort through it.  I try to find categories of things (sports, music, dress up, legos, power rangers, transformers, but not everything fits so neatly into a category.  I decided not to be so super strict and I gave one bin to “small toys that don’t belong anywhere else.”  That might have saved my sanity and kept those toys from going into the trash.  Seriously, I did put a couple things in the trash pile, and of course, James would be right behind me going, “my gingerbread man isn’t trash.”  Can’t pull anything over on this kid. (See said gingerbread man in the above photo on the bottom left).
Going through and organizing all these toys (downstairs and up and in his room) took a long time (pretty much a whole weekend), so of course he lost interest and didn’t help the entire time.
donating toys with kids
The second reason I did this chore mostly with James home was because I knew we needed to donate a lot of toys and I didn’t want to get rid of anything without him knowing.  He was somewhat reluctant at first, but I am really proud of how many things he ended up donating.
I started by just asking him if he still played with a certain toy.  He said yes to a lot of things I knew he really didn’t play with anymore so I just moved on, but if he said, “no”, I asked him to consider donating and he agreed.
Later, I reminded him that his birthday was coming up and he might be getting new toys.  To make room for them, we should get rid of some things he wanted to donate.  “How many new toys would you like for your birthday?”  He said 9, so I told him to choose 9 things to donate and he went around and collected 9 toys to give away.
As we kept whittling away and our donation pile grew, I asked him if we could donate those big toys that babies or younger kids would really like playing with and he didn’t play with so much anymore.
We even went through his stuffed animals and with each one I asked, “keep or donate” and I let him decide.  I feel much better about him being involved in the process, even though it took much longer, I think it’s a good lesson for us both.
After everything was sorted through, a good sweeping and vacuuming of spaces was in order.
I got most of the remaining toys in the playroom upstairs separated into bins, but wanted to find a better way to house them.
Do you know where this post is heading?  I found myself alone at IKEA on Saturday night (one of my worst nightmares), but my husband is smart enough to decline an invitation to come with, and I really needed that damn Kallax shelf, so off I went.
Because I don’t intend to keep this room blue- I’m thinking grey, I wanted the glossy red Kallax unit.  At least my husband helped me put it together.  James helped too.  The Kallax comes in several colors now, including a pretty light blue, pink, or mint. But I had to stay focused on this space!
Although I knew I wanted the red shelves, I was torn on the baskets.  I didn’t want to spend a fortune, the woven ones at Ikea didn’t seem like they’d hold up too well (plus they’re expensive) and the hard plastic ones seemed like they would break.  I almost got this one, but they didn’t have any in stock at my store and then I came across the ones I ended up getting.  The Drona could’ve worked too, but I thought that material would get dirty quicker.  I ended up buying these below that I’m still looking for online. They are 3 for $15 and seem to be made out of vinyl!  Score!
They hold a ton of toys and are easy to pull in and out.  I should label them, but that’s on the to-do list for now.
So, it’s not the prettiest or well-decorated playroom and we could do a lot more with the space as far as taking advantage of the height, but for now, it’s pretty well organized.  And clean! With so many of those big toddler toys gone, this room can really breathe.  I have to be thankful for what the space is now, without criticizing what it isn’t yet if that makes sense.  I always want to show you a beautifully decorated space, but that takes time and I’m just focusing on organizing now.  Decorating and redesigning the room will have to come later.
I brought most of James’ books back into his bookshelf and cleared out a space for him to read.
The multi-basket organizer that was in this corner previously is gone, and his construction bench is in it’s place.  I kept those colored plastic bins though- they are in the toy boxes downstairs.  James chose the art 🙂 and now he can reach the light by himself with a stepstool.


Now he can access the record player he got for Christmas this year.  I moved my sewing machine into the guest room, but I should make room for it in my office closet.  See how you have to keep moving stuff around when you organize?!
Here are almost all of the lucky stuffed animals that get to stay.  There are a few more in his room.
The space downstairs has been well cleaned out too.  The sports toys are still behind the couch and maybe I should move that basket of costumes to the playroom.
The toy boxes are good now!
Room to play!
Here’s a quick look at the TOY organization progress.
Phew!  Did I really resolve to organize 10 areas this month?! I’m already tired, but feeling good about what’s already been done.  I need an easier project next! 🙂
Update: You can see the organizing challenges I completed here:
keep in touch! 

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Meet Megan

Hi! I’m Megan, mom to a thoughtful teenager and spunky young girl. We call Houston home and recently moved into our dream home. I traded my lawyer hat to become a full-time blogger in 2010. I love sharing my passion for affordable fashion, home decor, organization, & fitness to help inspire you to take care of you!


    1. There is one pretty close to my house, but I hate shopping there! I was so tempted to just order online, but I didn't want to wait or have to pay for shipping.

  1. love the color of your floors. We are having ours redone this week and I still can't decide on color. My first choice is to go dark like yours but I am nervous about it showing too much dust and our white golden retriever hair. How do you like yours? Do you feel like it shows a lot? Would appreciate your feedback. Thanks!

    1. Thanks Samantha! I like the dark color of our floors, but in retrospect, I wish there was more variation in the color to hide footprints and scratches. These are bamboo floors and they are very smooth so every little thing shows. Floors with more variation in color and texture would be better at hiding dirt and such. Hope this helps!

  2. I LOVE THIS!! Wow, I can't wait to see what you do with the paint and design choices. James is a lucky boy and I love that you included him on the donations. With Jack (4yrs) we do bi-monthly donation piles or else the house is overwhelming with toys. He has grown to appreciate them more and will often say "I really want to donate this to boys and girls who don't have many toys." Definitely something to be proud of! Well done!

    xo Melissa

    1. I've been pinning a bunch of playroom inspiration pics and would love to jump in, but I'm going to practice patience and wait until all the areas get organized. Jack is so sweet to have a heart for donating his toys. You're right, the house can be overwhelmed with toys. I seriously do not know where half of these toys came from- I didn't buy them and don't even know what they are!

  3. I so remember those days! Up until our oldest was a teen, our bonus room above our garage was their playroom/tv room/computer room. We spent a lot of hours in that room (it is now #2s room). It was a great space. My girls too loved to bring toys down or to their rooms. I found that if I had a basket near the stairs, they could place the toys in at the end of the day, and we would take them back up. They may not have gotten put away right then, but they were out of the way downstairs. It was a good lesson in putting things away after playing with them. I also made it a rule that they had to put away whatever they were playing with prior to moving on to the next thing. This was hard when friends came to play. They would come, trash the room, and then my girls would a bit resentful that they had to clean it up. However, they soon learned to tell their friends about our "rules", and they would clean up together. I expected my girls to help clean up if they were at a friends home as well. We also have a basement, which I know you do not. That was a great space for art and their larger ride on toys. I love that you involved him in the process. I found it a great lesson for the girls to help, but once they made their decisions it was easier for me to finish the process on my own. I love the idea of painting the room a dark gray. Oh, and I have a feeling that BB game is going to be around for many years to come (or a goal will be set up outside, LOL).

    1. You make a good point about when friends come to play. We are having several kids over for a big playdate in a couple weeks and I want everyone to have fun, but I don't want the room to get destroyed! I always make James clean up after himself when we visit friends and the parents of the kids we have over will usually help clean up, but it is important to teach the kids to do it themselves.

  4. Ahha! This looks like our playroom…. that gets dragged into the kitchen and family room too:-) Thanks for sharing- Great job organizing! I love the IKEA shelving unit! Costco has a similar one that we love, since sadly there is no IKEA near Santa Barbara.

  5. First off, you are brave for going to Ikea on a Saturday night! Haha You did a fantastic job de-cluttering the room and love how you involved James so he could pick out what to donate 🙂 Will have to remember that with Miss M. She has a little nook for her play area, but I don't put all of her toys out. Most of the smaller things go in the ottoman trunk and the bigger ones go in the extra bedroom. I'll rotate her toys every 2 weeks or so so she doesn't get too bored with them; plus, it definitely helps to keep things a little less messy around the house 🙂

  6. I love this comment, "I have to be thankful for what the space is now, without criticizing what it isn't yet if that makes sense." Yes, that totally makes sense! We completely gutted our house before moving in and we still haven't finished it. I often find myself criticizing spaces because they're still incomplete. Thanks for the reminder to be more patient and positive about it 🙂

    Also, I enjoy seeing the process and progress in a blogger's home over time. So thanks for opening up and sharing a space with us that you don't feel is completely right yet. It still looks great even though you're not totally happy with it! Great job on all the organizing projects this month! It's a ton of work!

  7. AH toys! I love the storage solutions– especially the bins that slide into the cubbie bookcase. I also love seeing the playroom! So cute 🙂

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