What happens when your child has more toys than clothes? Sometimes it makes sense to reconfigure a closet by adding shelving to store toy bins, board games, and puzzles rather than clothes. Though it may seem untraditional, reconsidering what goes inside a closet can mean a more functional bedroom overall.
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Even though kids are small, ask any parent, and they will tell you their stuff isn’t so little. And the toys only seem to get more complicated as they get older. More little pieces, more manuals, and more board games.
This can all be overwhelming and chaotic, like when you walk into their room and realize you can’t see the floor anymore because it is covered with Lego bricks.
To save your sanity, you need a quick way to pick up and contain all the pieces. And if that means the closet becomes dedicated to toys and games, so be it.
For my 7-year-old son’s bedroom, we utilized a wire shelving system to add loads of storage to his small closet. We packed those shelves with bins of toys, board games, and puzzles, all within easy reach.
This has encouraged independence both with play and with pick-up, which is a win-win in my book. But is this right for your child’s closet? Keep reading and decide if closet shelves are right for you!
Should I add shelves or keep the closet rod?
Most closets have a single bar with a shelf above. While this can be convenient for adults, the arrangement doesn’t serve kids, since they can’t reach the bar and it doesn’t provide any low storage options.
One of the most important things you can do to improve the functionality of your child’s closet is to add storage at their level. This creates independence by allowing them to easily access and put away their belongings.
If you are looking to replace your child’s closet interior, a wall of shelves can be useful for storing toys, books, and games. These can be custom-built, purchased, or even a freestanding metal rack.
Why use plastic bins for toy organization?
As kids get older, their toys seem to have more and more small pieces that need to be kept together, like K’nex or Lego sets. To help contain everything, my go-to organizational method is inexpensive plastic bins. Since they are clear, you can easily see inside which helps kids quickly identify the box they are looking for.
Stacking these bins on shelves creates a toy library, where kids can choose what bin they would like to play with. I used a similar concept in my daughter’s room when I reorganized her baby closet into a toddler closet.
For my son’s closet, I used a mix of small and medium-sized Sterilite bins for toys. These cost around $1 for the small and $4 for the medium and can be found at many different retailers (which is always nice for adding to the collection at a later date.) The most important thing I did to make sure these looked cohesive was to choose bins of the same brand with the same color lid.
How do you organize toys in bins?
The great thing about plastic bins is they make the organizational process straightforward and easy. Here’s the process I follow for organizing toys in a closet:
- Gather all toys and place them in piles or groups by type. Lego sets, cars, transformers, remote control vehicles, action figures, etc. will all be grouped with similar toys.
- Count how many bins you will need and verify that they will fit on the shelves.
- Dump the toys into the bins and place the lid on top. Be sure to include any instructions or manuals with the corresponding toy. Store on shelves either stacked or individually.
- Add labels! There are many ways to do this. For toys, I almost always reach for my Brother P-Touch PTD-600 label maker since I can create large, easy-to-read labels with the push of a button. The labels are easy to remove whenever you need to change them out (which happens frequently with toys).
What about clothes?
You may be wondering where I hang my son’s clothes. To be honest, I’ve found I can neatly fold his dress clothes and store them in his dresser drawers just as easily as I can hang them in his closet. In fact, by removing hanging clothes altogether, I’ve consolidated storage and am keeping “like” things together. This has removed any questions or confusion around where certain items are stored.
For off-seasons or next-size-up clothes, I found that storing them in a plastic bin works well. I just label it “clothes” and slip them in with the rest of the toy bins. When I notice my son has outgrown his pants, I can look up in the bin for the next size and pull them into his drawer.
How do you organize puzzles and games?
Faced with a stack of different-sized boxes? Save space by switching the direction of the box and storing board games and puzzles like books. This makes it easy to find exactly what you need and removes the hassle of digging to the bottom of the stack.
What about the floor?
The floor of the closet is prime real estate in a kid’s room since it’s much more accessible than upper shelves. Here are some of my favorite ways to use the floor of a kid’s closet:
- Adding a storage piece, like a dresser, bookshelf, or cube organizer
- A clothes hamper can give kids a place to put their dirty clothes that’s out of the way but still accessible.
- A shoe rack to keep shoes in the bedroom and not in a pile by the front door
- Extra-large plastic storage tubs to hold large toys or a toy rotation.
- Leave it empty! While it can be tempting to fill the bottom of a closet, it can also be an opportunity for some blank floor space. Kids can turn it into a fort or a cozy place to read with a flashlight.
Utilizing a rack of shelves in a closet has been a very functional way to maximize storage for toys and games in our small house. It’s easy for the kids to find exactly what they are looking for and reduces the number of times I hear someone yell, “Mom, where are my dominos?”
And of course, placing bins of toys on shelves is an incredibly satisfying feeling, as seen in this 30-second video:
Let me know in the comments what your biggest challenge is when organizing for kids. Is it the toys? The clothes? The Lego sets? I’d love to hear.