Children, Home Decor, Interiors, Toddlers
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How to live with kids (and all their stuff)

Toy storage

Something I get asked a lot in consultations at family homes is how to deal with kid’s stuff. They see pics of my house online and are keen to know how I keep our house tidy with a four year old.

Firstly, it’s not always tidy. Believe me.

Charlie is a master den builder. Often taking over the living room with our clothes airer, all the blankets, cushions, pillows, access to any of the seating and view of the TV.

The “Lego carpet” is also another one of his preferred activities. Where he takes his two boxes of Lego and pours the contents across the rug so it’s impossible to even enter the room without piercing your foot on a studded brick or small piece of Lego Star Wars based weaponry.


We don’t have a designated playroom for a couple of reasons. The first being, we don’t have that extra room available. Unless we had an extension, that is. Secondly, kids don’t really use them, well I don’t think they do. And more often than not, when families have bestowed a whole room upon their kids just for play, it becomes a glorified store room. The kid’s stuff goes in nicely, but not the kids.

Why’s that then?

Because kids want to be with you, nearly all the time. Believe it or not, they like being in the same room as you and if they’re playing, they like to have you around, or at least be able to see you 90% of the time. That’s been my experience anyway. A playroom is great for storing all the stuff, but don’t expect it to stay there. Believe me, it will find its way into every room you use.

So i’m sharing my top tips for living harmoniously with little people. And the copious amounts of plastic tat that comes with them.

  • Baskets

Storage Basket

Baskets are your friend. And not kid’s toy baskets with arbitrary letters and numbers on. Just normal baskets you’d have in your living room for logs, blankets and the like. Ones with handles are the best as you can tote them around from room to room with ease.

Storage bench and basket

Baskets pick up what I refer to as the “overspill” toys. Those fiddly bits and pieces that don’t ever really find a home. The stuff you want to throw away, but your child insists their life wouldn’t be the same without it.

Ikea basket

I have a basket or two in all of our living spaces to plonk anything plastic in at the end of the day. Takes about 30 seconds and the house then looks back to some kind of normal.

See them? Well there’s that black one by the sideboard and another one, slightly bigger tucked behind the armchair. This room would be a nightmare without them. And having them there also adds a homely feel too. I actually like ’em.

Shoe basket and children's coat hook

Since Charlie had his first pair of shoes, we’ve have one in our hallway, along with a child friendly coat hook. Charlie comes in from his busy day, hangs his coat up, sits on the bottom step, takes his shoes off and plops them in the basket. That way we’re never wasting time trying to find his shoes, we know where they are and the basket looks pretty cute too.

  • Index Drawers (or something more befitting with your own room, maybe)

Vintage index drawers

We needed a side table for our ridiculously large sofa, but we were also beginning to accumulate more toys. Christmas was looming, as was a birthday, so it was time to address the storage issues head on. Instead of a side table, which offers no storage whatsoever, just another surface that accumulates crap, I purchased these vintage index drawers from eBay.

Toy storage

They’re the right height for a side table, take up barely any floor space but house so much kid’s paraphernalia. Perfect for organising cars, playing cards, light sabers, dominoes etc… And they look damn cool too. Toy storage does NOT need to be f’ugly.

Which moves me onto our:

  • Sideboard/Cabinet

I’d love to say our sideboard houses lots of lovely books, parlour games, exotic spirits and linen napkins, but it does not.

John Lewis Stride Sideboard

It’s full of Stickle Bricks, jigsaws, blankets for naps on the sofa, rubbish DVD’s… But nobody would know that by looking at it. Well, they would now. But you know what I mean. My point is, if you don’t incorporate some toy storage into your existing furniture set up, you’ll be doomed with some god awful Mothercare number shoved in the corner of the room, being a completely obvious toy storage cabinet/box/unit/chest of drawers. I say, just buy furniture you’d like to live with and shove their toys in….

Industrial Storage Cabinet

…. like this industrial style, metal cabinet which went into a project a year or so ago. Looks super slick, but inside it’s all Playdoh, crayons, plastic things and stuff.

Back to our kitchen:

  • Multi-function furniture

Duktig Kitchen

The Duktig kitchen from Ikea is a double edged sword. Not only is it a play kitchen, but it’s a cupboard to shove stuff in. And again, it looks cool in the little alcove. You can read about this little project over here.

Back to the other side of the chimney breast…

Bench with Storage

We needed additional seating for our dining table when fully extended, but didn’t have any room for more chairs in the room permanently. So, I picked this bench up from Ikea. The lid lifts off to reveal storage space inside which we’ve used for…. you’ve guessed it, more toys.

  • The Kallax

Large Kallax Unit

If you’re lucky enough to have a large bedroom for your little cherub, or playroom off the side of your living space, the Ikea Kallax unit is the toy storage don.

Ikea Toy Storage

And you can select which sections to have as open or closed storage. Whether to have doors, drawers or baskets. And what colours and textures you’d like to incorporate into your room.

So that’s my tuppence worth on how not to drown in your own child’s toys. That and a regular detox (I do love a good downsize don’t you?) Have I missed anything?



  1. Kat says

    Something I do is put the toys in nice grey felt crates and store them on a high shelf above the door in our box room (which used to be our daughter’s bedroom). Too many toys just ends up with the kids being overwhelmed so my plan (doesn’t always happen) is to have a couple of crates down for playing at a time and rotate them so the toys stay fresh and interesting. Much harder to keep this system working now we have a baby in the mix though…

    I also designed a ‘crap drawer’ and some toy/craft drawers into our new kitchen layout – they face the table and my daughter can get stuff out of them and easily tidy her own stuff away before a meal. That helps.

    The other thing I find we need design solutions for is the laundry. I’ve moved my washer to the bathroom and have room to dry it in there so that it doesn’t take over the rest of the house. Need some tweaks and I think that IKEA’s Algor system may be the answer to getting laundry/bathroom storage optimised.

    • Karen Knox says

      Giving them their own drawers! Yes. I missed this. Great that you’ve incorporated them into your kitchen layout too. Great idea!
      And I can imagine it being much more difficult with two. I’ve definitely not mastered it with one, but I think these ideas will maybe help some people out there. Thanks for dropping by!

  2. ‘Charlie …takes his shoes off and plops them in the basket.’ – I see where I’m going wrong now. You have already trained your son to put things away! Mental note: speak to 8 year old son about this …

    I agree that kids always want to be around you, so our sitting room includes a focal point of not very attractive Ikea kids’ cabinet. Think now may be the time to change it for something more attractive.

    • Karen Knox says

      Ha. Yeah, it’s more of a sign of how I like the house to look, rather than good parenting. Two birds though 🙂

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