The Project: DIY Toy Storage

One determined mom wields a screw gun to corral the post-Christmas clutter

Thanks to the miracle of divorce and remarriage, my children, Clementine and Nathaniel (both age four), have three sets of grandparents. This pays off big time at Christmas, and we were nearly buried alive in toys this year. I was happy for the kids, but we didn’t have a place to put all of their new playthings so they ended up scattered across every inch of our apartment. And the new sounds filling the house (like Ironman repeatedly shouting “I AM COMBAT READY”) were threatening to send me off the deep-end. (By the way, we had a family rule against toy weapons but apparently everyone decided to disregard this and use the holiday to arm my kids to the teeth. Lightsabers, hooks, maces, swords, axes – it’s all in the arsenal now.) 

Something had to be done, but after the holiday gift-shopping blitz, I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on an expensive storage solution. I did have a closet in the kids’ playroom that had some of their belongings strewn about in it. I decided to revamp the closet with shelves and bins and figure out a surefire organizing principle (ha!).

Before: Welcome to my dysfunction.

I considered using pre-made shelving but to save money, I went to the lumberyard and purchased some remnant birch plywood and ISS Designs shelving brackets and rails. In little time pockets before work and after the kids’ bedtime, I installed the shelves and some hooks, and then put in bins and filled them with newly organized toys. I chose two kinds of colorful bins from Land of Nod: Top Box Storage boxes (from $8) and Strapping Shelf boxes (from $8); I'm very happy with them and pleased with how it all turned out -- figuring out a DIY solution to the toy mess was definitely the cheapest and most satisfying way to deal with it.

Sure, stray items (like a doll’s MP3 player and her sunglasses) challenged my ‘organizing principle’ but, for the most part, playthings are tidy and the kids seem to know where to find and put back toys. Not that they’re actually cleaning up after themselves – that’s a bigger project. 

After: Success!

 Looking for fun DIY projects? Try these DIY clothing ideas.

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