Toy Storage

I see posts all the time looking for a new (or easy, or inexpensive) way to store all those toys and books that our toddlers seem to accumulate.  Today I’d like to suggest the following homemade solution.  You will need:

* one old (or inexpensive) bookshelf, preferably five or six shelves and about six feet high;

* wall anchor straps (available at Target or Babies R Us); and

* brightly colored, pastel, or coordinating bins (optional).

Here’s the trick.  Take the bookshelf unit — and yes, one of those particle-board numbers from your college dorm room or first apartment will work perfectly well — and turn it on its side.  We’re now going to take the shelves out and put them back in in a pleasing, yet utilitarian arrangement.  Before you turn the shelf, mentally label each shelf, top to bottom, as A, B, C, D, and E (just like Ikea probably did originally….).

Remove the top shelf (A) and the two bottom shelves (D and E) from the unit.  (Here’s where the particle-board or prefab units are actually advantageous, as all you have to do is take out the little tabs that support them!)  Is shelf B already firmly fixed in place using glue and/or screws?  If so, set shelf A aside; this is the only shelf that you will need to cut. 

With a friend, rotate the bookshelf so that it is lying on its side.  The bookshelf should still be facing you, but it now appears to be about 6 feet long and 30 inches tall.  Fixed shelf B is now a vertical support. 

Lay shelf D down flat and slide it down to the end of the piece, at the bottom left corner.  Using this as a measurement, place shelf C snugly up against it and secure it firmly in place using drywall screws and an electric drill (or whatever you have on hand that will work).  Make sure that it is snug up against the shelf and nice and square if you can, using the same measurement for both the top and bottom of this piece.  Once C is secure, slide shelf D up about 2/3 of the way and screw it in securely.  The screws should go into the top/left side of shelf C and the bottom/right side of what used to be the very bottom of the bookshelf.  Now slide shelf E into the space below shelf D, about 1/3 of the way up, and secure it.

Now, the only sawing that you will probably need to do will be to shorten shelf A so that it fits snugly between the top/left side of the bookshelf and shelf B.  Measure, cut, slide it in at a pleasing height, and secure it.

To complete the look, slide in your favorite brightly colored, pastel, or coordinating bins, or use wicker baskets to hide the legions of action figures and teams of race cars that used to live under the couch.

Overachieving moms may want to touch up the top and sides of the unit with dabs of white paint where the screws went.  If you do, please don’t tell us.

For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, head on over to Rocks in My Dryer!


Widget’s bookshelf; the idea works just as well for all those little toys and cars in the playroom!

16 Responses to Toy Storage

  1. Wow, looks great! Thanks for the idea!

  2. mcmilker says:

    Great idea! Baskets for toys would fit well too!

  3. Mrs. Nehemiah says:

    love it!

  4. Stimey says:

    Hey, I think we have that exact same rug! Although our shelving is way less inventive.

  5. Amanda says:

    Great idea!! Thanks for including a pic.

  6. mudlark says:

    Rock on! That’s so cool! And just the right difficulty level for my like-the- challenge-though- not-very-handy self!

  7. biblestyle says:

    Great idea!!!! I’m glad you included a pic as I was almost lost in the middle of the instructions until I saw the pic. I’m a visual girl. That’s a great weekend project.

  8. Birdie says:

    Fabulous idea! I’m going to HAVE to try this one out for my little guys!

  9. Really fun idea – going to be using that one! – thanks!

  10. Chrystal says:

    This is incredible….I’be been looking for a solution. I think this is it!

    Thanks again!

  11. twithhoney says:

    I’ll be stealing this idea for Princess’s room. It’s exactly what we need in there!

  12. What a great idea!! I may have to try this one. I am glad you put on the photo because I was a little dubious when reading the description, but it looks fabulous! (Did you clean up for that photo or is your son’s room always that tidy?)

  13. whymommy says:

    Mom Unplugged, Widget’s room stays pretty tidy BECAUSE we have these shelves … and, of course, because the toys stay downstairs. Makes naptime easier if there’s less to distract us. Of course, that said, we just put in that “city” rug with lots of fun roads to race cars along … so we’ll see how naptime goes this week!

  14. […] Toy Storage […]

  15. John says:

    If you are looking for a slightly more expensive solution there is a wonderful toybox available at As well as being a beautiful looking piece of furniture in its standard form, it can be customised with the name of your child on the front.

  16. […] having to do with parenting. Today, for example, the tips include “limiting TV,” “toy storage,” “toddler bathtime and pedicure in one,” “chore system,” and […]

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