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Ask the Organizer: What do I store in wooden toy boxes?

by respaced on January 14, 2011

Question: My dad, a woodworker, has made two beautiful toy boxes for our two kids. They have a flip top lid and are basic boxes (3ft x 18” x 18”).

Do you have any ideas on how to use them effectively? Right now they are filled with miscellaneous toys that are out of sight and don’t get played with.

I’ve had two ideas. One is to just use them for the stuffed animal collection that they can’t let go of. The other idea is to use a few medium size clear plastic bins inside of the toy box holding like items, such as Barbies (so that they can see what’s in it at a glance and pull it out to play ).

Your thoughts?

Answer: How lucky you are to have a father who can custom build furniture! Toy boxes are great for storing big things, like the stuffed animals you mentioned. Little things tend to fall to the bottom and get lost. Also, since the children cannot see through the box, they may indeed forget what is in there, even Barbie dolls nicely tucked away in plastic tubs. I would put big things in there the children don’t need to access very often.

Of your two ideas, I would go with the sentimental stuffed animal collection. But here are some other thoughts. Could you push the toy boxes together, put cushions on the top and use them as a window seat propped up against a wall in the kids’ room? Then they could function as storage and seating.

Instead of the stuffed animals (which I bet you can get your kids to part with eventually), you could keep sleeping bags and extra pillows in there, making it useful storage for friends who come to sleep over. Another thought is to put each child’s special artwork, school projects and other memorabilia in there as a kind of updated “hope” chest.

I hope you find these ideas helpful. My husband and I have incorporated his childhood wooden toy box into our living room decor, using it as a side table to hold a potted plant on top and blankets inside. It’s a very useful and versatile item to have. I’m sure your children will get a lifetime of enjoyment out of their toy boxes!

***Do you have a question for me about kids’ rooms, living rooms, kitchens, garages, attics, closets, collectibles and memorabilia, to-do lists, time management or more? Leave your question in the comments section or email me at Thanks!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Kristy September 14, 2011 at 4:05 am

My 2 1/2 year old son is a big reader but I'm not sure what to do with his ever growing pile of books, including library books. I've tried bins and stacking them on bookshelves for easy access but it still looks cluttered. I've even taken some books and put them into storage. And it still looks messy. Any thoughts?


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