How to Organize a Playroom: 31 Budget-Friendly Tips that Work

by | Home, Organization

​Get control of the toy clutter and maintain your sanity with over 31 ideas to organize a playroom, including budget-friendly options that actually work!

Toys.  The very word might make the super tidy-obsessed moms (like me) cringe.  How on earth is it possible to corral alllllll the things?  Especially all of the odd-shaped, bulky, non-stackable things.  I have good news!  There are so many ways to organize a playroom and a system that can work for any home.  It takes creativity to create storage solutions and toy organization that really works.  However, a kids’ playroom or even small play area that functions well is worth all of the effort!

When our oldest was born over 16 years ago now, it was so simple.  Each cute puzzle and shape sorter sat on a shelf, like her own, personal toddler classroom.  However, I quickly found out that adding siblings, varied interests and developmental levels equaled disorganized baskets and bins and toy boxes scattered with “miscellaneous” pieces of kids’ toys.

I’m a big believer of teaching independence to children and determined that I was not going to spend the remainder of my 20’s and 30’s picking up toys.  So I got busy developing some playroom storage ideas that seemed feasible and sustainable, both for myself and our growing kiddos!

Certainly, all of those toy storage ideas have had to evolve over the years as my children have grown.  However, I have found that the best playroom ideas are the ones that are flexible and able to grow and adapt with the family.  

Today, we are going to chat about some ways to organize a playroom along with budget-friendly tips that I have found to actually work in real life!

images of baby Payton, Addy, and Harrison behind a large cabinet used for toys

How to organize a playroom?

Before you can develop playroom organization ideas, you really need to go through the thought process of the needs of your family and the space you have to work with.

May I encourage you that even if you have a small space, don’t give up the idea of a highly functional play room?  There are so many great toy storage ideas out there to help you maximize space in a small playroom or even a corn of your living room.  A dedicated space for creative play, no matter the size, is a really great idea for any family!

Here are a few things to think through as you begin to narrow down the best playroom ideas for your family:

  • What space is available to turn into a child’s playroom?
  • Is there a room currently being underused that could become a dedicated room for play?
  • What toys do I want them to play with in this play room?
  • Who will be using this play area?
  • What kinds of storage bins will make easy access for my child?
  • How much money am I able to spend on this project?
  • Do I have a storage area available for toy rotation?
  • Do I have any piece of furniture that I can repurpose for extra storage in this play area?
  • What are my kids’ favorite ways to play?
old wooden tool box on a long white table for coloring and crafts in a playroom

How to Organize a Playroom: Budget-Friendly Tips that Work

How to Organize a Playroom Step 1: Control the Chaos

For us, the best approach is to regularly purge the toys.  Even though the decluttering process can feel overwhelming, it makes a huge difference in how the play area can be used and how it makes the entire family feel.

When my children were a young age, I did this when they weren’t looking!  Now, they are responsible for the task and we try to clean out at least twice a year.  I make sure we have a really thorough “clean out” in October or November, just in time for Christmas.   Then, we do a second purge in the spring or summer.

By making this a routine part of our year, we usually never have a huge, overwhelming pile and maintain general control rather than toy clutter chaos!

long wooden tool box holding coloring pencils and other craft supplies on a long white table

How to Organize a Playroom Step 2: Purge

This depends a lot of on the ages and stages of your family, but in general, here is how we do it:

  • Take one section at a time and empty everything.  (I find it way too overwhelming to try and empty the entire room at once!)
  • Sort toys into keep, donate, sell, toss piles.
  • Toss anything that is broken or missing pieces.
  • Keep items are evaluated for how they can best be organized and stored (we will talk more about that a little later on). 
  • Donate items are taken the same day to the thrift store and trash bags are taken out of the house before anyone can change their minds!  Our kids set aside items that could get a little cash at our yearly yard sale and we set that cash aside for vacation spending money!
  • There may be some items that you want to keep but are not being used by anyone. Particularly when my children were at a really young age, I would set aside the nice, developmental toys for the next sibling.  Now that we are grown out of those stages, I have a bin in the attic for a few, choice keepsake toys.
long wooden tool box holding coloring pencils and other craft supplies on a long white table

How to Organize a Playroom Step 3: Sort the Toys

As with every area of our home, I organize items into “like piles.”  I can’t very well store items until I know the quantity and size of the items in that category.  Once the toys are grouped into like items, I can evaluate the best way and location for storing them.

When items are grouped into like items, it is also easier for my children to be able to see if they have too much of a kind of item and they often purge a little more at this point.  Win for us all!

Then, I also evaluate the importance of items, how often they are played with, and by whom they are most used.  This helps me to be able to store them in more functional ways too!

small wooden organizer holding extra paper and drawings next to a small basket holding craft supplies

How to Organize a Playroom Step 4: Store the Toys

Admittedly, this is a much more complicated part.  Once we were able to develop a system that really works for us for storing the toys, it has always been much easier to control the toy clutter.  You might need to try several different ways before you find something that really clicks for your family.  At the same time, I found out that toy organization systems need re-evaluated as our children grow and have different needs.

Here are some general ideas that work really well for us:

Small toys: (cars, doll clothes, balls, imaginative play, blocks)

  • We have a wonderful vintage hardware cabinet with drawers.  Each category of item is stored in its own drawer.  Items for the little kids are stored in the bottom drawers where they are more easily accessible.  This also works well with bins on a shelf or cubby.
  • Extra small pieces are put into small plastic bins or reusable bags.  THESE bags work great for those extra small pieces and little things!
  • *Tip: for small children who cannot read, picture labels are really helpful!  It might not look as cute as a pretty tag, but training them to independently clean up after themselves is a beautiful thing!!!
  • I like to use THIS label maker to label all of the bins, bags, and baskets!  It is super easy to use and works like a charm!  I’ve even used it to organize my kitchen and bathrooms too!

Medium items: (larger toys that don’t fit in a bin)

  • A simple bookshelf or shelving unit, particularly with adjustable shelves, is great for neatly lining up these awkward toys.  If you have a closet, consider adding shelves for these types of toys.  It is very nice to have them behind closed doors, if possible!  I found that a toy box was difficult for little people, but once they are older kids, a toy box is a great option too!

Large items: (play kitchen, doll house, toy workbench)

  • We tried to invest in quality toys that went with the aesthetic of our home, especially for these large pieces that sat out in the kids’ bedrooms or kid’s playroom.  These bigger toys are wonderful for imaginative play and from a teacher’s viewpoint, are really important!  However, they don’t need to be an eyesore either.  Work them into the layout and décor of your space, as much as possible, and you’ll find that they work for you instead of against you!

You can browse all of my favorite things for storage and organization that we use in our own home.  It is carefully curated for you HERE on my storefront!

wood plank toys in a pulled out drawer of a large vintage cabinet

How to Organize a Playroom Step 5: Organize Arts and Crafts Supplies for Creativity

We are definitely at the stage of parenting where our children are really into arts and crafts.  While they don’t have nearly as many toys as they used to, the amount of paint, crayons, DIY crafts, paper, and popsicle sticks can accumulate quickly!  We use small, clear bins for all of these small items.  

As with toys, like items are organized together.  For example, all the crayons are dumped into one clear bin.  This works much better for us than cardboard crayon boxes!  Bins that are stackable make storage and organization easy for everyone.  We can also see when we are running low on any particular arts and craft supply item!

My kids love craft kits.  We keep a shelf where these boxed items are lined up.  The kids can see the original packaging this way, and the crafts are more likely to be enjoyed rather than all stacked up, collecting dust.  Once the craft is completed, the box is tossed and they know they have room for a new craft or kit!

We were able to build a closet space into our playroom to use for arts and crafts.  Shelf space is perfect to stack the clear plastic bins.  If you’re able to find a closet space in your home, consider building in shelves to organize all those supplies!  I love for my kids to be creative and I have found that they enjoy getting out the supplies and doing just that when I have it all organized and accessible for them!

If you don’t have a closet space available, book shelves aren’t just for book storage!  They can work great to stack storage containers of art supplies.

You can also consider investing in a cabinet with closed doors for an extra toy storage solution.  While it takes up some floor space, it can provide a lot of space for craft supplies, new toys, board games, and storage containers to organize small toys.

Pro Tip:  Watch at the thrift store or Facebook marketplace for book shelves, shelving units, or armoires that you can repurpose into toy storage space!

markers in clear stackable bins on wooden shelves in an art closet

How do I display my child’s artwork?

Kids’ artwork makes the perfect DIY decor for the toy room walls!  However, I prefer a really quick and easy way to switch out that artwork!  At the same time, a versatile way to hang kids’ artwork and even craft projects is really helpful.

In my classroom, I use THIS cable and hook system.  It is super easy to install and I can hang different kinds of projects as well as different sizes of kids’ artwork very easily.

various pieces of artwork hanging on a line in my classroom

Where should I put my kids’ toys?

This can get tricky depending on the space you have available!  There are many different ways to store and organize toys.

In our last house, we had big cubby units and baskets.  In our current home, we use a huge hardware drawer unit for toys and a small closet with shelving for arts and crafts.  There are lots of options for a range of budgets and I’ll link a few at the end of this post for you!

If you are lucky enough to have large closets or extra closets, consider adding shelving and storage units to hold toys and games, especially the ones that you would prefer behind closed doors!

Closet doors are valuable real estate too.  Over the door organizers are a great way to store stuffed animals, small games and toys, and even books without using up more valuable floor space.

markers in clear stackable bins on wooden shelves in an art closet
completely organized art closet with drawings, baskets holding art supplies and the kids' trophies

How do you organize a playroom on a budget?

We have chatted about different ideas that work great to organize a playroom space.  However, setting up a play room can feel overwhelming to the budget.

Over the long run, you may to choose to invest in pieces that are higher quality and last longer, as we have done.  Of course, that usually comes with a bit of a higher price tag.

At the same time, there are many inexpensive ways to organize a playroom.  Depending on the size of your space and how many children are using the space, your budget will need to vary.  Even if you’re on a tight budget, there are some great options out there to organize a playroom without spending a lot of money.

  • Visit the dollar tree for plastic bins, tubs, and basket.  For aesthetic purposes, consider getting matching colors, even if the size needs to vary in order to hold different kinds of kid’s toys.  If you have multiple very young children, you could even choose different bright colors and each child has a color that their own toys get sorted into!
  • Check out the school supply area for zipper pouches and small plastic organizers.  These can be perfect for small pieces and also for arts and crafts supplies.
  • A cheap way to organize is to use things you already have!  Make sure to shop your home and closets for any baskets and plastic bins that you can use.  Even if they aren’t what you want for the long run, they can help you start to get control of the toy clutter.  At the same time, you can use existing organizers to help you decide what sizes and styles to get or NOT get.
  • Start with one small corner.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, so they say.  Your playroom doesn’t have to magazine worthy right away either!  (Or ever, for that matter!) However, getting started can feel overwhelming so take the first step by committing to one small corner.  Declutter, sort, and organize every single thing and turn that small corner into your inspiration for the rest of the play space!
  • Frequent thrift stores and facebook marketplace for baskets, bins, storage containers, and even furniture that will hold play room organization.  Personally, I’ve sold so many of those types of things on marketplace or in yard sales over the years as I needed to transition to something different that would work better for my growing children.  So, I know for a fact there can be great second hand items out there to get you started!
full view of a cozy game room with bean bags, a large checkerboard, and a ping pong table

How can I make my playroom more fun?

One aspect of a play room that can often be overlooked is using the walls not just as decor but also as engaging play.

Over on THIS blog post, I shared over 33 different DIY projects and items that will look great in a toy room space.  At the same time, any of these DIY wall decor items can provide interesting and engaging play for a variety of ages.

Check out THIS blog post for some really great ideas to make the playroom space more fun for all of the family members in your household!

felt tic tac toe board behind a cozy striped chair in the game room

Below, I’ve linked some great options for toy storage and organization.  We either have or have had several of these options and some are ones I use in my classroom as well!

You can brows my favorite storage and organization items, curated HERE on my storefront!  This list can help spark ideas of what you can use to maximize the storage and organization in your own space.  Don’t forget to shop your own home too!

As you get started with organizing the perfect spot for play and fun in your home, remember that a lot of parents struggle with this same thing.  This includes me, myself, and I!  Over the years, I’ve had to revisit my thought process many times as I tried to create a great place for my kids to enjoy their play…and keep the adults sane at the same time.

It definitely isn’t for the faint of heart and usually takes a great deal of effort and creativity to make the play room into just the right place to function the best for everyone in the family.  However, it is worth the effort and can definitely be done!

I hope this post is helpful to you and gives you some inspiration to control some of the chaos…and have fun in the process! 

view of a black ping pong table in a neutral game room<br />

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