Living Room Storage Plus Toys: Is Chic and Uncluttered Possible?

The wonderful and lovely Tiffany wrote with this query:

Um, Miss NTB? Do you take requests? If so, may I request a home entry on incorporating kids toy storage into your living room? I mean like, serious storage. Not just one or two cute baskets for decor. We have the world’s smallest living room, which is now also the world’s worst decorated (thanks, kid-proofing). I have been TRYING to come up with something somewhat stylish and utilitarian, but I end up with dumpy and cluttered. I WOULD LOVE YOU FOR A BAZILLION YEARS.

A bazillion years? I like the sound of that. Of course, before I could effectively answer Tiffany’s question I needed to know just how small the world’s smallest living room actually is. The answer? About 14′x12′, which I think is about the size of my own, so I can definitely sympathize with the very real fact that a tiny space plus childproofing plus toys can equal a major bummer of a room. The good news is that you don’t need to be all LOOKIT MAH TOYBOX!


The bad news is that it’s not like you have all kinds of unused square footage to start adding in a bunch of furniture whose only purpose is to store trucks and blocks and the like. Too many people for my taste suggest things like this, because yeah, that’s just what we all need, toy Tupperware in the living room.

What I’d suggest you do need is furniture that does double duty and looks good, like a bench ottoman that you can sit on but also use as a coffee table:

That could go by the front door, where the chair and little table currently reside. The added benefit of a bench ottoman is that it becomes a place to toss a purse or the groceries at the end of an outing or a place to park your tush while you put on your shoes before going out.

Next, you have the traditional cylindrical ottoman, which can be used as both a a side table and storage:

I’d put it where you currently have what looks like a toy box or bench, behind the kiddie couch. It’ll have a small profile, making your living room look a little larger because you can move the love seat over a tick, and it’s okay because you now have all that extra storage and seating in the bench ottoman.

And finally, I’d move the kiddie couch next to the bench ottoman or, better yet, replace it with something that does double duty like this:

Besides being a totally cute little chair, it has a small storage drawer. It’s not going to do as much to keep your living room clutter free, but it has some space for stuff, which is better than most kiddie couches!

One more thing that really helps the toy organization process along is to start thinking of your kid’s toys as just more stuff belonging to another member of your family. His stuff might be kind of different from your stuff, but it’s still an important part of his life so when you’re organizing think of his stuff like you think of your stuff. In a small living room like yours (and like mine) the more important thing is to not let the toys overwhelm your space.

We, for example, keep one small basket of toys along with one small basket of books in the living room under a writing table. Not out of sight, but definitely out of the way. Do toys migrate out of the nursery or into the hallway? Pretty much every day, but at the day’s end I toss as much as I feel like tossing back into the baby’s room and stuff everything else in the baskets. Is it the optimal solution? Nah, but until someone hooks me up with a sweet ottoman, it keeps me sane and keeps my living room looking reasonably sharp!

3 Responses to “Living Room Storage Plus Toys: Is Chic and Uncluttered Possible?”

  1. La Petite Acadienne July 13, 2010 at 11:01 am #

    Yes, those storage ottomans are definitely a lifesaver. For the small toys, like toy cars and whatnot, we devoted the bottom two shelves of our bookshelf, and got those fabric cubbyhole bins. It makes it easy to clean up after the baby goes to bed — just biff everything into the bin and you’re done!

  2. Tiffany July 13, 2010 at 5:36 pm #

    We did a total overhaul of his room and added some storage solutions that are working pretty well for keeping his toys out of the living room. The train table you saw is on its way out of there, since he has little interest in it right now. I definitely have to pick up a storage ottoman like the first one–and some other double duty furniture is going to have to follow shortly behind it.

    Thanks for the to-go order, ma’am :)

  3. Ananas July 14, 2010 at 4:16 pm #

    I don’t know that this is a solution for anyone but starving college students like moi, but I have bookshelves (lots of them, for my lots of books) but I put things like file boxes and my wireless printer on the bottom two shelves (which, for some reason, are always too large for books anyway, other then coffee table books), then I hang one of my Pretty Scarves (of which I am like a mad little old lady with) over the opening, hiding everything and showing off some of the scarves I wear less frequently.