Ask Unclutterer: Accessible but clutter-free toy storage

Reader Patricia submitted the following to Ask Unclutterer:

I want to keep toys for my grandchildren to play with when they visit our home, but our condo doesn’t have much extra space to store the toys. My friend says I need to have a special drawer for them, but I can’t think of a place that is accessible. Some of the toys are appropriate for different ages. I’m also afraid I will forget that I have the toys stashed away somewhere and nobody will ever get to play with them. Any good ideas?

I like the concept your friends are suggesting, but I can see how a drawer might not be the specific solution for you. It’s easy to forget about items you have stored, especially if you are a visual processor. You need a dedicated area where the toys can be contained and accessible, but they shouldn’t be in your way or captivate your attention when your grandchildren aren’t visiting.

I’ve come up with some ideas for you, based on solutions I’ve seen work for others. Be sure to check the comments, though, for even more ideas from our readers. If we’re lucky, at least one will work!

  • A small bookshelf that you can put in a closet or a low-traffic area of your home. The lower shelves can contain toys appropriate for young children and the higher shelves can hold toys for the older kids.
  • Repurpose the lower shelf of a bookshelf you already have in your home. Label boxes with your grandchildren’s’ names, and then put the age-appropriate toys in the specific boxes. Your grandkids won’t ignore boxes with their names on them.
  • Get a traditional toy box and put it at the foot of a bed or near your main entrance. When your grandkids aren’t visiting, it can be a place to sit to put on your shoes. When the grandkids are visiting, they’ll know exactly where to find the toys. Separate toys in the box into smaller boxes and bins, with the older toys in boxes that require more dexterity to open.
  • Similar to the previous suggestion, get another container that works with your home’s decor. Paint “Toys” or your grandchildren’s names on the container. Again, your grandkids will know exactly where to go to find the toys. You won’t have to remember a thing.

Thank you, Patricia, for submitting your question for our Ask Unclutterer column. This sounds like a fun problem to solve. Oh, and don’t forget to check the comments for even more great ideas.

Do you have a question relating to organizing, cleaning, home and office projects, productivity, or any problems you think the Unclutterer team could help you solve? To submit your questions to Ask Unclutterer, go to our contact page and type your question in the content field. Please list the subject of your e-mail as “Ask Unclutterer.” If you feel comfortable sharing images of the spaces that trouble you, let us know about them. The more information we have about your specific issue, the better.

Workspace of the Week: Side-by-side desks

This week’s Workspace of the Week is Lady Reynolds’ his and her office:

I like how this office uses the vertical space to keep paperwork and projects off the desk tops. And, the way the projects are displayed is a great solution for visual processors. I think the desks and chairs are from Ikea and the notes on the picture say that all of the clipboards were picked up from a thrift store. The magazine racks on the wall that were repurposed for files are also a great way to free up workspace. Thank you, Lady Reynolds, for your submission to our flickr pool.

Want to have your own workspace featured in Workspace of the Week? Submit a picture to the Unclutterer flickr pool. Check it out because we have a nice little community brewing there. Also, don’t forget that workspaces aren’t just desks. If you’re a cook, it’s a kitchen; if you’re a carpenter, it’s your workbench.