The problem with having toys, even if they are the coolest toys on earth, is that you eventually have to find a place to put them all.
Space in a playroom is often the final frontier, as it always seems to a challenge. When considering storage options there are a couple points that need to be considered. First, does the storage unit allow the kids to take toys out and put them away on their own? If the buckets are too big or too heavy or if the toys simply can’t be seen or reached, kids independence is lost as well as their parent’s sanity. Bins that kids can pile their toys into are great as long as they are not too big to move or have a lid that either gets in way or cannot be taken off or put by on by the kids themselves. Second, does the storage unit allows the child to grow and adapt to new toys, books and interests? Neutrality is an important feature in furniture as it extends the life of the piece. A shelf specifically designed for your son’s Star Wars collection will be hard to hold all his skateboard as he gets older. Lastly, is it durable? If you think kids toys get a beating, take a look at the containers the toys are in. I have learned from experience that plastic toy bins (Rubbermaid type bins) are no match for a group of rowdy toddlers (not to mention that kids get hurt when they step on the lids). So what is best for you and your toys? While there are countless shelves and containers out there I have found two proven storage solutions that continually get top reviews from parents, the Via Toy Box modular series and Ikea’s Expedit series. Both systems have their pros and cons, but are still perfectly suited for any playroom.
Ikea is the king of affordable furniture solutions and the Expedit series has many options to fit your playroom storage needs. The Expedit system is similar to Via Box as it is also based on the cube, but is sold as an entire shelving unit rather than individual boxes. The cubes are not modular, but the shelves come in many different options to suit your needs. The shelves range from a set of 4 to 25 cubes and come in three different wood grain colors and white. Doors, drawers and several different types of bins are available to customize your shelves. The fiberboard and nylon Flort boxes are an excellent choice for storing toys. They are durable, with a zipper top that kids can easily open and close. The also come in half-sizes to for additional toy sorting in a small space. Do not be tempted by the clear plastic bins as they have sharp corners and easily come apart and break. The Expedit is also a great choice for shared spaces as the bottom shelved can be used for toys while the upper for books or display items. A shelving unit with space for a TV in the center is also available for these shared rooms. For pricing and options visit the Ikea website by clicking here. To see over 500 different storage spaces created by using Expedit, visit the Expedit Flickr group page by clicking here.
Bottom Line: Affordable functionality at its best! Not as durable or adaptable as Via Toy, but comes with a friendlier price tag.
Prices and Links to Purchase: The four cube system starts at $50 while the TV unit tops the price range at $229. To see all the options available at your local Ikea showroom click here. If you don’t have an Ikea showroom nearby portions of this series can be bought online by clicking here.
Free Plans to Build Your Own: Cubby Storage System by Ana White
Via Toy Box
Via Toy Box is the brainchild of a carpenter Dad who was searching for a practical storage unit for his kids. ”Via Boxes are modular wooden cubes that have plenty of storage behind a shaped opening or a door. Unlike a traditional toy chest, the designs make it easier for children to pull out and put away their toys. No more clearing off the top of a toy chest and reaching over the side to look for a long lost toy that has been buried at the bottom. With access through shaped openings or a door, a child can easily take out and put away all their things.” (viatoybox.com) These modular cubes are available in several different colors and styles, including three different wood finishes, twelve different colors, three different shaped openings, optional doors and/or adjustable shelves and numerous accessories including casters, bases and tops. The boxes are sold individually or in kits made to order. My favorite feature of the boxes is that they are modular and the arrangement and orientation of the boxes can be adapted to your changing storage needs. The Via Box system also helps to curb playroom “tornadoes” as the bins are attached to the structure, thereby preventing kids from literally dumping toys on the floor. Keep in mind however that these boxes are an investment and will be around for years to come, as a result I would limit the number of pastel colors and triangle or circle shaped openings as they may scream “baby” in a tween or teenagers room.
Bottom Line: Made-to-order storage perfection! Just to sure to to select colors and styles that will grow with your child.
Price and Links to Purchase: from $49 for individual boxes, storage sets start at $118 and go up from there. Purchase at viatoybox.com.
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