Organizing toys with cubbies

Earlier this week I mentioned how the kids and I had done a major purge of their rooms in anticipation of Christmas.  Today I’d like to share with you one of my favorite organizing tools for toys.  This post was originally published in 2007.

We have a playroom downstairs for the kids. I have tried so many different systems for containing all the toys to no avail. I’m not a fan of the toybox – except for dress up clothes – because toys seem to get buried at the bottom and it’s impossible to keep all like items together. And then I discovered the cubbie system!

I just wish you could know how exciting it is for me to experience the wonderfulness of a new shelf and the possibilities that come with it. This my friends has me dancing the JIG OF JOY! Yes, like the happy dance only better. I kid you not.

This particular cubbie shelving unit by Closetmaid features nine cubbies, but you can also get it in eight. The fabric baskets are purchased separately so you can use as many as you’d like and they come in a variety of colors. I purchased this at Home Hardware here in Canada, but you can also purchase them at Walmart or Target.

I then printed off labels on the computer and laminated them quickly and easily using self-sealing laminating cards.

It turned out really nicely. Now everything has a home and cleanup is a snap.  That makes this momma a very very happy girl!

My toy label printables are available for you to print off and use for free on my download page.

If you don’t have time to do the labels yourself though you might want to check out the fabulous ones made by the Organize It Mom for only $5.00!

Also Kelly from Gohn Crazy has a great idea for attaching the labels with velcro.

Filed under: Containerizing, Kid Stuff, Organizing


18 Responses to Organizing toys with cubbies

  1. 1
    LoriD says

    I love the cubby system too. We have it in the kids’ den (picture here, if you’re interested: ), and in each of the girls’ rooms. We’ve been talking about adding one to my son’s room too! Yours looks lovely with those pretty pastel baskets.

  2. 2
    Allison says

    This is super nice! We bought some gigantic cubby hole / TV stand case from Ikea two years ago. I often stack toys and books into the cubbys that the kids can reach, but I’m thinking I need to get some bins to slide in. then my toy room will look much like yours!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. 3
    Rebecca says

    My husband built one for our daughter’s room but I still need to get the baskets. It’s great for organizing. We left the middle as one long shelf for books.

  4. 4
    Ally0005 says

    I got one of these for my 5 year old room and love it and so does she.

    I want another one for her closet.

  5. 5
    Joyce says

    Thanks for the labels idea. We have that same shelf too.

  6. 6
    Nat says

    I can’t wait to have this system going for my kids toys. For my labels I plan to take a photo of what is in the drawer and use the photo plus the printed word in a laminated tag on the front.

    The only thing is, my partner is going to make this for me so I can customise however I want, but he is really busy until the new year and I’m have major anxiety over my daughters room and toys now…I’m wondering what I do in the interim as currently there is nothing in place because if I can’t do it the way I want, well I can’t do it at all!!

  7. 7
    Kris says

    Love love love cubbies! IKEA has a great line called EXPEDIT that we have in both our bonus room and my son’s room. You can stand it up or lay it sideways (which is how we have it). 2 cubbies high, 4 across — although they also have it 2×2. Very affordable and they have some basic baskets. It has made my life much easier!!

  8. 8
    Cherie says

    love this system1 i re-re-resorted the toy room during the week. i had a small book case that i was wanting to do something with, one large red tub, one canvas ‘bucket’ withthe word toys embroided on it, and a few canvas bags with cute prints on them. so on the book shelves i have the bags, in one i have the tea set, one bag holds all puzzles, one bag hold baby toys. soft toys in the red tub, knitted toys in the canvas toy bag/bucket. makes it SO much easier come pack u time- andmakes it that bit easier for my 2yr old twin girls to see exactly where like things are stored. (so the theory goes lol) they are doing pretty well actually! then i just have stationed in the room their beauty station on one wall and their babies (2 dolls, cradle and carriers) at the ther side.
    yaaaaaaay!!! (i do love the cubbies though- was hoping do something pretty like that but am happy to make do with what i have here- y’know- reduce/reuse/recycle and all)

    so in short (lol) love it!

  9. 9
    Laura says

    Although I don’t have any children of my own yet, I plan on using cubbies. I worked at a daycare for four summers and they used cubbies. I was amazed at the difference adding pictures to the cubbies made. It is definitely the way to go.

  10. 10
    Lisa says

    I just bought the same one for my son’s room and I LOVE it! Devin can now put away his toys because they all have a place! I’m going to get one for my daughter’s room when she gets older too!

  11. 11
    Chris says

    I use these in my kindergarten classroom. It is the most organized the students have been. Each row is a different color and I have clear name tags clipped to the front with pictures of the toys.

  12. 12
    BigMamaCass says

    Awesome!! I have seen those but was worried he would pull them down on himself. Did you anchor it to the wall?

  13. 13
    Lucky says

    I have the same shelf, and also love it for keeping my son’s toys together.

  14. 14
    Valerie says

    I too love the cubbie idea. I actually have it all planned out for when our house gets built this coming year. Each of the kids bedrooms will have this system but I got the idea from HGTV. It is a low cubbie box like a foot and a half tall then as long as you want it. I want to be able to put at least 6 cubbies in theirs so it will probably run the length of the wall but it serves several purposes. They store their toys in canvas or wicker bins and are easy to get to and put away. It will also hold their TV, they can sit on it and play or build on top of it or whatever. The one on HGTV was beautiful. I LOVE CUBBIES!! :-D

  15. 15
    MommySpendsLess says

    I love your blog. I feel a lot better knowing I’m not the only one obsessed with bins. And I think I’ll have to borrow your term “organizing junkie” to describe myself – it’s perfect! :)

    I just got a cubby system started in my daughter’s room (she’s only 4 months old, but as the only grandbaby on one side and the youngest by eight years on the other, I felt I needed to be prepared for Christmas!). I fell in love with Ikea’s Expedit unit but I was super disappointed to discover that their “white” is not truly white so it wouldn’t match with her other furniture. I looked at the Closetmaid cubbies but I wanted ones that could hold bigger toys to get us through the toddler stage. Then I looked at the Via toy boxes but they were outside of my budget.

    I ended up buying 12 of the Foremost Hold’Ems open storage cubes. They’re a 15″x15″x15″ modular system available at and We’ve only had them a couple weeks but so far I’m pretty happy with them. For right now they’re set in a basic 3 wide x 4 high rectangle but when she gets a little older we’ll probably switch them to an L shape so she can use the lower ones as a flat play surface.

    For bins I bought the Drona fabric boxes from Ikea. They’re collapsible and only $5.

    To attach labels, I got some self-adhesive business card holders from Office Depot – basically clear plastic sleeves with a sticky back. I printed labels from the computer and just slid them into the sleeve (using Google’s image search feature, I was able to find pictures of a lot of her actual toys).

    I just hope everything holds up well once it’s being used by little hands.

    (I’ll post a picture on my blog later this weekend in case anyone is interested).

  16. 16
    Christy says

    I did the same sort of thing for my son’s room. Instead of tags though, I painted a small board with chalboard paint and hung it on each basket with a ribbon. Then we can change the labels as needed.

  17. 17
    Creative Triplet Mom says

    I have this too. I just need an idea of how to get the kids to pick up after themselves. They are always dumping the bins out which drives me crazy.


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