Toy storage ideas for small living rooms – 8 ways to keep them organised and hidden without sacrificing space

This is how to best keep your children's toys organised in a small lounge

A living room with a low white bookcase displaying a toy car with two lounge chairs and a side table next to it
(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Let’s face it, small living rooms are unfortunately not uncommon in the UK – even in family homes with children. And this combination of a small sitting room and children brings about its own challenge of how to store the kids’ toys within the tiny living space. But luckily, there are some clever toy storage ideas for small living rooms you can implement to make your life easier and your lounge less cluttered.

Toys are hard to store and hide away at the best of times. Adding a small living room into the mix makes it all the more difficult to keep the room neat, as well as functional for both kids and adults. But these toy storage ideas designed for small living spaces make it all the more doable.

‘If toys have to be stored in a living room it’s important to have an order and system in place that allows for easy storage, easy to put away and so they aren’t too intrusive to the space,’ says Siân Pelleschi, founder of Sorted! and APDO (Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers) president.

Portrait of an expert
Siân Pelleschi

Siân Pelleschi is the owner of Sorted!, a Cheshire-based home and office decluttering and organising service, and the current President of APDO - the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers. With Sorted!, she aims to take away the stress and hassle that everyday life can sometimes bring, both in your home and working environment.

1. Incorporate furniture with hidden storage

A living room with a grey sofa and a matching open storage ottoman

(Image credit: Future PLC/Oliver Gordon)

One of the best small living room ideas for keeping mess at bay is investing in furniture with built-in, hidden storage. And that goes whether you have toys to put away and hide out of sight or not.

‘Use multi-functional furniture – benches or stools with internal storage that doubles up as seating, coffee tables that do the same,’ Siân says. ‘Many ottomans and pouffes can be used as storage containers for smaller toys.’

Craig Hoareau, owner of A Tidy Mind London and APDO member, adds, ‘Opting for coffee tables with built-in storage or placing baskets and storage bins underneath can provide extra space for toy storage without compromising on style.’

2. Look at shelving solutions

A living room with a white rocking chair and a blue shelving unit housing books and kids' toys

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Another top tip for small living room storage solutions is to make the most of your vertical space. Put shelves and/or storage units on the wall as high as you can reach.

‘Don’t forget to maximise vertical space, consider installing floating shelves at various heights to store toys and display books or decorations,’ Craig says. ‘Wall bins or wall-mounted baskets are also practical for keeping toys off the floor but within easy reach.’

Victoria Fearnley, founder of Surrey Decluttering and APDO member, continues, ‘When it comes to wall storage, try optimising the full height of the room with built-in bookshelves all the way to the ceiling or baskets on top of shorter versions. Place the books and other grown-up items on the top shelves and toys on the lower ones. Adding boxes or baskets to hide the content, will make the living room still feel like a living room, once the kids are in bed.'

Another option is a cube storage unit – as these common designs are very popular among families with children. ‘Cube storage units are versatile and can fit almost anywhere, with the option to add bins or baskets,’ says Laura Haddy, founder of Clear the Chaos Ltd and APDO member.

3. Use storage that blends in with the decor

A beige living room with a striped wallpaper and wicker storage baskets dotted around the room

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Brittain)

When filling those shelves and storage units, storage baskets are one of the best ways to contain all those loose toys while also looking stylish and as part of the overall living room decor. That’s the best hidden toy storage idea – hiding them in plain sight by opting for aesthetically pleasing options.

‘Keep storage solutions visually consistent with your living room decor to maintain a cohesive look,’ Siân says.

Craig adds, ‘Choose storage solutions that complement the living room’s aesthetic, ensuring that the space remains neat and stylish while providing ample storage. Decorative baskets can be strategically placed around the room to blend with the decor while providing functional storage.’

4. Add under-sofa storage

A living room with a wooden-frame sofa and storage baskets underneath it

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

Utilising the space underneath your bed using low boxes or drawers is a popular bedroom storage idea. But you can take advantage of the space underneath your sofa in a similar fashion, if you have any space under it that is.

‘Tap into spaces you wouldn’t normally consider. Use flat, rolling storage baskets to store toys under the sofa. These containers can be easily pulled out when needed,’ Siân advises.

5. Utilise space behind the sofa

A living room with a brown leather sofa with contrasting scatter cushions next to a fireplace with a storage unit behind it

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

Just like you can take advantage of the space underneath your sofa, you can also pull it away from the wall ever so slightly and fit the gap with a slim storage unit or console table to store toys on.

‘Some are areas I would normally say keep clear but when you’re working with small spaces, you need to make use of all the storage options you can. An area that can often be overlooked is behind the sofa. Using slim shelving units and bookcases behind the sofa can help use space that is often forgotten about,’ Siân explains.

Craig agrees, ‘This often-neglected area can be utilised by placing narrow cabinets, shelves, or baskets to store toys. It’s a smart way to use space that might otherwise go unused.’

6. Install pegboards to hang items

A wall pegboard next to a glossy red kitchen with photographs and scissors hanging from it

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

One of the most playful yet versatile toy storage solutions that’s also nice to look at is by using pegboards.

‘Pegboards are another versatile option, as they can be customised with baskets, shelves, and hooks to accommodate different toys,’ Craig says.

Siân continues, ‘Consider using pegboards with hooks to hang toys, especially for items like cars, action figures, or stuffed animals.’

7. Make the most of under-utilised corners

VASAGLE LBC20BK Corner Shelf

(Image credit: Amazon)

The reason why corner sofas are one of the best sofa ideas for a small living room is because room corners tend to be some of the most under-utilised spaces. So while one corner can be filled with a corner sofa, another can be used by filling it with a corner shelf.

‘Corner shelves or storage units could be considered making use of areas that typically remain empty,’ Craig says.

8. Include over-door storage

Bedroom with painted yellow door with hooks

(Image credit: Future)

As already mentioned, the key to fitting enough storage into a small space is by making the most of often forgotten and underutilised spots. The space behind the door and the door itself is one such area.

‘Over-the-door organisers, typically used for shoes, can be repurposed to store small toys, making them easily accessible and neatly organised,’ Craig suggests.

Laura of Clear the Chaos Ltd adds, ‘Utilise those walls - a slimline bookcase behind the door works well, too.’

Add to basket


How to store toys without a playroom?

If it’s not just your living room that’s small but your entire home, resulting in the absence of a playroom, there are other areas that you can utilise for storing your children’s toys.

‘Assigning a specific corner or area of the living room for toy storage can help keep things organised,’ says Craig Hoareau, owner of A Tidy Mind London and APDO member. ‘This designated zone can be clearly defined with rugs or storage units.’

A living room with a low white bookcase displaying a toy car with two lounge chairs and a side table next to it

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Implementing the principle of toy rotation is another way to tackle toy storage, simply by reducing the number of toys to store.

‘To avoid clutter, keep only a small selection of toys in the living room and store the rest elsewhere, rotating them periodically. This keeps the space fresh and the toys engaging. It is also very important to declutter toys as children get older and keep a constant balance of what's coming in and what is going out,’ Craig explains.

And as already mentioned, furniture with hidden storage is one of the best storage solutions for small spaces.

At the end of the day, these are just ideas. Every home and family are different, so feel free to personalise these according to your individual needs.

Content Editor

Sara Hesikova has been a Content Editor at Ideal Home since June 2024, starting at the title as a News Writer in July 2023. Sara brings the Ideal Home’s readership features and news stories from the world of homes and interiors, as well as trend-led pieces, shopping round-ups and more, focusing on all things room decor, specialising in living rooms, bedrooms, hallways, home offices and dining rooms. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors, working with the likes of 91 Magazine and copywriting for luxury bed linen brand Yves Delorme among others. She feels that fashion and interiors are intrinsically connected – if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.