How to Organize a Playroom on a Low Budget

Do you have a whole playroom dedicated to your kid’s toys? Are you struggling to organize the playroom so the kids will keep it that way?

I’m sure when you set up the playroom, painted it a cute colour, and gave the room a fresh clean. You were excited for your kids to play in that one room and keep the mess in there. Super exciting! You likely felt that now everything would stay hidden and you wouldn’t be tripping over toys.

I get it. I had the same thought. But kids are just naturally messy and want to play with everything they can get their hands on. 

Take the time to get rid of toys your children are no longer using, then tackle the organizing. You don’t need to purchase many organization tools to get the playroom in order. Look around your home to see what you already have; such as, cardboard boxes, laundry hampers, old Tupperware bowls, etc.

If you would like to learn more about:

  • Steps to declutter your kid’s toys
  • How frequently to look through the toys, and;
  • How to organize the playroom with specific types of toys without costing an arm and a leg

Keep reading below!

how to organize a playroom on a budget pin

Tips for Decluttering Toys

How often to look through toys

First, it’s so easy to build up so many toys that the kids couldn’t possibly play with them. So it’s important to go through the toys every 3-6 months, to determine if there is anything that is beyond repair or that the kids have outgrown and no longer play with.

Make sure to get the kids involved in the decluttering process. While kids often have so many toys that they may not even notice if something is missing. It would be really sad to get rid of something that they do truly love and enjoy.  The exception to this is baby toys when they are no longer a baby. Those can go right to the donation bin.

What to automatically get rid of

So many toys come with extra “stuff” that kids don’t even end up using. Like dolls that come with little pieces of paper and the million brushes that they collect. So if there are a lot of random pieces that the kids will never miss, OR so many Barbie brushes that the kids will never use. Throw them away or donate them. 

Also, look through toys to see if there is anything that is broken or in really rough shape. If it can’t easily be fixed, those items should be thrown out right away.

If you know that it is an item that your child loves. Set it aside so that you can talk to them about it later.

Everything else is trash and should just be thrown out. Less stuff to go through later!

organize a playroom
Photo by Skitterphoto on

Go in with a plan of attack

Kids generally only have an attention span of 10-15 minutes for these types of tasks. So go into the room with a plan of what toys you want to tackle. 

You may want to go into the room before your kids to sort similar toys into piles or pull out a few bins first. Then set aside all of the stuffed animals or Barbie dolls or cars, whatever you want to tackle first.

Now bring the kids in and ask them to choose 5-10 toys from each pile to donate. And for fun, throw in a prize if they can get rid of even more!

Create a prize system

The prize could be a small amount of money or another special toy or even a lunch date at McDonald’s! Or a night for playing board games! Whatever you feel will motivate your child(ren).

Obviously, if they don’t even have 5-10 of that toy, then the number can be lowered. Try to get rid of 15% of the toys in each pile at least.

Teaching kids at a young age that it is okay to let personal belongings go to another family who can enjoy them, will set them up to be more successful in their home later in life.

Often it is the parents who feel guilty asking kids to get rid of toys. When really, if you give them the freedom to decide what to get rid of, it may actually surprise you how easy it is!

How to Organize a Playroom with Lots of Toys

Organizing a playroom with lots of kid’s toys can be a really time-consuming task. Sometimes it helps to break it down into specific toys, instead of taking everything out all at once.

We have already covered decluttering, so now let’s get into the sorting, organizing, and determining the best way to store all of the remaining toys.

organizing Lego

How to Organize Lego

Oh, Lego. How I love thee…..or not. It’s so fun for the kids and it breeds creativity and helps build fine motor skills. However, they quickly end up all over the room and then get stepped on. Ouch!

The way you organize Lego really depends on the age of your child. 

Children under the age of 3 generally won’t be building anything too extreme. And it’s not recommended that they have the small Lego pieces. There is a bigger product called Duplo which is easier for them to play with.

For all other kids, there are many different Lego sets that can be purchased based on age. But there are also sets that come with random pieces of many different shapes and colours and those tend to be the ones that get left all over the floor.

There are several ways these can be organized:

  1. For younger kids, buy a cheap bin from any dollar store and just put enough Lego for them to build with. They generally don’t need the amount that comes in the bigger bins all at once. Just make sure to give them some from each colour. If any get lost, then more can be added.
  2. For sets where the Lego comes with instructions on how to build a particular item (such as a plane, house, or car), allow the kids to build the sets over time and then put them out on display. If there are extra pieces, those can go in the general bin.
  3. For kids that are a bit older, they may enjoy having the colours separated out. Buy some cheap small clear bins with lids to separate out each of the colours. The lids will allow the Lego to stack, using more vertical space in a toy box or on a shelving unit.  If your child likes to use random colours and pieces, get a clear medium size bin to put all of the Lego into instead. 

I would recommend either setting up a table where the Lego will always be played with. Or putting a mat or blanket on the floor, so that the Lego stays in one area. Then the mat or blanket can be picked up and any pieces can be dumped from the mat into the Lego container.

If you have so much Lego that you will never use it all, consider donating some to a school, daycare center, or other learning centers. Lego can be fairly expensive and is not always possible for larger centers to buy. So they would be glad to receive some.

Organizing Stuffed Animals

There are some very cost-effective ways to organize stuffed animals. 

Stuffed animal net

I like having a net that is made specifically for stuffed animals. It hangs in the corner of the room and is therefore out of the way and it holds a lot of stuffed animals. It’s also easy for kids to put the stuffed animals in the net themselves.

Fabric bins

Another option is purchasing a fabric bin from any dollar store. There are some really cute options that will hold many stuffed animals. The kids can easily just toss their stuffed animals in there and then they are out of sight and off the floor.  

Laundry basket

If you have an extra laundry basket. This is another easy way to store stuffed animals. Otherwise, you can buy a laundry basket for a low price in many different stores.

You can also buy tall laundry bins that have a nice design or colour on the sides, so it’s not only easy for the kids to put their stuffed animals away, but it looks nice too!

It’s also nice to keep a few stuffed animals in your child’s bedroom instead of the playroom. So let them choose 4-5 of their favourite stuffed animals and keep them in their room. They look cute sitting on their bed, when the bed has been made.

The rest of the stuffed animals can stay in the playroom. Having a few less in the playroom means that you won’t need to have multiple bins to contain all of them.

Another rule of thumb, create only ONE space (whether that be a bin or a net) to contain the stuffed animals. If they don’t all fit, then the kids will need to decide what can go!

organize stuffed animals

Organizing Toy Cars/Trucks

Large trucks and cars can remain out, but make a fun “parking garage” that your kids can park their trucks and cars in, to make it more fun. This could be as simple as cutting a cardboard box so that it resembles the shape of a garage. 

For small cars and trucks, the easier way to get your kids to put them away is to buy the fabric bins that can be purchased at any dollar store, Walmart, Home Depot, etc. 

These fit nicely into the cube shelving units but they can also sit on the floor or even fit into a toybox. They make it simple for the kids to just toss the cars and trucks into and then they are contained and off of the floor.

Some of the cars could be displayed on a shelf in the playroom, or in a long Tupperware container with a lid. This would allow the cars to sit flat and not get all scratched.

organizing toy cars

Organizing Dolls

This can include big baby dolls or small dolls like Barbies or L.O.L. dolls. Kids usually have a few dolls that they absolutely love and hardly ever put down. Those are the dolls that should be in their bedrooms instead of the playroom.

Any other bigger dolls can be stored in the same unit that the stuffed animals are kept in.

For Barbie dolls

Getting a longer bin where the Barbie dolls can lay down is best. Then their hair and legs won’t get all tangled together and make it hard for the kids to play with.

I would also recommend putting a small bin inside that container, so that if they feel so inclined, they can put in the Barbie shoes, brushes, clothes, etc.

Kids generally want to be able to change their Barbie doll’s clothes. So if they learn to keep all of the extra accessories organized with the Barbie dolls, then they will enjoy playing with them a lot more.

organizing Barbie dolls

L.O.L. dolls

Little dolls like L.O.L. dolls are cute, but man, do they come with a lot of small pieces! Maybe not the best toys for really little kids. 

This is another toy that the kids want to be able to change their clothes. So try putting the clothes, shoes, and so on, in a Ziploc bag. The kids don’t have to worry about closing the bag. Just make sure it is easy enough for them to stick their hands into so that cleaning up is quick and easy.

Keeping the dolls with the accessories is ideal. Purchase a bin from any dollar store to put the dolls into and then place the Ziploc bag in with the dolls.

Kids seem better at putting things away when the bin is on the larger side. So even though L.O.L. dolls are small, I would still recommend getting a bin that they can easily toss the dolls into. You may even want to buy bins with lids.

Don’t expect the kids to actually use the lids. But if they can toss everything in, then you can go in the playroom after, put the lids on, and then the different containers can easily be stacked and put on a shelf or in a toybox.

How to Organize Toys with Small Parts

Why, oh why do so many companies think that adding tiny little pieces to kids’ toys is a great idea?? Sure, those extra pieces look cute in the package, but the kids won’t actually play with them. They are too small for their fingers and are mostly just useless clutter.

I would suggest just throwing those small pieces out as soon as the package is opened. I know that seems wasteful, but otherwise, they are just going to get stuck in carpets, thrown down vents, eaten, stepped on, or any other unenjoyable thing you can think of.

So just throw them out before they become an issue.  The kids only wanted the larger item in the package anyway, so they will still be happy.

If you have kids that are a bit older who can handle the smaller pieces and actually intend to play with them, then they are old enough to put them in smaller containers with lids.

Organizing Dress-up Clothes

Dress up clothes can also just be tossed into a fabric bin and then put into a toybox or in a cube organizer. Or you could hang them up, but hanging up clothes may be challenging for the little kiddos.  

To hang the clothes all you really need is a piece of wood, screw it into the wall (into studs), and then buy some hooks to attach to the piece of wood. The kids can then easily just put the clothes onto the hooks. Which will take them off the floor and make it easy for the kids to see what dresses they have.  

Another option is getting a unit where the dress-up clothes will need to be put onto hangers and then hung from, such as this garment rack.  However, kids may not be able to hang them nicely.

Learning how to hang clothing on a hanger where it’s not as important how it looks will, over time, help them learn the proper way to hang clothes. Then they can help out with putting their regular clothing away! Win-win!

Organizing Books

I have a couple of other posts about organizing books. One is primarily about organizing books for older kids and adults in a standard bookshelf but can also work for kid’s books. The other post is about organizing a kid’s bedroom and includes different ways to organize their books in their bedroom.

I do recommend keeping 10-15 books in each child’s bedroom so that they can try to read some books on their own or that you can read with them before they go to bed. 

All other books should either be in the playroom or kept in the same location as the rest of the books in the home.

Ideas for storing books in the playroom

While books aren’t technically toys. They are often something that ends up in the playroom and worth mentioning.

Once you have only the books that are in the child’s age range, if you have a cube organizer like the one below, that is a great place to store them.

If you don’t have one, the cube organizer is still a budget-friendly option. You can buy the fabric bins to put in the cubes to hold many toys and leave a couple open to hold books.

Otherwise, if you are not looking to spend any money, use a regular box. It could be decorated to make it look a little bit nicer but cut down the box so that the books are slightly taller than the box and then store the books from front to back so that the kids can flip through them easily and choose what they want to read. 

If you ever buy clementines, they come in a nice little wooden box that could be covered in a thick adhesive paper to cover up any rough spots and make it look pretty or it could just be painted. Then store smaller books from front to back in the box. 

Store books above the child’s age-group somewhere else

For any books that are above your child’s reading level, buy a bin that you can store those in for now and put them in your closet or somewhere that is out of the way but that you won’t forget about. They will be happy to receive “new” books when they are old enough to read those books. 

Organizing All Other Toys

For all other remaining toys, it may be less likely that there will be multiples of each type of toy. So organizing these could be more challenging. They can still be sorted based on how they are used though.

For instance, all musical toys could go into one bin, all educational toys in another, and all play food related items (toy food, plates, bowls, cups, aprons, etc.) in another bin.

If you have a toy kitchen, the food items could be stored in the oven or the fridge.

Dollhouses can contain anything that the kids would use in that house.

Any smaller toys that can be played with on their own but are a pain when left loose can be contained in one medium-sized bin. 

Be prepared for your child to dump the whole bin on the floor, but it is also quick and easy to scoop up those little toys and put them back in the bin. Even get a little shovel so the kids can actually scoop. That’s way more fun!

organizing a playroom
Photo by Tatiana Syrikova on

How to Keep Toys in the Playroom

It is okay to have a small bin in the main living area for the kids to play with around the family. However, keep any small pieces out of the main area and only keep what can be contained in that bin. Otherwise, it quickly becomes a complete volcano throughout the room.

Avoid your kids bringing toys into the main living area by creating a simple system in the playroom. Where they can easily put everything away and feel proud of their accomplishment.

Additional Tips:

  • Don’t over-complicate the process. Since this is the kid’s playroom, it should be their responsibility to organize the playroom and keep it clean and too many small, labeled bins with lids are not going to help. So aim to buy medium to large size bins, that are easy to toss toys into.
  • Bins can be labeled for kids to easily identify what should go in each bin, but it is best to put large pictures on the front to help them identify what is inside, instead of words.  They may not be able to read the words and they are also less likely to take the time to read what it says. A big colourful picture is quick for them to see and understand.
  • If they don’t sort and put away everything perfectly, it’s okay! If they tried at all, that’s amazing. It’s so easy to get wrapped into this perfectly organized space but kids just don’t have the same thought process. They don’t understand why organizing is important or why it looks so much better and is more usable when done properly. The important thing at this point is just being happy with getting everything off of the floor. 

Craft supplies

Craft supplies such as; paper, crayons, markers, stickers, etc., aren’t technically toys, but if your child uses these in the playroom, they should be organized appropriately as well.

Keep anything that they could make a mess with in a tightly closed container that they can only use with your help. I actually keep all craft supplies in the dining room put away where the kids can’t reach, so that they always do their crafts at the dining room table.

Kids often get these “great” ideas to colour things that are not paper, so it’s best to have a designated spot just for crafts. 

Keep lots of newspaper to put under their artwork so that the mess stays on the paper OR buy a cheap tablecloth from any dollar store to have under their crafts.

Then it can just be thrown away when they are done if it’s really badly covered in glue, sparkles, stickers, and whatever else they may be using.

how to organize a playroom


The goal to creating an organized kids space is limiting what goes into that space in the first place. Whether this be done by donating many toys or by hiding a certain amount of toys and cycling through them, that is really up to you.

Each child is different and will be motivated by different factors. So determine what will make cleaning up fun for them and make them want to have a nicer space to play in.