6 grown-up toy storage ideas that won’t cramp your style

Having youngsters in your home is no reason to sacrifice your stylish grown-up aesthetic.

Children and clutter go together like peas and carrots. So as much as you love them (the kids, not the mess), you’ll want some toy storage ideas that aren’t inspired by garish day nursery decor.

What you’re after is a happy medium – practical and attractive solutions that appeal to children and grown-ups alike.

It’s worth remembering, too, that what may be a simple storage solution to you has the potential to be a precious source of nostalgia to a child.

Hux bookcaseCredit: Hux London

We spoke to Dmitry Grishin, who runs Dragons of Walton Street – a store where the Royal Family shops for their children’s storage and decor.

Grishin says it pays to spend a bit extra on quality. “For children, furniture is emotional. Emotions create lifetime memories. It’s up to us to make happy and safe spaces for children to explore their imaginations.”

So it makes sense to keep that colourful creative thinking cap on when exploring these options for reining in the kiddie clutter.

1. Choose storage that neither of you will outgrow

Modular storage keeps pace with your household’s changing needs

Pottery Barn CameronCredit: Pottery Barn

The secret to selecting toy storage that sits comfortably alongside your stylish furniture is to look for materials and shapes that speak to longevity and quality.

It’s a balancing act.

You want to make the storage fun to use but without resorting to clichés like garish colours and patterns. This makes well-designed modular furniture created specially for the children’s market an unbeatable option.

Think of it this way.

What you see as functional storage that bends to your will is like giant Lego to a youngster. They’ll get excited about having a say in the fun stacking configurations. Together, you can work out what goes where to make life less cluttered and easier for all.

Pottery Barn CameronCredit: Pottery Barn

The Cameron Wall Storage System by Pottery Barn Kids is best in class when it comes to modular toy storage systems that also make adults swoon.

We like the neutral materials and paint colours that look gracious in any space.

Take full control of the design by choosing how you mix open shelving and concealed storage.

If space is limited or children are only around occasionally, a well-designed kids’ modular toy storage set-up may be all you need to contain your adult clutter too. Configure the furniture pieces so your adult storage is higher up than that of your child’s and you’ll all play together nicely.

Featured product

Cameron Wall Storage System, Pottery Barn

RRP: £2,132

Cameron Wall Storage System, Pottery Barn

2. Get creative with a custom design that delights children and adults alike

Make the most of every inch of usable space

Hux LondonCredit: Hux London

As the saying goes: if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. One of the best toy storage ideas around is to elevate strategic toys to works of art by dotting them around in a polished piece of custom joinery.

The great thing about bespoke toy storage is that it allows you to squeeze every inch of usable storage out of the space you have. Good news when multiple people need to get the most out of the storage in a single room.

Felix Milns, founder of HUX London, says: “Custom storage is a brilliant solution for children’s toys and games. Not only does it make best use of a space, embracing the maximum scale and expanse of a wall, but it also provides multiple storage options – open shelving as well as close-door cupboards – allowing you to tidy away toys and games at the end of the day.

Hux LondonCredit: Hux London

“Custom design gives the opportunity for a range of different materials to be introduced, which can echo the overall style and interiors of the rest of the house. Choose from more traditional panelling or the plethora of colour options through paint finishes to innovative techniques such as liquid metal, veneer, metal and stonework.’’

Shape your bespoke design to deftly hide most of the toy clutter behind closed doors, while leaving a few slots doorless to display the most photogenic toys as fun accents in the living room.

Done well, you will create a warm and welcoming space for the youngsters in your life. And when they aren’t around, you can trim back on the toy display if necessary.

We like how HUX London has created fun, colourful storage boxes within this joinery, with tinted mirrors and backlighting. Add books and magazines and the storage still looks simply stylish.

3. Try a monk’s bench for saintly toy storage

Catch the clutter before it can get past your hallway

Credit: Cotswold Company

It’s easy to understand the appeal of a monk’s bench in the entry hallway when you have little ones visiting. What child comes back from a walk in the park, for example, without muddy wellies, dirty hands and an abundance of sticks, rocks, and other “treasures” in their pockets?

Hallway lidded storage is a great way to give a child a safe place for their stash and stop it accumulating in communal areas.

With their easy-lift lids, monk’s benches are comfortingly similar to a traditional child’s toybox but with all of the aesthetic appeal of an adult-friendly design.

A toddler hellbent on proving their independence will find an ally in a monk’s bench. They can get in and out to stash and retrieve toys without any pesky adults stealing their thunder.

Monk’s benches are available from a range of sources – you can find them in antique shops, handmade by artisans on Etsy and through high street shops like the Cotswold Company.

The first consideration when buying boxes of any kind that will be used by children is safety. Make sure your monk’s bench storage opens without having to hold it and doesn’t latch automatically when closed. The same safety criteria used for toyboxes would certainly apply – so make sure you familiarise yourself with it before buying any form of storage box for children.

Featured product

Chester Dove Grey Monk’s Bench, Cotswold Company

RRP: £650

Chester Dove Grey Monk’s Bench, Cotswold Company

4. Repurpose what you have

Dig out the paint brushes and get creative

Credit: Dingley Dell Creative

The artwork on shop-bought toy storage typically has a baby-ish feel that doesn’t translate well beyond the confines of a nursery.

It would likewise be a challenge to go into a children’s furniture store and pick out an item with a form that both inspires a child and looks great in a stylish sitting room.

The solution? A lick of paint on “adult” furniture and a whole lot of creativity.

Upcycling a piece of old furniture that you love with a cheerful stencil motif will make storing toys a delight. Best of all, the playful ideas that can be applied to your old wardrobe or cabinet are endless. Floral themes are timeless and geometric themes appeal to all.

You can select whichever theme and colours work best with the decor in the room where the toys will be stashed.

Worried that you’re not as talented with a paint brush as you’d like in order to do your cherished furniture justice?

Dingley Dell CreativeCredit: Dingley Dell Creative

Pop your item out to an artist like Heidi at Dingley Dell Creative. Share your unique vision and a new and improved kiddie-friendly piece of furniture will be winging its way back to you in no time.

Always make sure that any tall free-standing storage you have is securely attached to walls with child-proof furniture straps. This is particularly important if you have little ones, as toppling furniture is a particularly serious risk for them.

5. Seek out furniture with piggy-bank potential

Antique and vintage storage pieces might hold their charm and value

Mid CenturyCredit: Etsy / PoppyIllustratesShop

Although you can never bank on it, the vintage or antique storage piece you buy for a child today may be in high demand tomorrow.

This is great news if they one day want to flog their old toy cabinet for tickets to a music festival. But, who knows, they might use it to style their first home or pass it on to their own children.

As we’ve seen with the ongoing love affair with mid-century, the classics never die.

Jane Walton runs websites Decorative Collective and The Hoarde. She says: “The great thing about an antique or vintage piece is there’s something you can buy no matter what your budget. But if you want to buy something the younger generation might like and use, and which might also go up in value one day, then look at something like a Heal’s desk.

“Heal’s vintage mid-century furniture is highly sought after because of its quality,” says Walton. “The design will likely appeal more to the younger generation too – they might even pass it on to their own children. Sourcing it at antique or vintage fairs or shops is fun, and you could engage them in the ’thrill of the hunt’.”

If you want to gift or share your genuine mid-century piece with the youngster in your life, resist the urge to pick up the paintbrush as painting your original furniture might devalue its worth.

Instead, add some poster pop art in the vicinity of the piece to make the area livelier and more playful.

Etsy is a great place to get pocket-friendly bright and popping posters on a range of themes that will appeal to youngsters and the young at heart.

Featured product

Wall Art, Etsy / PoppyIllustratesShop

RRP: £11.05

Wall Art, Etsy / PoppyIllustratesShop

6. Dot baskets around for instant catch-all storage

Disguise the clutter inside stylish wicker

Wicker basketsCredit: The White Light House Furniture

It takes minutes for a perfectly ordered room to become a clutter catastrophe when youngsters are around. While it’s best to ask them to keep toys in one room, there can be spill-over.

If that happens, the only way to keep some sort of order is to be in perpetual clean-up mode.

Lidded wicker baskets dotted around liberally can help to keep the worst of the clutter contained until the end-of-the-day tidy.

More than one youngster around? Designating a specific wicker box colour to each might convince them to get involved in doing their own stashing.

The key thing is to accept the wicker boxes will need to be moved around the room at will to keep toys contained. Keep your options lightweight but high quality, so they can handle the regular hands-on usage.

Featured product

Windsor Set Grey Baskets, The White Lighthouse Furniture

RRP: £145

Windsor Set Grey Baskets, The White Lighthouse Furniture


Written by Joy Archer she/her