If I was interested in having a living room for the purpose of impressing other adults, then I could easily sequester all toys to the school room and bedroom. But this home belongs to these four children as much as it belongs to me and my husband.
So it looks like I live in a preschool, and I guess I kind of do. And again, I'm ok with that, as long as every toy has it's place and is put back in it's place. Organization is very important to me. I reorganize the toys very often. As in, every other month or so. Usually it's prompted by accumulating a new toy or container. I'm always trying to figure out a more efficient way of organizing stuff. I also redo things if I notice that something isn't being played with or isn't being cleaned up properly.
I just yesterday finished reorganizing again in anticipation of receiving new school supplies and because we received a new small book shelf; so following is what our house looks like at the moment.
This is in the living room entertainment center under the TV.
On the left is a box full of baby dolls and clothes. It's small and hard to see, but the box is labeled "baby 3 of 3." I haven't bought any new boxes, baskets, shelves, or drawers in 3 or 4 years. I just keep shuffling around and re-purposeing what I already have. So this box used to be in storage with baby stuff.
Next to that is a box full of play food. Above that is a little cubby where we keep library books. Finally, to the far right are all the matchbox cars and tracks.
In the living room next to the window.
The wide drawers were originally bought to store the kids' clothes (we didn't own a proper dresser for them until last year.) I bought the skinny drawers when we first got married to store stuff in the bathroom.
Notice how all the drawers are labeled with sharpie and masking tape? Super fancy. :) A long time ago I took pictures of the toys and made them into really nice labels. But I reorganize things too often and that takes too much extra work. So masking tape, or sometimes file folder labels, work just fine for me. I value practicality over style, obviously.
In the skinny drawers: sun hats, small dolls, jewelry, small dress up stuff (wallets, keys, wands, etc), and big cars. In the wide ones: burp cloths/receiving blankets/bibs, Barbies, plastic animals, action figures/polly pockets, and 5 drawers of baby toys/small board books/cloth books.
This is in the bedroom, between a dresser and the foot of the toddler bed. That book shelve on the left was given to us by my mother-in-law, who found it on free-cycle. Obviously it holds all the big trucks. Next to that is the baby doll crib I played with as a child and our boxes of Mega Blocks.
Between the side of the toddler bed and another dresser are our big boxes of wooden puzzles and frame tray puzzles.
The top of one dresser holds all the castles and play sets for our Polly Pocket dolls.
Finally, a view of the closet floor. As you can see, it is full of dress up clothes. I have struggled for years to find an ideal system and place for it all. Nothing worked. It always turned into the biggest, most annoying mess! So finally, I just gave in and let it take up the whole closet. As you can see, there are 3 boxes. But nothing is separated into specific boxes. All I ask is that the mess be thrown back in the closet when the kids are done playing with it.
Well, there you have it. The school room also stores a large portion of our toys, and maybe I'll blog about it once my order is in and we're ready to start school again next month. But hopefully what I did share gave you some ideas and inspiration.