The Toy Chest

6 May

Isobel is a lucky girl. Even before she was born she owned more toys that we know what to do with. It didn’t help things that as soon as I found out I was pregnant I let myself go a little crazy in the second-hand toy-purchasing department.

I didn’t know then if our little Peanut was a boy or a girl yet, but this awesome dollhouse was just five dollars. Five dollars! I figured if we had a boy who wasn’t into it I could give it to my cousin. And hey, the cats sure like it.

My friends have been more than generous to Isobel also. The day she was born my friends Stef and Dave were at the Zoo in LA and they bought her a stuffed gorilla we named Gogo. She loves that thing. Melynda was waiting till the day she was born to go to Build-A-Bear where she made her a unicorn named Unico 2 (Melynda owns the original Unico). I swear that unicorn is as big as she is. It’s so funny to see her carry it around the house.

The Waltons bought her this gorgeous ruby-red tricycle. I swear I had the same one when I was little.

And who could forget the baby showers! My coworkers were so generous.

Isobel was a much-anticipated baby.

Aside from thrift stores or yard sales we haven’t purchased any toys for Isobel–not for Christmas or her birthday. She has so many toys–a Mount Everest of toys! A Giant Pacific Floating Garbage Patch of Toys! An Asteroid Belt of Toys!

We couldn’t justify buying her more toys when she was way more interested in playing with a tooth brush.

And it was all so neat before she was born.

One of the things we’ve been doing is to organize her living room toys in a chest found at a thrift store for six dollars. It works well, holds a lot of stuff, and is stable enough that the lid does not slam down very easily.

Isobel loves digging around in her toy chest for toys and I like that everything isn’t all over the living room all the time. I like that some of it is out of sight. It all about the illusion of control, I guess. The latches on the outside of the trunk are also fun to play with and now that she’s more mobile she likes to sit on top of it, too.

I highly recommend scouring thrift stores for toy chests like this. We’ve actually gotten several compliments on it while closed–no one realized it was full of toys! And it was totally within our budget.

A couple things to keep in mind while looking for any sort of chest or case or even luggage while thrifting: always always always open it. Make sure you know about the lining or the condition of the inside first. It might be grosser than you’re willing or able to deal with. I got lucky with this chest. The particle board isn’t lovely to look at but it’s clean and stain-free. I was able to wipe out most the dust with a damp cloth then gave the whole thing a once-over with some mild disinfectant. If I had the time and money I would have lined the inside with some pretty contact paper. I might get around to it one day but it’s not high on my priority list.

Another thing you have to be really careful of when thrifting is The Weird Smell. Now anything that’s been closed up for any amount of time is going to smell off or stale or musty. It’s the overpoweringness of The Weird Smell that will tip you off. It will be strong and lingering. Trust me that no amount of washing or airing out will eliminate The Weird Smell and you’re going to end up resenting the piece, however lovely, for it’s scent. Pass it up.

Aside from this chest and the shelves in her bedroom we don’t have a system for toy storage and that’s really starting to worry me. I don’t like using bins. I know there are some that are not so horrible to look at but I think they are overall messy-looking.

I’d love to hear from other parents out there about your methods or toy storage and organizations. What do you do to keep it all under control? How do your toy storage-systems work?

5 Responses to “The Toy Chest”

  1. Julie May 6, 2010 at 5:08 pm #

    We got bins, but they’re the nice fabric-covered kind that are intended for organizing an adult’s closet. We picked them up at Home Depot, and they look great on our living room shelves.

  2. LittleBig May 7, 2010 at 1:37 pm #

    I like the idea of the toy storage just blending in with whatever’s already there. I’m going to have to check out Target and see what they have.

  3. Bonnie May 7, 2010 at 8:37 pm #

    My dad built a toy bin for my brother and I when we were little… but, it was way too big. We use it to store wood in at the cottage now. It has a lid and is great for putting things on. our cottage is way too small.

    When we were little, my room was the play room. My dad built me a doll house that had drawers at the bottom for the (barbie) dolls to go in. I had a doll crib that all my other dolls went in. And a bright red toy bin for miscellaneous stuff. And… I’m sure there were more toys than that, my mom was a babysitter. But we never stored toys anywhere else really, so the living room never looked cluttered with stuff.

    • LittleBig May 8, 2010 at 8:53 am #

      If we had more space I’d definitely consider a play room. It makes a lot of sense. Parents everywhere are telling me the toys CANNOT BE CONTAINED, LOL. A commenter on flickr mentioned the best we can do is keep going through them and culling the extra. Oh well.


  1. After Photos: Nursery « Little Big - January 31, 2011

    […] to it as The Toy Situation. When Isobel was a baby I put out a desperate plea to the interwebs: Excuse me, but how to we keep Isobel’s toys organized and store them neatly? The answers I received were nothing but helpful and polite, but I sensed stifled giggles. Silly […]

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