5 small playroom must-haves, according to pro organizers

Make the most of a small playroom with these expert-advocated choices

Caitlin Wilson kids room
(Image credit: Katie Nixon Photography)

If you have kids, a playroom is a boon even if it’s not a sizeable room. But a small playroom does require clever use of space to maximize its functionality.

When you’re planning playroom ideas, there are some items that organizing professionals designate as must-haves for a small room.

Like small bedroom ideas for kids, these are the choices that will expand space for play, allow the contents of the room to be easy to find, easy to access, and easy to tidy away, and make a small playroom look great, too.

5 must-haves for small playrooms

The strategies for organizing kids’ toys along with accessible toy storage ideas are worth being aware of if yours is a small playroom. What you need alongside that knowhow when the goal is a fun and functional room? The five essentials recommended by the pros.

1. Cube organizing systems

playroom storage with cubbies

(Image credit: Beaumonde)

Open storage is great for playrooms because both you and the kids can easily see what you want, plus tidy it away easily, too (OK, that’s probably just you). It’s adaptable as kids grow, which makes it a really good investment.

‘I love cube organizing systems (found at Target and Ikea, among other places) because they are inexpensive and incredibly versatile,’ says Caroline Roberts, professional home organizer and Homes & Gardens’ contributing expert. ‘We’ve used Ikea’s Kallax vertically as a bookshelf, and it’s now horizontal under the TV to hold video game accessories.’

decluttering and organizing expert caroline roberts
Caroline Roberts

Caroline Roberts is a KonMari consultant and founder of the home organization company The Simplified Island. She and her team help clients declutter their belongings. Then they find the best places for your items so that their family members can find things and put them away. She is also a contributing expert at Homes & Gardens.

2. Storage on wheels

playroom with shelving for books, wall light, desk for toys, white floor, rug, toys, lego

(Image credit: IKEA)

Being able to clear the floor of a small playroom quickly when play is done for the day is a boon, and that’s where wheeled storage comes into its own, according to Millie Hurst, Homes & Gardens’ Solved editor. 

‘Roll it into place right by the day’s favorites, scoop them all up, then wheel it one side of the room,’ she advises. ‘That way even if you don’t have time to return items to their homes, they are at least gathered and off the floor.’

‘I like the 3-Tier Stackable Rolling Card from Amazon for younger kids’ playrooms as the tiers let you do some instant sorting as you tidy.’

millie hurst news writer
Millie Hurst

Millie Hurst is Section Editor at Homes & Gardens, overseeing the Solved section, which provides readers with practical advice for their homes. Millie has written about and tried out countless cleaning and DIY hacks in the six years since she became a journalist, and has worked in both London and New York. 

3. Clear boxes and bags

Kids have a lot of small-scale stuff along with larger toys, and it’s easy to lose track of however small a playroom you have. What’s crucial is making a place for it where it won’t get entangled with other objects nor become impossible to find at the back of a drawer or bottom of a box.

The top solution? ‘Simple Clear Boxes and Zipper Bags,’ suggests Caroline Roberts. ‘Kids can see through both of these, and they are great for corralling toys and games with small pieces.’

4. Storage seating

playroom with toy storage that doubles as a seat, artwork, toys, wooden train

(Image credit: Noa & Nani)

Items that do double duty are winners for small playrooms, and a seating and storage combo is a must-have buy, according to H&G’s Millie Hurst. 

‘A window seat with storage can be a great use of space and a custom, built-in design will maximize the storage it provides,’ advises Millie. ‘But if that doesn’t work for your room or your budget, go for pieces such as a storage ottoman or even a storage cube with an upholstered seat that fits the space. It’s a place for you or the kids to perch with tidying room inside.’

5. Pull-out baskets

kids playroom with blue sofa, plaid carpet, faux leopard rug and large storage cabinet

(Image credit: Ryan Hainey)

Pull-out baskets are a simple but essential addition to any small playroom. They fit onto cube shelving (see above), but can also be used on any open shelving you choose for the space, and can slide underneath shelving or other furniture, too.

Choosing different colored baskets can help with sorting out items when they’re stashed and makes a fun display of the storage to boot. If the baskets are all the same? Labeling is the top strategy to organize anything in a home – and that includes in a small playroom.


Should a playroom have a couch?

It’s a great idea to have a couch in a playroom – or, in a small playroom, a lounge chair. Although you want to maximize play space in the room, it’s a place to read together, and it’s also comfy for you when you’re watching kids play. A couch or chair can also add a more calming note to a busy room, and soft curves and texture that contrasts with the harder materials that inevitably feature in the room.

Plan a playroom successfully and it can have longevity in the same way that designing kids’ bedrooms cleverly can future-proof them. The must-haves that make it organized can help keep it functional even while toys and games are superseded by others as they grow. And when homework comes along a space where clutter can be kept under control and there’s a place for everything will make the ideal venue for study.

Sarah Warwick
Contributing Editor

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor. Previously executive editor of Ideal Home, she’s specialized in interiors, property and gardens for over 20 years, and covers interior design, house design, gardens, and cleaning and organizing a home for H&G. She’s written for websites, including Houzz, Channel 4’s flagship website, 4Homes, and Future’s T3; national newspapers, including The Guardian; and magazines including Future’s Country Homes & Interiors, Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living, and Style at Home, as well as House Beautiful, Good Homes, Grand Designs, Homes & Antiques, LandLove and The English Home among others. It’s no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house renovator.