Kids’ Bookcase Organization – Before & After!


As you can see above, my toddler’s book situation was a lil’ bit out of control. We live in an old house that has small bedrooms, and hers is not only the smallest but also filled with the most furniture. Crib, huge gliding rocking chair, and twin-sized bed – the old Ikea Expedit I’m using as her dresser is wedged into the closet. But reading is a big part of the bedtime routine, so as she began getting more into books (and squirrelling them all away in her room – toddlers are excellent hoarders) I needed a better organizing solution. The shoe rack/makeshift bookcase worked ok for a while, but lately had been a disaster area and way too small to contain much of anything.

Time for a new solution – a real bookcase with lots of space for storage bins, baskets, nightlights and of course, books. We did sacrifice the walking space between the crib and glider to fit one in, but it’s infinitely better. Ready for the big reveal?


I searched high and low for a practical but cute option that would grow with her and not look too juvenile when she’s ten. I finally landed on the one I’ve loved since first sight – this amazing Jenny Lind bookcase. I originally wanted to go with white so we could re-use it in other rooms once she’s flown the nest, then I got sad thinking about that. So I chose this fun, poppy coral that makes me smile every time (Also in a sweet aqua. it was a tough choice) I think she loves it, too.




There’s so much more space to store all the things! It’s lovely and amazing not to have piles of books and stuff just everywhere. Our library’s a lot happier with us too; we’re keeping the weekly library book haul separate in the coral striped bin from Target so they don’t get lost among the rest of our books. #keepsmomsane  Can we talk about that super cute ice cream storage bin? It’s from a company called Kaikai & Ash; I met the owner, Johnny, at a home & gift show I went to recently in NYC (more on that in upcoming posts – I can’t wait to show you guys all the cool new stuff I saw for kids, gifts & home!) Their collapsible canvas storage bins are so. freaking. adorable. He sent a few over so I could try them out and let you guys know what I thought – and they’re every bit as amazing as I hoped. We’re using this ice cream one to hold the rotating and ever-growing cast of stuffed animals and babies my fickle little one decides is the flavor of the week for crib sleepovers. The dessert line is my fave (the baby animals and cities are also sweet) – it has everything from pepperoni pizza to strawberry jam and the designs are a combination of embroidery, soft felt and sometimes printing and the quality is crazy good, not flimsy at all. You can see a few more of the dessert choices in her Ikea storage unit/dresser, all available on Amazon.


They’re larger than most storage bins like this – 13×13 – but they fit perfectly into the Ikea Expedit or Kallax series shelves. Genius detail – you use the label to pull the box out! It took me longer than I’m comfortable admitting to figure that one out.

Here’s some of the city line that I’m using in the playroom – these are great for older kids and geography buffs. Or a travel-themed nursery!


They fit a ton of stuff, including all of the bulky, beat up puzzle and board game boxes. Woo-hoo! We’re keeping toy music instruments in New York, and the Paris one is a catchall for bulky or odd-shaped random toys.


So far this open shelving+ bin system is working all over the house – it’s not a groundbreaking new idea, but it’s made a ton of difference in visual clutter and chaos around here. There are so many cute storage bin options right now so I rounded my faves up that might work for you!

Cool Kids’ Storage Bins




What’s your favorite way to keep things organized in kids’ rooms and playrooms, especially if you have open shelving or storage units? Spill your tips in the comments!



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  1. I’ve been doing a TON of decluttering lately. I’d say I’m an amateur minimalist. Which is not easy with kids. This is what has really worked for us.
    1) It’s SOOOO much easier to organize stuff when there’s less stuff! Get rid of it. Not only have my kids, 5 and 3, not had a problem with less stuff, they LOVE that their space looks more beautiful. And I swear (I didn’t believe this when I kept reading it) they play independently much longer when there are less toys. It’s counter intuitive but it’s true.
    1) Rotate – every month or so we swap out the toys. It’s like getting new toys!
    2) At-home library – We do this with books and stuffed animals, because the house was just over run with them. In the guest room closet, I keep the majority of books and stuffed animals (neatly stacked on shelves). Only a few are kept outside this space. When they want something from the library, they have to swap it out for something that’s already out. It’s worked like a dream! They still have a pretty big variety that they can access whenever they want, but I don’t have to look at the clutter so much.

    I LOVE all the storage boxes listed, but now that I’ve decluttered, I just don’t need many containers. I’ve actually got too many now!

    • All good points, Christy! My kids are 5 & 2 and we’re in the thick of too. much. stuff. We’re cutting way down, but I still like to throw things in storage bins to corral stuff & cut down visual clutter. I’ve been leaving a bin at the bottom of the stairs at some point in the day & filling it with stuff that belongs upstairs, so I only have to make one trip at night without forgetting anything. Lazy for the win!

  2. Just a reminder to all to secure bookshelves and dressers to the wall! IKEA will give you the safety securing sets for free, I think.

    • Good reminder, Melissa. I think a lot of brands include the securing hardware especially if it’s marketed as kids furniture. Land of Nod’s came with a set, but good to know about IKEA!

  3. Great idea about keeping library books in a separate storage box/tray/section from the rest of the books – while I’m pretty focused on tracking which are library books vs our books (and city library vs school library), when anyone else is involved in the system goes out the door and I spend most Sunday nights trying to find the library books again. Definitely stealing that idea – thanks!

  4. I can’t believe I haven’t thought of a storage bin for library books. I usually just keep them in the middle of the kitchen table, and then yell at my husband when he sticks them on the bookshelf…

  5. “Mom, where’s my giraffe?” – “In Paris, sweetheart, remember?” 🙂
    I’m sure that being Kallax-friendly was no accident, and I’ll be grateful for it… nice roundup!

  6. A post after my own heart! We use the large IKEA Expedit (4 x 4) in my 3 year old sons room in lieu of a dresser and I bought a variety of colored storage cubes from Target (orange, red, turquoise, lime green) and some dry erase clips so I could label the outside with what was inside. I dont see the cubes on Target’s website, but others sell solid fabric cubes too, like Home Depot Cubeicles. Very bright and cheery! And in our living room we have a 4 x 2 Expedit and bought 4 Land of Nod striped storage cubes for my son’s toys ( Since they arent as “cutesy” they blend well with the our casual living room.

    • Yay! I got the Expedit years ago and have used it in many rooms, my fave has been as a changing table/dresser for the babies, though! Love that idea for dry erase labels and those striped cubes. So cute.

  7. We have a pale yellow Jenny Lind crib that I got second hand from a work colleague before the birth of our first son. It was used originally for a girl and has been through two boys in our home. I am in love with the timeless, sweet design. Now that the crib is packed away (tear) I would love to add the bookshelf. I always love the reccos in your posts and your writing voice is so fun. Thanks!

    • Aww that crib sounds so sweet, I love that design. I also got the white Jenny Lind bed for my older girl and it’s so good. I also love our readers, you guys are the best! What a nice compliment. 🙂

  8. Love the library storage idea, I hate the rush of panic when you realise that your library books are in the midst of your book collection! Will be using this in and out of the kids nursery (for my own book collection!!). Some really cool organisation ideas here. We have recently created a desk out of our youngest old cotbed. It was a really well made cotbed and it seemed a shame to get rid so we did bit of upcycling and it is now a fantastic workspace for our kids to be creative.

  9. I wanted to share something I learned from Jim Trelease, author of the “Read-Aloud Handbook.” Kids will be more likely to pick up books to read when they can see the covers, so put books in baskets, faced out on shelves or install rain-gutter style book shelving. People have used actual rain gutters, IKEA spice racks and various grooved shelving to success.

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