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Living Room Tour Part 1: Toy Area

We live in a one bedroom apartment on Nob Hill in San Francisco with 1.5 kids. The living room is the most used room in the house. It is Moses’ play area, the TV area, it is where we host guests, and it is my home office. That is a lot of use for one room. The key to keeping it organized and clean (most of the time) is for everything to have a place. I put a lot of thought into Moses’ toy area. I was inspired after I read this article about Lisa Mahar, the owner of Kid O. Then I did some research and went through and made a list of all the types of toys and activities that two-year-olds like to do. (I did a big post about it last December right here.) I tried to choose good quality toys that were beautiful and interesting.

Some sources: For toys etc refer to this post here. The plastic bins are from Container Store. The shelf I got off Craigslist and was ugly but I liked the shape. Jenny (my decorator) suggested I paint it Benjamin Moore’s Celery Salt. The little table is from IKEA. And my sister in law Liz told me about the little Bertoia kid chairs. The painting was one I recreated after I saw it in a Kate Spade store a few years ago. Then I put my collection of mini globes on top.

The system has worked out perfectly since I set it up a few months ago. Moses can see his toys and plays with them all the time (instead of being buried in a toy basket like before.) The best part is that it is easy for him to clean up his toys after plays with them, because everything has a place.

  1. ZDub

    February 4, 2010

    Looks great. I love wooden toys, so much nicer than plastic.

  2. michelle

    February 4, 2010

    Love what you did and how Annabelle's eyes lit up when she saw all the toys laid out like that when she played at your place. We're working on doing the same thing in the nursery now.

  3. Sam and Livi

    February 4, 2010

    your organization is super motivating

  4. Vanessa

    February 4, 2010

    i love the organization! where did you get the shelving box for the puzzles? i could really use something like that!

  5. Laura

    February 4, 2010

    Very nice. I love clear containers so parent and child can see where everything goes at cleanup time

  6. jordan

    February 4, 2010

    The puzzle organizer has a link on this post here

  7. Jenny at LGN

    February 4, 2010

    Looks really great, Jordan. Your toy collection is so inspiring. I hate how plastic crap so easily accumulates in homes with kids.
    …getting out the garbage bags now to edit our toy room!

  8. Annabanana

    February 4, 2010

    cute. great use of small space.
    but…he really, really needs some legos. I promise, it is $ well spent. HOURS of entertainment await!!!!

  9. chelsea

    February 4, 2010

    Really lovely. Can't wait to see the rest. I love your philosophy on toys!

  10. Martha

    February 4, 2010

    I love the thought you took to create this! I really hate houses exploding with toys that kids don't even care about. Love, love, love what you've done. Very inspiring.

  11. Stephanie

    February 4, 2010

    Darling Jordan. Love your idea of recreating artwork…you've given me the courage to be a little more crafty in that way!

  12. {lovely little things}

    February 4, 2010

    I love globes!

  13. nicole

    February 4, 2010


    I love your site but I wish it had a search button to find older items. I'd like to recreate the wall map you made & don't know where to look. Any ideas?


  14. jordan

    February 4, 2010


    the search box is in the right hand column. The fourth item down.

  15. nicole

    February 4, 2010

    Thanks Jordan. Boy do I feel silly.

  16. Abbigail

    February 4, 2010

    Looks great Jordan. We have almost all of those same toys. Problem is, I have about ten times more. I thin them out all of the time and my daughter immediately asks, "what happened to sister whale?". Need to work on it some more. Thankfully we have enough space to house all of her many toys. I try to rotate them since getting rid of them doesn't go well.

  17. Stacey

    February 4, 2010

    So organized! Where did you find that little accordion?

  18. Barbie

    February 4, 2010

    This is just the kind of help I've been needing! Thank you thank you! My boy's toys could really use some order. Great photo…makes me attack this project with much more ease.

  19. Jedi & Aubrie

    February 4, 2010

    That really is a beautiful display

  20. Green toys distributor

    February 5, 2010

    Great collection of toys, thanks for sharing with us. I like only plastic toys…

  21. Jordan - Polkadot Prints

    February 5, 2010

    Thanks for the peek into your home. This room looks so organised and beautiful. And thanks for the tip on the puzzle organiser – so, so practical!

  22. Casey

    February 5, 2010

    so great! thanks for sharing! can't wait to see more..

  23. LobotoME

    February 5, 2010

    love this! great job!

    adding {declutter our toy collection} to this weekend's to do list!

  24. J

    February 5, 2010

    The baby Bertoias are too cute and I love the Plan toys, we're big fans at our house!

  25. The Good Report

    February 5, 2010

    I ran out and bought those chairs too as soon as your sis-in-law mentioned them on her blog. I'm so glad she did because it was just what I was looking for. Looks great in your space also.

  26. jen hunt

    February 5, 2010

    your blog is simply delightful!

  27. Melissa Blake

    February 5, 2010

    Ooooh, I would have loved that as a kid…probably wouldn't even mind it now!

  28. wishful nals

    February 5, 2010

    i love the globes! xo

  29. Marina Guimarães

    February 5, 2010

    lovely smart toys! you came out with a great solution to organize them. 😉

  30. Ivy Lane

    February 5, 2010

    Your photos are aMAYzing!

  31. Anonymous

    February 5, 2010

    this looks great! i have a similar setup for our 2 year old – my problem with it is that he can't reach everything. i am thinking to re-do our setup with a different furniture piece – all low shelves – , so he can access everything himself.

  32. julia

    February 5, 2010

    I love the way everything seems so easy to find, and that the little table is so close. I'm still searching for the perfect toddler table and chair set on craigslist.

  33. alee

    February 5, 2010

    love the globes..just redoing my sons room {from baby to toddler&up!} I am going with maps/globes…love the colors!

  34. Jenny

    February 5, 2010

    I love that all the toys fit on one bookcase. How do you keep your home from overflowing with mail, magazines, art projects, books, clothes the kids have outgrown and all that? I feel like I have it coming out my eyeballs and I am constantly dejunking and thinning things out.

  35. jordan

    February 5, 2010

    @Jenny I'm not the poster child for organization but we do have a mail system where whoever gets the mail has to sort it immediately and throw away/recycle junk mail. At this point I only have one kid so its pretty easy to keep toys under control. And I'm not sentimental so unless the art is something I really like I throw it out. I only buy clothes for Moses once every 6 months and when I restock I clean out the old stuff and put it in storage.

  36. Lizinka

    February 5, 2010

    This is really great, I am inspired to re-organize the play area for our 2 year old and 6 month old. We have lots of boxes, but the organization of the clear containers makes so much sense. I do have one question – what will you do with these toys when he outgrows them and moves on to the next stage of playthings? I find I am hanging on to things for the second child, while still getting new things for the older child…and am starting to drown in toys despite my best intentions! Thanks for sharing your great ideas!

  37. Alicia

    February 5, 2010

    Love the setup! We have a lot of similar toys for our 2 year old. I just love the guitar and big fire truck – can you tell me where they're from?

  38. Janaan

    February 6, 2010

    So lovely! I plan to implement a system like this for my own little one.

  39. Robin

    February 6, 2010

    This is so inspiring! We have toys in pails and baskets now, and most of the time she only notices what's already out and scattered around. I much prefer your thoughtful and focused approach.

  40. potenta

    February 27, 2010

    toooooys 🙂

    how fun!

  41. Anna

    June 22, 2010

    Fabulous Job Jordan. I've read through all your posts and enjoy your blog. Where did you find the adorable spiny top toy? Would love to have one for my daughter. 🙂 Thanks, from Bali!

  42. Alina from WindowBlindsProject

    February 15, 2011

    I love your toys area. It looks organized. I have a similar area in our living room for my 2 years old son, but it doesn't look so nice.

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