In today’s post: Get all those stuffed animals organized with this easy DIY hanging toy storage system.
Anyone else drowning in toys? We really don’t buy the kids that many toys, but they receive them as gifts and inherit them from cousins and save up their own money to buy special ones…and we’ve ended up with SO MANY STUFFED ANIMALS! And of course each stuffed animal is absolutely loved and cherished so it’s pretty hard to convince the kids we should donate some of them. The kids claim they’ll keep them cleaned up on their beds, but it just doesn’t happen, and I’m about to lose my mind.
Or I was. I spent some time hunting for a good stuffed animal storage system. I’ve seen hammocks which hang in a corner of the room (won’t work because there’s no free corner in their bedroom) and large custom built stuffed animal zoos ($200+) and bookshelves with dowels running down the front so kids can stuff all their toys inside (it keeps them off the ground, but looks almost just as messy). I finally came up with a DIY stuffed animal storage solution that is pretty inexpensive and can be easily put together in an hour or two. It’s simple enough that the kids can help with most of the construction.
DIY Hanging toy storage
Now, I probably wouldn’t put one of these in a toddler’s bedroom since the temptation to climb on it daily might be too much to resist. But my boys are older – they’re in that stage where they don’t actually play with stuffed animals much, but they aren’t ready to give them up. So for them, the stuffed animal swing works perfectly. Each boy has a shelf, and each shelf fits 8 Build-a-Bear sized animals easily, with room for a few more smaller ones stuffed in. The boys know they can keep as many animals as will fit on their shelf, which is going to make it easy to know when it’s time to de-clutter and donate a few.
Before we get to the how-to, I just want to make a note: like anything that hangs from the ceiling with rope or cord, this could be a strangulation hazard if an unattended young child climbs on it. Do not put one of these in the bedroom of a very small child, and use your good judgment when building one for an older child if you have small children in the home – thanks!
How to build a hanging toy storage system
You’ll need the supplies pictured above, plus wood glue and a drill (a staple gun is optional).
For a tri-level swing, you’ll need six 4in wide by 1/4in thick by 2ft long hobby precuts, about 30 ft of rope, two hooks that can screw into ceiling studs, and 5 4ft wood laths. Look for the precut wood in the “hobby wood” section, and wood lath somewhere in the pine boards section at Home Depot. The hobby precuts are a couple of dollar each, and the wood lath is about 50 cents each (pick the lath carefully, looking for ones that are straight and have minimal knots).
Start construction by sanding your wood. The hobby precuts will need minimal sanding, but the wood lath will need more.
Next, cut your wood lath. For each level you need two 2-ft lengths and two 1-ft lengths.
Lay two of the hobby precuts down on the ground with about 2-3 inches between them, as shown below. Use wood glue to glue a 1-ft length of lath on each end of the hobby precuts, as you see below. Make sure the lath piece extends a bit off to the side of each precut.
Glue together the swing seats for each level (clamp together or lay something heavy on each lath while the glue dries) and let dry completely. Then you’ll drill a hole big enough for your rope to go through on each end of the lath pieces. In the photo above, the hole would go right where the boy’s thumb is on the right.
In the photo below you can see how the swing is put together. Cut 4 lengths of rope – 8 feet is probably plenty, but this will depend on how high your ceiling in in the room you want to hang this swing and how low you want it to hang. Put a knot at one end of the rope, then thread it through the swing seat. Place another knot right on top of the swing seat. About 4 inches above the swing seat wrap the rope around a 2-ft piece of lath, which acts as the swing bar. Either knot the rope or secure with staples.
My swing seats are space about 18 inches apart, but you can make them as close together or far apart as you’d like. Just repeat the process to add the next level. When you’re done, knot the ropes together on each side and hang from hooks that you’ve screwed directly into studs in the ceiling. Here’s a view of the top swing seat from below to give you a better idea of what it looks like finished:
Not too difficult and not too expensive – and now all the stuffed animals are off the floor and out of the way! Now that all the stuffed animals are comfortably ensconced on the hanging toy storage swing, we can vacuum the floor without having to clean up first. Now if we can only get the legos organized as well…