Thursday, August 30, 2012

18 UHeart Organizing: A Pretty Pet Toy Storage Solution

Some of you may have pets.  Some may have kids.  Some may consider your pets your kids.  Like us.  Sometimes I just let people know I have five kids, since I have three boys and two furry pups.  And for me, taking good care of our pooches, and organizing for them as well, is extremely important.  So I frequently find myself turning to my favorite pet blogger, Serena from Pretty Fluffy for inspiration and ideas.  Here she is today to share how she has gained control of her pup's toy situation in a pretty, creative and very simple way.

Pet Toy Box Organization in 3 Easy Steps

Hello beautiful IHeart readers! I am super excited to be here today and completely floored to be sharing my ideas with such a creative and generous community. Here we go!

When people first get to know me, they quickly soon learn I have two great loves in my life - Dogs and Organization. {Apologies my dear husband!} The problem with having these two great loves? Well, they make as good a combination as mashed potato and chocolate. GREAT on their own, but together? Not so much. You see dogs care very little about organization. Their world is a tornado of dirt, hair and paw prints. And there's no better example of this than a pet's toy box.

The first thing you get told as a pet owner is to keep your new puppy or kitten happy and stimulated with a good swag of toys. So you buy a storage container, pop in the toys and congratulate yourself with a margarita for a job well done. But lo and behold, over the course of time the toy box starts to resemble this:

Yes, this was my dog's toy box. My secret shame. A complete waste of space in our high traffic living room area, filled with toys covered in dirt, slobber and in a constant state of disrepair. Other than being a complete eyesore, it was also taking up a lot of my time picking up ALL the toys throughout the yard and house, and returning them to the toy box, only to have to pick them up again the next day. But what to do? Well, I set out about creating the perfect pet toy box system in just three simple steps!
STEP ONE - Get Sorted!

Go through your pet's toys and sort them into 4 piles – KEEP, CLEAN/REPAIR, DONATE, TRASH.

KEEP means an toy that your dog still uses, that remain in good condition.

CLEAN/REPAIR is for toys that your dog still loves, but may need to be washed {Note: many pet toys are either washing machine or dishwasher safe - just check the label} or repaired {stuffing replaced, sewn back together etc} before they can be returned to daily rotation. If you have a dog like mine that loves tearing out the stuffing of toys - this pile could be rather large!

DONATE stands for toys that your pooch no longer uses but remains in good condition. Handy Tip: There is nothing quite like giving a bunch of toys to a rescue shelter - you totally feel like Santa Claus!

TRASH is just that – toys that cannot be repaired and need to be thrown out or recycled. Remember that broken items can be harmful to your dog’s health so this is no time to be sentimental.

Once you have your piles, action all four, meaning at the end of your clean out you should be left with one pile of ‘Keep’ items and one pile of repaired and freshly washed toys that can join them.

STEP TWO - Make Your Boxes

You'll Need:
  • 2 x Storage Boxes. I chose these Rattan Baskets from IKEA as they are easy to assemble, clean and low cost.
  • Ribbon 
  • Wood Offcuts measuring 4 x 3 inches
  • Chalkboard Paint
  • Tools: Drill, paintbrush

To Make:
  1. Assemble Boxes {unlike most Ikea items, these boxes assemble in about 5 seconds and require no instructions!}
  2. Drill two holes at the top of each wooden block about half an inch in from the corner.
  3. Paint your wooden blocks all over with chalkboard paint.
  4. Once the paint is dry, thread the ribbon through the holes and then again through the rattan weave at the front of the box and tie inside the box to secure. At the end, your boxes should look a bit like this:
STEP THREE - Create an IN & OUT System

The final step is to label your boxes 'IN' and 'OUT' by writing with chalk on the labels. Place the boxes side by side in a convenient area of your home - I chose my laundry cupboard.

From here, put all of your freshly cleaned, repaired and kept toys into the OUT box. Now for the fun part!

Every morning {or every few days dependent on how active your dog is} take 3-5 toys out of the box for you pet to play with. When it comes time to round up these toys, place them back in the IN box and swap them for more toys from the OUT box. When one basket becomes empty just erase and re-label the chalkboard boards and start the process all over again!

This system has been a life saver for me in so many ways....
  1. I no longer have a messy toy box cluttering up my living space. I actually get to use that space for a coffee table! I know. Crazy!
  2. There are no longer a million toys floating around my house at any one time creating mess.
  3. Before I return toys to the IN box I get to check them to see if they need cleaning or repairs. Squeakers and stuffing within pet toys can be harmful to your pets, so it's good to keep a close eye on this.
  4. No more toys are left out in the yard for weeks on end resulting in irreparable damage.
  5. My dog LOVES getting new toys every few days and never gets bored!
Voila! Now you have a space saving toy box that keeps the everyday mess out of the way and your pet entertained at all times. Win-win!

Thanks for having me today Jen! But now over to everyone here...What are your secrets for pet toy organization? 

"I am Serena Faber Nelson, a television producer, writer and fluffy dog owner.  Obsessed with home décor, fashion, lifestyle and dogs – I set about creating Pretty Fluffy as a go-to guide for the modern pet owner.   Featuring a range of stylish products, celebrity pooches, DIY projects and handy hints, Pretty Fluffy is a daily stop for smiles and inspiration, giving readers the tools they need to enjoy full and happy lives with their furry friends. 

My greatest loves include fresh peonies, Dirty Dancing (Nobody puts Baby in a corner), Banoffe Pie, spending waaay too much time on Pinterest, and hugging random dogs at the park.  I currently live in Sydney, Australia with my husband, Andy, and her 11 year old Border Collie, Soda. As a long time fan, I am super excited to be joining the IHeart Organizing Team!"


  1. What a great idea....but not for me! When I get my furry friend a new toy, it usually lasts about 10 minutes, then it's ready for the trash...well the few pieces I can find :) I get her 1-2 rubber toys, the ones that should be indestructible and those usually last about 2 weeks and again it's back to the trash with leftover pieces:)

    1. I'm in the same boat, Jen. My pup destroys his stuffed toys in 5 minutes. He has a few tough lasting toys and that's pretty much it. I store mine in a basket with other dog related items... Lesh, harness, etc. by his crate. I'm working on a Pet Organizing post for my blog which should be posted tomorrow. Just need to snap some pics- Feel free to check it out!

      Great idea though- having a system like this in place can make a world of difference! Well done :)

  2. This is awesome! We have a pup as well and there are always toys everywhere. This is perfect for us :) Thanks for sharing this organizing tip!

  3. Oh my, I'm so happy I found your blog! I heart organizing as well, can't wait to explore your blog more!

  4. Love this idea! By the end of the day our Cairn has our downstairs looking like Romper Room threw up!

  5. Brilliant!!! If you had four bins, you could have an inside toys, outside toys, repair/clean, and the last one could hold leashes, brushes or other pet needs!

  6. This is a great idea for kids' toys too.

  7. Great idea - I'm thinking of all the ways I could use these labeled baskets! I have two cats and toys tend to be ignored after a while so I love the idea of the rotation. One recommendation - if you have cats, store the toys in a plastic bag (in the basket) with a little catnip. Just be sure it's someplace the cats can't get to it.

  8. Oh my gosh, I TOTALLY need to do this for my kids' toys. And where was this idea when I had an infant and constantly fought to keep the "clean" and "dirty" toys separate? Eureka!

  9. This is a lovely idea, not just for pets but for kiddies too I should imagine!


  10. Love this idea and good thinking using chalkboard paint so you can easily change the in/out signs. Have you ever been able to get your doggies to put their toys away?

    1. I have seen dogs that tidy up their own toys - wish I had trained mine to :)

  11. Serena, your DIY projects are always so creative, smart and well designed! Now if you can only resolve Mamma Biscuits bursting-at-the-seams wardrobe, we would be our happiest here at the Pug Palace! Thanks for the toy organization solution!

  12. Thanks everyone for your lovely comments! Great to see so many well organized pet lovers out there :)

  13. I wish I needed this, it's so cute. Our dog only takes out 2-3 toys at a time and currently only has one out of his basket. He digs through his basket when he wants to play and picks the toy he wants to play with, then throws it around and takes a nap. Same with his food, actually. He doesn't stand at his bowl like a normal dog, he has to walk into the living room and throw the food around, hunt for it, then eat it. He's actually a fairly tidy dog!

  14. Great system! We really need to get a basket to organize our dog's toys. And bless your heart for repairing your dog's toys. We gave up on stuffed toys for our mutt. He can have one completely gutted in 5 minutes.

  15. When I saw the post header, I thought my furbabies would have that rattan gone in about 3 seconds! :D I really, really like this idea-with the addition of a toybox, that's half the fun-digging a toy out!

    My beagle/jack russell mix (I KNOW!)can tear toys up faster than I can fix them..did you know that you can buy squeakers by themselves?


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