OK, this is a totally random recommendation today, but I’m honestly so excited, after years of pondering this issue, that I have to share. I have finally figured out a good way to store toys in our IKEA Expedit shelves. Years ago when I was in a studio I bought two 5×5 Expedit shelves, and they’ve held up through multiple moves. I could never quite figure out how to store toys in them, though — the shelves are too deep to put little toys in (they get lost) and not wide enough for big toys like Tonka trucks. I’ve tried to store toys on the shelves in clear plastic shoeboxes, but those were a poor use of space.
We finally placed a massive order at Walmart for locking storage bins (our littlest one enjoys grabbing any toy he can find and throwing/hiding them anywhere he can get to, so our previous open toy storage situation was NOT working) and OH MA GAH some of the bins fit the Expedit perfectly. IKEA still makes the shelves but has renamed them (with some modifications) the Kallax series — I will note that if you have the space, a tall tower like this one (1×4) is excellent turned on its side as a toy bench for toddlers. Anyway: the two sizes of bins that fit the best are the 15.5-qt. latching boxes (sold in sets of 4 for $17.88, pictured above with the blue latches) — you can stack two in an Expedit shelf — and these bigger 24-qt. latching boxes (buy one for $6.47, or 4 for $22 pictured above with the green latches). You can fit at least one clear shoebox inside the 15.5-qt. boxes and 2 or 3 in the 24-qt. boxes for further organization/subdivision of blocks or whatever.
(Why yes, I do go insane with my label maker, thank you for noticing.)