Small Toy Storage:
For most of our toys with lots of pieces (Mr. Potato Head sets, building blocks, Little People, all letter toys - magnetic, foam, and letter blocks, etc.) I use the Expedit storage system from Ikea. I absolutely love these pieces because they're very sturdy, very inexpensive, and look higher-end than the equivalent at Target or Walmart. The good: price, quality, style. The bad: the storage shelves are not the standard 12x12. The fact that they are bigger (15x16, I think) is good for more storage room, but it limits the options for baskets. After 5 months of using what we already had basket-wise, I saved up for all of the baskets that actually fit the system. I twas well worth the cost. Now the toys are completely hidden, it's stylish, and the baskets are HUGE!
Here my son demonstrates their use while wearing his favorite storage container. ;) Goofball.
Large Toy Storage:
Big toys (Fisher Price racetrack, farm and animals, basically anything awkwardly shaped and that does not fold) are so very hard to store. If I have them out on a shelf, my house looks like a toy store. They don't fit underneath couches or beds, and most cabinets are too shallow to fit them. We got a wardrobe, also from Ikea, several years back - way before kids. It has changed rooms and purposes more than any other piece of furniture in our house, and we LOVE it. It was only $199, and it has held up very well. It now resides in our family room and holds (and fits!) all of our bulky toys, all of our kids' art supplies, my sewing machine and a box of current projects, diapering supplies for the main living area, books (which I rotate out often), puzzles, games, and stationary/office supplies.
I absolutely love these locking-lid storage boxes. We have them all over the house for various things. I love that they have a handle on top for easy transporting. These hold art supplies that we can easily grab and carry to the table, books that can be carried outside to read on a blanket, and even our bubbles that we keep in the pantry but carry outside to play. They're inexpensive and sturdy and incredibly handy.
Sand, Rice, Other Small Manipulatives:
As you all know by now, we measure, pour, stir, rake, and funnel sand, rice, beans, etc. on a daily basis. My kids love to play with these types of small manipulatives, so we needed a quick, easy, and secure way to store them. In our wardrobe, I have one of these 9x13's of rice, beans, and sand. I also have a separate container with spoons, funnels, measuring cups, etc. They stack easily, are shallow enough that the kids can play with the contents right in this container, and they're sturdy. These are also the perfect size for cookies and casserole leftovers. I think I probably have 15 of these, and I use them ALL the time.
As for just about everything else that doesn't have a home, we keep them in under-the-bed containers. We do not have a linen closet in our house - not even closets in our bathrooms. We have one small coat closet (where I have to store things like the high chair, gift wrapping supplies, pool floaties, life jackets, rain gear, etc.), and that's it save for the closets in the bedrooms. So we store all of our bed linens in under-the-bed containers under the bed for which they're intended. We also use under-the-bed containers for shoes and all of the opposite-season clothing. These are so convenient because they can be easily moved for cleaning. I typically use my Roomba for under-the-bed vacuuming. So, I just lift the dust ruffles, pile the under-the-bed boxes on top of the beds, and let the Roomba run. This way there are no loose things to pick up to clean. Nice and simple.
Sterlite Underbed Storage Box (with wheels - a must!)
Hope these solutions are helpful for you! What are your favorite storage solutions?