Toys lost under the sofa!
November 3, 2017 8:42 PM   Subscribe

I have an Ikea Karlstad (3 seats wide + a chaise). In our old house we had carpet so we lost some, but not many, things underneath. Our new house has hardwood, so every toy in motion remains in motion until irretrievably lost under the couch! How do I solve or mitigate this?

I assume other people must have this problem and there must be solutions! As you can see in the link, the couch is lifted up about 4 inches. My kids' cars, legos, pacifiers, books, EVERYTHING slides right under there and all the way to the back.

We have a rug in the center of the room, which reaches right to the edge of the couch and then underneath is hardwood ... so things roll nice and slow where we can reach them and then SPEED THE HELL UP as they disappear.

We store a few things under there, some larger flat toys (a Leap Frog learn-n-groove table with the legs removed, a couple balance boards, a crappy old laptop), but I can reluctantly move them if my toy-salvation plan requires it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee to Home & Garden (23 answers total)
we use a wood yardstick to slide it back out.
posted by noloveforned at 8:46 PM on November 3, 2017 [4 favorites]

^^ If you also store the yardstick under there at the edge of the rug, it will probably also serve as a ledge to stop things from rolling into oblivion.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 8:47 PM on November 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Pool noodles wedged just in the gap are about the right size to stop this; worked for us when we had a puppy with a maddening hide-it fixation. You could wrap them in fabric to make it look classier.
posted by charmedimsure at 8:56 PM on November 3, 2017 [7 favorites]

Pool noodles are 3-D duct tape. You can cut a notch vertically so that it "grabs" the sofa legs. If black is a color that would work for you, you can use foam noodle pipe insulation from the hardware store, or like charmimsure says you can wrap in fabric (or duct tape, or tights).
posted by Lyn Never at 9:06 PM on November 3, 2017 [5 favorites]

A 2x4 (3.5 inches wide) wrapped in fabric would look nicer than a pool noodle, I think. But, same effect.
posted by ctmf at 10:07 PM on November 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm not sure what the correct term is but an image search for reacher turns up what I have in mind. Buy two so you can pretend to be a long-arm robot.
posted by Dr Dracator at 3:50 AM on November 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

I keep a straight knitting needle handy for fishing toys out from under the couch. Sometimes we have to go for the big guns, ie the yardstick. Mostly the kids have cottoned on to doing this for themselves, and I only have to get involved if there’s a tricky banking angle involved.
posted by Liesl at 4:34 AM on November 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

We actually use a 2 foot bamboo garden stake for this. It lives in the hall closet next to the brooms and stuff, which is nearby. I only use it when it starts to drive me crazy that so many toys are under there, because my kid is not yet old enough to care that a particular toy is missing. I hope that when she reaches that point, it will dovetail nicely with an age where she can find and operate the stick herself.
posted by cpatterson at 4:43 AM on November 4, 2017

For a while we were using a Halloween pitchfork for this job. Blocking toys from getting under there in the first place is generally better, though. Wrapping a broad strip of fabric around the legs is a good plan.
posted by Jilder at 5:35 AM on November 4, 2017

We once tried to solve this by duct-taping off the space between the couch and the floor. DO NOT RECOMMEND if you like your hardwood floor.

If you can find a large flattish storage box that fits under your couch, that would probably be best for prevention without sacrificing aesthetics, but in the meantime a long reachy stick is quick and easy.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:01 AM on November 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

When we had a sofa like this we folded up a comforter and shoved it underneath.
posted by ELind at 7:44 AM on November 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

We use a swiffer (no pad necessary) for under-sofa toy retrieval. The kids have become reasonably proficient at operating it themselves.
posted by telepanda at 8:16 AM on November 4, 2017

For cat toys under the fridge I have used this. It was easier than swatting things sideways with a broom.
posted by Crystal Fox at 8:38 AM on November 4, 2017

Friends used a 2x4 just behind the front legs of the couch to solve this problem. We suffered and occasionally used a broom handle or just sent a child underneath (our Ektorp) to dig things out.
posted by linettasky at 10:37 AM on November 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you don't like the barrier look, you could even put the 2x4 at the back out of sight, but with the ends on a string. Let items go under there, but to get them out, pull the 2x4 forward with the string, sweeping everything up to the front for pickup. That would still let you store things under there (but you'd have to remove them temporarily for the recovery operation.)
posted by ctmf at 1:51 PM on November 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

For dog toy retrieval, I've kicked it old-school with a Louisville Slugger.
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:43 PM on November 4, 2017

I have a selfie stick that I bought from Poundland which the camera attachment fell off, so it can sit around taking up the same space as a pen would when it's not in use. Easy and cheap.
posted by ambrosen at 2:44 PM on November 4, 2017

You use a broom when it's an accident and you leave the thing under there until the kid can get it themselves if they did it on purpose.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 5:01 PM on November 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

My dad built a wooden barrier for under the couch to stop the dog toys from disappearing. It's basically a 2x4 the length of the couch with a 2x4 the depth of the couch minus an few inches screwed into both sides. I could store stuff inside the barrier if I wanted. But I never have to go digging around under the couch -- just lift up the couch skirt and grab.
posted by bluesapphires at 6:00 PM on November 4, 2017

See Tin Toy (Pixar, 1988) for a differing view. (at the 2:40 mark).
posted by at at 2:36 AM on November 5, 2017

When my kids were little, I found some big shallow drawers somewhere (from an old dresser) and glued felt on the bottom, filled them with toys, and shoved them under. I’d get some under-the-bed containers if you can find some that fit. Take the lids off - it’s too much of a pain to pull the bin out enough to get the lid off so you want to just be able to pull it out a bit and shove toys in.
posted by artychoke at 6:58 AM on November 5, 2017

I too have a stick for retrieving lost toys.

Due to its direct association with toys, it soon became a toy itself. The cats love swatting at it now.

The downside of anything used to block toys from hiding under the couch is that it will itself have a high likelihood of getting played with (read: destroyed). Ask me how I know. :o)
posted by fraula at 1:57 AM on November 6, 2017

How about another rug? I assume the couch is against the wall or else it wouldn't be as much of an issue, so a 5x7 wouldn't fit in the space front to back. In that case you could use several smaller area rugs or a runner. You'll have to do a little searching but there are 3' by 7' runners that would fit well under all the couch legs. And if it doesn't bother you, you could get the standard 2.5'-ish by 7'-ish runner and slide it between the front and back legs. The gap between the two rugs might even be a good deterrent to things rolling under the couch - hopefully they'd get stuck in the gap and not even end up on the under-couch rug.
posted by i feel possessed at 9:48 AM on November 6, 2017

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