Monday, April 8, 2013

Lego Storage and Play Table: An Easy IKEA Hack!

Peeps, this is truly my favorite DIY I have ever done.  EVER.  What happened was this: Christmas, followed closely by a Lego-themed birthday party when my sweet boy turned six in January.  This led to a Lego explosion around here, and we needed solutions.  If you have little boys who love to build, you know what I'm talking about.  So I pinned and planned, hemmed and hawed...looked at every solution in the world before I was literally struck over the head with the perfect solution.

I present to you...my Adjustable Height DIY Lego Table and Storage Unit!


It combines the Lego storage ideas you may have seen on Pinterest using the Ikea Trofast storage systems, with an adjustable shelf that serves as a surface for building.  We covered one side of the shelf with green Lego baseplates, and left the other smooth for the option of building without baseplates:

The bare side of the shelf.
 (Reversible = awesome!)  But the best part is that I can make this shelf taller as my child grows, so we could conceivably use this unit for, like, ever.

The shelf at counter height.

So, how did I do it?  It was truly not difficult and I am going to walk you through it.  You know it was easy because I did it all by myself; my husband had thrown out his back so he couldn't even assemble anything for me...telling you, it is easy.

Step One: Get Your Supplies
3 Trofast Frames.  I am sure if you are a carpenter or are married to one, there is a cheaper way to go about this, but for me, purchasing 3 frames was the simplest way to go.

TROFAST Frame IKEA Several grooves allow you to place boxes/shelves where you want them.
Ikea Trofast
You will also need a shelf.  I used 1/2" lumber, cut to 11 and 3/4" deep and 40" wide.  Obviously, your shelf will need to fit your space.  I have found that 40" is very sturdy, and at this thickness it could perhaps be a bit longer but I wouldn't go crazy with the length or it may start to bow in the middle.  You also need to purchase twelve 2.5" long Hex Socket Head Screws.  These will replace 12 of the shorter screws included with the units.


Step Two: Assemble Your Units
Follow Ikea's famously simple directions, with this modification: before attaching the inner wall (the wall that will ultimately face inward toward your shelf) of your shelving unit, place another wall (taken from your third unit you purchased in Step One) on top of it, with the grooves aligned but facing outwards, like so:


Now, attach both walls to the frame simultaneously using the 2.5" Hex Screws you purchased in Step One.  You will use these instead of the screws included with the Trofast, to accommodate for the additional width introduced by attaching two walls instead of just one.

Step Three: Measure Carefully and Install
You will be latching your units to the wall, so it is essentially to measure carefully so that your units are precisely the same distance apart from each other as your shelf is wide.


Please use the latches included with the units to latch them to the wall.  They are surprisingly stable when standing on their own, but don't let that fool you into thinking you don't need latches...your kids will definitely climb on them at some point!

Step Four: Organize that Sucker!
Insert your pre-cut shelf into the grooves, and enjoy your awesome play surface!


We waited a good six weeks while green baseplates were on back-order, and just played with the shelf like this.  In fact, the back-ordered baseplates are what delayed this post so long!  But of course we wanted baseplates, so when we finally got them, I glued them on with E-6000 adhesive, making sure to space them with legos:



I sealed the rest of the shelf with clear furniture wax for durability, love my Johnson's furniture wax.

I used my Silhouette to make labels for Trofast bins.  I chose to organize my son's Legos by themes, and it has worked extremely well.  He has no problem finding anything or putting things away.  Gone are the days of Lego explosions all over the place!



I also used this opportunity to organize our Lego manuals, using clear plastic sleeves and a binder:






Above the unit, I used the excess wood from having my shelf cut by Lowe's to create another shelf, using brackets from Ikea.  The small plastic bins are being used for smaller storage needs, and most of them are currently empty, leaving us room to collect more Legos!


I also made some vinyl wall art in Lego's signature font:



I love everything about this project, but you want to know my favorite part?  It's this:




Photobucket

P.S. Lovin' the Linky's at:




Home Stories A2Z



Making the World Cuter



Truly Lovely

Chic on a Shoestring Decorating

The Shabby Nest



Suburbsmama


59 comments:

  1. I love this!! I can think of so many ways to use this idea. Maybe even for a sewing table if I could make the center sturdy enough. Sure wish I had it when the boys were Lego crazy!

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    1. Thank you!!! You are right that this could be adapted for all kinds of purposes, especially crafty stuff. Maybe I need one in my room!

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  2. What an awesome idea! My daughter is just starting legos, and already there are missing parts and such. I was thinking of building her a lego table. This is just amazing. And the binder for the manuals??!! genius! ours are already tattered and ripped. If you get a chance, please link this up to my linky party: http://suburbsmama.blogspot.com/2013/04/sunday-linky-party-3.html

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    1. Thanks so much! Hopping over to your blog now...

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  3. What an inspired idea. Every child would love it!
    Have a beautiful day!

    Linda at The French Hens Nest

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    1. Thanks so much! Have a beautiful day too!

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  4. Hi, I was wondering if you could provide more specific information on what you bought for the shelf/table piece. I went to Lowe's and bought pine 1/2" thick 4 feet x 2 feet and had it cut down. They also had oak and birch as well, but not really knowing much about wood I went with pine figuring it would be the best match to the IKEA frames. Then I get home and unload it and notice a big warning stamped on the back about how the wood is treated with a chemical known in CA to cause cancer. Not really something I want to use for something intended for use by kids.

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    1. Hello Unknown! I agree I would fret over a warning like that. I bought pine I think (its been a while now!) but mine had no warning on it. Maybe you could ask at Lowe's if there is an untreated alternative. Would be happy to hear about and see your results!

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  5. Where did you get your 2 1/2 inch.M7 x 70 screws?
    I can't find them anywhere.

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    1. Hey Shockdoc, I just got mine at Lowe's but to be very honest I needed a lot of help finding them there. I had already looked through all the screws before a Lowe's employee came along and found the correct one for me to use. I am sure they could also be ordered online but it is easier to see in person if they match the diameter of the existing screws. Sorry you are having issues, and good luck!

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  6. Received this from a reader: Cynthia, be sure to let us know what you do to make it work!

    Hi! I couldn't leave a comment because I don't have a blog, but I wanted to let you know that I loved this idea so much, I went straight to the Ikea website to order the Trofast system! It arrived today, but to my dismay, the pieces didn't have the grooves on the sides, but separate plastic glider bars that you install on the sides. After looking at the site further, it seems that the white Trofast systems (which I ordered because it went better with our decor) don't have the side grooves like the pine version! Ack! Well, I'm hoping I can still use your idea - I'm going to try it anyway and perhaps bolster the shelf a bit more underneath with extra wood pieces or something. I will let you know if/how it turns out!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    Cynthia

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  7. LOVE THIS IDEA!!!! Thank you so much for sharing! I do have a question... Have you found that the Legos spill off the table at all? Just wondering if you wish you had added a lip around the edge to keep pieces on the table. (Not criticizing your design at all!!! Just curious.) Thanks! Can't wait for my hubby to get home to show him this idea. Hope to copy it x2 at our house!

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    1. Hi Emily!!! Thanks for the comment and the question:) My son really doesn't spill them off the edge so much (probably because he STILL usually builds on the floor, lol), but when he IS building on the table, having the plates there helps a lot because he is sticking the legos to them. And having so many bins for random pieces helps too. I would worry a lip would get in his way with such a narrow space, but might really help for a bigger table, especially one you can walk all around. Good luck with your project and please do share when you get it done:)

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  8. how did you do the letters i have the vinyl what kind of printer and how did you cut it

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    1. I use the Silhouette, which is awesome and I highly recommend it!

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  9. hi where did you get the chairs at and this is a really stupid question but I probably need to look at directions more, why did you need 3 Trofast Frames I only see that you are using two..one on each side. But maybe that's how you have to order them? I haven't checked Ikea's website yet, it will probably make more sense to me when I look at it. I love this, and this is my son's Christmas present. Thanks so much!

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    1. Hi! The chairs were a gift and came with a table, you can see the set at this address:
      http://www.amazon.com/Kidkraft-Star-Table-Chair-Set/dp/B0002M9LP6/ref=sr_1_4?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1382877587&sr=1-4&keywords=kidcraft+table+and+chair+set
      Why you need three Trofast frames: to support the shelf in-between the two towers. You don't use all parts of the third tower. Read the instructions and check out the pictures above, and send me an email if you still have questions;) Happy to help!

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  10. I love, love, love this idea! Which size Trofast frame did you buy (is it the $49.99 one)? I'm trying to order them online since my closest IKEA is 3 hours away. Thanks :)

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    1. Yep, they are the ones that cost $49.99. See comments above for why you need to order the pine...and good luck!

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  11. I love this idea! I'm looking for simple Lego hacks for my 5 year old daughter and this is something that I might have to try out, especially for the organizing part.

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  12. what did you use to cut out the vinyl letters

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    1. To learn more about the Silhouette machine, visit their website at http://www.silhouetteamerica.com/

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  13. Hi, sorry to sound silly, I know nothing about wood. Could you please clarify the size of the table top component please? I really need to make this for my son. Thank you

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    1. Sure! You need to get lumber that is 1/2" thick, and have it cut to 11 and 3/4" deep. The length is up to you, depending on how long you want your table to be. My suggestion would be to go to the lumber section of either Home Depot or Lowe's and show them the numbers. They will show you which wood to buy and will even cut it to size for you for free. Please let me know how it goes!

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  14. Thanks so much, yep after reading the directions and looking at pictures I figured out why you needed 3 shelves. This is so great. you are very craft and have solved our LEGO disasters a way to keep everything organized. Thanks so so much!

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  15. I am wondering if someone could tell me if the slot for the drawers and shelf is 1/2"? I am attempting to build it myself :-) I am thinking since the shelf is 1/2" thick that I might need a tad bit bigger than 1/2". Thanks in advance

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    1. Hi, I measure the grooves at exactly 1.5 cm, so slightly larger than 1/2". Hope this helps! Would love to see what you build!

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  16. This is an awesome idea, thanks. How many of each size of the storage drawers were you able to use in each frame?

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    1. Hi! Each of the two towers will hold 6 shallow drawers, 3 medium, or 2 large. Or, you can create a combination as I did. Happy building!

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  17. Hi Michelle, I'm so grateful to have found this blog! The lego/art table is the perfect gift for my grandsons for Christmas! I've ordered the shelving and bins from IKEA, sadly we don't have one within 3 hours of here, but they'll get delivered tomorrow. I purchased all the other things that I will need..... THANK YOU for your explicit information! I took a picture of your picture to help the Lowes guys find the screws, they really appreciated the visual!

    Now, my question is, how deep are the grooves that the desk board rests in? I want to put a pegboard on the back, but want to make sure it's wide enough. I bought a 48" shelf, that's how it came. The peg board is 48 wide too. Obviously, I can cut them both, but if the grooves are 1", that makes the units be 46" apart and would work. Do you think you need a brace connecting the units at top and bottom to keep the units from wiggling apart or is the wall brace enough?

    Again, thank you so much for your great idea and indulging all my questions! :o)

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    1. Hi Janet! I am going to try and answer your questions--the grooves are approximately 1/4" deep (FYI they are 1.5 cm or just over 1/2" tall). The total width of two towers screwed together is 1 and 3/8". So, you should be able to cut your other materials to size. Mine is extremely stable just with being latched into the wall directly into studs or using drywall anchors, however you may want to stabilize yours further, especially if you feel like the pegboard adds more weight. I am sure it will turn out fantastic!

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  18. I am in the process of making this and absolutely love it! I still have to put some polyurethane on the worktable part and perhaps label the drawers, but other than that, this has come together wonderfully! I wanted to just drop a note regarding the screws - I was not able to find the exact ones mentioned above (they are a metric measurement, so not very common - a US-centric issue perhaps?) , but a very helpful gentleman at Home Depot worked with me to find a suitable alternative. We ended up using 1/4" diameter screws that seem to have worked just fine. Thanks for sharing this project!

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    1. Thanks for your comment! I am sure lots of people might run into the same issue, so I appreciate the feedback.

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  19. How many base plates did you need?This will be the perfect Christmas gift for my son! Thanks!

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    1. Hi Michelle! I used four--you will need to modify depending on how big your shelf is. Merry Christmas!

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  20. This rocks! Big time! I just pinned to my "bunking up" board as we recently moved both boys into the same room and are giving it a massive makeover. I think I'm living your life a year later...just had a lego-centered Christmas and about to throw a lego-themed double birthday this month. Ha!
    Suggestion to make this space even more fun - mount a couple lego plates right onto your wall behind the shelf. Lego walls are so cool! They make huge ones in grey, which would look neat against your charcoal colored wall.
    Such a great job! I am definitely going to start following your projects :)
    ~Monique

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    1. Thanks so much Monique! Love your suggestion of adding plates to the wall, too!!

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  21. This is awesome!! Thanks so much for the idea!

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  22. Hi! Thanks for the great idea! We have everything but the lego plates. Did you order 3 or 4 10x10?s (obviously dependent on how long you make the table part...)

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    1. Hi! You're right--it all depends on the length of your play surface. Ours has 4, with a little room to spare. Thanks for the question!

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    2. thanks so much for the quick response! going to start it tonight! i'll send you pics!

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  23. Thanks so much for the amazing idea! It was the perfect solution to my Lego table/storage challenge. I have identical 6 year old twin boys and they recently became super interested in Legos - so after this past Christmas we were drowning in them (added to the Duplos that their 2 year old little brother received as well). We just finished the project this weekend and we are all totally thrilled with how it turned out. I coincidentally purchased a Blackboard wall decal around the same time we started the project, not knowing what I was going to do with it and we decided to put it up over the Lego work area so the boys could create backdrops for their Lego creations. I'm not sure if I can upload photos, but I will if I can. Thanks again!

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    1. Thanks Robin! Would just love to see pictures! You can always email them to me at: thatmommyblog {at} gmail {dot} com, and I can post them! Love the idea about the chalkboard too!

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  24. THANK YOU so very much for sharing this lego storage solution! We finished it this past weekend and it is absolutely perfect and will be versatile for other uses as my boys get older. We are super thrilled with how it turned out! Thanks again!

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    1. Awesome! I love hearing that my idea is helping others out too! Thanks Jennifer!

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  25. What a great idea!!! I've been searching for lego storage for my boys for awhile and this is exactly what I'm looking for! Thanks for sharing!

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  26. Do you make these and sale them for the people who aren't handy. :) and if so how much would you sale it for? Thanks I love this idea and design.

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  27. Hi Tanya! Nope, I am not selling these, but I promise this isn't a hard project to do as long as you get your materials together:)

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  28. I love the DIY LEGO table ideas you have shared. This would be a welcomed addition to any child’s playroom. I have recently built a LEGO table for my son and he loves it. If your interested check out my free and easy DIY LEGO table plans at RogueEngineer.com.

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  29. All I can say is THANK YOU!!!! I am doing this! I am so sick of Lego's being everywhere and my boys having nowhere to build them. You have saved me!!! I am going to make mine a bit shorter and also use it as a desk for the boys rooms. I can't tell you how excited I am right now!

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    1. Yay! So excited too! When you get it all set up I would LOVE to see a picture!

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  30. My wife and I completed this project and we are pretty pleased with the result. First of all, your IKEA hack was brilliant-nicely done. Here are a few suggestions that might help other folks. First, the screws. These are hard to find, but I purchased them online from homedecorhardware.com for 8 cents apiece. 7mm x 70 mm zinc-plated galvanized, hex, confirmation screws. I bought 24 in case I want to do another one of these! Second, the shelf. We cut a piece of 1/2 MDF 18.5 inches deep x 40 inches long to make this more of a desk. MDF is not quite a rigid as plywood, so you might want to use a piece of birch plywood if you have a concern about that. If you can find 5/8" thick, even better. We where able to round the edges using a jigsaw, sand, and polyurethane for a very nice (albeit dark and contrasting) finish. The plywood would look nicer, but MDF is so much easier to work with. MDF is a little tricky to poly because it is like a sponge, but there are a number of good websites that give you tips on how to best do it. I used a wood conditioner first, then a natural stain/sealer, and then three coats of poly. Lastly, I did use corner braces to secure the shelf to the Trofast units, just to make it more secure. So, it can still move up or down, you just have to remove 8 screws. I did not glue the Lego plates to the shelf, since we were making this a larger desk. So, thanks for a great idea and I hope this helps others.

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    1. Michale, thanks so much for your comment and especially the detailed information for others! Great input, and hopefully will be very helpful to future readers. Thanks again!

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  31. This is awesome. I like that when creating is done, it can be place higher, out of the reach of younger siblings. Also, you could have several shelves for different lands of display. Finally a versatile Lego table that can grow with our Lego collection.

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    1. Thank you! I love the idea of having several shelves to display! Might have to do that myself:)

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  32. I was wondering if you could tell me where you got your baseplates for the Lego from...How many did you use and what they cost. I want to make one for my kindergarten class but they are quite expensive here.

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    1. Hi Sue! I believe I bought mine at the Lego store. They measure 10"x10" so four fit on my shelf, that number would vary depending on how large your shelf is. They are currently available at Lego.com for $4.99 each. Good luck and thanks for the question!

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