Monday, March 11, 2013

DIY (hideaway) Lego tray

Hey all! Whooee, that was a jam-packed weekend! I shopped (at the vintage mart, twice!) and met up some awesome readers and fellow bloggers, went to a party, attended a school event for the kiddo, had a girl’s night with one of the BFFS, went to a Lego event at the fairgrounds and hung with my stepdaughter and her boyfriend who were home on spring break. It was a whirlwind but fun!!

We surprised the Bub with a trip to the Lego event yesterday – to say he’s a a fan would be a huge understatement. He got started on Legos when he was only four (he could never be bothered with the bigger, toddler ones – he only wanted the smaller, big boy sets), and from that very young age was putting together sets with 600+ pieces by himself. It blew our minds but he’s been hooked ever since.

Which for use means a LOT of Legos. I mean…people. They are everywhere. I’m working on getting them corralled to the basement and succeeding…it’s slow but sure. And I think I finally found a storage method that works for us – I’ll show you soon. (It’s not what you think either.) ;)

Anyhoo, a couple years ago I got this Pottery Barn table off of Craigslist for the playroom:

red table

My goal for two years now was to paint it and then cover the top with Lego sheets so it would be a big huge table for him to play on. Well, it moved downstairs about a year ago, into the almost-finished basement, and I swear to you I haven’t seen the top of it since.

We (he and I) were always throwing stuff on it and even when it was kinda cleared off he rarely sat at it and used it. He’d much rather be on the floor doing Legos (or games/toys), or at a higher table, like in the kitchen.

What’s funny is we gained all this additional square footage with the basement, but all I’ve done is get rid of stuff that was down there. I want the basement family room to be open and non-cluttered but when that’s the goal there’s less room down there than we thought there would be.

So a few weeks ago I came up with a plan. First part was to get rid of the table – it was a clutter-catcher and a beast. Huge. To set things up the way we wanted there was just not a spot for it so thankfully a friend took it off my hands.

The second part of the plan is this tray I came up with. I’ve made wood trays before – you just start with a base:

DIY wood tray

I got a piece of wood from the hardware store and had them cut it down to 30 inches – I wanted it that size for a number of reasons. First, I wanted it HUGE so the Bub had a ton of room to play on it. I also needed the Lego tiles to fit just right and they were ten inches wide.

I didn’t take pics of putting it together, but you can see how I made the tray in our family room here:

DIY wood tray

It was the same exact process for this one.

Initially I was just going to stain the sides of this one because I knew the bottom would be covered with Lego sheets. But at the last second I had an idea and stained the whole thing. I used the dark Kona stain I used for the top of the basement cubbies and then added hardware:

DIY wood tray hardware

I got these from Lowe’s – they were inexpensive and simple but I wanted the handle to be really easy to grab.

We laid out the Lego mats and immediately the kiddo was playing:

lego tray for floor

He loved it! When this idea came to me I planned on gluing the tiles down, but later decided not to (more on that in second). They stay in there just fine. And at one point the width was just slightly under 30 inches so I had to cut down a couple of the Lego mats just a tad – but I just did it with regular scissors, so easy!

My boy was in heaven – the first set up was a basketball game because he’s absolutely obsessed with it right now (thanks to Daddy and the Big Ten Champs IU! Whoot!):

lego tray floor

Legos are not cheap but we are happy to encourage his love for them (well, I’m not happy when I step on pointy ones in the dark, but whatever) – I love how his creativity comes out – he found pieces to make basketball “hoops”:

lego tray floor lego tray floor 

Did you know Harry Potter was a basketball player? Me neither.

So here’s the thing – I made this tray so it did something extra special:

 lego tray floorlego tray floor under sofa storage

Awww yeah bay-bee! It hides perfectly away under the sectional. Ours is really low to the ground and it still clears it just fine (I was prepared to raise up the sectional ever so slightly if I needed to). That is why I wanted the handles to be easy to grab.

It’s accessible from both sides of the sofa but he likes to pull it out in the open space behind. WE LOVE IT.

Another reason I made this so big was so we could use it for other reasons too – we can easily carry it over to the top of the ottoman down there so he can put sets together up higher. But we also use it to play games:

DIY wood tray game tray

At first I thought we would remove the mats but there’s no need at all. They are a great surface for the game boards:

DIY wood tray game tray

And I’m so glad at the last second I decided to stain the bottom too – because now we use it for movie nights, pizza dinners, snacks:

DIY wood tray entertaining

Again, we could just leave the mats on (it takes 30 seconds to take them off or put them back on) and most of the time we probably will. (With them removable that means I can wash them too!)

I love how big it is because it fits over the ottoman perfectly – it’s like it was made for it. ;) And it’s sturdy enough we can put our feet up on it and it’s not going anywhere.

So I was able to get rid of a big table that was taking up tons of space and not being used and replace it with a multi-functional one that we can hide away when we’re done:

hideaway Lego tray for floor

Love!!

The cost to make the tray itself wasn’t too bad – I think about $20 for the base and $4 for the handles (I had the trim pieces for the sides), which I didn’t think was too bad for that size. The Lego mats were the cost here – but we will use this and the mats for years to come so it was a worthwhile investment for me.

I love figuring out a way to make things work better for everyone in the family, but I’m most thrilled that the Bub loves it so much. He uses it every day.

So do you have a Lego-obsessed kiddo (or adult??) in your house? I gotta admit, even though they drive me bonkers some days they are fun to do – almost cathartic in a way. And I love seeing what my son comes up with!

Linking up at Traci’s Best of March party!

57 comments:

  1. That looks so cute, and it comes in handy at not having pieces all over the place.

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  2. What an awesome project! I really like how it combines the need for safety (no legos under bare adult feet) with accessibility/play for your little one. terrific problem-solving skilz (sigh, if only management at my work would be this enlightened...)

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  3. if you are ever looking for bulk legos or just random legos in general try ebay...we've gotten over 300 pieces (duplo) for 70 dollars which you know is really good since a pack of like 15 is 25 dollars...people just sell sacks of random pieces - great tray by the way

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  4. Love this....super cute. I have an 8 year-old and he for sure loves his legos, too!

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  5. I LOVE this! This would be a great solution for our living room. We have a padded ottoman that we bought while I was pregnant with my first. It works great, but doesn't really work when we want to play out here! Thank you for the inspiration. :)

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  6. Perfection! My son would have loved something like this. Or, I should say "I" would have. Because instead... I often let the Legos live on my coffee table! You know they never want to put them away. So attractive ;)

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  7. We have a Lego loving boy here too and I have been thinking about adding the building mats to a removable piece of MDF for the top of our play table as well. I love this idea but I don't have anywhere to slide it away to. How crazy expensive are those building mats though?? I keep looking for cheaper versions or some on ebay but haven't found any.

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    1. I know! These smaller ones aren't quite as bad but when you get a bunch it adds up!!

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  8. Great idea. There are legos all over my house too and putting it in bins just doesn't work for my son. He wants them all out where he can play with all of them. This tray is fantastic.

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  9. This is just awesome! I am going to be a copycat!! LOVE, thanks for sharing!!

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  11. That. is. awesome! I love how multi-functional it is! And, I was actually going to comment about Harry being a basketball player, then you mentioned it. Ha ha! :)

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  12. This is great! Works so well in your space :) xo Kristin

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  13. I'm pretty sure we could have funded my son's college education by now with the amount of cash we have spent on LEGOs through the years. Like your son, ours started at 4 with the "big kid" sets and he has never looked back. He just turned 12 and I still hear him raking through his LEGO tubs every day to build something. He also plays with the LEGO Mindstorm robotic LEGOs now and is entering a pre-engineering middle school program next year - so, it is a good investment for kids that are interested! Anyway, I was going to say through lots of trial and mostly error - that your tray is brilliant. We had a table too with the LEGO plates and the LEGOS *never* ended up on it. He was always way more into playing with them straight on the floor. If your son keeps playing on the tray you will be in great shape - my son's were spread across the room end to end. Ugh! Just expect you will continue to have storage issues - and probably still lots on the floor! All the mats we bought through the years are rarely used, sadly.

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  14. Love this idea! My boys are just getting into legos, so I've been on the lookout for great ideas. I may have to make one of these. Thanks for the inspiration!

    -Erin @ DIY On the Cheap

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  15. Great idea! I wanna come over to play ;)

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  16. This is such a great idea I love how creative the boys can be my boy just loves Legos what a perfect way to keep everything organized thank you so much for sharing!

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  17. What an awesome idea! I love that it's a multitasker too! :) My husband and I love the minifigures. We have a small collection of them. lol.

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  18. I absolutely LOVE your storage solution. We have two Lego loving boys in our home and to say that the Legos are taking over would be a huge understatement. We currently are using an old train table...but would love to build a tray like this to fit it. Thanks for the wonderful inspiration.
    Robyn @ Robyn's Perfectly Ordinary Life

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  19. This is awesome!!! My son is only 2 and already obsessed with Legos so I think something like this is in our future!!! Thanks for the great inspiration!

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  20. Really great! And I agree with you about the Legos driving me crazy- but it's waaaaay better to have our boys using their imagination and developing those fine motor skills rather than playing video games. Well done!

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  21. Oh, wow, what a great idea. I have little girls, so I'm not sure when/if we'll go to legos, but I am definitely filing this idea away just in case!

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  22. I love trays, and was just thinking I wish I could find a cheap source because then I'd stock up like crazy. This is way better!! I can't wait to try and make one. My son loves LEGOs too and prefers to play on the ground, even though he has a big table. Good call! I'd have preferred IU share the Big 10 title with my team (MSU). Oh well... Yay for March Madness! :)

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  23. We're not into the lego stage - yet - but I love the tray idea. Our new sectional and ottoman get delivered in two weeks, and I was wondering where we would put our drinks, as we'll lose our end tables. Time to make the tray! I have no doubt within the year we'll get onto the Lego train. Thanks for sharing!

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  24. Oh, Sarah. This is SO cool. I love the way you've created a huge play space. And the fact that you can hide it away when it's not in use?? Brilliant!! My boys would have love, love, LOVED this. You will not regret this investment, I promise!

    Has the Bub gotten into the LEGO sets yet, or is he still just making his own creations? It's all so much fun. The sets are fairly expensive, though. If y'all are ever wondering whether a particular set is worth the price, my son Lee (aka LegoLee329) can help. He has a YouTube channel on which he posts reviews of LEGO sets. He's also happy to answer questions via email. I wrote about him here in case you'd like to check it out: http://www.impartinggrace.com/2012/06/tip-free-service-for-parents-of-lego.html

    Have fun! Thanks so much for the inspiration!!

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  25. Love that it hides away under the couch yet can be double duty on the ottoman - multipurpose...score!

    I could not believe how expensive the BASIC set was!!! Set me back $50 for plain old colored pieces!!

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  26. Love your tray. this would be perfect for legos and puzzles. Great way to keep them corralled. Legos were an obsession at our house. I credit the fact that my son created with legos for so many years with his career choice. He is an electrical engineer today. He and his roommate even had his tubs of legos in their collage apartment and built really intricate things with them. I will never get rid of them, time to get them out for the grandkids. I may just have to make a tray for them.

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  27. oh no! I wish I had known.... we just sold a bunch of lego mats on ebay not too long ago! Our boys no longer play with the legos but I am still keeping them. Seriously, when they were younger it was ALL they did practically. Your tray came out wonderfully! Gotta love a multi-use project!

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  28. What a great idea! I love how it slides under the sectional and is a perfect fit for the ottoman. My girls were never into legos. Their passion was duplos when they were young and I still remember the crashing sound of duplos over our head early every Saturday morning as they dumped the tub of duplo blocks. Every Saturday Morning. Early.

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  29. So clever! Love it!!
    Susan
    simplymodernhome.com

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  30. What a fantastic idea! I think it would make an awesome tray for puzzle lovers as well. Love that it is multi-functional.

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  31. Really terrific idea! We have three Lego-obsessed boys AND a dad here...there are Legos everywhere!!

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  32. I think this is BRILLIANT. I wish we'd had something like this for our son when he was a Lego fanatic. It's great that it's so versatile, too. Love it!

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  33. You are truly blessed with a creative mind! Great job!

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  34. Never thought I could hide anything so big underneath a sofa! Genius dear!

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  35. What an awesome creation!

    Jenny
    www.simcoestreet.blogspot.com

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  36. I converted our train table to a Lego table not that long ago...totally an eyesore compared to under the couch, but a big help in corralling the million pieces we have!!

    http://www.aprettycoollife.com/2012/05/train-table-to-lego-table-diy.html

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  37. Wow, you made the perfect lego board. I remember when our son was obsessed with legos, this tray would have been heaven for him. Then he moved to Knex, three foot tall creations- really hard to store! :)

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  38. I just found your blog, not sure how but I think I might have died and gone to heaven . You are fabulous, amazing, inspiring, oh and lots of other adjectives too. I won't be getting anything done for days as I sit here and read read read. And my favourite part, you don't like to wait for paint to dry, me either!

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  39. Good Lord, Sarah, this is super awesome amazing! My 5 year old daughter is a Lego fiend and would LOVE something like this!! I can't believe what a great and easy idea this is! I'm definitely going to be making one. Thanks for such a fabulous idea. I just love your blog. Wish you lived closer to Florida so we could be real life friends! :)

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  40. I have had this same idea to make my boys just haven't got it done :) It's nice to see what it would turn out like :) I love it! I see a project in my near future :)

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  41. Hi Sarah
    I really really love your blog. For the past couple of weeks, I am just doing one thing, reading and getting inspired from your blog.
    I have some creativity in me too and I wanted you to look at my on the wall earring holder and lemme know ur feedback
    http://lowpricehomedecoration.blogspot.com/2011/12/cheap-earring-holder.html

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  42. Love the idea! We have 4 lego lovers in our home and they do get awful annoying and most of the time hard to store! Thanks for the great idea!

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  43. We made this in November for our 3 yr old grandson for his birthday. It was a huge hit! We did glue the Lego mats down because that's the only thing they will use the tray for & with 2 little guys, it had to be sturdy. The handles are such a great idea, too. It's a great keepsake from Grandpa, too. Love your blog.

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  44. It was like you read my mind...Bwahahahaha! LOVE it! My son is fixated on LEGOS and Angry Birds. Oh...boy...

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  45. We have my husband's Legos from his childhood, our 19 year old son's collection, our 6 year old son's collection, and the 10 and 7 year old girls' new collection of Lego Friends. I totally reorganized our Lego collections this Christmas. (My Christmas gift was storage!) I used Ikea Trofast frames and shallow drawers with labels. And we used the 8 cube Expedit with desk so that we have a boy Lego table and a girl Lego table! The short table just wouldn't accomodate boy and girl sets together, and my kids were so tall they couldn't get their legs under the table anymore. I would show you pictures, but I don't have a blog. I'd rather read 'em than write 'em!

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  46. Oh, this is a great idea. I don't have any small children at home but I'm keeping it in mind for the grand kiddos.

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  47. What a good idea! I'm sad to see that table go- it was SO cute, but you definitely need to be able to USE your space and if it wasn't working, it gots to go! I like how that tray is so functional but also looks so cute! We aren't into Legos over here...YET. Both my kids love those big blocks though, so I'm sure it's only a matter of time. That is CRAZY that your son could do 600+ sets at 4! What a smartie! Again, love your table! Good job!

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  48. Love the Lego tray. What a creative solution to corraling those little bricks!

    To the family with a boy Lego table and a girl Lego table: Seriously?! We had _the_ Lego table, and both our daughter and son played on it. (Sometimes together, even.) Our kids are now 20 and 24, and every once in a while they still pull out a tub and have a Lego fest.

    As one of the earlier posters said, we have at least one college education's worth of Legos. Wouldn't trade any of those little bricks for anything. They're expensive, but the creativity they foster is worth every penny.

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  49. i love this idea, almost as much as i'm loving ur couch, pillow, and dishes... do u mind saying where u got them?

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  50. Love it! What kind of wood did you use for the base? You also mentioned that you had it cut to 30X30...did this also account for the trim, or did trim sit on the base, like a little ledge. I know there's a name for that, I just don't know it?? Countersink, perhaps? Just wondering if you needed to account for that measurement when ordering the wood. Also how thick was the wood you got? Was it like plywood?

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  51. Could you please tell me where you got the blue trellis rug? I absolutely need to have it!

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  52. YOU ARE BRILLIANT!!!!

    Thanks for linking to my party. Featuring your brilliance on my blog today. :)

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