Thursday, January 3, 2013

Lego "Lab"

In 2012, we were blessed with adding an addition onto the back of our house.  The original layout had NO STORAGE downstairs.  I'm talking none!  There is a circular closet in the foyer.  Circular closet means no GOOD storage due to no shelves fitting in, no closet bars, nothing.  And that, my friends, was the only closet downstairs.  So I KNEW I was going to utilize every inch of this addition for storage anywhere I could.

Once we talked about a staircase and adding a second story, I said, "I want a closet under the stairs!!!"  I was going to make this into a Lego closet.  Somewhere along the way my kids named it the LEGO LAB.  In fact, when we went to dedicate the foundation, the kids wrote this on the foundation at the entrance to the closet.

So now we have the "official Lego lab" in our house.

The closet is shaped like an L.  You walk in and there is some space and then turn to your right and the ceiling begins to slant down as the opposite side has stairs that are going up.

I hate to even tell you where I got the things for the Lego Lab.  Solely because whenever I go to a blog about organizing something and they say this store, I gag.  We don't have this store where I live.  And this store is awful at shipping (unless you are buying over $500 at a time).  But, it's true...I got the supplies for this Lego lab at IKEA.

I started with two of the TROFAST systems.  You can find them on IKEA's website {here}.  I thought two would be plenty as that is 12 drawers...but I need to go back and get a third.  Who knew we'd have so, so, so many grey Legos?  However, I don't have an IKEA in this city, so that third system will have to wait.

Anyway, starting with two TROFAST systems, they were mounted on the wall.  I used my Silhouette Cameo to label each drawer.  Right now, we have blue, black, yellow, green, orange, purple, brown/gold, grey, white/clear, red, battery packs, and mini figures.  When I get the third set, I'm going to add a 2nd grey drawer and a 2nd mini figure drawer, plus a drawer for wheels and Ninjagos.  I realize there are tons of ways to store Legos and lots of people just dump them in a huge container and let their kids dig.  Let's be honest, if you need that tiny piece at the bottom of the huge container, it can be difficult to find.  However, if you know that the tiny piece is white, at least you have somewhere to start with these drawers.  Honestly, you have to find what works best for you.  This works great for us.

Once the systems were hung and the drawers were labeled, we began filling the drawers.  The kids use the tops of the systems to display projects or hold containers with pieces they are using in progress.

I don't have a ton of rules about the "Lego Lab" other than when they are done, I want everything off the floor.  So they can set pieces "in use" on their personal table (I'll show you those in a minute) or on the tops of the system or if they are done, they can put the pieces back into the correct drawer.

Over in the corner, I have a Rubbermaid drawer where the boys keep the design books/guides.  In the khaki container, the boys will store projects in work.  Right now, they have a Lego City set in there.  If you are familiar with the larger Lego sets, then you know they come in multiple bags.  While they are working on bag one, this container is a good place to hold bags two through eight.
 The boys each have a personal Lego table.  These also came from IKEA (yikes) and can be found {here}.  Using these LACK side tables, I added 4 Lego building plates to the table.  These can be found at Lego's website {here}.
 Then I added casters to the legs of the table.  This makes it easy for the boys to roll the tables in and out of the closet.  Although they often just stay in the closet to work.
 Now I know you are thinking, this is WAY too clean for boys to be actually playing, building, creating.  I would have to agree.  This is Maddox's table.  He has been very tied up in his new iPad Mini from Christmas and not that interested in playing with Legos the past week.
 However, this is Brewer's table (see below).  And he has multiple projects going on at a time!
The tables roll in and out of the closet.  I've thought about putting shelves up above the tables for the boys to display their finished pieces.  For now, Brewer likes to put his finished pieces in his room.  He says they are "safer" up there.  And I tend to agree.  We have kids in and out of our house all week long (which is wonderful to be the house where people want to come and play).
Below is a shot I took from the corner (as the ceiling is lowering).  This is our LEGO LAB.  Again, the only rule I have in there is that the Legos have to be off the floor when they are finished playing.  It has worked great for six months.  Hoping it will continue!
The closet isn't that big but on new year's eve we had a party and 5 kids were in there at one time.  It was tight, but kids make stuff like that work.

Thanks for letting me share.  Legos are wonderful for kids but can be stressful on parents if they are laying all around your house.  You have to find what works best for you.

Oh, and I think I want to add some fun Lego art on the walls.  I'm still considering adding those shelves.  And don't forget, I have to add a third Trofast system at some point; I've got to make it to IKEA first.  ...always a work in progress.