Dinner preparation at the Slaney house looks like this: my wife feverishly cooks after a long day at work while I do my best to keep the kids from interrupting that process. The fewer the distractions, the sooner we’re able to come together and enjoy her delicious cooking. We feel that coming together for a family dinner is really important. That’s what brought about the need to creatively overcome an issue which had been disturbing me for quite some time: our son’s Legos consuming half of our eating space.
With my wife’s blessing, Operation Take Back Our Kitchen Table was a “Go.” Before becoming too caught up in the process I needed to lay a few ground rules for table functionality.
- It needed to be big enough to have plenty of building space.
- It needed additional storage so the unused Legos wouldn’t find themselves under our feet.
- It needed to not break the bank.
I researched a few prefabricated tables, but they only met one or two of my criteria and cost way more than I was willing to spend. I did happen to find a few that were homemade but they lacked the additional storage space. After an exhaustive search I decided I was going to make one. Why not, how hard could it be? I began procuring the necessary items to construct my masterpiece. First item on the list was a table large enough to hold a number of Lego base plates on top with additional storage space on the bottom. My search brought me to IKEA. The LACK birch coffee table was not only the right size with a built-in shelf, it was also only $19.99. At that price I had them ship it right to me for a few dollars more.
The next items were the Lego base plates. I decided to head to the Lego store at the Alderwood Mall and purchase 4 of the 16” x 16” green plates. They also come in gray or blue but green seemed the most logical to me. Finally I needed two plastic tubs to use for storing the Legos. These tubs sit perfectly in the table and come with lids just in case someone wants to remove them from the table for an on-the-go experience. I ended up finding the ones used for this table at our local Fred Meyer store for about $7.00 each. It’s important to choose containers that will sit flush on the table and allow a lid to attach if you so desire.
IKEA flat box in hand and my son’s birthday quickly approaching, I had to get to work on assembly. The layout would be the 4 panels together on one side with the two storage containers side-by-side on the other third.
I took the top of the coffee table to my friend’s house where we measured and cut the holes for the containers. When measuring the containers, take your time to get it right. It’s easier to make a hole larger but harder to put the material back. Also when using a jigsaw be very delicate and predrill the holes in the corners first. Anyone familiar with IKEA furniture is also familiar with the honeycomb interior. The table top cuts quite easily but is also fragile so take your time and don’t rush the cuts. If the holes are slightly too small, use sand paper to remove excess wood. A second pass with the jigsaw could rip the edges and ruin your hard work.
Now that you’ve exposed the true essence of IKEA furniture, the inside of the table doesn’t look that appealing. The best way to cover this up is to paint the outsides of the containers a fun color. In my case I had extra plastic paint lying around and applied 3 coats to adequately cover the surfaces and allowed them to dry thoroughly between coats.
In the meantime I assembled the table as per the IKEA instructions. This consisted of attaching the legs followed by the second shelf down below. It should take 20 minutes at best, but take your time, the paint on those bins only dries so fast. Next I used a plastic adhesive to attach the Lego base plates to the table. Before you get too carried away with vigorously spreading glue on both the table and the base plate, take time to measure out the distances from the edges. Now, one at a time glue down the base plates ensuring you place Legos between them all so the center of each plate is actually usable.
Once everything dries, place the containers in their new homes and your masterpiece is complete! My total costs came to about $60, considerably less than current available products. I had the paint and adhesive around the house already, which also helped save on my costs.
This has been an enjoyable project for both my wife and I and I’m sure our son will enjoy it for many years to come. Plus, we can now use our kitchen table for what it was originally intended for. Good family fun!
Supplies & Tools:
LACK coffee table from IKEA
4 16”x16” Lego base plates
2 plastic tubs with (optional) lids
(optional) plastic paint
- Mark the holes for the plastic tubs in the top of the coffee table. Predrill the holes in the corners first, then use a jigsaw to cut out the holes. If the holes are slightly too small when you are finished, use sand paper to widen the openings.
- Paint the exterior of the plastic tubs (optional).
- Assemble the coffee table per manufacturer instructions.
- Measure and mark where you will place your base plates. Place a Lego brick across the span of the Lego plates to ensure proper spacing. Do not glue the base plates flush against one another as they will not be use-able. Use the plastic adhesive to glue the plates in place.
- Place the storage tubs in their holes in the table.
Rusty is a Washington native, a weather enthusiast, a Navy veteran, a lover of the outdoors, and the husband of AMD blogger Kristina. If he's not hanging out with his family or working on his latest project, he's probably in the mountains seeking adventure.