First post of the new year involves 2 of my many MANY resolutions (um, I think I have about thirty).
#1 Resolution – Make our house a little more like our home.
#2 Resolution – Become more organized. (aka – make “homes” for our junk)
So obviously when Lowe’s Creative Ideas magazine offered up a challenge to create a toy box (cute theme for December – aka: the Month of Toys) I was all about it. Dude, if toys were sequins, Will would be Lady Gaga…except without all the money. IF ONLY! So we need storage. Not only would a toy box be a great idea for the excessive number of plastic things that light up and play music while teaching some crucial tidbit of information – like animal noises…but it would also make me feel like this house belongs to us. I know that sounds crazy. But having custom built furniture for our spaces makes those spaces feel more complete…more finished…more like this is a permanent home instead of just a temporary place for our stuff. It sounds even crazier when I try to explain it. So let’s not continue on that path of insanity…
Here’s the space where I wanted a toy-storage-palooza:
(Note the freshly painted room sporting the vent in the corner – that will come into the planning process later)
I told Jer that I wanted a toy area that Will could do all by himself. A standard toy chest that opened from the top would be unrealisticl right now (our twenty month old is not tall enough to open the lid much less access the toys) and dangerous for his little fingers (if the top came slamming down)…so I decided that whatever we built for his room would have to open from the front (vs. the top) and that way the newly-fangled “lid” (aka the front) would also be a great area for Matchbox cars to be driven on…anything for my baby to think I’m remotely cool
I found a plan on Miss Ana White’s little project archive that would work perfectly (with modifications) so we measured the space and decided that we would need two toy box bases (here’s the plan for one with an open front) …with a hinged front “lid” on each that would keep his digits safe and still allow clearance on the side with the air conditioning intake vent. And we also wanted to splurge on some upper cubbies for additional storage.
The guy at Lowe’s helped us cut the boards into more manageable pieces so that Jer could perfectly cut the pieces to the right size.
We personally do not recommend letting the guys at your local home improvement store cut all your pieces…ESPECIALLY if you need them to be perfectly square. Unless you stink at cutting. Then…well…let them do it and invest in sandpaper
Jer set up shop in the garage to build and finish the pieces. It’s warmer in there than the basement and outside and when you are working with bare hands it helps to have feeling in your hands. Unless nailing your numb fingers to wood is your thing…I know that it probably is for someone out there…
Note our very cool workbench…pun intended…
Jer predrilled for all the screws before assembling…
and our little man decided that it was perfect time to get his ‘throw’ on…
really this photo should be labeled “throwing things with other things photo”.
and this one would be “throwing things then kicking the same thing photo”
And to answer the question of what we do with Will when we are doing projects – he is either napping (when we do stuff that he can’t be around – like fumey paint or lots of sawdust from sanding) or he is right there in the mix. Jer and I decided a long time ago that we would let our kid learn by being around…and thank goodness, Will is interested in observing and helping whenever he can.
So here is the start of the base toy box…a square.
One of the main differences between our modified version and Ana’s original plan was that ours was built lower to the ground. We made our “legs” shorter…exactly the depth of a 2×4 so that it would accomodate our new hinged door and eliminate the need for trim molding – so it would be sleek and modern in front.
Will giving the baby kisses in the camera
So after Jer finished assembling all the pieces…
I filled them with wood putty. All the seams, holes and little hammer marks got a quick fill. Then came time for sanding. I wanted a super smooth finish – so that meant tons of sanding of the plywood. All the flat surfaces got it with a reciprocating sander and the rest we did by hand. (for those wondering, we did it first with a coarse 60 grit, then medium, then super fine…it takes some time but the prep work makes any furniture SOO much better)
Then painting. We did three coats of paint-n-primer in one, using a small cubby brush for the corners and a mini foam roller for everything else.
And here is my number one tip for painting furniture –
The morning that we were going to install the unit, I was soo giddy. I eagerly awaited Jer to return home…
then I decided to not wait and just do whatever I could…moving these into the room and starting to play on styling them with Will’s toys.
You like Will’s christmas tree? He did it all by himself (with a little help with the bow). The next Nate Berkus if I do say so myself
And FINALLY Jer got home from a day of golf with my dad and he started on installing the doors. Will assisted.
The hinges we used were full inset hinges with a self-closing feature…so if Will can lift the door up to a certain point, the door does the rest. And the knobs we used were these sleek modern ones (third from the top middle row) mostly because we figured Will could get both his grubby little hands in there to pull down the door.
And now give me a drumroll or some spotlights or give me an envelope or something – because I would like to show you the winner of the award for best storage for Will’s room:
I LOVE it. Like totally bragging about it to the checkout lady at Kroger kinda love it.
And the storage below holds these old bins perfectly…
And it still allows for clearance for the intake vent
And it can grow with him.
And we can always add more cubbies or another layer with shelves if we want to later.
And it’s kid friendly because it’s just his height.
And Will loves it. Bonus Bower points
The first thing he did was take Baby Donald out and had a chat with him about the state of the economy.
There’s no finger pointing Will when it comes to political debate.
No but seriously, it is perfect and I can’t wait to do the rest of the room now to see how it finishes up.
Oh and I just want to say – of course, I appreciate the fact that Lowe’s Creative Ideas Magazine gave us a little giftcard to help start us with this project – I do… very much…BUT more importantly, I want to thank them for allowing me to participate in this month’s challenge because of a different reason. One of the perks was that they allowed us to choose a charity to give a $100 donation to…we decided on Operation Christmas Child…which is run by Samaritan’s Purse…and it provides shoeboxes of toys and goodies (like toothbrushes, little candies, and even just pencils) to children who don’t get anything for Christmas. It is something I have been involved with for many many years and I am so glad that together LCI magazine and Bower Power were able to help provide more toy-boxes to kids in need. So if you can – go over to their facebook page and tell them KUDOS on encouraging those kinds of blogger-company-charity type relationships!
p.s. I had to retype this post three times – so if I missed anything in the post – it’s due to me being COMPLETELY over writing about this toy box. If you need more info, I’ll do my best to answer the questions in the comments