Lego Meets Lack

February 20, 2013

Fellow parents, I have been to hell and back and it’s not a happy place. It’s what is known as Operation Lego Organization and it is torturous but I will say if you survive and come out on the other end, bright golden rays from the heavens shine down upon you and life resumes very pleasantly as it once was. 

My son is an average 7 year old boy – utterly and completely addicted to toy Legos. However, I prefer to live in a bubble and label his many hours spent building them as “future engineer slash architect”.

Over the past 18 months they’ve become a genuine nuisance in our home, so as I was browsing IKEA’s website I happened to notice the dimensions of their $30 Lack coffee table (with shelf!) measured 30 inches across and then I recalled that the road plates my son has been begging me for since autumn were 10 square inches each and then I did the math in my head and realized I could combine the two into an organized play table that would satisfy his desperate need for an airport/racetrack and my need for affordable organization. 

Lego meet Lack, Lack meet Lego, so nice you’ve finally met.

lego meets lack table


The road plates were on backorder for many months but they finally arrived last week so we took the school holiday on Monday to pull it all together which included organizing the Legos into plastic bins that would fit on the shelf and underneath the play table.


lego play table with storage


table + 2 sets curved road plates + 2 sets crossroad plates + bins from Target


I must say having spent the cash on these plates, my son loves how he can rearrange them into a racetrack or airport runway as he pleases and what I’ve spent in Lego plates I’ve regained in free babysitting since this is the one place where he wants to quietly spend his hours – in Legovillemania. 

gray road plates


To stabilize the road plates, all it takes are some small pieces of this stuff in the four corners to hold them in place until your little guy wants to shift them around into a new formation.

mounting putty


To tackle the disaster of piles of unorganized pieces I enlisted the owner of the Legos to help. My theory is if he suffers alongside with me he’ll value the organization and there is hope those little pieces will stay that way a little bit longer. :)

boy and legos


The free pieces all got assorted into four main bins: 1) green and blue; 2) black, gray, brown, and wheels; 3) red, orange, and yellow; and 4) white and tan.

by color


Then there were the partially constructed contraptions. I have no idea what this is.  Jango Fett’s Destroyer? Ninjago Warrior Interceptor? 

partially constructed


It’s one of many I just ended up assorting in their own personal bin – no sense breaking them down with all the energy that went into their assembly so they ended up in the halfway assembled “needs work” tub.

All Legos come with their own colorfully illustrated books which allow even children who can’t read yet to assemble them (ingenious) and I’ve kept them all so they get their own bin so if he wants to reconstruct them he can. 

bin with books


And the Jack Sparrows and Stormtroopers and Ninjago warriors and all their comrades and weapons got their own skinnier tub too.

lego dudes


The bigger pieces aren’t that bad. It’s these tiny corner pieces that are deadly to any parent’s foot. I know because mine have suffered the pain of stepping on them on a few occasions in the middle of the night.

small corner pieces


But in the end it was all stored away in bins for ready-to-go play time.

lego lack table


It’s funny, whenever I take the time to reorganize the toys, all of a sudden they are rediscovered again – it’s always been that way since they were little.

playing legos


And how nice that all the madness is contained within 30 square inches – which is pretty much a mother’s dream – let’s hope it lasts.

So fellow parents and grandparents, commiserate with me. How do corral and organize the Legos in your household?



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153 Responses to “Lego Meets Lack”

  1. Bertie DeWane says:

    I no longer have children or Legos in my home, but I’m still very impressed with the way you organized them. I love your blog.

  2. Kathleen says:

    I want to crawl through this screen and personally shake your hand. Thank you so very much! I’m going to get on this very soon. It’s just what I’ve been looking to do to reign in the Lego chaos.

  3. I could use you in my house! Reorganize, revamp everything I have…smiles. That was a fabulous idea. Glad you thought of it before he gets too old to enjoy it…like my son now.

  4. Genius! We have a bunch of the “girl” Lego Friends and I’ve almost impaled my foot on some of them in the dark. I love this solution…wish I could find a space for a Lack table!

  5. Bonnie says:

    Absolutely brilliant. I believe I’m going to share this with my oldest son, a former Lego lover now living in a house his own. Someday (hopefully soon!) he’ll have children and realize just how wonderful an idea this is.

  6. Nikki says:

    My almost 5 year old is getting into Legos now (good bye trains, star wars) and although he only has a few sets they pieces are every where. I’m hoping the organization will come as he gets older because nothing seems to work right now. I have 2 large Snapware containers to hold his Legos and insytuction booklets. it’s quite frustrating to enter his room and see hunderds of tiny Legos strewn about his carpet and equally frustrating for him because it takes him a bit to find the part he needs. We did finally sit down and sort them into smaller dividers by color, but that only lasted a few days and they were a total mess again. It doesn’t seem to bother him much so for now I’ll let it be.

  7. Sue R. says:

    We did something very similar when our kids were young–and have set it up again for when the nearby grandkids come to play. Our bins are smaller which might be a help when “scrabbling” through for the right size. That’s a sound that you’ll never forget! It was deja vu when I heard it again from the grandkids. Perfect table from Ikea!

  8. Ann V. says:

    You are one smart mama! ENJOY THE LEGO YEARS!!!

  9. Mariette says:

    This post could not have come at a better time! We have 3 boys (9, 12, 13) and have collected loads of Lego over the years. After a few moves it all ended up together in a huge tub. Just as we got it all organised (took about a year) and each in it’s individual box, work requires us to move to Hong Kong, this time I’ve put it all in plastic bags for shipping. The boys want to play with it more and with cupboard space being an issue – this is a brilliant idea! It’s already on my Ikea shopping list! Everybody will be happy!

  10. Jen says:

    You are so funny Kate. I love your blog and I’m always excited to read it and usually
    don’t comment however today I need to.
    I couldn’t stop laughing when you mentioned “I prefer to live in a bubble and label his many hours spent building them as “future engineer slash architect”.
    I constantly tell my sister-in-law exactly the same. It’s not playing, he’s studying for his future!

  11. Jen says:

    My oldest son was salivating over this table…looks like I’ve got a little diy project in my future :) Great job!


  12. Arlene says:

    Your son may very well become an ‘engineer slash architect’! My husband LOVED his Legos as a child and today he is a registered architect. He now collects the Lego Architecture Series.

    Btw, this is a great way to organize! I will have to keep it in mind for the future mini-architects in our family. :-)

  13. CentsationalGirl says:

    Thanks Arlene! My son built for me the Empire State Building, I’m waiting for the series to release a Golden Gate Bridge !

  14. CentsationalGirl says:

    Consider me shaking yours Kathleen, glad to help!

  15. Bridget says:

    This is a beautiful set up! I used to try to keep the sets together because it made it easier to find the specialized parts for each set, but the set was never really reproduced after the first time. Eventually I sorted according to function, which turned out to be the most useful:

    Large flat pieces, regular “bricks,” parts specific for vehicles, parts specific for houses, specialized parts, and very small pieces, including people and their props. These categories made it relatively easy to sort the pieces post deconstruction. I also used relatively shallow containers and left enough room so that it was easy to look for a piece without dumping anything out.

  16. Sibbie says:

    I don’t have a single lego or child in my home now. I did once upon a time and I was constantly trying to make her keep her room neat and clean. I would pick up and put away and within hours it was a mess again. THEN I REALIZED…she’s 5 years old…she doesn’t know how to organize or have the tools to do it. I congratulate you on your wonderful idea for teaching your children how to keep their legos neat and giving them the tools to do it. You will probably be surprised at how they keep it up.
    May I suggest that you make a game about keeping them neat. Maybe a reward…a new lego set?…if they do it for a month. Good habits form that way. I speak from years of experience.

    By the way…she’s now 37 and is still very organized.

    Love your blog.

  17. Kathy says:

    Amazing organization and it’s simplicity and also looks good…seriously my son is just 9 and I have stood on that many little gray bits of lego and went ouch……it drives me batty. Love your work! Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

  18. Wow! Where was this when I was weeding through Lego’s 5 years ago! I always tried to keep them organized but that lasted about a day . Your comment about stepping on the Lego’s reminds me of Tim Hawkins ( a Christain comedian) Lego video… He talks about the same senero and puts a hilarious spin on it!

    Great job!!

  19. Amy says:

    Awesome work! My boy is 4.5 and has been a fan of Legos for 2 years. Regular Legos, not Duplos! And like your boy my son spends HOURS building various ‘sets’. I have sterilite drawer containers from Target that I organize them in. They are not color/function coded at this time, just in the drawers. I like the drawers because they are not too deep which would make it harder for him to find things. Not sure I will organize it too specifically at this time because of his age.

    But now my 8 year old is into Lego Friends and I think the baby will get some Legos (the cupcake set) for her 2nd birthday next week!


  20. LINDA BARKER says:

    Great Job – you are so creative !!

  21. Erin Kaven says:

    My son just turned 10 and I have the heel pain of many a night stepping into his room to kiss his head and saying a few choice words instead as I was impaled by BoBoFet or Jack Sparrow. He’s over his giant castle (any ideas for a diy on that? House for the Easter bunny, plant stand) so I have the room for a Ikea hack but wonder if he’ll be over Lego’s soon. When are they over Lego’s. Can’t ask his Dad as he was a erector set child (read old). I always had to help with the lego’s. Think I’ll pin it and show him in the morning to see if he’s into it. I know he won’t be into the organizing part.

  22. wow….this is amazing I want to try it!

  23. anne k says:

    In a galaxy far, far away ( and many, many years ago), I had a young son who was a Lego freak There was no Ikea, but I labeled bins for organizing the painful hidden midnight pieces. Nothing caught on with him. I even once told him I couldn’t kiss him goodnight because it would cripple me to walk to his bed. Well, now he’s grown and I guess I had some influence, because he’ s very neat and organized. BTW, he grew up to be a computer geek and works for Microsoft.

    Your idea is great.

  24. Michelle Miles says:

    This looks great! We are 4 hours from an IKEA, but may have to take a trip down there soon. We have TONS of Legos from my husband’s childhood, plus all he has bought for our 9 year old. When sets are done being played with I put the whole set in a zip lock bag with the picture on the front. All the instructions are kept in an accordion file. We still have lots of extras and guys that we organize like you do. My husband has even been so meticulous as to sort like pieces into sectioned off tool/screw organizers.
    The one thing I may do different to a recreate of your table is to add a little lip around the edge to prevent legos from sliding onto the floor.

  25. Rachel says:

    I just bought the grey coloured expedit lay it on its side and the grey road plates fit right along the top. I will be looking for smaller bins and sorting out the colours now. I did put the instructions in plastic sleeves in a folder so our boys and their Dad can find and recreate lots of sets.

  26. Oh, I just love your blog! Yes, I have two future engineer/architects! My son (now 12) still plays with his Lego although he now makes scenes based on his history lessons. My daughter (7) has just discovered the Friends series.

    The older they get, the smaller the pieces! We have discovered that a fishing tackle box makes a grea “bits box” to sort out the heads, bodies, and detail pieces.

    Love your table idea and getting them off the floor, and hopefully correlling the pieces!

  27. Michelle, NZ says:

    My eight year old started playing with lego at age 3 and still adores it. After years of standing on lego and picking up lego, our lego storage solution is a 900mm square shallow wooden tray. It holds a whole lot of lego in one layer so it is easy to see all the pieces. The tray is on castor wheels so my sons can roll it out from under the bed and start construction. No more lego on the floor! Love your blog.

  28. Marie says:

    I love this. I had gotten as far as the bins in my house but this is great. I think I might put the whole thing on a piece of ply wood with wheels on the bottom. Thanks for the idea.

  29. Mary says:

    Wow! Thank you! LOVE your idea of organizing the pieces! I have tried all kinds of things for him to corral the pieces off the floor and a larger table was all I could think of. If he was in the middle of a project, how fair would it be to ask him to put it away. I ran across the same table in IKEAs catalog last week, but sadly, we do not live close to one (many, many tears!), so I had to do the next best thing. I went to Goodwill and found a small coffee table for $15! It’s big enough for 2 Lego plates and low enough for him to use his little lego stool. I was going to glue the plates down, but I really like your idea of securing the edges so he can change them out. Mine is 5 and we have just started getting into the Legos, so I know I will be copying your bin system! Thank you!!

  30. Hopefully, you will never step on another Lego! GREAT solution Kate!

  31. vicki says:

    This sounds ingenious, my grandsons are all the time getting their legos stored away because they are left around. I think I’m going to get together with their mom, (my daughter) and put this together for them. It’s like getting new toys when we find ways to organize them and my grandsons get to play with them more since we can find all the pieces. Thanks

  32. Vanessa says:

    LOVE this idea! I am purchasing this table today to do something similar. So thankful for great minds like yours for sharing ideas!

  33. Heather says:

    So…. how did you store the “put together” sets? That is where I struggle the most – all of the nice sets that are put together & he plays with like they are regular toys….?

  34. CentsationalGirl says:

    I have a few up on shelves Heather, the more expensive or time consuming ones, but the smaller ones get broken up to be played with or rebuilt.

  35. Sarah says:

    I was wanting to make a LACK into a LEGO table, but haven’t yet. I love the idea of the putty to allow the plates to shift. I have the additional problem of having my older boys be very interested in LEGOs but need to keep them away from little hands (that still put everything in their mouth) and four year old hands that are oh, so very interested in his older brothers LEGO sets, and doesn’t mean to break their creations, but usually does… *sigh*

    For now, I sewed a knock off swoop bag. (I keep thinking I should take a picture and blog about it, but I haven’t made it that far yet. I’m not a very regular blogger.) I love it. I spread it out and it’s a playmat, and they can play and create and it is so easy to clean up, and easy to decide to play in another room. So, that’s our solution for the time, but I LOVE what you’ve done.

  36. Julie B says:

    My GIRLS are all grown (24, 21, 18) and were Lego fans. Hours of fun w/ the cousins and friends over the years. Love the Lego/Lack table idea. Maybe someday for the grands? For now, when we have littles over to play, I use a king size flat sheet on the floor. They can have a huge mess and clean up is a breeze! We just fold it up and dump it back into the giant Rubbermaids.

  37. Vanesa says:

    You are a genius! What a great idea :) we are getting ready to build a new house, and this is exactly what I need to keep my little mans Legos organized. Thank you for sharing! Is it possible for you to share the dimensions of the bins? I’m not getting the table for a little while but wanted my little guy to start organizing the blocks. Thanks again!!!!!!

  38. Monica says:

    You are my hero!!

  39. Scott says:

    This would be a great idea for my nephew. He’s just starting to get into lego’s. Thanks for the idea!

  40. melina says:

    What a wonderful idea!

  41. rebecca says:

    My husband found the lego manuals online. Now, we never have to keep those things around. :)
    I’m sure you can find any lego manual with a simple google search.

  42. CentsationalGirl says:

    Good to know Rebecca, thanks!

  43. Kate, how is this table holding up? My hubs wanted to build a Lego table for our son for Christmas, and I remembered seeing this on your site.

  44. CentsationalGirl says:

    It’s holding up great, my son still plays with it every single day!

  45. Lindsay says:

    I love this idea and want to do it for my son for Christmas….just wondering what size bins you used that fit in that table so perfectly?? I know you said you got them at Target, but just wondering what size!

  46. Deanna says:

    I found these bins on the Target website. Sterlite 16 quart stize 7 inches by 12 inches wide. Here is the link. Are these what you used? Thank you so much!! We just set up our Lack table and ready to go with the rest!

  47. Kate says:

    We just made this with the lack rectangular for my son & he loves it. Thank you for sharing such a wonderfully simple idea.

  48. SGB says:

    Greetings. I LOVE this table! Please tell me what target buckets you used that fit so nicely. Also, did you consider something with an raised edge? That’s my one debate before jumping into this one ASAP. No idea if my kids (4 & 8) will keep it neat but we just more than doubled our collection this year at holidays and need a solution fast. Thanks. Can’t wait to check out more of your blog. Happy New Year!

  49. Ashley says:

    You are a genius! This is the best Idea I have ever seen. Been searching for something to get a hold of the lego mayhem at my house. I have twin 5 year old boys & a 3 year old boy who are all obsessed with legos. Hubby & I have been searching what to do because the only hard surface we have in our house is our kitchen (of course bathrooms won’t work!). So we are always kicking & stepping on legos. You have now solved our problem! Thank you soooooo soooooo much!!!!

  50. CentsationalGirl says:

    You’re welcome Ashley, enjoy your organized play table!

  51. CentsationalGirl says:

    Good to know Deanna, thanks!

  52. CentsationalGirl says:

    UPDATE: It’s been almost a year and my son and daughter still both play with this table for hours, it’s well worth setting it up, takes up not a lot of space, and it’s paid for itself in dividends. Happy organizing!

  53. Nicole says:

    It appears Ikea no longer sells this sized lack?! WAHHHHH! I was so inspired and then so let down.

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