Building the Lego Room
June 30, 2015
Back in 2005 I emptied out my childhood Lego collection from my parents’ house and brought it back to Seattle in a very heavy (and noisy) series of suitcases (thanks Alaska Airlines!). We had an empty room in our house in Ravenna and it seemed the perfect spot for the Lego to live. Very quickly I realized that this beloved toy that had inspired my love of architecture then got shoved in a closet when I hit the age of 16, was suddenly something that I was passionate about again. I unpacked the bricks and started to take inventory. And then I realized that I had 3 things that I didn’t have when I was a kid playing with Lego: a paycheck, free reign, and an empty room.
My first Lego room was born.
Recently, a story on my new Lego room went viral. I suppose if my fifteen minutes of fame involves me virtually guiding people through what I call my “Lego Lounge,” there are far worse paths towards notoriety. The crazy part was receiving notes and messages from people all around the world thanking me for “normalizing” adults playing with Lego. Well, I never said I was normal but I’ll take a compliment!
A common question I receive is, "How is it all organized?" When we decided to remodel our current house and go all out with a Lego room, bar, and media room, I had to think long and hard about how I was going to store it all. If I was going to build custom shelves for everything I had to get it right as I really only had one chance. How people divide their collection for any hobby (Lego, sewing, crafts, scrapbooking, your collection of miniature dog sweaters…that’s a thing, right?) is very personal. We all build and use our supplies differently. Here’s what I did but the solution for you might be very different.
IKEA Trofast bins in varying sizes. I tend to have a lot of some types of bricks and so the IKEA Trofast bins worked for me as they allow me to switch out 2 small bins for 1 medium bin if one particular piece grows in inventory. I template the rack that you can buy at IKEA for these bins and had our cabinet maker route out channels for the stock bins. As the bins are from IKEA, I did go ahead and buy a LOT of extra ones as one never knows if something will go out of stock there. Still, they’re inexpensive and have a nice uniform translucency to them which I really liked. I can see just enough inside them to know what is there but not enough that the walls are overloaded with color.
Sterilite drawers. I used to sort pieces into very small hobby drawers. It became pretty annoying as my collection grew and I spent hours moving things into bigger drawers. The Sterilite might be too big for some of my pieces but I know that it allows for better long-term storage. I sized the Lego room storage for more than I needed so there’s room for my collection to grow as well. The shelves down low are fixed and very flexible so if I ever wanted to move these smaller bins elsewhere I could display Lego down here as well.
Work surface. I designed a large built-in desk area that also works with the stools from the nearby bar. As the room isn’t all that large, the sofa slides back easily against the desk area when in Media-room-mode and then out of the way for when I want to build. This is often something that people miss, but you can see that there is a custom table built that sits in the knee-well of the desk area. If I need additional building area I can wheel that out and go back and forth between the desk and the table. It is one of my favorite details.
For large unopened sets, I use an adjacent storage room, although I honestly don’t keep much unopened Lego as I buy the sets to use the brick not save them for later. Some people love the boxes, though, so a different solution would make more sense for them. And to the person who wanted to know what I did with the boxes…I recycle them. There’s a limit to even my organizational skills!
I do, however, file away the instructions, so I’m not completely crazy!
I think that the best thing about witnessing this story go around the world and picked up by so many news outlets is how people are reacting to an adult relaxing and doing something fun. Your house is YOUR house. We all get one life on this planet and I’m a big fan of embracing that and doing what you want to do in your house. Other people may not get it, like it, or even think you’re sane, but in the end, it really doesn’t matter. I’m proud that our projects at Board & Vellum embrace the individuality of our clients and I hope this inspires you to embrace your passions just a little bit more.
Back when I brought those suitcases of Lego back with me to Seattle, I stood in an empty room, looked around, and realized that there was one truth to my situation at that very moment.
I was an adult and darn it I could have a Lego room if I wanted one. Truer words have never been spoken by me. Make sure you speak some truths to yourselves in your quest for an awesome home.