DIY Vintage Style Lego Shelf

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Do you ever feel like throwing away the Legos you find scattered all about the floor?  Does your child have so many Legos that you are certain he would never notice if you did throw away some of them?  I certainly have answered "Yes!" to both of these questions.

I have five boys who have all enjoyed playing with Legos.  This means that our collection has grown and accumulated over many, many years.  We even received a HUGE bin from my oldest son's friend (What, free Legos?  Of course we'll take them!).

Not only did we have an endless pile of Legos on the bedroom floor.  The youngest boys seemed to get completely frustrated with them because they could never find THE piece they were looking for.  Apparently one specific piece and none of the other 10,000 will do.

A couple of things happened lately and we have really solved our dilemma of what to do with the Legos.  And it didn't involve a trash can or donation truck.

First, we decided to put our house on the market after 12 years and many, many memories as well as many, many hours in traffic.  We are trying to move closer in and moving to a smaller house.  So, we had to de-clutter and reorganize somethings.  Including all the bedrooms and the toys.

Second, and most importantly, we moved the Legos out of the boys' bedroom.  Why on earth I never thought of this idea before is beyond comprehension.  The very best thing I have done in organizing my children's things (after having 9) is to insist that all toys, every single one, will be kept in one room of the house.  No toys in the bedroom!  This is revolutionary to a tidy and organized home with children.  I could go on and on about this, but let me just point out one more thing.  It encourages the children to play near me instead of alone in their bedrooms.  I actually like to be around my children.

Once I was seriously motivated to organize the Legos, I started finding help with how to categorize them.  Systems that were based on color categorizing really would not work for the amount of bricks and pieces we have.  And, my boys don't build by color.  I used this system from From Buckets to Bins.    He has some crazy helpful tips there. I did streamline his system a bit and used names my boys are more familiar with.

Once we started organizing, I needed to figure out the look I was going for.  I've seen so many ideas using Ikea shelves but didn't care for those.  Then I spotted this shelf at I Should Be Mopping the Floor.

It has such a vintage look even though it is brand new.  It was the look I had in the back of my mind and didn't know it til I saw it.  I did opt for finding a wooden shelf on craigslist but kept her idea of Dollar Store containers.

Here's what we came up with.

The shelf was $20 on craigslist.  It is solid wood and the shelves are adjustable.  I almost didn't get it because I was a bit creeped out by the seller's wording which I think he picked up on.  He offered to meet me in the police department parking lot in the middle of the day.  I accepted and am so glad!

The shelf has amazing details. The young man explained to me that it was made using wood salvaged from an old piano.

We sorted the Legos first into bricks, little pieces and odd pieces (anything not a brick and anything that wasn't tiny).  Then we further separated the bricks by size (1x, 2x2, 2x3 and so on), the odd into different categories and little pieces into figures, accessories and odd little pieces.

The sorted pieces are stored in square Dollar Store containers.  I liked the ones with silver lids.  Originally I envisioned painting the shelf with a zinc finish so the silver lids would match.  But I have been pleased with the original finish of the wood and decided not to paint it.

You can see some odd containers on the top shelf.  They are left over from a previous storage idea.  I like them but they are about $14 each which is a bit pricey.  The smaller containers are from the bath section at Target.  I plan to keep these as they are perfect houses for the tiny pieces.

Everything has been labeled with chalk labels I bought at Micheal's (with the exception of a few more containers awaiting sorting).  Some containers have different labels.  I had a variety on hand but have found the Recollection Brand ones (located in the sticker aisle at Michael's) to be preferred.  They are a good size.  They stick very well.  They are easy to write on.

I L-O-V-E the look! And even better, my husband was just thrilled with it.  He asked if we would keep it in the new house.  The answer is a definite YES.  Here I have it next to an old school desk with a silhouette.  I found the silhouette in our closet (while cleaning and organizing).  I remembered having one from my son's first grade teacher (he's now 17).  But when I checked the date (1974), I realized it was actually my husband!  We plan to hang the pictures in our new playroom once we are moved in.

We spent about $115.  It may seem like a bit much to some, but it was less than other systems I've seen and I really love the vintage look of it.  Here's the cost breakdown.

Shelf: Craigslist $20
Square Containers: Dollar Store $1 each
Large Round Containers (top shelf): Container Store $14 each
Chalkboard Labels: Michael's $4/9
Small Round Containers (top shelf): Target $3 each
Lego Prints: Amazon

Please share your great ideas or foibles on storing Legos!


  1. I want my Lego shelves to look JUST LIKE THAT. Good job Sheila.

    1. Thank you, it was a great find for a shelf!


Catching my breath. Be back ASAP.