Ideas for Repurposing a Crib: The Lego Table

I allow– nay, encourage — both kids to get down and dirty with the building projects. I want to pass the family tradition of DIY and hoarding repurposing common household items. Thus I started collecting ideas for repurposing an old crib about 2 years ago.

I love pinterest– I really do. However, long before wireless internet access and 4G networks, Good Housekeeping showed up in the mailbox. Women like Heloise shaped how I thought about housekeeping– and pantyhose.

Playing with Barbie to the background music of This Old House and Victory Garden adds up to more than a decade’s worth of subliminal suggestion. Mixing that with Wrath of Khan and the Shaolin Monk and… yeah, my formative years molded me eclectic.

Teaching children to see the world through the lens of creativity? Sort of my thing. The satisfaction of using real tools, of touching real wood cannot be replicated by Little Tyke.

When I repurposed the crib into their lego table, I had two very willing helpers.

Sand is a verb and the paint isn't crayola

An admitted side bonus of having them enjoy my hobby means that they are usually tolerant when I say “no, you can’t help paint with oil-based primer”. Usually.

Both of my babies slept in this crib–and my oldest starts kindergarten on Monday– but the Dropside of Death meant sending it to a landfill. Landfill? No way.

This past January, when I was deep in the swamp of kitchen cabinet painting, the boys and I did a side project on their crib.

Here– let me detail the steps:

    1) find your crib.
    2) wipe it off
    3) sand
    4) paint
    5) assemble three of the sides, leaving the 4th one available for a mystery project

Legos were assembled, children were happy, mom went back to being covered in white cabinet paint.

Then this started happening.

Picture showing a lego table made from 3 sides of a repurposed dropside crib

Granted if you replaced Legos with sticky notes, receipts, and pony tail holders their table looks a lot like my desk… still.

I used to feel like this each time I walked past the room.

Now, thanks to my handy Lego Storage System I:

DIY with your kids: Mudpie Kitchen

Yet another brilliant idea from pinterest. Mud pie kitchen? Yes, please.

Why, mud pie?

1) I’m developing a moderate hatred of sand boxes. Sand on its own irritates enough; sand on a Small Person morphs to something parasitic. Hitching a ride in underwear, hair, socks, shorts pockets (grrr!) until it finds my bed sheets. Then–and only then– sand detaches from the Small Person. I’m like the Princess and the Pea with that stuff.

2) Using only upcycled/repurposed wood, the original project plan cost $5 (sink and cooking supplies from the dollar store). The final version included a $10 splurge for new lumber (1 x 2 Pressure-Treated Pine Strips). Pulling splinters out of the hands of Small People has to qualify as a circle of hell.

3) The purpose of the project made it really easy for to say “yes” when the Small People asked “can we help”.

Here’s how:

Step One (not pictured):
Determine your dimensions, make measurements, and gather supplies.

My table is 48 inches long, 22 inches tall, with a depth of 23 inches. Yes, it’s an odd height/depth– using scraps of wood for a project often requires flexibility.

Step Two: Assemble the frame for the counter
Two kids equals a need for two sinks, so the counter is a rectangle. I used standard 1x2s, repurposed from the now-dismantled fence gate.

Question: You have 2 Small People to drill eight holes, in 4 pieces of wood. If both Small People start getting grabby at their second turn, how long before one Mom gets the fake smile face?

Answer: Quicker than it should.

Patience practice– not just for kids.

Elliot drills his first hole; I’m reminded to use more oomph on chuck-tightening.

Step Three: Add reinforcements at the corners

When involving furniture with children, one should always add reinforcements at the joints.

When involving furniture building with children, one should anticipate it taking about the same amount of time as it took the tree to grow.

I mostly managed to remain cheerful. Watching E manhandle a drill that packs almost as many pounds as he does was sorta awesome. Some additional time spent debating with JB about the intelligence of letting Z use the miter saw.

Check it out– hearing protection, eye protection, my hand on the wood (keeping his hand out of blade range) while he pushes the button? I feel like the only one at real risk is, well, me.

When involving children with furniture building, one should be expectant and tolerant of imperfections. Secretly fix the tetanus risk later, while they dream the sweet dream of real power tools.

Step Four: Measure and cut the slats for the countertop
Like I mentioned, my original plan was to use fence paneling, but I just wasn’t happy with the look and feel of them during the dry fit.

So I sent JB to the hardware store to grab some more 1x2s, and used those instead.

I added a top frame of 1x2s to the base, for stability, and a place to screw the the cross slats (from the bottom). I screwed them in with the “sinks” in place to make sure that each one was snug, but still removable.

I have this thought to eventually replace the plastic bins with real sinks. Which makes me kick myself for not keeping the sinks from the bathroom remodels.

Step Five: Attach the legs

Four pieces of wood, wood glue, and some screws. I totally confess to using netflix and Spiderman as a bargaining tool for doing this part solo. Next time I run across some old wheels/castors, I’ll add those as well.

At 22 inches, I love the height for Elliot (~38 inches). If it were just Zach, I would have gone taller.

The minute the I put the drill down– literally, see the glue still dripping– I had two Small People ready to test the mud pie kitchen for the first time.

Step Six: Stain the Wood

Despite using pressure treated wood, I added stain. One, because of the table’s purpose– mud and water, and two because the stain was sitting right in front of my face from the upcycled deck planter box I’ll show you tomorrow.

Yeah, we dig it, Mom.