If you’re a parent of multiple kids, you know this struggle… the big kids have their toys, which they play with often and independently while you take care of the little one. The little one is, of course, immediately drawn to those bit kid toys, especially LEGO, with their teeny pieces, tiny shoes, and little wheels, but they obviously get them because they’ll either eat them or destroy them. Our solution? A Lego closet.
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LEGO are fantastic toys that create active thinking, STEAM, and imaginary play. There are endless possibilities when building with Lego, and endless possibilities when organizing Lego, too. While I’m definitely in favor of having fewer toys, it’s hard to say no to LEGO when they keep my children busy and they’re so educational.
Why A LEGO Closet?
The LEGO Closet works for a few reasons. Mainly because it’s great storage and because there are doors.
As a closet, its purpose is to store items. Our closet has multiple shelves, which allows us to use vertical space wisely. This comes in handy, as our LEGO collection always seems to be growing. Storage for LEGO is essential.
Doors for Hiding the Goods
The closet is also helpful because there are doors. The doors serve multiple purposes. First, they keep the little one from seeing the treasures within, and therefore prevent her from wanting it. They protect her and protect the masterpieces. Additionally, they keep our pets from messing with the small pieces.
The doors also hide the “creativity,” aka the mess. This is a great compromise for our family. My kids, naturally, make a mess when playing Lego. That’s what they’re supposed to do, but that doesn’t mean I want to look at it. The closet allows the fun/mess to happen and then it can be hidden away between play sessions.
How to Create a LEGO Closet
For our home and our family, a LEGO closet made perfect sense. We have two storage closets in our basement, which already had shelves and lights (thanks, previous owners). It took some work, but I moved the items stored in one closet to make room for LEGO.
Shelves for LEGO Closet Storage
Our closet already had three wires shelves installed on an adjustable track. This was very helpful, but if you don’t already have the shelves, it’s very easy to install them. I highly recommend using a track system so you can easily adjust the shelving down the road if your needs change.
The closet is 60″ wide, which is a great length, but a smaller closet would work just as well.
LEGO Closet Work Space
We had three shelves in our closet, as mentioned above. Two of the shelves are higher for LEGO storage. One shelf is much lower, at 24 inches off the ground. This shelf serves as our work space. We have two small seats that can slide under the shelf.
Since our shelves are wire, they’re not ideal for building with LEGO. To solve this problem, we purchased three large LEGO base plates and laid them down on top of the wire shelves. They create a solid surface and are also great for building. Eventually, we may swap the wire shelf for a wooden one, but for now it works.
Light for Building
The closets in our basement already had fluorescent lights installed. This is actually quite important for this dark closet in a corner of the basement, which doesn’t have much natural light.
While the need for a light highly depends on the location of the LEGO closet, if the closet you’re considering is dark, a light might be necessary. While having an electrician install a light is pricey, battery powered LED lights are a great alternative and can be attached almost anywhere — even a Lego closet.
Bins & Labels for Storage
Some kind of bin or container for storing ALL. THE. LEGO. are also essential. I’ll share a few of my favorite options and how we organize everything below. And with bins, comes the need for labels.
Seating for Working (optional)
Since we lowered the bottom shelf of our Lego closet for a workspace, we added a few small seats for our kids to sit on. They’re kids, they’re young, they could probably stand or even kneel on the floor, but small seats work, too.
Kid-sized chairs would work, but a few years ago I DIY-ed some seats from milk crates that tuck under the shelf perfectly and also add some additional storage space. Our crate seats store extra (knock off) Lego base plates and a couple of LEGO challenges I’ve printed out, but they could also hold Lego sets or instruction manuals.
LEGO Closet Decor (also optional)
As a finishing touch to our LEGO closet, I cut out some LEGO decals on my Cameo Silhouette. I cut a few LEGO faces with different expressions and placed them around. I also cut a quote from The LEGO Movie, which is a favorite around here.
“You are the most talented, most interesting, and most extraordinary person in the universe, and you are capable of amazing things because you are The Special.”-The LEGO Movie
The quote was fitting because it was LEGO decor and also inspiring for my little specials.
The LEGO closet is all well and good, but what about all those LEGO bricks? How do we organize them? This is a complicated question that deserves its own post, but I’m going to summarize what WE do to organize LEGO.
Please know, there is no ONE RIGHT WAY to organize LEGO. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but it’s true. The most important factor to consider when you’re organizing LEGO is how your kids play with LEGO. If they play with sets, sort by sets. If they like to free built, you could sort by color or not sort at all.
My husband actually determined the way we organize because, honestly, I think he likes them more than my children do. If it wasn’t for him sorting/organizing/maintaining our LEGO organization system, I would probably just dump them in a bin and call it a day. But, no.
We have LEGO sets, loose LEGO, and have been given unsorted hand-me-down Lego. The combination of these sources has influenced our organizational methods.
Lego Sorted By Color
We have most of our LEGO sorted by color. Yes, this takes a lot of time, effort, and bins. We’ve had “family sorting sessions” but when my children lose interest, my husband usually takes over. He’s also been known to grab a bin and sort it out while watching a show at night.
My favorite storage solution for sorting LEGO by color are Sterilite Layer Stack & Carry Boxes. Depending on your needs, you probably need to grab more than one. We have 3 sets of 3, so 9 bins in all.
These bins are the perfect size for a small LEGO collection. The removable divider tray in the top level of the bins is PERFECT for sorting allllllll the little LEGO mini-figures, accessories, wheels, and whatever else you’ve got. Colorful LEGO labels are the perfect finishing touch.
The bins snap together to create one unit with a handle on top, which is great for traveling, whether it’s going on vacation or taking your Lego to the kitchen table to work.
We also have our LEGO sorted by set. We do this because our children like to build, dismantle, and rebuilt LEGO sets. Afterall, that’s the best part about LEGO, right?
We could dismantle all the sets and divide them up into the color bins, however that would make recreating the set more complicated as it would take a while to hunt down the pieces within the color bin.
If your kids like to build by set and if they’re coming into your house as a complete set (aka not hand-me-downs all mixed together) you may want to consider keeping them together. If it stresses you out, don’t worry about it!
When sorting by sets, we are inconsistent with the storage bins we use — pretty much it’s what we have on hand or what we grab in the store. We sometimes use small Sterilite Flip Top Bins, Sterilite Small Clip Boxes, and good old Ziplock bags.
The sets aren’t labeled.
Depending on the interests of your children, you may find you start to collect several sets from one of LEGO’s lines. In our home, we have a lot of LEGO Minecraft, LEGO City, LEGO Friends, and a few others. Once we have the sets contained (see above) we then add the sets to larger Sterilite Clear View Latch Bins.
This is helpful for consolidating sets, but it also helps our children if they want to play with multiple sets at once, as my son likes to do with Minecraft and LEGO City.
And, of course, I had to add vinyl labels. I used the LEGO logo (for personal use only) and applied a decal for the line.
Other LEGO Organization Methods
There are many other LEGO organization options including organizing by brick type, brick size, or not organizing them at all.
Our LEGO closet’s organization system isn’t quick, and it isn’t simple. Like I mentioned above, if I was the one in charge of maintaining it, I would have quite long ago and tossed it all in a bin. I was just in charge of getting matching bins and making labels, which is fine by me!
If you need to toss it all in a bin, THAT’S TOTALLY OKAY.
If your kids don’t play by set, make too much of a mess, and don’t care, don’t even worry about it. Save your money, save your time, save your energy and toss it in a bin. I’m sure you have more important things to worry about than sorting Lego by color, set, and line. I know I do.
Your LEGO Closet
LEGO is one of those toys that can get out of control quickly. There are so many positive benefits for children, but organizing LEGO can be quite challenging, as can keeping them away from younger siblings. If you’ve got the space, creating a LEGO closet can be a great solution for allowing your kids to create, but also keeping the mess contained and away from little ones.
Are you considering creating a LEGO closet? Do you organize your bricks in a way I didn’t mention? Please share, I’d love to hear about it!