Reclaiming Lost Space Under the Bed

Reclaiming Lost Space Under the Bed

One of the areas in the garage used to store a few old (but large) LEGO® and K’NEX® sets. Recently, as Nathan has become more interested in them, the collection has grown. Between storage and play, they were beginning to take over a whole corner of the garage. We wanted to get them out of the garage, but Nathan’s closet is pretty small so there wasn’t a good obvious place to move them. At first, I thought a coffee table sized LEGO® table with storage beneath would be a good solution. It would fit in his room but would take up all the remaining space. Then I realized that the trundle part of his bed was never used and that it would be a good storage location if we could just find some containers to organize and utilize the space.

Wasted space (plus a lost book and toy) under the bed

We looked around online for roll out bins to purchase that would fit the space and the toys perfectly, but that turned out to be a fairly difficult task. Many of the ones you can buy are designed to be used on both sides so the bin depth is only half the width of the bed. In our case, the bed is up against a wall and we wanted to utilize all the space. We realized that it would be hard to find exactly what we were looking for and decided that we could build what we wanted in just a few days.

We only needed to purchase a few things for this project – a sheet of plywood, an 8′ long 1×12 and two 8′ 1x4s. From the garage, we used paint and two more 1x4s that we already had “in stock” and ordered some small fixed 1″ wheels online. The total cost was quite reasonable. It even cost less to build these custom than it would have to buy something. (Which is most definitely not always the case.)

Plywood, 1×12, 1x4s

So, how did we do it?

We started by measuring the depth and opening size under the bed. Then determined the width of each box so that in total they would be 1″ smaller than the opening width to allow for small 1/4″ gaps. We decided on two wide boxes and one narrow one so that an oval LEGO® train track would fit setup inside the larger box. This leaves one large box as a “play” space and the other two for storage. (We’ll let you know how this works out to keep all those pieces from getting scattered about the house.)

Assembled 1×4 frame

We ripped the plywood into the finished box size minus 3/4″ of the depth for the front panel. Three 1x4s were cut and attached to the top of the plywood along the sides and back. A 1″ strip of one-by was cut to just less than the width of the box and attached to the bottom of the plywood at the front. This piece was used for extra nailing surface when attaching the front panel and as a “handle” to more easily pull the boxes out. These pieces were all attached with construction adhesive “glue” and an 18 gauge nailgun.

Detail of bottom plywood attached to frame

The front panels were cut to width and trimmed down in height to fit with a small gap at the top and a larger one at the bottom. The bottom gap allows your fingers to reach the “handle” grove notched out of the added support piece. One mistake we made here was not accounting for the fact that the bed sags a decent amount with weight on it. Initially, the front panels were a little tall, but luckily felt floor protection pads were the perfect thickness to give enough clearance between the top of the front panels and the bed.

Supporting piece with handle notch

The boxes were painted with a light gray and the front panels were painted black. We already had both of these colors on hand so just used what looked good in the space.

Painted boxes awaiting face and wheel attachment

The front panels were glued and attached with a 23 gauge pin nailer through the front face. This nailer leaves such small holes, that they can often be left unpatched – as was done here.

Detail of assembly and wheels

Wheels were attached to the bottom with both construction adhesive and screws. A thin shim was added to increase the bottom gap just enough to make it more comfortable to fit your hand underneath to pull the drawers out. The wheels were chosen to be “fixed” rather than swivel to restrict their movement to primarily in and out.

Nathan putting it to the test!

I’m very excited to get these toys out of the garage and into a more permanent storage space as well as have a dedicated spot for Nathan to more easily be able to play with them. One tiny step closer to a cleaner garage and kitchen table!

K’NEX is a registered trademark of K’NEX, a Division of Basic Fun, Inc.
LEGO is a trademark of the LEGO Group.