When families think about the perfect layout for their living space there are two things we often hear, especially from clients who have young children. They are looking for open plan living, but they also like the idea of a separate playroom.
Why do they want these things, well usually they want the kids to be in view and everyone to be together, but they want to keep the children’s toys (and therefore mess!) out of the way and that you can shut a door on them.
Not every house is big enough for a separate playroom and not all houses have the layout where one can be incorporated. To add on a playroom as part of an extension is an option, but it is expensive and we would always design such a room with multi-function in mind so that as the children grow up the room can adapt to their needs. This could mean a potential snug or spare room in years to
The other way to create open plan living but with the ability to hide the kids’ toys away is to zone the space, using clever and movable storage. This is exactly what we have done in our broken-plan kitchen/living/dining space.
For us, the opportunity was using a fireplace that used to house a log burner that was removed to offer storage space. But there are corners and alcoves in most rooms that are perfect play zones and for tucking away the kids’ toys and craft items.
Using this fireplace space gave us the inspiration to design and make a play and craft table on wheels that can be pulled out and played with but fits away nicely in the chimney at the end of the day. Our two, Arthur and Edith, use it all the time. It is easy for them to move around, keeps lots of their craft
and play items together and means anything they make on it can be kept for them to play with the next day, rather than having to dismantle or try and move somewhere in one piece!
As with most things we make ourselves we tried to use items and materials that we either had left over from projects or had collected over time, and then buy some cheap accessories to keep the cost down.
The materials you will need
For our play table these are the materials we used, but obviously you could switch things in or out depending on what you have available and how large you’re making it.
4x wooden crates – These were old fruit and veg crates that we had picked up very cheaply and had
used to store things in the past
2x wooden sheets – We used plywood left over from work in the loft, but you could use MDF or
other sheet materials that you have or can pick up relatively cheaply
Wooden baton or beading – You can use a length of baton or beading, or we cut some thin lengths
from the leftover pieces of plywood sheets.
4x castors – We bought some non-marking rubber castors that had a swivel top plate so that the
table can be moved easily in all directions, for example http://www.bulldogcastors.co.uk/rubber-castors/75mm-castors-grey-non-marking-casters-rubber-swivel-top-plate-max-65Kg
If you want to ensure that the table can be positioned somewhere and secured in that place then you could always buy castors that come with a swivel top brake plate which means you can push down a brake on the wheel with your foot to lock it, for example.
We would suggest buying 75mm or 100mm castors depending on the size of table you are building.
Screws – Depending on the thickness of the wooden crates and the sheet material you are using we
would suggest you need 20mm wood screws such as these https://www.toolstation.com/screw-tite-pozi-countersunk-zinc-plated-screw/p57588
Table top covering – This is optional, but we added a self-adhesive plastic sheet to the table top. This will make the table wipe clean from any spills or paint/felt tip marks and is inexpensive to replace, if needed. You can also get this in lots of fun colours and patterns so you can tailor it you and your family. We used a brand called Fablon, but there are other options out there. You can see some fun design examples here https://www.vinylwarehouse.co.uk/kids-designs-32-c.asp
The tools you will need
Screwdriver or power tool with screwdriver attachment if you have one
Jigsaw or circular saw if you are cutting the sheet material yourself
Hand saw for cutting the edging
How to build your kids’ play table
We started by placing two crates back to back (landscape orientation) with the other two crates on a flat floor. You’ll need to line them up and screw through the back of one crate into the crate behind. Do this in a few places and then do the same, attaching the sides of the crates together. You should
now have four crates firmly attached together.
Measure the size of the top of the joined crates and add 4cm to the length and width. This will be the size of the table top and bottom you will need to cut from the sheet material to fit and give you a small overhang. For example, if the crates are an area of 100cm x 60cm then you will want to cut two sheets the size of 104cm x 64cm. Always give the cut edges a quick sand with some sandpaper to remove any splinters or rough edges.
If you don’t have the tools to cut wood you can often get sheet material cut by suppliers free of charge. For example certain B&Q stores (https://www.diy.com/services/timber-cutting) will do this on site for you or your local hardware store will often cut sheet material to the size you require and
you just pay for the wood you need such as Cliff's in North Leeds, nearby to us.
Next you need to attach the wooden sheets to the top and bottom of the crates. The best way is to screw through the crates into the wooden sheet to attach them. Once you have done the top, turn the crates over and attach the bottom.
Whilst you have the table this way up, it is time to attach the wheels. Simply place them close to the corners of the base and screw the castors on. Now turn the table over to sit on its wheels and it’s time to add the self-adhesive plastic sheet to the table top, if you are adding one. Cut it so that it will fit close to the edge of the table top, peel the backing sheet off and apply it carefully. It can sometimes help to have a duster or dry cloth to help smooth the sheet into place and avoid any bubbling.
Finally, it is time to add the wooden edge to the table top. You don’t have to do this but we like it as it stops things falling off all the time and helps when you move the table around. You only need the edge to be 2cm high so whether you are using a baton, beading or you have cut some thin strips off the sheet material, measure the edge of the table top so you can cut four strips that will run around the edge. To attach the strips, screw through the underside of the table top into the wooden edging to secure them.
The only thing left to do is stand back and admire your handy work, fill the crates with the kids’ toys and crafts, and then let them get on with playtime!
If you make one yourselves, do let us know, we’d love to see how you get on, or if you have any questions do get in touch and we’ll try and help.
If you are thinking about making changes in your home and need some help or interior design inspiration, do get in touch with us here. And don't forget to follow us via Instagram, Facebook and our upcoming blogs.
Fresh Start Living is based in Leeds, West Yorkshire and covers surrounding areas as well as offering a remote interior design service.