Help with project ideas

I am working on building and buing various pieces of furniture for a room for my kids. The best way I can describe this room is that it should be a place where they can play, explore, do projects, play with computers, etc. Due to the age range there will be everything from wood blocks to legos to junior science kits a computer and a game station there.
What I envision is an arrangement of project tables along one wall with a couple of comfortable couches breaking up the middle of the room. The space is our never-used dining room, so it is large about 20 x 14 feet. The tables would be along the 20 foot dimension.
Couches and chairs we'd buy. The tables I have in mind...well, I don't think they exists. So I have to build them. I am having trouble figuring out the style that makes sense and the overall approach. Hence my post. I have a reasonably well setup woodworking setup in ther garage so, with enough time, I can build just about anything. Since I don't know furniture styles I figured that maybe I can get some pointers here.
I sort of like the Appalachian style. Solid, sturdy, country-like. Seems like it could survive abuse. However, this is not a conventional table design. Here's a list of some of the things I'd like to have:
Plenty of drawers and storage built into the tables. Without this legos are going to end-up all over the floor and so will pencils and everything else. I also need the room to be easy to tidy-up for the occasions when company might visit us and the room needs to feel a little less like a play room.
One thought was to also have the table tops split into two halfs and hinge them so that they can be lifted to reveal a shallow (3 to 4 in?) storage cavity underneath (almost like old style school desks). This might allow for storage of projects (to keep one kid from destorying a siblings ongoing project) and quick cleanup.
I am also trying to figure out if there's a way to integrate a "Lego trough" in the design. The idea is to have a cavity where lots of legos can be dumpled into so that the kids can be free to create and experiment. The issue with legos is that you have to have the pieces right there in front of you to get creative, you can't hide them away in drawers...it just doesn't work.
Speaking of drawers, I think they need to be lockable. Some of the neighborhood kids are not very well behaved and when they come over the drawers would be emptied onto the floor for sure. This might also be a good way to keep the little ones from eating small parts when not supervised.
There's also the idea of two-level tables. An elevated level might serve to hold small boxes with parts and supplies. I am concerned about the lack of protection (not lockable) if it is simply a shelf.
I was thinking of ordering the drawers from Rockler. While I would love to make everything myself, there really isn't enough time in the day to make so many drawers. Is there a better approach or vendor?
I'll stop here. Hopefully something like this exists or at least a good starting point. I do want to get this project done so I am willing to buy as much as I can and make/modify what can't be purchased off the shelf.
Thanks for your help,
-Martin
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Since you're open to suggestions, here's some you might consider. For a row of tables along a wall that you can build and modify as desired. http://www.leevalley.com/hardware/page.aspx?c=1&p@578&cat=3,43586
For free standing tables. http://www.leevalley.com/hardware/page.aspx?c=1&p@575&cat=3,43586
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Interesting ideas. The type that attaches to the wall won't work. If I do that I am going to have to build a bigger doghouse 'cause that's where I'll end-up if I drill holes in to the walls.!
Thanks,
-Martin
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No plans at this site but plenty of inspiration. SWMBO gets the catalog and I have already built a few things just from the pictures and dimensions.
http://www.potterybarnkids.com/room/rom/index.cfm?cm%5Ftype=gnav
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Drawers (and I mean more than token storage) is somewhat mutually exclusive with "table".
Think seriously about using wheels. A low stack of storage drawers could be be rolled under a table when it needs to be out of the way, and pulled out when additional access, more knee space, or a low work/place surface is desired.
If you put the table in wheels it can be moved to the middle of the room where kids can play in a more social format (face to face). When appropriate, the whole thing can be rolled against the wall.
-Steve
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I love wheels. Everything in my shop is on wheels (even shelving units) and I am glad. From cleaning to re-arranging, it's very practical. For something that will be located in the living-room area I do need to look for wheels that look good. In the garage I use heavy duty industrial casters...I can't use those inside the house.
Thanks,
-Martin
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Some projects I've done that you may be interested in:
http://www.delorie.com/wood/projects/legocab /
Lego cabinet. Many tray-like drawers, tray supports, working top, etc.
http://www.delorie.com/wood/projects/tables /
Rotating doll house table (we use it for a TV now) (second one down on that page).
http://www.delorie.com/wood/projects/craft-table /
Craft table - washable top, large overhang for clamping on stuff, sturdy enough to sit on.
http://www.delorie.com/wood/projects/router /
Router table, but it could be adapted into a mad scientist's lab table.
As for making many drawers, the trick is to make an assembly line with a design that's easy to cut and assemble. I use a Leigh jig to dovetail a whole pile of parts, all interchangable after that, and assemble a whole bunch of drawers at once. After the first piece, the rest go very quickly. I did a dozen drawers for our dining room corner cabinets that way. Alternately, pocket screws - not as pretty, but very fast and you only need rectangular bits of wood.
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I enjoyed looking through your projects. I am starting to develop some ideas from all of the replies.
Thanks,
-Martin
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You could get plastic bin boxes rather than making drawers, you'd just have have shelves then.
http://www.uline.com/BL_8768/Plastic-Shelf-Bins
I also really like the giant stackable bins:
http://www.mcfeelys.com/product/97784/x-19-78-x-15-14
I have a whole wall of these in my shop full of scraps, and they are strong enough to stand on them. I think they'd work great in a playroom, and you can stack them up high enough they basically make their own furniture and can be reconfigured easily. There's three different sizes.

As a kid we had ours in big totes, and we had a big drawstring bag that you could dump some out on and then close up easily, pretty sure it was a Lego product but I have no idea if they still make such a thing.

I'd put a door on the front and make that lockable.
-Kevin
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I like bins over drawers for toys -- they end up being more versatile (portable, customizable, etc). They're also cheaper and take less time. Bins work well with tables that have adjustable height, which I also suggest. I recently built a table with an 20" to 30" height (I have a toddler), and he loves playing on it. It grows as he does. I would avoid hinges on top, as if the kids build a masterpiece, they might lock their toys in the table.
Rounded corners are always good around kids -- a little less necessary with older kids, but never a bad idea. A trough for lego would be cool, but make the trough detachable so if they're not playing legos, it can be put away.
I also have a raised lip around the table top. For a toddler this means less choo-choos drive over the edge of the cliff. When my son gets older, I'll simply drop a piece of 3/4" plywood into it to make everything level. For older kids, it keeps other things (paint, etc) from going over the edge. It also allows me to put in temporary tops easily -- I just cut a piece of handyboard to size, and drop it in. This is great for Thomas toys, where you might have different scenes at the bottom. It also protects the actual table.
Anyways, those are my thoughts.
John
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In thinking about it, maybe bins would work as long as they are located behind good looking doors. Got to discuss with my boss (wife) to see if that will fly.
How did you make your table height adjustable? There are many ways, of course. Is it continuously adjustable or in discreet steps (with pegs or something like that).
Thanks,
-Martin
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On Dec 17, 1:04 pm, snipped-for-privacy@YAHOO.COM wrote:

This is what the bag looked like, guess they don't make em anymore but not complicated to make:
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2205/2095961995_aecea1e895.jpg
-Kevin
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I am not sure that this is the look we are going for. I have lots of these in the garage, they won't work in the living room.
As I am not a furniture expert I am having difficulty describing what I am after. I want a cozy country feel to the area yet lots of functionality and flexibility. Not sure if that says anything to anyone who knows furniture but that's what's in my head.
-Martin
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