“Yet man will never be perfect until he learns to create and destroy; he does know how to destroy, and that is half the battle.”
― Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo

We are at the second part of the Downtime Diaries series, where I write about something other than finance, early retirement or frugality. In a way, it is frugality – we did save money by building this toy storage/side table instead of buying something off the shelves.

When we bought our house, we knew that the bedrooms were smaller than what we really wanted them to be. We were okay with it because one of them was not so bad. GBoy got one of the smaller rooms and it didn’t really have a lot of space for furniture. Decorating it was fun. We painted one of the walls with a window, a dark blue. We painted the rest in white. The windows had white trims, and it looked great. We got him this bed frame and this mattress from Amazon, and stained the bed frame a dark brown. I got him bed sheets and a matching comforter with dinosaur paw prints (cannot find the link any more!) all over them. I took one of the bed sheets and turned that into window curtains, and that made the room look like it was put together with a lot of decor sense. I also got some cheap canvas from Michael’s and drew dinosaurs on them. I colored the backgrounds and left the dinosaurs white, one per canvas. I then made them frames like in this Ana White video, and they came out pretty good. They were stained the same color as the bed frame. The room looked put together well, and I was happy.

Everything was fine until we moved in and realized that he had far too many toys and there was no way to keep that room neat and tidy. I did what I usually do when I have a problem – I spent hours on the internet trying to look for a solution, and came up with this link. That looked easy to build and would solve all my problems. The only issue was that he didn’t have space for a toy storage unit and a bed side table. And he really needed a side table – He spends a lot of time reading, and needs a reading lamp. He needs his alarm clock next to him so that he wouldn’t miss the school bus. And a place to keep water, and all the books he read, and is currently reading.

My Inspiration

I had never really done any wood working until that point. The blog post had detailed information on how to build it. And it looked doable. I was worried about wasting all that money on that wood, and not having an end product to show. If I just had to build the exact same thing, it would have been easy. But I wanted something with only two baskets one on top of each other, and the height required was fixed.

Converting it into the heights I wanted wasn’t that hard. I just wasn’t sure how much gap was required between baskets because hers seem to have quite a lot of gap. And I didn’t have that much space. I didn’t have all the tools she used, and I managed with what I had. We already had this miter saw and a kreg jig, because I always wanted to get into wood working. You might notice that they weren’t the expensive ones, but they did pretty well.

I built it, and it was fine on the first try!

Since then, I have been building many things with wood. It is very satisfying to build to turn a bunch of boards into something that can be used. It is way cheaper than buying solid wood furniture, and it is perfect for the space because you are building it for that space.

Those are old photos, taken as soon as it was built. It is well used, full of toys right now. His room stays clean, except for the bunch of books on top of that.

I expect to build many more things once I have time to do it. One more reason to retire as early as I can! By now, we have everything we need – I have been building stuff for some of my friends now. I have also been teaching a few friends how to do some woodworking. It is so rewarding to see their faces after they have built their first piece.

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Tuesday, Mar 28, 2023