NOTE: I actually finished this tower over a month ago – you’ve probably seen photos of it in use. Yes, this post has been a long time coming. Oops…
Yep, I made this.
I have loved these towers, ever since I was introduced to them in college by a family that I used to babysit for.
Again, not comfortable paying $170 for a high chair.
Luckily, for Brian and Grace, I am just as handy with power tools as I am with a sewing machine, glue gun, or mixing bowl. I found the original IKEA hack through Pinterest and was so happy because there were pretty clear instructions with measurements and instructions. And then, after I followed the instructions and cut the wood pieces, I discovered that the measurements were not correct. BEYOND frustrating. So, I’m not going to link up to the other blog.
The whole process begins with IKEA’s BEKVAM step stool:
You really can’t go wrong when the basis of the project is $14.99.
So, as I was turning my kitchen into This Old House (just call me Norm), two thoughts kept running through my head:
1. I could not remember Ralph Macchio every having to saw anything, so I couldn’t think of a brilliant ‘wax on, wax off’ mantra. And this didn’t really help me:
2. This scene, repeatedly:
Yes, I am a nerd. I’m cool with it.
After I finished (re)cutting all the wood for the tower part of the step stool, assembly was rather easy. I actually did the correct thing and pre-drilled holes and everything. I was quite impressed with myself on how sturdy it is. Annoyingly, building the pre-fab step stool was as much work as making something from scratch. I am part Swedish and I know how to use a regular screw driver. So does the majority of my family (also mostly Swedish). I do NOT understand why IKEA – very Swedish – only uses allen wrenches. It is very frustrating. I did get it all put together and we were all very happy with it.
I thought Grace might be a little young to manipulate her way up and down on her own, but she climbed right up with little hesitation. Getting down took a lot more explanation, but she can do it on her own. As became very clear in the two days that she was allowed to use it, before I took it away to paint it, she LOVES it.
I turned our half-bath into my painting room (can you see a trend when I do projects in the summer?). Based on recommendations from the original blog, I primed the entire thing. I do not know why, but while I was priming, I kept analyzing the most recent Game of Thrones season. I wasn’t just remember part of it, I was actually working out some of the subterfuge and possible motives behind the characters’ craziness. Yep, nerd. It’s cool, though.
Even with a nice coat of primer, it still took two coats of paint to live up to my standards. I got a little ambitious with the painting, but I love it. I did take about an hour to make sure everything was properly taped off before I painted the brown, waited two days after the two coats of brown were dry to re-tape the opposite boards, and then added the blue and the green.
How to Build A Toddler Tower
All measurements are based on using IKEA’s BEKVAM step stool. If you want to use a different step stool, you will need to adjust your measurements.
Need 4: 2″ x 2″ x 16.375″ – Boards A, B, C, D
Need 2: 1″ x 3″ x 14″ – Boards E, F
Need 2: 1″ x 3″ x 9.875″ – Boards G, H
Need 2: 2″ x 2″ x 6.25″ – Boards I, J
Need 1: .625″ round dowel x 13.75″
NOTE: The “Front” of the tower is the part that will be up against the counter; the “back” is where the steps are; the “left” side is as you are facing the tower, approaching the steps as you would climb up them.
NOTE 2: I used 2.5″ wood screws on the entire project.
1. BEFORE the top step is attached to the rest of the IKEA step stool, attach Boards A, B, C, and D on the four corners.
2. Attach Boards E and F to the front of the new structure. Board E will be flush with the top of Boards A and B. The top of Board F is 7.5″ inches from the top of Board E.
3. Drill a 5/8″ hole 1.5″ down from the top of Boards C and D. The hole should run parallel to Board E – this is where the dowel will fit into as a handle/back support. Insert dowel into the new hole.
4. Attach Boards G and H to the left and right sides, respectively. The tops of the boards will be flush with the tops of Boards A – D and Board E. (These boards will secure the dowel into place).
5. Attach Boards I and J to the left and right sides, respectively. The tops of the boards will be 8.375″ from the top of Boards A – D; the bottoms of I and J will be even with Board F.
6. After the tower structure is completed, finish constructing the rest of the IKEA step stool, as directed, and attach the top step (with tower addition).
The entire tower is now completed! Congratulations!
The rest of the project is up to you. I let Grace use the tower for a couple of days until I had time to paint it and I was questioning if I was even going to paint it, or if I should stain it. I was kind of digging the raw/birch wood finish. But, I knew I would be happier after I painted it. I used wood putty to cover any screw heads and to make the seams between boards smoother. After sanding, I covered the entire tower in two coats of primer.
Being the overachiever that I am, I didn’t want to use one color of paint on the entire structure, so I used three. Each color took two coats of paint, even after the primer. I carefully, and thoroughly, used blue painters tape to tape off everything that I wanted to paint blue (the front and top-side braces) and green (the steps). I painted two coats of Valspar’s Cafe Mocha on the rest of the structure (including the underside of the steps). I let the paint dry for a full day before I removed the tape and carefully taped off around the freshly painted Mocha pieces. The green I used is Valspar’s Fiddlehead Fern (leftover from the train board) and the blue is by Olympic that I have been using on several projects around our house. After another full day of drying/curing time, I finally was able to remove all of the tape and (after a couple of touch-ups) be done with this project.
Grace LOVES her ability to get up to our level when I’m cooking in the kitchen or to do a project of her own. I usually have a tray of some manipulative left out in her area on the counter that she can use/work with any time that she wants.