Game storage…check!

This project started as a way to get our family board games out of the basement. Because, remember my big project? De-cluttering, de-carpeting, de-popcorn the ceiling…and on and on. This storage unit (see the plans here) is just a small cog in a very large wheel.

And it’s done! All but the last coat of poly over the touch-ups on the trim.

What do you think? I would be happy if it were simply square and not ugly. In fact, I used MDF for this project (a rare occurrence because of the formaldehyde in the composition of MDF) because I thought this project would be a total FAIL and didn’t want to waste money on expensive wood that would end up in the trash. But I think it’s actually a lovely addition to our house and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to fall apart! The tall base trim on it really makes it look substantial and heavy (which it is) — perfect for our big space. And, it was another good learning piece for me. I’m working up to big things, I tell you!

I put the whole thing together with glue and our pneumatic nailer since our cordless drill batteries are DEAD (new ones on order — thankfully we have a lifetime warranty!). For the finish, I used Kilz low-voc latex primer and several coats of Sherwin-Williams ProClassic trim paint color-matched to our personal furniture white. I sanded between every coat and used several coats of Minwax Polycrylic in satin to harden up the finish. The finish turned out super smooth. Just the way I like it!

To make the drawer bases look more built-in, Scott and I removed the baseboard on that wall and pushed the whole unit flush with the wall before cutting the baseboard to fit tightly up against the trim on the drawer bases. This may cause some problems at Christmastime…the drawers are encroaching on our tree’s space. Other than that, I love the placement of the drawers and the super soft olive green corduroy, too.

Putting the upholstered top together was a bit of a process. At least, it took some thought. I spent about two weeks dreading buying expensive foam for the cushion and then having to sew a cover for it. Cutting the fabric for the welting, sewing the welting, attaching the welting…okay, maybe it was mostly dealing with welting that I was dreading, and I didn’t want to do it without welting. But, really, my box cushions usually come out far from perfect and I wanted this to be perfect. You can see this piece of furniture when you walk through the front door of our home. I pass it every time I walk from the kitchen downstairs to the family room or my bedroom. I couldn’t take looking at an awful cushion every time I walk by.

So one night around midnight I was taking a long shower. I find long, hot showers to be a great catalyst for creative thought. I was brooding over this box cushion and its welting when I realized…I could make a no-sew top! I didn’t have a piece of MDF large enough to fit the top of all three drawer bases, but I had lots of long, skinny pieces. If I put them together with my pocket hole jig, drywall screws, and glue, I could add 1″ foam to the top (which I already had), wrap the whole thing in batting, and staple the fabric to it.

Duh. How could I have been so dense in the first place?

Here is what the cushion looked like while it was in the works (upside down):

See all those pocket holes? Here’s a closer-up shot of them:
The pocket holes create one solid piece of MDF (thanks to Ana White for teaching me this trick!), plus there are some little skinny pieces attached on each end. I glued and screwed those with regular countersink holes because they seemed too fragile for pocket holes. I split the skinny MDF strips a few times before I got the big part of the countersink hole big enough for the top of the screw.

Once I had the MDF put together, I spray-glued the foam on top, turned the whole thing upside-down on the batting, stapled on the batting and then stapled on the fabric. I had enough fabric to run it lengthwise without having to sew anything, but I wanted the pattern in the corduroy to run perpendicular to the length of the bench. The bench didn’t need to look any longer than it already is. So, I did the old curtain trick — a full width in the middle plus a half width on either side. I’ve got a ton of fabric left over, probably close to three yards. Since I only paid $4/yard for it, I’m not bummed to have so much extra. I’m actually looking forward to using it again!

As with any big project I tackle, I’m pleased with the outcome but, most of all, happy to be done!

Psst…for more on how I built the bench, check out this post.


  1. Court says

    You are really making this look easy! I really want to attempt a piece in my spare time. Ha – spare time… how many years until kindie?

  2. says

    Sorry, Court. No such thing as spare time until BOTH kids are in school full day. At least you had them close together! And you got in lots of fun carpentry before they were born!

  3. says

    Hillary, I just built my first piece ever, and was totally inspired by your banqette! It’s the same basic plan, altered to make a laundry-folding table with basket storage underneath. It turned out great.

    My questions are, since I’ve never finished a piece before:
    1 – did you use more than one coat of primer?
    2 – you said you sand between every coat, how do you clean it off so you don’t get crumbs in your paint??? this is my biggest question. I have a blower attachment for my air compressor that I blow it off with but still seem to have much debris in my first coat of primer!

    thanks so much for posting this – it turned out fabulously!

    • says

      Sorry I didn’t see your comment until now. I just used one coat of primer, but sometimes I use two (depending on what I’m covering). Yes, I sand between coats but I like to use flat paint because it doesn’t get crumbly. It comes off as dust. Good semi-gloss paint will, also, if you give it enough time to cure (but it takes a looong time). Primer should always sand well, but it needs to be totally dry or it will crumble. Whether I get crumbs or dust, I use the shop vac to suck it up and then wipe it with a damp cloth. Hope that helps!

  4. says


    I love your adaptations to Ana’s plan. I want to do mine the same way. Can you tell me how you did the drawer fronts? I haven’t seen anyone else do them that way. How did you make them recessed?



    • says

      Hi, Brea. I did them the easy way. I used 1/4″ thick hobby stock and glued and clamped them to the drawer fronts. I accounted for the extra 1/4″ when I built the drawers, so that the drawers would fit right and not hang out 1/4″. Good luck!

  5. says

    Just found this and LOVE it! Do you think these drawers would work to store shoes? If so, about how many pair do you think each drawer would fit?

    • says

      Hi, Laurie! So glad you like it! Yes, they’d be great drawers for shoes. We have big feet in my family (my 9 year old already wears a women’s 7 and I wear a 10) but I think we could get 5-8 pairs of shoes in each drawer, depending on what kind of shoes and how tightly we wanted to pack them in.

      Our drawers are really heavy (b/c they’re made from 3/4″ MDF — I wanted cheap material b/c I didn’t really think I’d succeed in making the drawers). I would recommend building them out of something lighter, like 1/2″ plywood, or solid pine, to keep the drawer base from sliding when you open and close it. Ours don’t slide too much, but we’re gentle and don’t open them that often. For a high use piece like a shoe drawer, I’d want the drawer to be made out of the lightest material possible, and maybe anchor the base to the wall, especially if it’s not sitting on carpet.

      Good luck!

  6. Ursula says

    Love your bench. We are attempting to build a similar one. Can you tell me how tall is your base molding? Thank you!

    • says

      Thanks! I think it’s around 5 1/4″ tall? I build the benches higher than the plans, I think, in order to get the base on the benches taller than the base moulding on my walls. I hope that helps!

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