6 Expert-Approved Lego Tips That Will Turn Anyone into a Pro Builder

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Lego bouquets
Credit: Lego

After nearly a year into the pandemic and accompanying stay-at-home orders, people have really indulged their at-home hobbies, from making sourdough to knitting to learning how to mix cocktails. And among those hobbies are games and puzzles, such as the ubiquitous 3D puzzles made from buildable blocks. 

Yep, I’m talking about Legos, which experienced a 14 percent jump in sales in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period the year before, according to a report from the Lego company. And the trend is sticking around for kids and adults of all ages, Lego Chief Executive Niels Christiansen told Reuters: “We’ve seen momentum continue into the second half of the year even after people started going back to work and to school. So the result is not just a reflection of two months when everyone was sitting at home.” 

But Legos and other building block sets are becoming a great way to decorate your home, too. If you’re one of the many people returning to your favorite childhood toy, or trying them out for the first time now, there are plenty of ways to get creative. We tapped an expert for her tips.

Start with a set you love.

The Lego company is famous for creative sets that come with all the pieces you need and a pack of instructions, like Ikea furniture but small and way less of a headache to put together. If you want to start creating with Lego, you may want to start with a set.

“If you’re really not sure about trying out with Lego and you’re not confident in your creativity — but I’m sure you are creative — I think it is a good way to start off with a kit that you think looks fun and exciting,” Amy Corbett, a Lego designer in Billund, Denmark, told Apartment Therapy. “Pick something you’re passionate about that you’re excited to build and follow the instructions and learn that way.”

Encourage fidgeting!

Once you’re ready to start building your own creations, keep bricks available to play with when your mind is elsewhere. Corbett encourages folks to keep a bowl of random bricks on your table or desk.

“Get them in your hand when you’re on a Zoom call. Play with things. It’s great to fidget,” she says. “And I think the more you handle and the more you try to play with the bricks and make things, the more comfortable you get with your own creations.”

If you don’t already have some random Lego pieces lying around from past projects, Corbett recommends investing in a set of Lego bricks like the Creative Brick Box to get your gears turning.

Try to recreate something you’ve seen in a photo or in your home using your blocks.

Once you’re ready to create something all your own, Corbett recommends using a reference image of something simple, like a house or a popsicle.

“I think the more you can find inspiration and try and recreate that with Lego bricks, the easier it is because it’s amazingly hard sometimes to create something just out of your head and without having something to back it up,” she says.

Turn your new hobby into a challenge.

If you’re hunkering down with roommates, friends, or family, one way to step up your Lego game is to create challenges for each other.

“I think setting each other’s challenges is super fun,” Corbett says. “Make them timed and make it fast. Don’t spend a day building, give yourself like 20 minutes and try to create things. Try to use as few bricks as possible.”

One way to have fun with a challenge is to have everyone write an object down on a piece of paper, pull it out of a hat, and try to create it in a certain amount of time. You can also time yourself as you create something with a limited number of blocks, or a limited color palette. 

“Just setting yourself fun, little challenges and seeing what you can create together, I think, is a great way to just get yourself comfortable with the bricks and get creative,” Corbett says.

You can reap the benefits after you’ve finished building.

When you’re done with a project, you might want to put your creation on display on a shelf or on a table. Corbett has one spot on her shelf for whatever she has made most recently — right now it’s a pineapple — and after she finishes a new piece, she takes the old creation apart and puts the blocks away in a container, either keeping it with the other pieces if she wants to recreate it down the road, or separating it by color and size. 

“I think containers are your friends, definitely any type of container you can put it in,” Corbett, who primarily builds “by color” and stores her pieces accordingly, says. “Color is a big starting point for me when I build. I’m really passionate about the Lego colors and how I use them. So I tried to start my pieces actually really by color and a bit by size.”

Use a blanket base for easy clean-up.

There’s a reason Lego pieces are famously painful — stepping on a misplaced brick hurts, and that’s only something you find out from accidentally stepping on one even once. One way to avoid that is to only take out the pieces you need, place them on the counter, and keep track of them. But if you want to get messy, or if you’re helping a kid play with them, consider laying a blanket out and putting all the Lego bricks on top. Then, when you’re done playing, you can lift all the pieces up together in the blanket and pour it back into their container.

No matter how you end up creating, storing, and showing off your creations, try to find joy in it.

“There are so many different sets and so many different ways that you can build and play with it, that everyone can find something that they’re excited by and that they’re like, ‘Okay, I want something that’s going to fill my Sunday afternoon or a few days, and I can find that in Lego and I’m going to feel joy in building it and be happy and proud of what I’ve created,’” Corbett says. “And so it’s just something, something so special about it.”