We have found that having an Art Gallery dedicated solely to the children's art work helps them to feel proud of their work and also makes a fun focal point for a family room or play room. I've got all the details on how you can make your own living art gallery in our post today.
Both of my kids have those room darkening curtains which work great at night-time. In the daytime, however, I find because they're so snug, they're hard to slide along the curtain rod to open them straight across. I decided tie-backs would work better than inching them open each morning, and then inching them closed at night.
I didn't want to spend much money and I wanted something cute that fit the room themes so I came up with this little hack that's worked perfectly and cost about $5 each set - all you need are medium to large Command hooks (depending on the thickness of your curtains), a glue gun, and little wooden decorations.
I found the decorations at Michael's Craft Supplies with all their wooden things. I don't know technically what they're for but they have tons of shapes and designs and even blank ones you can paint yourself if you're so fancy. They cost less than a dollar each.
I did Miss M's first and got her a couple dragonflies to go with her nature themed bedroom. I finally found ones for Mr M's room this week as I'm in the process of updating his space to a big boy car themed room so I got a car and a bus for him.
It's so simple to do and takes all of five minutes. Stick your Command hook up on the wall where you want the curtain to open. I eyeballed it but measuring would probably be more sensible. Make sure the open part is facing away from the window (as shown below).
Then fire up that glue gun and get your little decorations ready (peel off any price tags or other stickers on them).
Generously glob some glue on the hook part.
Then press the decoration on the hook, making sure it sticks out a little past the end of the hook to give you more length to hold the curtain with. Press down for about thirty seconds to make sure it's secure.
Then do the same on the other side. Let them sit for a couple hours before trying them with the curtain to be sure the glue is fully dry. And then you're done!
Miss M, has had hers up for almost two years (*update they've been up for almost five years now!) and we use it daily. One came off a few months after the initial application, but a quick dab more glue and it's never come off since.
So there you go - custom curtain tie backs that take very little time and money. Plus the kids both love them!
Now that Mr M's interests are showing themselves more I've been starting to transition his room from his pond themed nursery to reflect what he truly loves - cars. Well, anything that moves really, but especially things that move on wheels. He'll be two in a couple months and has been in love with cars since shortly after his first birthday.
The first thing I did was create some name art for his wall. I Pinterested my heart out until I found a great idea from a blog called Mason's Roost. It's ALL OVER the interwebs when you search for name art using cars. Sadly, the blog no longer seems to be there and I haven't been able to find a link to the actual instructions.
So I had to make up on my own version. I decided to scrap the shadow box concept and to use his whole name instead of just one letter. I bought basic white wooden letters from the craft store for his name.*
I painted each one with a couple coats of flat black acrylic paint and let it dry completely.
Then, the fun part. I had tried to find or make a stamp for the dotted lines on the road but couldn't find one so I bought coloured duct tape and then snipped off a piece, then snipped it in half and placed it on the letter. This was the most tedious part of the job and there were several pieces of tape that I cut incorrectly that had to be tossed. Once it was done though I LOVED how it looked against the black.
Next step was to place the cars on it. I bought a value pack of dinky cars that included some of his favourite vehicles (i.e. busses and trucks) and then spread them out so that there were three or four per letter. Pro tip: Double and triple check that they're all on the right side of the road. I had a fire truck and sports car set up for a head on collision that I had to redo.
Get some super duper glue (that dries clear preferably) and dab a little on each wheel of the car and press it on carefully. Make sure the letters are sitting somewhere that they won't need to be moved or get bumped for a couple days and let them dry REALLY well. Like a day longer than you think. The last thing you need is a not quite dry car falling off in the middle of the night once it's hung up.
Finally, I used Command picture hanging strips with velcro (no affiliation, just came across them and love how they work!) for hanging them. They go on flat which makes it easier to ensure it's level, and makes it look really clean on the wall.
I love the 3D look of it and how it really pops on his light walls.
Mr M went crazy for it and wanted to pull the cars off at first, but once I explained that they weren't "real," just decorations, surprisingly he seemed to get it. He likes looking at it and naming each vehicle.
*In the interest of privacy I just photographed the M in his name but I did the same concept for the rest of the letters in his name and it didn't add too much time (other than the duct tape lines - with a good stamp that would cut the time down significantly).
Last summer I came across a scuffed up wooden table at a secondhand shop for just a few dollars so I grabbed it, not really having a plan but hoping something would come to me.
I decided to make a table and chair set for Miss M's room for her tea parties, using a Dollar Store chair I'd bought the previous summer. We had recently got a cheerful striped rug for her room and I used that for my inspiration.
I’ve always been a sucker for makeovers. I love the before and after and the potential for a huge change with just a bit of work! This is probably what keeps me trying out new DIY projects – always looking for that big reveal. Unfortunately my arts and crafts skills peaked around age five. This means that to my three year old I’m an arts and crafts genius. To the rest of the grown-ups in my life, I make a “really good effort”. Usually what happens is I get inspired by something I saw online or just get an idea in my head of how to repurpose something we already have. Most of the time the image in my head doesn’t quite match up with what my results are. Every so often though all the stars align and it’s even better than I imagined. This was one of those times.
For the last year I’ve been slowly updating our daughter’s room from a nursery to a big girl’s room. As her interests and preferences became more apparent I wanted to shape her room into a place she loved. By this past summer most of it was done and I was feeling really happy with it. There was just one glaring piece that was driving me crazy. Her dresser.
Her dresser is part of a set that my husband had as a kid – it also has a desk (which I use as a work desk now) and a set of shelves (that the toys in their playroom sit on). They are a glossy stained solid wood and very nice and sturdy, and an excellent choice for a kid in the '70s - but looked very out of date in her sweet purple and pink room. I considered buying a new set but it seemed a waste as these ones are the right height for her to be able to reach all the drawers and deep enough to fit all her clothes. I mused and muttered about them for several weeks until I remembered seeing some dressers on Pinterest done in a ombre or gradient effect that I just loved. I googled some of those projects for ideas and then convinced myself I could do it.
Because I don’t like to wait unnecessarily (my husband calls it impatience, I call it using my time wisely) a couple days later I dumped all the clothes out and pulled the drawers out. I labeled each drawer with a sticky note, i.e. top left, middle right, so I knew where it went back – some of them don’t slide as smoothly if they go in a different spot. Even if your drawers all fit well in each spot it’s still a good idea to label them so when you get to the painting part you know which one is supposed to be which colour as with this type of effect the colours can look very similar until it's done. I then had my husband help me drag all the pieces down to the garage.
I popped by a home improvement store next and agonized over shades of purple. The idea is to choose one colour card and pick three in a row so that you get the subtle changes in colour. I find it so hard to choose a colour in there with the fluorescent lights - I hold them against white buckets and go down dark aisles but it's still really hard to judge what they will actually look like in a house. I finally erred on the side of caution and went with CIL's Artistic Orchid, Vesper Bell, and Vintage Violet (side note: what on earth do the first two even mean?! According to Google a Vesper Bell is a church bell rung in the evening - no idea what that has to do with purple). I had some leftover interior white paint at home from another project for the rest of the dresser.
I also picked up eight drawer pulls while I was there. I wanted really simple white ones that wouldn't distract from the overall design and would be easy for little hands to grab and pull. The ones I chose were very clean looking and low cost (just under $4 each).
Things needed and cost:
Sample pots of purple paint ($5 each for a total of $15 and still tonnes left)
White paint ($0 - already had leftover from previous projects)
Paint brushes ($0 - already had)
Sand paper ($0 - already had)
Cleaner ($0 - already had)
Putty and putty knife ($0 - already had)
Screwdriver ($0 - already had)
Drawer pulls ($4 each for a total of $32)
Drill and a handy partner (free with the exchange of one set of wedding rings)
Total cost = $49 plus tax
As soon as the kids went to bed that night I unscrewed the hideous 1970’s drawer pulls and put them aside for another project some day. Then I plugged the holes with some putty as the new drawer pulls would need to have new holes put in.
Then I used the cleaner to scrub down the whole dresser and clean it out really well. Next up was the sanding which went surprisingly quickly. It had a glossy finish on it so I figured I’d scratch it up first and see how well the paint stuck and then do more if needed (and this is why most projects end up going wrong – short cuts).
Once I sanded it all I wiped the dust off with a wet sponge and then did another round of sanding and wiping (since it was so easy and satisfying the first time). Then, the best part, the painting! I love what a dramatic difference a coat of paint makes on anything. Unfortunately before painting comes the worst part for me – taping. I taped all around the edges so that it didn’t bleed onto any parts that shouldn’t be painted (I kept the bottom of the drawers and the back of the dresser natural as it was just PDF). My plan was to use white paint for the top, sides and bottom of the dresser, as well as along with the sides of the drawers; and use the purples (from lightest to darkest) from top to bottom on the front of the drawers only.
I did all the white paint first and then left it to dry overnight. The next morning I popped out to the garage before my husband left for work and slapped a second coat of white on it to make sure it was nice and smooth. It was looking great – like a whole new piece of furniture!
As soon as the kids went down for nap I eagerly opened the purple paint. My first disappointment was that they were lighter than I had hoped. I’d played it too safe with the paint chips. Too late now though so I carefully laid out the drawers according to my sticky note label system and did the top, then the middle, then the bottom colours. I laid out the paint pots in order as well (top, middle, bottom), as you could barely tell them apart when they were all opened, and used different brushes for each to ensure nothing got mixed up.
That evening I did touch-ups on the white and a second coat on the purple drawers. It was really coming together now. The next morning when they were all dry I put the drawers in to check out the gradient effect. It was better than I’d thought once it was against the white! I think the next level of purple in the colour family would have been a little bolder but this works well with the pink and purple theme in her room.
The last step was the drawer pulls. I had my husband use the drill to make new holes for them as we needed to use longer screws than the ones the drawer pulls came with (due to the wood being so thick). Luckily we have a massive collection of screws and nails and were able to find some that fit.
And, voila, a new-to-her dresser that perfectly matches her big girl bedroom! In the end, once they were all together, I really liked the colours and I just adore the gradient effect.
Time (built around sleeping children): two and a half days
Cost: under $50
Difficulty level: Easy-peasy lemon squeezy. The only part that I had trouble with was the drilling. As much as I'd like to be, I’m just not a power tool kind of girl.
Note: This dresser got yet another life a few years later. See how we updated it for Mr M's room here!