DIY Kid’s Desk Makeover

I’m always on the lookout for free and cheap stuff, particularly large pieces.  My toddler “J” has a ton of toys but not so many furniture items.

I was out walking the dog a few weeks ago and stumbled upon a kids’ plastic desk on the side of the street for free.  It would never have occurred to me to have purchased a young toddler a desk, but as soon as I saw it, I was sure it would be a useful piece.  We have a small table and chairs, but the chairs are a little high for “J” (who is not particularly tall for his age), and it’s hard for him to pull himself close to the table once he sits on a chair.  The desk is a perfect solution!  I also thought that the tilted desktop would be helpful for reading and drawing.  Sure enough, he LOVES it!

The desk was pretty ugly when I picked it up: it was dirty, not the prettiest in “style,” and had some stickers still have stuck on it.  I instantly went to work fixing it up.

I didn’t take the greatest pictures of it, but you can see it beforehand here:



It’s in the bathtub because I was starting to wash off the dirt.  Not the most appealing piece ,but it was structurally sound and had a decent overall design.


  1. Wash off the desk.
  2. Sand the desk so that paint will adhere better.  This also removed the stickers that were on it, which I was very happy about.
  3. Take the desk apart — I found that it was really easy to take off the side panels, so I decided to paint them a different color.
  4. Spray paint with paint that’s meant for plastic — I did two coats.
  5. Put the desk back together when it’s dry.  All done!  The paint says that it adheres to plastic best when it has a chance to dry for about a week, so I didn’t give it to “J” right away.

Here’s the final version!




This was my first experiment painting plastic and using spray paint, and I think it turned out well.  The paint does scratch off a little, so it’s probably not going to hold up for years, but so far, we’ve had no problems.

A few tips I’ve learned from the process:

  1. Make sure you keep the spray can at a distance from what you are painting, and don’t hover over any spots too long.  I had a few problems with runny paint that would have been prevented by this.
  2. Spraying over runny paint drips actually works to fix them.  I was shocked at how well it fixed the problems and made the drips disappear.
  3. Be careful using a finishing coat.  I wanted to spray a clear coat on at the end to help seal it, but it just created a strange murky tint to it.  It was easy to spray more paint over the top when I realized I didn’t like this, but I would be wary of using a clear coat again as a result of this.  It’s possible that it didn’t work well because I sprayed it too soon after painting and/or because I did it in the garage when it was fairly cold out, and the paints usually suggest a somewhat warm ambient temperature.
  4. Consider using a primer first.  All the things I read online seemed to suggest that you don’t really need a primer, but since doing this, I’ve started working on another project painting plastic, and I’ve found that using primer has made a big difference in how well it’s adhering and how it looks.

Happy DIYing and upcycling!


DIY Play Mailbox

If your toddler is like mine, he or she loves putting things in and taking them out again.  What better place to do this than a mailbox?

We go outside to get the mail together most days, and “J” seems to like it a lot, so I made him his own play mailbox.  It was intended to go on the door to his playroom closet, as though that were his “house,” but when it was attached to the wall, he could pull it apart too easily, so I took it down and just use it unattached.  If your child is a bit older and/or you make sure to tape it more securely, you could probably adhere to a door or wall without a problem.


Used (or new) U.S. Postal Service mailing box
Scrapbook or other nice-looking paper
Paste or other type of glue
Stickers for decorating (optional)
Additional pieces of cardboard for making “postcards” (optional)


1.  Deconstruct your cardboard box and cut off unnecessary sides.


2.  Cover the outside with paper as desired, making sure to include enough of an extra amount on the inside so that you will see a continuation of the nice-looking paper when you glance inside (rather than unfinished cardboard).  You could meticulously cover every inch of the box with paper, but neither you nor your child will really see into the deep inside, so it’s perfectly fine to be a little lazy in your covering.


3.  Put the box together using paste and/or clear tape.  I used paste, but it was not very strong, so although tape would ruin the line a little, I think it might be a good idea to use some clear packing tape.

4.  If desired, add stickers or other details to the box.  I had some extra scrapbook stickers, so I used them to write “Mailbox” and “123 Main St” on the one I made.

5.  Optional:  Use cardboard and extra paper to make postcards or “letters” that can be put in and taken out.  Alternatively (or additionally), you can let your little one put other little things into the box, or you can use real envelopes or junk mail.

Happy mailing!


Recycled TP Roll Flowers

Instead of recycling your toilet paper rolls, make them into flowers!  This could be an activity you do to decorate your child’s room, or an activity you do together with an older kid.


Step 1: Cut your TP rolls into smallish strips


Step 2:  Using a hot glue gun, put a dab of glue in the middle of one of the strips. If you are working with kids, this is something you should do rather than them. It’s very easy to burn yourself doing this.


Step 3: Position another strip on top of the first at a roughly 90-degree angle.


Step 4: Continue to adhere more and more strips at 90-degree angles until you have a flushed-out flower


Step 5: Cut a piece of scrap fabric into a circle and use your hot glue gun to adhere it to the middle of the flower.


I’m making several of these to put into a pretend flower box that will hang on my son’s closet door, leading to his “playhouse area.”  You could also use these for a million other purposes:

  • Use these as packing material when mailing a gift
  • Attach them to pipe cleaners or glue to wood sticks and use as fake bouquets or flower arrangements
  • Put velcro on the back and use as pretend corsages
  • Put them into a pot or other container for a doll garden
  • Hang them on a string or ribbon as a room decoration