Category Archives: Gifts

{More} American Girl Doll Beds

The holiday season is always busy for us, and this year has been no exception.  I’ve been working away on Christmas gifts, but haven’t had much time to blog about it.  These two cuties were just too adorable to let slip on by, though.  Not long ago, I shared a fun (and cheap) American Girl doll bed we made for a friend using an Ana White plan.  When my sister-in-law asked me to make a couple of those beds for her girls, I happily took on the project.    Because these beds were going to sisters, I wanted them each to be a little different and unique.  I had some leftover plywood lying around from my trumeau mirror project, so I cut it to size and used it to replace the slatted 1×3 headboard and footboard panels in Ana’s plan.

The headboard panel was cut 6″ x 12.5″ and the footboard was 3″ x 12.5″.  I pretty much followed the plans for the rest of the build.  I did add a piece of 3/8″ thick board cut 1.5″ x 6″ to make two panels in the headboard.  I also added some cove molding to the inside of the headboard and footboard panels and routed the top and bottom header boards with my ogee bit.

This gave everything a more finished look.  Then I puttied all my nail holes and sanded everything down.

This was how the headboard looked when it was ready for paint.  I gave everything a coat of primer and two coats of spray paint.  The other bed I built exactly according to Ana’s plans.  We wanted a more country feel for that one.

Here you can see the difference between the two headboards.  I realize the black is hard to see, but it really does look quite sophisticated in person.   ;-)

I made all the bedding myself.  I didn’t really use a pattern, because I was sort of winging it.  I will say, though, that I found this tutorial for making a fitted doll sheet at From an Igloo, and it was immensely helpful.  She even has a tutorial for making pillows and pillowcases for your doll beds.  It’s awesome!

I love modifying Ana’s plans.  They are just so versatile, and you can always put your own twist on your builds to make them reflect your taste.  I just love the way these beds represent my nieces’ personalities–completely different, but totally cute.  They are sturdy enough that they will be around a long time, too.  I can’t wait to see how they like them.

Did you build any of your own Christmas gifts this year?  I’d love to see them!

Happy Holidays!

Cabinet Door Easel

I’m back with a fun project that makes a perfect birthday or Christmas gift.  Remember those cabinet doors I found on a curbside trash day?

There were three of them, and I used the largest to make my game room snack tray.

The other one became a floor desk for my cute little niece.

I had one more left, and a birthday for another niece coming up.  When I came across this super cute chalkboard easel at RH Baby & Child, inspiration struck.  I loved this easel, but at $119 + shipping, I knew it wasn’t coming home with me.  I figured I could make my own version for much cheaper.

I started with a couple of pine 1×2′s, and made my frame.  I made two of these frames, one for the front, and one for the back.  They’ll be hinged at the top to make the A frame.

I cut my frame to the dimensions necessary for my cabinet door.  These dimensions actually work pretty well for a child’s easel, even if you don’t have a cabinet door to work with.  You can just use a piece of fiberboard nailed to the back of the frame to make the chalkboard (this will make it look exactly like the RH version).  If you are using a cabinet door, your dimensions may differ from mine.

I cut each easel leg at 15 degree angle.  I wanted my legs to sit flat on the floor, and this seemed to work perfectly.  Once I had all my pieces cut, I used my Kreg Jig to join the top and bottom of the frame to the legs.

With my frames made, I attached the cabinet door to the front of one of the frames with Gorilla Glue, a brad gun, and LOTS of clamps.  Then I took a leftover piece of 1×3 board and made a chalk tray.

I cut my chalk tray the width of the finished frame.  Since my bottom piece was 18″ and my 1×2′s were 1.5″ wide each, my chalk tray was 21″ long.  Yours may vary depending on the width of your cabinet door and/or the width of your 1×2 boards.  Once I had everything cut, I made a mark to indicate where I wanted to route my chalk channel.  I used a 1/2″ straight bit to carve a channel in the tray to hold chalk.

Then I attached the tray to the bottom of the cabinet door with Gorilla Glue, clamps, and lots of nails.  I filled all my nail holes with putty and gave everything a good sanding.

When everything was sanded, each piece got a good coat of my favorite Zinsser Cover Stain primer.  I love that stuff!

After the primer was dry, I taped off the center of the cabinet door.  Then I gave the whole thing several light coats of Rustoleum spray paint in French Lilac.

I let my paint dry for several hours.  Then I used 2″ utility hinges to join the back and front together.  The frame then got a coat of my favorite Ralph Lauren Smoke glaze to distress it all a bit.  Once the glaze was dry, I applied several light coats of Minwax Finishing Paste and buffed it out.

I removed the tape from the inside of the door and covered my newly painted surface with plastic.  Then I taped everything off so I would have no chance of over-spray on my pretty purple finish.  After I was satisfied with my taping job, I applied 3 light coats of Rustoleum chalkboard spray paint and let the whole thing dry 24 hours.

Once your chalkboard paint has cured, you’ll want to season it by rubbing the side of a piece of white chalk all over the surface.  Then you can erase it.  I season it a couple of times before I draw on it.  This prevents the first images you draw from “ghosting” on your nice, new board.

Then, to prevent my easel from collapsing on itself, I attached about 15″ of fine chain to the inside of the legs.  I just picked up a cheap chain (sold by the foot) from Home Depot and attached it with wood screws.

The chain allows the easel to open only so far.  It works great, and doesn’t prevent the easel from being folded up for storage either.

That’s all there is to it!  This easel is the perfect size for a party sign, and can be easily used by little ones for school or play.

I just love the contrast of the chalkboard and the lavender–much more fun than the original from Restoration Hardware, and way cheaper, too!

Between lumber ($3), hardware ($5), and paint ($4), I spent $12 total!  Don’t you just love a good repurpose?  I’m fresh out of cabinet doors now, though, so I’m going to have to go dumpster diving again real soon.  ;-)

Thanks for stopping by!

{Cabinet Door} Knock-Off Holden Desk

I love everything about baby’s first birthday–baby in the highchair eating fistfuls of cake; mom opening all baby’s gifts and baby playing with the wrappings; family cooing over the birthday baby, who is pretty much oblivious to it all.  I love it the whole thing–and I miss that time with my kids, too.  So, naturally, when we realized that my niece’s first birthday was coming up, we really wanted to do something special.

Pottery Barn Holden Desk

I absolutely fell in love with the idea of a floor desk.  We loved the Holden Desk from Pottery Barn Kids, but we didn’t love the price…  $54 on sale + shipping.  Ouch!  No thanks.  Then inspiration struck.  Remember those cabinet doors I rescued from the curbside trash pick-up?  You know, the one I made into our cute snack tray?

Well, I just happened to have a few more in the garage.  So, armed with some left over wood from the never-ending stash and my trusty Kreg Jig, I made a desk frame for one of those rescued cabinet doors.

I used 2×2′s cut at 18″ for the legs.  Then for the aprons, I used 1×2′s.  I measured the length of each side and subtracted 4″ (to account for a 1/2″ inset on each side and (2) 1.5″ wide legs).  So, for example, my cabinet doors were 22″x27″.  I cut my aprons at 18″ and 23″ respectively.

Then I drilled my pocket holes and used glue and screws to attach everything.  I used leftover wood from another project, so my pieces happened to be cheap pine.  Because I didn’t feel the legs were sturdy enough on their own, I added a brace to the bottom on three of the sides.  I left the front open so my niece could still slide her legs under it if she wanted.  If you used popular or a higher grade wood, you could probably skip this step.

And then, because I knew I wanted to make this a chalkboard desk, I had my husband (yes, I was too scared to do it myself) use the plunge router to make a recess to hold the chalk.

Then I sanded it up, gave it a coat of primer, taped off the center, and gave it a couple of coats of this cute pink color.  I love this spray paint from Rustoleum.  It covers really nicely, and it has a nice wide spray pattern.  Oh!  And it’s cheap!  Gotta love that!

After I painted it, I scuffed it up a bit.  Then I used a paint pen (Minwax Early American) to darken any exposed wood.  The raw wood on the legs was quite a bit lighter than the cabinet door, so this helped to even things out.  Just use a dry rag to wipe off any excess stain.

From here, I finished it the same way I did the snack tray.  I used Ralph Lauren glaze to distress it, and once that was dry, I applied Minwax Finishing Paste to get a nice hard topcoat.

Then I just taped off the pink frame and sprayed it with chalkboard paint.  Once you let the paint dry for 24 hours, you can season your chalkboard and draw away.

Now, I did have some of the white primer show through when I distressed the pink.  The stain pen helped to hide it somewhat, but there was still some white peeking through.  If that’s a problem for you, you may want to consider skipping the primer on the frame only.  The chalkboard will absolutely need to be primed first.

I’m thrilled with how it turned out.  Here’s the breakdown on what it cost me:

Cabinet Door:  Roadside find $0

Lumber:  Leftovers from other projects – $0

Primer:  Zinsser Cover Stain – $6

Paint:  Rustoleum Sweet Pea – $4

Chalboard Paint:  Leftover from other projects – $0

Grand Total:  $10

That’s a far cry from $54+shipping, and we were able to customize it to match Lucy’s room.  And that’s what I love so much about DIY.  I can do it MY way and save a little money while I’m doing it.  It’s like having my cake and eating it, too.  (…and now I’m hungry.  Good thing I know a good place for cake… :-)  )

Linking up to:

Home Stories A2Z | My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia | Not JUST a Housewife | Today’s Creative Blog | Someday Crafts | House of Hepworths | Hubby Made Me | My Repurposed Life | AKA Design | Chic on a Shoestring | Miss Mustard Seed | Tatertots and Jello | Be Different Act Normal | DIY Showoff

The Perfect {Girly} Gift

One of the benefits of being crafty is that I always have a large stash of scrap wood in the garage.  When Bug told me she needed a gift for her bestest friend’s birthday, I knew just what to do.  My girls and all their friends are really into all things American Girl.  When Ana White posted her doll bed plans, I knew these beds would make perfect gifts.

I didn’t capture pictures of the build process, because we were in a hurry and forgot.  This bed is a quick and easy project, though.  It went together in an hour or so, and we gave it a coat of primer and two coats of Rustoleum brown spray paint, and it was good to go.

We added a scrap of trim to the headboard to make it a bit more “fancy.”  For the mattress, we picked up a 2″ thick foam chair pad at Hobby Lobby and cut it to fit the bed.  Then we used coordinating fat quarters to put together some bedding.

We also purchased a yard of coordinating minky (at 40% off) at Hobby Lobby to make a throw pillow and blanket for the foot of the bed.  I was very proud of Bug because she made the quilt topper and all the pillows.  This was one of her first big projects, and she did a fabulous job!

I love it when my kids give really meaningful gifts.  Bug’s friend loved the bed, and we were so excited to see her open it.  Now both my girls want doll beds to match their rooms.  :-)