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By the author of The Ultimate Guide to Frugal Living and What to Eat When You’re Broke
Do you have some old furniture kicking around your garage or attic that you’ve been meaning to do something with, but just haven’t gotten around to it? Let me inspire you with the links in this article to turn some of those old things into toys that will keep your kiddos busy for hours.
All you’ll really need is some paint and your imagination.
A bookcase dollhouse
One of my daughters really wanted a Barbie house but they were SO expensive – almost a hundred dollars, and it just wasn’t in this mama’s budget.
So, I dragged home a small bookcase out of an interesting-looking trash pile and made her a doll house. I wish I’d taken pictures but this was the “olden days” before cell phone cameras, so you’ll just have to bear with me as I describe it.
It didn’t have snazzy things like windows that opened and closed, or an elevator or a spiral staircase. But it had lots and lots of pink and purple, glorious faux fur rugs, and other decadent bits and pieces.
I painted the entire thing pale pink on the outside and stenciled on some rectangles that I painted as windows. I painted pretty vines creeping up the sides, and even hot glued on some little faux flowers. Inside, I made each floor its own room. On bottom was a kitchen, next was a living room, then a bedroom, then a bathroom. I painted most of the details on the walls, like cupboards, bookcases, windows, and art. Then I added odd bits off Barbie furniture I got from dollar stores and thrift stores.
It certainly didn’t look like the fancy houses in the Sears Wishbook catalog she’d had her eye on. I presented it to her somewhat trepidatiously. But, my daughter was THRILLED and played with it for years.
New toys from old furniture
There are TONS of articles out there about upcycling old stuff into toys. Below are some of my favorites.
- Workbench: This article uses a night stand, and this one uses an old table.
- Lego table: Check out how they turned this nightstand into a lego table.
- Restaurant: This old cabinet got turned into a diner
- Puppet theater: Check this out.
- Toy kitchen: Old entertainment centers work GREAT for this. I love this one and this one.
- Toy kitchen 2: I also love this toy kitchen made from two nightstands.
- Another toy kitchen: And there’s even one made from a chair!
- A Barbecue: Make your favorite future griller a little barbecue for outside
- Dollhouse: This one is WAY fancier than what I made. Mine was more like this, with no fancy woodwork but tons more pink.
It’s all about imagination.
Are you interested in making your own made-over furniture toys? Here are a few things to ask yourself to make it epic.
What are your kids interested in?
My daughters really liked imagination toys. I always had a toy kitchen in the real kitchen so they could pretend cook while I cooked. They were also bigtime Barbie fans so a Barbie house was a no-brainer. Maybe your kids like cooking, puppets, building, or whatever – figure out what interests them and go with it.
What are their favorite colors?
The thing I always hated about Lil Tykes and the like was that when my kids were little, there were only primary colors and that didn’t match their rooms. When you DIY you can go with their favorite colors. Top to bottom purple, electric blue, sunshine yellow – whatever you can imagine, you can make!
What furniture do you have available?
What’s kicking around the garage? Figure out what you want to makeover then take to Pinterest to find more inspiration. Put “upcycle *furniture item* into toy” in the search bar.
What other items do you have on hand?
If you want to go super-cheap, use leftover paint, sharpies, hardware, drawer pulls, and stickers that you have already. You may be able to get away without spending a dime!
Get the kids involved.
Unless you’re making something as a surprise for a birthday or Christmas, it can be even more fun to get your children involved. Let them help paint (or at least pick the colors.) Take their input seriously.
What about you?
Have you ever tried upcycling furniture into toys? What did you make and how did you make it? Tell us about your project in the comments section.
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites. 1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2) The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.
Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand Survival.com You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.
1 thought on “How to Turn Old Furniture into New Toys”
My Mom used to “complain” (she never really complained per se but more expressing her frustration) that my kids Xmas list was, to be blunt. rather parsimonious. Coins from their birth year, tape, material remnants. That is what you get when your children didn’t watch Saturday morning cartoons and had “toys” that fueled their imaginations. Mine did get a “real” doll house – 2nd hand (which is still at my house). IMHO, kids aren’t hard to please – a playhouse with partly 2nd hand items that doubles as winter storage for bikes etc. If you don’t encourage creativity, your kids suffer (again, IMHO). Basic items work just as well as the latest “in” thing. Amazing at how much fun is to be had with plastic poker chips.