Nov 14, 2009

Paint on furniture

Unusually, this is not a post about how to get paint off furniture, although if you know how to get oil pastels off bathroom grout, please do let me know! This is actually a post about letting the kids paint the furniture. I have this thing that I want to do when the kids are a bit older. I'd really like to get everyone in the family to decorate their own chair that they sit on at the kitchen table. We have four boring cheap wooden chairs that I think would be very fun to paint all sorts of colours and glue stuff onto. Kinda art chairs that reflects the person that sits in them. I think I'm going to wait until the kids are about seven and eight for that. In the mean time...

Over a year ago we got some cute wooden kid chairs, and rather than paint them up myself I wanted to get the kids involved. They were only two and three years old back then, so it had to be simple. I decided to use the carcass of the old melon box wendy house for them to paint in, as it was too cold outside at the time. I gave them pots of watered down food colouring to use as a stain for the wood. I figured if I gave them only two primary colours per chair, then we'd end up with a nice tertiary colour mixing from them, rather than a nasty brown/grey bleugh. One chair was yellow, green and blue. The other chair was Yellow, orange and red (threw in a bit of pink too for 70's overload).

Earlier this month their dad made a wooden bench and the kids got to paint that up too. This time they used acrylic paint and made one stonker of a mess. They enjoyed it though, and we ended up getting the third combination of primary colours by using blue, purple and red.

I think I mentioned in a post a while back that we were trying to make a little wendy house in the kid's bedroom for them (They won't fit in a melon box now) We call them "Ty Bach" back in Wales, which just means "little house". We rent our home and so there wasn't any wall painting or full on building that we could do for it, plus our car is small, so we were limited with what we could pick up from Craigslist or the hardware store. Things did come together though eventually and the kids have been playing in their Ty Bach with their friends for about six months now. It takes up nearly the whole of their bedroom, with the beds squished in the corner, but they love it and I'm so glad that we did this now, before they are too old to really get the most from it.

It started over a year ago when I babysat a friend's kids while she went to some job interviews. When she landed a job at an elementary school and they decided to upgrade their play house kitchen, my friend snagged the whole set of fire truck red wooden sink, stove and fridge for us! I know, way too awesome! Another friend gave us their old white play fridge unit too (thank you Tina and Michelle!) We kinda had a bit of a Golden Gate Bridge thing happen, in that I had plans to strip and paint the kitchen gear, but for weeks I couldn't find the time and then when it came down to it, we'd grown fond of the strange, old, well worn, obviously loved, bright red, so it stayed.

We moved the chest of draws into the middle of the room, so that the back of it could be a wall of the house, then we put together a fake window frame that was attached to the draw unit (this doubles up as a puppet theatre some days). The curtains are just a couple of matching old pillow cases from Goodwill. If you look carefully, you can see that the cardboard pizza is still going strong after all these months.
Yeah, the sink is an upturned plastic footstool, that just fits the hole that was in the play furniture. It's not classy, but it does the job. We keep books in the cupboard under the sink, because the girls like to be able to go and read in their little house. I should tell you about all the secret places we keep books in a post some day, because we're a bit book mad here.
We didn't have many tools, just a Proxxon (like a Dremmel) and a jigsaw, so the back board that forms the wall behind the sink and stove was made using two sheets of chipboard, painted white and hinged together, so we can fold them up if we need to. Hubster jigsawed out a little round window over the sink and a curved bit that flowed into the shape of the fridge unit. It isn't attached to anything, just sandwiched between the footboard of a bed and the kitchen units. It's very stable though.
The carpet was from Ikea and I liked it because it had a bit of red, pink and blue, which helps the crazy coloured kitchen units fit in a little bit, but mainly because it covers up the nasty brown dead buffalo of a rental carpet that fills our home. The American Girl highchair and crib were from a garage sale and the teeny chest of draws that all the baby doll's clothes and gear live in, was from a thrift store, as are the two little shelves that we attached to the back board. The toy microwave next to the little window was from Goodwill, and although the children have plenty of fun with it, I loathe it, because it makes the sound of the hospital monitors when someone goes into cardiac arrest! Who thought that was a good idea?!?! I remember the Ty Bach at my school from when I was six years old very clearly. I hope this Ty Bach helps my kids to make some equally good memories of childhood imaginative play. If you've made a play house area for your kids and have blogged about it, do let me know in the comments, because I'd love to see! I really like the ones I've seen that people have made out of old entertainment centers, like this one on "Making Do with the not so new". If we were able to transport something that big then I think we would have gone that route, because they come up in the free section of Craigslist quite often.


maryanne said...

I love the Wendy House you've built in your children's room! I'll have to see what I can come up with for our house - this sounds like it would especially be a great thing to have during the cold winter months!

Jess said...

Love the furniture painting...we have tried a few of your projects and they have all come out great. I might just try the dinning room chair painting (my girls are 9 so they would come out cool...boys are younger so maybe wait on them). My husband (the architect....and theater techie) suggests this to get the paint out of the grout: denatured alcohol or goof-off. Good luck and keep the posts coming!


Melissa G said...

I just love the Ty Bach - what a wonderful place to play. Thanks so much for sharing. It's something I keep wanting to do and putting off, but seeing how fun it looks really encourages me.

A Daft Scots Lass said...

I love their little "house" play area. Its just perfect for little girls.

julie said...

you are completely awesome. I am storing up ideas for when my wee one is old enough to color, paint, play in a wee house! with cardboard pizza! too awesome!! i just hope i have the energy to get the serious fun out when the time comes. your blog and inventiveness are truly inspiring. whatta mom you are.

Unknown said...

Yay! Instead of working I'm now planning a Ty Bach for our new house.

Am jealous of how much fun your two have!

bylittlehands said...

I just love the chairs. The food coloring is a fabulous idea. I have to figure out where I want to try that.

Here is a painted chair I did with my kids a while back.

sharon said...

I am so impressed with your lack of fear and limitations with you kids! They are being exposed to so many great experiences!

I also want to know where you get the expremely large boxes. I am dying to make these forts too. Costco says they reuse them.

Please let me know
sharonsaad at gmail dot com

Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog said...

How totally awesome! The girls must love their Wendy House. I blogged about Emily's a long time ago here. It has changed a bit, as Mark built a play store from PVC pipe awhile back. Both of the girls now play in there almost constantly. Ours is behind the sofa in the family room, so the back of the sofa is like a wall of their Wendy house.

Kami@Nurturing the tender years said...

I love watching all the amazing craft projects you do with your kids! I actually linked to your site when we did the playdough dino island ourselves. You have such great ideas and really let your kids explore with materials, I think it is wonderful! I love this play house idea...I have been thinking of doing something like this, just trying to figure out where in my home! Thanks for all the inspiration you send out into the blogosphere! Oh! And where do you get all those big boxes from?

Jen said...

I love this post and what a great idea to have the kids paint their own furniture. My girls would love it. Thanks for sharing the photos of their imaginative play area. Organizing my girls room now and trying to figure out how to set it up.

Creative and Curious Kids!

Lindsey said...

Jess, thank you for the grout help! I've tried isopropyl alchohol to no avail, but what is "goof-off"? Or are you sugesting that I myself give up on removing the oil pastel and just goof-off ;)

Paul, I wish we could be there to help you make your Ty Bach! Miss you guys! x.

Sharon and Kami, We got the watermelon box and later the potato box for the rocket ship from Costco. I guess they had more than they needed, because they had no problem with us taking them. We however had huge amounts of chaotic fun trying to ram them into a fully occupied sedan :)

Valerie, the furniture in your little girl's house is gorgeous! Things from your own childhood coming to life again in your children's hands is magic!

Darlene said...

When I saw a new fridge and washing machine being delivered to a neighbor's house, I asked if we could have the boxes. I've also gotten them directly from an appliance store.

When I was a child, my aunt that is 10 years older than I had a Piano box. I guess a neighbor had a new piano delivered and they gave the box to Karalee. She decorated it up and we both played in it. So I guess try a music store too.

We covered ours with paper from a newspaper "end roll" (I got mine free from the local newspaper plant.)
Then the kids were free to draw - inside and outside the box. I cut doors and windows for them with a box cutter. We drew curtains inside and flower boxes outside the "windows".
Our house is small, so the boxes stayed on the front porch and lasted until we had a hard rain and weren't home to put the boxes inside before they got wet.
It was hours of entertainment getting the "houses" made and more hours playing inside of them.