Tag Archives: toybox

Fairytale Toy Box

I don’t remember much about turning 2 years old, in fact I don’t think I can remember anything from that age. But what I do know is that toys are the most important possessions you own and they provide endless hours of entertainment! However, for the parents it’s quite another story…a sore foot from the up-turned Lego block, a hidden piece of Play Doh in your bag in place of your pen, you get the idea.

With that in mind I was desperately trying to think of the best present to buy one my best friend’s little boy who turned 2 years old today. I had a wish list of Toys to choose from, but I really wanted to try and give him something that he could keep for a long time to come and that wouldn’t end up being another hurdle for my friends to jump over in the daily rush.

What better than somewhere to store the toys….how about a Toy Box?? After finding quite a basic varnished chest of a suitable size in my local charity shop, I trundled home with great ideas of how I was going to decorate it. But first I had the fun task of stripping the varnish off of the chest itself. Using Nitro Mors and quite a bit (actually a lot) of scrubbing and sanding (glad the weight sessions at the gym are coming to good use), I managed to get the wood to a suitable standard for painting.

There could only be one choice for the paint and that was our trusty chalk paint (used in many of our previous projects). After painting a fine coat of white over the whole chest, I waited until dry and roughly sanded all over. This then provided a blank canvas for me to decorate until my hearts content. I love stars and pretty much use them in a lot of the cushions, paintings, doodles I do, so that was my main pattern of choice. After making some various size star stencils out of card, I used these and four different colour paints to make a star pattern on the front and sides of the chest.

Inspired by the lettering on the rides of Brighton Pier I decided to create my own typography and paint the word ‘TOYS’ on the lid of the chest. I stenciled the letters onto the lid and then hand painted them in. It took some time, but then again I was a bit distracted by ‘Big Fat Gypsy Weddings’ on TV…yikes there are some interesting folks out there!

After all the stars and letters were painted, I lightly sanded them again to give it a bit more of a distressed look. Finally using one of my trusty kitchen sponges I rubbed a very light coat of paint over the stars and letters to enhance the vintage feel.

I finally fluttered my eyelashes at the hubby to attach the hinges for me and hey presto I finally had a toy box birthday present to be proud of!

And I am very pleased to report that the Toy box was very well received by both 2 year old and parents alike! Yey!

It’s been a while…

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Well I think the past 8-9 months have definitely proved this to be the case.

Back in April when Chris and I moved into our dream ‘fixer upper’ home, I fanatically wondered over the many projects that we would undertake to build what would be our perfect house…both inside and out. Lists upon lists were written of what we needed to finish each and every room, magazines were thoroughly leafed through and pages torn out for creative reference, conversations over the differences of 50 shades of light grey were had and also what seemed like personal financial investment was given in places like B&Q, Wickes, Farrow&Ball and the local reclaimed Wood Store. However, it was what we always wanted. A project, something we could mould to reflect who were are and something we would fall completely in love with.

So, here we are 9 months down the line and I can safely say that we are on our way to achieving just that. With the main rooms of the house done (apart from the bathroom…we are still deciding between the wet room option or the traditional bath/shower combo…oh how our lives have changed), I am finding myself missing my smaller, more personal creative projects. Decorating a house is a challenging project in so many ways, that I have found myself craving my sketch book, staple gun and sewing machine.

I decided a step change was needed, therefore I took to our basic wooden chest with an idea to give it a bit of a make over. 

Wooden Chest

Inspired by a recent trip to a Flea Market in New York, I wanted to see if I could give this tired looking piece of furniture a trans-Atlantic makeover. The overall look for the chest was to be a more worn out, shabby chic look with a bit of an urban twist.

I firstly painted the wooden panels of the box with my trusty Annie Sloane chalk paint in three different colours – Grey, Off White and an Olive Green shade. After which I decided to add a numerical detail to the front of the chest using a stencil I made myself (the numbers turned out to be a bit wonky, which I kind of liked).

annie sloan paint

painting panels

sanding chest

painting numbers

After the paint was dry, I cut some upholsterers foam to size to fit on the top of the chest and softened it around the edges with some wadding. This was then covered with additional wadding and a large piece of cotton to ensure a comfy finish for the seat. I managed to buy some old sacks from the Saturday Market in Brighton and used these as my upholstery fabric layering an additional printed sack over the top as a design feature.

with seat foam

seating covered

I then used some thicker thread to hand sew the patterned sack into place and stapled all layers to the reverse of the chest lid, finishing by covering the messy edges with a neatly cut and sewn square of sacking.

finished product

The chest itself has already found pride of place in our study/creative space where I hope to use it as a perch to sit a doodle away in my sketch book, dreaming of more creative projects to undertake.

Project Toybox

As there is no casual way to say this, ahhem, let me just gloat about it: we’ve been commissioned to make a bespoke toy box!

Honestly, I’m not pulling your leg here. Remember that fairy tale toy box we made for some friends? You know, the one for a little boy’s second birthday. Well somebody saw it, loved it and asked us to make one just  for them. We were over the moon. That said, straight after being asked we started freaking out over the magnitude of the project.

So off we set to try and source a toy box or chest to upcycle and we sort of stumbled at the first hurdle. Normally, you would be falling over chests at boot fairs and second hand shops, but we couldn’t find a single one. Where were they all? Then we had a new idea. Why not just make one? Which is exactly what we did.

Making the box was fairly simple as I had my trusty Kreg Jig. I used red timber planks to make the sides, base and bottom. The Kreg Jig made joining them up really easy. I screwed them together and used a corner piece of wood for a clean finish. On a more scary level I used a router to give the top a nice rounded edge. Now when I say scary, I mean scary. It’s a sharp blade that spins like a helicopter and gives me visions of lost limbs. This router has been sitting in the shed for months while I plucked up the courage. I’m glad I faced my fears, it looked brilliant.

Next came the finish, which is where Anna got to work her magic. The brief was tricky as it needed to be quite personal to the birthday boy, have a link to family heritage and be something the little guy wants. Plus we had no idea what his room looked like, so we were winging it for a bit. Although saying that, we had some brilliant help from Stuart, who commisioned the piece, on getting the theme just right.

The plan was to build in the family crest of arms, so we all agreed on a medieval theme. So Anna set about cutting and designing the various character templates…knights, dragons and various medieval type things. At first Anna tried these with card, but didn’t get the crisp finish we needed, so moved onto acetate for the templates. It sounds like a lot of work but the finish with acetate was so much stronger.

Beyond that, it was really simple. Gently sponging on the templates the creative story started to come together. We then hand-painted the name onto the top and side and got on with distressing the box for a worn finish. To finish we used beeswax to seal the artwork and preserve the wood. Job done!