DIY is absolutely one of my favorite words in the craft world. The reason I L.O.V.E. a good DIY is that I control how much money I shell out and I can design it to my liking. There are times when I see something in the store and love the idea of it but I can’t get past the price. Of course when I pay that high of a price I am paying for the hard work of someone else which is completely understandable. But what I can do is make a knock-off version of the product I love and not pay the labor price because, well, I wouldn’t charge myself.
One of the rave products in the children industry right now is extremely cute ways to store children’s toys! There are MANY tutorials on Pinterest for toy storage. I’ve seen personalized toy chests, a book shelf with an underneath toy chest department, and a book shelf with cute baskets to hide the toys.
In our home, we had the perfect spot in our living room to store the toys that daughter and dog have accumulated. I looked into the price of buying a shelf I mentioned earlier and was stunned to see the smallest version was still in the $110 range. Keep in mind this spot in our home was a 7 foot long bare wall and I decided that it would look fairly tacky to have one small toy book shelf in front of it. In order to make the space look uniform and for all the toys to be stored, I would need to buy TWO toy storage units which would leave me in the $220 range.
UMM, no thank you.
So that’s when I decided it was DIY time.
Together my husband and I came up with a terrible, terrible blue print. Legible, but terrible! Terrible as in it was all over the place. Some things are just best left in our heads.
What we decided to create was a 5 foot long, open book shelf that would be around waist height. I was going to paint it a matte blue-black so that it resembled a chalk board and bought a gold shimmer paint marker to create a flower mural over top. Fun right?
So here’s what we did
Supplies to make the toy storage shelf: Something to cut wood with, hand-sander, tape measure, pencil, wood screws, drill, 16 feet of 2×12, 14 feet of 1×12
Come up with measurements: You will need at least 16 feet of 2×12 to create a 5 foot long, 3 foot high frame for the shelf. You will also need 14 feet of 1×12 to create the dividers for the shelf.
Cut wood pieces: With the 2×12 wood, cut two end pieces at your desired height. We wanted a three-foot tall shelf therefore we cut them to be 3 feet long. After the end pieces were cut, we then cut two 5 foot slabs which we used for the top and bottom of the shelf. Ideally with these measurements each cubby would be a 15×16 inch box.
Put the frame together: What my husband found to be easiest for him was to lay the frame flat down on the ground.
Bare with me while I attempt to explain this next part!
Good thing we took pictures…
My husband matched one edge of the top board with the top edge of the 3 foot side board. He made sure the two pieces were flush/even and screwed them together. We only needed to use two or three screws for each point where the boards met. Here’s a picture of what I mean by “flush”. (Ignore the paint job, that comes later)
After that edge is done, continue with the rest of the three corners making sure they are flush and screw them together like the pictures below. Remember, if you have one corner that is not quite flush and uneven, your frame will be slightly crooked and not the ideal rectangle shape. But hey, at least you tried, right?
Inner shelves: We then grabbed our 1×12 board and cut a piece off that is 5 feet long. This will be our horizontal divider!
With the 5 foot board we just cut, we measured every 15 inches (on the dot) and added a 1 INCH mark that will run half way across the board. These marks will create the slot for our four cubicles so we needed to add two more 15 inch marks. All together we had THREE 15 inch marks on the five foot board. When we had three 15 inch marks, we took the board outside to cut it.
Still with me? This is way too much carpenter talk for me.
Now that we made the horizontal board, we will then need to make the vertical ones (which there are three of them)!
We needed to make a vertical piece that would fit in the middle of the frame that would be 33 inches long. Sooooo, we cut 3 separate pieces of the 1×12 board at 33 inches.
After those three pieces were cut, we then cut a “groove” in the middle of each one exactly like what we did with the horizontal piece. We marked each piece in the middle (half way up) which was at 16.5 inches. Since we were making a groove, it worked best to also mark the outside sections which were at 16 inches and 17 inches. I included a picture below to show exactly what I mean.
It took us a while to be happy with our groove markings, but once we were, we cut them out! I included a picture below of what I mean by “grooves” and what the finished “groove” project looked like.
My husband liked using a jig saw to cut the grooves, it make cutting the ends a tad easier. He made an x cut towards the end of the groove so that he could get in those tight corners and make a good square cut.
Putting it all together: It took some sanding and a couple of correction cuts but we finally were able to slide the horizontal piece into the three vertical ones like a puzzle! After the inner shelves were put together, we then slide the piece into the frame WHICH WAS TOUGH. It was a tight squeeze and it was definitely a two-man job. We used a rubber mallet to get the last half-inch or so to slide into the frame.
Last step would be to screw in all your handy work.
Phew. Carpentry is definitely not my niche. But you know what is my niche? PAINTING!
Part 2: The Paint Job
What you’ll need
Quart of a blue-black matte paint: It doesn’t really matter the color. I chose blue-black so that the toy shelf could resemble a chalk board without the chalk board paint.
paint brush: or two!
two water-based gold paint markers: I found mine at Michael’s.
Honestly, the main paint part is simple, just time-consuming. All you need to do is add a couple of coats of paint on your project. What I like to do is add THIN layers of paint. I find that almost dry-brushing the paint on worked best for me. Maybe that’s because I am a chalk paint lover at heart!
My husband is the opposite of me when it comes to painting.
Let me explain: I worked on one end and he on the other. When we met in the middle my side was a thin dry-brushed technique and his was more of a GLOB THROWING technique. He decided to do the first, second, and third layer in one setting I suppose. Turned out looking okay though!
When your last layer of paint is dry it will be time for the fun to begin!
What I recommend for this part is to print out some templates or stencils that you like as a guide. I was lucky enough however that I could free-hand the flowers. I began on a side bottom corner and worked my way up, over, and back down the other side. I attempted to make the flowers look as if they were leaving towards the ground on the sides and opened them up on the top.
My course Discovering a More Creative You features a few stencils made from the flowers drawn on the toy shelf in one of the lessons. If you would like to learn more about the course, click HERE.
Be careful when you open your markers for the first time. Each time I opened them I would get paint all over my hands! So make sure you open them over the trash or paint cloth.
Excuse the toys! Painting the flowers was an all day thing so my daughter played in circles around me.
I love the gold because when the sun hits the shelf, the gold shimmers. SO CUTE. When the shelf was done, my daughter sat next to it and traced the flowers with her hands. The picture above is of the right side where I started and the picture below is the left where I ended with the dandelion.
What do you use or used in the past to hold your children’s toys? Please leave a comment below!