12 DIY Ways to Toy With Your Decor

Trendy kid furniture can be crazy expensive, but you can get the look for a whole lot less by customizing what you already own. Cool!

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Splattered Pillows

Dane Tashima

Splattered Pillows

Harness the color-zapping power of bleach and use it to create splatter patterns on old pillow covers. Spread out the covers (cotton works best) on a clean, flat, bleach-safe surface in a well-ventilated area. Dip a natural-bristle paintbrush in about a cup of bleach. Drizzle the bleach over each pillowcase and allow to dry. And you thought you had to throw them out!  Lucky Boy Sunday Pillow$82.

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Bunny Mirror

Dane Tashima

Bunny Mirror

A looking glass with bunny ears makes for a playful reflection. Just cut white felt into an ear shape. Hot-glue smaller pieces of pink felt on top and let dry. Spray them with fabric-stiffening spray ($9). Once ears have dried, attach them to the wall using self-stick Command strips ($4) so they sit behind the mirror. Tell your kids they grew overnight! Langesund mirror, $30. Heico White Rabbit Lamp$85. Commonfolke Tall Bunny, $61.

Tip: Don’t have a bunny lover? You can make a lion’s mane, elephant ears, or even a funny hat out of felt too!

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A Rug to Dye For

Dane Tashima

A Rug to Dye For

Tint a natural-fiber rug, like wool or cotton, to give a room a trendy splash of color. Place the rug on a tarp outside, and soak it with a hose. For a 5’x7’ rug, prepare eight bottles of Rit liquid dye ($4.50 each) and decant into a spray bottle—do this one bottle at a time. Spray the rug evenly until it is darker than what you’re aiming for. Hang the rug to dry. Then, rinse it until the water runs clear. Hang again until totally dry (this may take a few days). Move it inside onto a rug pad.

Tip: Don’t skip the rinse step! It prevents dye from getting on your floor or clothes.

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Dressy Dresser

Dane Tashima

Dressy Dresser

Give that old bureau a face-lift with temporary wallpaper! Remove knobs and trace each drawer (they might look identical, but older pieces can change shape over time) onto the back of removable wallpaper (Banana Leaves, $40 per panel). FYI: We used two panels. Cut out the shapes and align the edge of the paper to the edge of the drawer. Peel the backing and carefully smooth onto the drawer fronts. Spraypaint knobs and reattach them. Hemnes 3-drawer chest, $169. Olli Ella Coda Basket, $112. Lewis Swaddle Set, $44.

Tip: Secure dresser to the wall to avoid tipping.

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Lamp Revamp

Dane Tashima

Lamp Revamp

Fringe, yarn, or pom-poms add texture to a plain shade. Plan out a pattern, then attach your embellishments using a hot-glue gun. For our pom-pom design, we marked our pattern with pencil first. Lemon Twist Apothecary table lamp, $100.

Tip: This lamp comes in dozens of colors, but if you're making over an existing one, grab some spray paint and have at it.

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Bright Idea

Jonny Valiant

Bright Idea

Finally, a place for the contents of goody bags from parties past! Fill a glass lamp base ($99; lampsplus.com) with bouncy balls, toy cars, Legos, or small plastic animals. Bonus: You'll never have to step on those !&?#$ things again.

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A-door-able Stopper

Jonny Valiant

A-door-able Stopper

Chances are you have a stuffed animal that hasn't gotten some love in a while, so give it a new job -- as a doorstop! Any large, flat-bottomed cuddly toy will work.

What you'll need: Large stuffed animal, dry rice, seam ripper, needle, and thread.

  1. Open stitches along a bottom seam and gently pull stuffing out.
  2. Replace stuffing with dry rice until toy regains its shape.
  3. To reseal, double up thread and close hole with a whipstitch. If you're worried about leakage, go over seam again with a second line of stitching.

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How to Make a Crepe-Paper Lantern

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Teeth Rex

Jonny Valiant

Teeth Rex

There will be more brushing and less whining, thanks to this easy project inspired by our friends at our sister magazine Family Fun. Use a craft knife to cut square holes (big enough to fit the bottom of a toothbrush handle) into a hollow plastic dinosaur. Let Mom or Dad wield the knife.

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Skater Shelving

Jonny Valiant

Skater Shelving

Remove the wheels and hardware from an old skateboard, then mount it on basic shelf brackets ($4 each; IKEA stores) to create a totally rad space for all of your kid's odds and ends.

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Jungle Bookends

Jonny Valiant

Jungle Bookends

A coat of paint turns plastic animals and wooden blocks into bright bookends. We used Learning Resources' Jumbo Jungle Animals ($30 for a set of five; learningresources.com).

What you'll need: Large plastic animals (Learning Resources Jumbo Jungle Animals/Jumbo Dinosaurs, $30 for set of five; learningresources.com), 4x4s cut to size (the ones shown are 81/2" long), sandpaper (100 grit), drop cloth, spray-on primer suitable for plastic, spray paint (gloss finish), and superglue.

  1. Sand ends of 4x4s to smooth.
  2. Using the spray-on primer suitable for plastic and following instructions on the can, prime plastic animals and 4x4s. Take extra care with animals; their shape makes it very easy to miss spots. Let dry completely.
  3. Using spray paint as instructed, paint plastic animals and 4x4s. More than one coat will be needed. Let dry thoroughly.
  4. Use superglue on feet or body parts that will touch wood and place animal on top of 4x4. Let dry overnight.

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Hip Hanger

Jonny Valiant

Hip Hanger

Attach that little-used xylophone to the wall with screw-in eye hooks. It makes organizing your daughter's jewelry child's play.

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