DIY – Wooden Christmas Tree

This Christmas tree alternative is so cute, of course I had to try it! You will find it all over Pinterest. My favourite ones are the ones from pallets, but as I didn’t have pallets, new planks had to do.

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There are so many ways to go about making one of these, but as always I make it the way it makes sense to me.
My way was to use my kitches floor tiles as my grid. It was easy to mark out some hypotenuses and use those for the Christmas tree shape.

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All the pieces of wood were cut different lengths, according to my marked template. I used another piece of wood inserted between the planks to make even spaced gaps. Never need a ruler when you don’t need a universal standard measurement. It’s all relative.  Mine are Olgametres (“obtaining an object in close proximity that can be used as a measure without universally accepted graduations to identify a certain length used for that single purpose only and disregarded henceforth”). What are yours?

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When the tree was cut, some pieces got moved by mistake slightly further apart, but I realised that I liked it like that more. It looked taller and slimmer like that.

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Once assembled, sanded and painted, it went up on the wall, just above our churches’ coffee counter.

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Here is the decoration odessey. I say odessey, as this took a while, but only because I got to decorate it with some students, and all the ornaments were handcrafted!  More on that later!

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And, as always, ~ Make it and love it!

Dollhouse

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Had I been asked to D-I-Wife this project six months ago, I would have laughed a little and refused politely while LOL in my head. A proper paid order, by me? A dollhouse?  No way, no how, nuh uh!

And yet, here it is.  I have been asked to D-I-Wife it, a dollhouse, by me. My mother-in-law (my second paying customer happens to be my kin) was not satisfied with what’s available on the market (and the prices that left you with a gory awe). The request was to make a dollhouse as tall as a child, for two or three of them to play together at the same time. I was also given a budget of 100 euro.

It’s hard to tell why, by some divine vision, I have been browsing making dollhouses on Pinterest, so I had a very good idea of how hard it is to make one, what tools I might need, and the approximate cost. I’ve also grown more confident using my power tools, so, all in all, I said yes.

The end result is pretty amazing, this being my first proper DIY from new materials (not upcycling a desk or drawers) and on a budget (usually it is what it is).

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The plan for the dollhouse can be found here, by Anna White. On her blog, she gives an excellent tutorial, with all measurements and plans, in PDF and otherwise, so I won’t do the same. However, I will mention some of the amendments I’ve made and lessons learned.

Finding the material was relatively difficult. I went to about 7 DIY shops before I found plywood. Some shops were out of stock, some only worked with orders, some were too specialised in something else… I eventually went straight to a warehouse that I drove past a few times, hoping it would have what I am looking for. They had better! There was this glorious 9mm plywood board that was used for transportation crates. It was a little worn, but good overall condition, and at 20 euro a piece for 240mm by 120mm!  Very compliant staff offered to cut it for me as needed. Though it cost me another 10 euro, it was well worth the hassle. Here is the above mentioned plywood, and some planks for the roof.

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Next step was to cut the roof, windows and doors. Begin by penciling it all on the board, then drill a whole withing the necessary shape, and by inserting jigsaws into the whole, cut it out. I kind of enjoyed this process. It was a first for me. *Grin*

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Then I put the pieces together with – yeah – masking tape, so see that it all comes together, and trim to fit.

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Once everything was as planned, applying wood glue and stapler gun (that shoots tiny nails), the sides were attached.

Next on the list was the roof. This was a tricky part. The planks I bought were too thick. When I was buying them, I was told their thickness, which sounded fine, but I should have checked it to make sure. The roof was too heavy, the wood curled, the nails could not hold it in place.

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It was a disaster, it had to be replaced with a thinner, more submissive wood.  I used 2.5 mm screws to attach the roof and then some more throughout the house for sturdiness.

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Some wood filler followed by sanding, and the house was ready for painting.

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I really liked Ana White’s paint choices, and since I had the same, I decided not to deviate. The floors were carefully varnished, and the walls were covered with white primer. I used a lot of masking tape throughout.

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The outside was painted soft green.

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I love the little gaps in the roof – gives it some feel of authenticity.

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White walls and dark hardwood floors, very Nordic.

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Three floors!

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Little window seals, very cute.

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Upstairs, I plan kids room and a tiny bathroom.

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On the first floor, two bedrooms and on the ground floor, a kitchen and a hall?

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DIY – Playhouse, the Making of

Two weeks on, and our playhouse is still bringing us barrels of joy. Kids love it, it is still clean and tidy (relatively) and friends are popping by every other day. It is a beautiful gift for my children from my dad.

Time for the “Making of”, even though there are still some unfinished corners.

Probably one of the most difficult steps in making something is the waiting. Waiting to get started, waiting to see how it’s turning out, waiting to see it completed.  That time warp that is triggered by the sketched up idea and finally set free by posting photos of it on Facebook (or blog…)  Questioning whether the expectations of the dream you have created in your mind will be met by the actual result or will you have a big expensive hurtful let down.  This dream of a playhouse has definitely been one of the biggest DIY projects I have ever undertaken/commissioned. Every thought and minute has been invested, there was much to loose. It is somewhat easy to admit it now, hindside, seeing that it has indeed worked out.

And so…

My dad is wonderful when it comes to projects. He has experiences ranging from building huts in Siberia to welding to carpentering and everything in between. He has never let me down, if anything, he has always gone far above anything I have ever asked for.

It has happened before. Asking my dad a small question about Physics homework would always turn into an hour long lecture. Asking for a small Noah’s Ark for Grade 7 Science project, he would build me a near perfect replica of the ancient vessel… Two years ago when I asked for a little doll house for my daughter, my dad built us a meter high doll house with three floors, stairs, garage and all the other little trinkets you could wish for in a doll house. (True story, check it out here: Doll house)

It has happened before. My dad seems to enjoy taking my vision for a project and turn it into something a lot bigger and more complex than I could possibly ask for.  When I asked for a playhouse, I should have known that my dad would hear his own measurements. And that’s exactly what he did. After we have discussed my idea, which was a playhouse no larger than a dog house, on our first visit to see what he has done thus far, we were faced with…

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A Russian-style iron frame standing almost 3 meters above the ground.

Gasp! Who is this playhouse for? Giant children?!

On our next visit, we were greeted with a wooden box that looked a little more like a house. Still as tall as ever!  The door could fit a giant – not just a giant child, I am talking about a giant adult!

To be honest, however, I was very pleased to see wood as the dominating building material. It was starting to look homely. And smell it, too.  Dad insisted on taking on the cost of the built, at which point I was relived, because wood is not at all affordable in Cyprus. Especially in these quantities!

And yet, it felt like this project has swallowed the “drink-me” potion that makes it increase in size by the minute, like Alice in Wonderland.

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Dad attached wooden planks to the metal bars, and to the wooden planks he attached huge sheets of plywood on the inside and planks of stalking wood on the outside. He also insulated the roof – I mean who does that for a kids’ playhouse? My dad does.

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He layered in aluminium sheets into the roof to make it watertight.

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One little thing that we disagreed on was the size of the door. Dad really wanted a big door! He insisted that a grown up should be able to walk in and enjoy the playhouse, too. After some convincing and demonstrating the difference between a playhouse and a shed, we agreed to make a small kid-size door. Once dad understood what I meant, he embraced the idea and even created a little canopy over the front porch.

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Inside was coming along quite nicely, too. As dad built the playhouse adult height, we could now split it into two kid-size levels, and create a neat little loft. I loved that we could do that, as initially it wasn’t in my plans – I couldn’t have ever asked for this! In fact, my plans now seemed completely obsolete next to dad’s potential.

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Day by day, the project was getting bigger and bigger, and my original vision – smaller and smaller, in comparison to the new. Dad welded steel banister and railing for the loft.

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The time came for painting the interior, and that’s when I am at my most excited. I love the instant effect that you get from painting. I settled on off white colour for the loft to create openness and feeling of air. As both of my kiddies were going to use the playhouse, I wanted to make it suitable for both girl and boy, so making it purple seemed like a liable option. Chaz can vote for a different colour when he is old enough.

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With time, my dad cut out windows on the back wall, left wall and front facade. As the house was going to stand next to a building in our garden, we decided not to make any windows on the right side. The windows on the left would have to be windows that can open, but windows on the loft level should not open to prevent kiddies from falling out. Have to consider everything!

In addition to everything else, dad has decided to build a little porch in the front, and welded together an incredibly strong structure that looks deity, yet was instrumental in making the house mobile! Dad has all the details, I wouldn’t know how to begin explaining it. It looks super special, and that matters to me.

Finally, the outside was finished, and it was time to paint the exterior walls. As usual, I went to choose my paint from the discounted section in a DIY store. The advantage of that is buying paint at half price, however there are disadvantages, too. First of all, the colour selection is limited to what has already been pre-mixed by mistake. Secondly, the amount might be limited. And finally, it is very difficult to mix the same colour if you run out. So, with that in mind, not allowing my hopes to soar, I went to the DIY store. Oh, how happy I was, when I found exactly what I wanted, as much as I wanted! I couldn’t have picked it better myself! It’s a perfect blue-grey shade, that will work perfectly outside, for a boy/girl playhouse! Serendipity, what can I say?!

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The day before the set completion date, we worked till sunset.

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And then, the D-day, aka. Delivery day!

We have been preparing for this day for ages! We’ve arranged for our little ones to go to their grandparents’ house, for strong men to be available for loading and unloading, and for all the last minute details to be taken care of.

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The playhosue was lifted slightly, using pivoting system, and loaded onto a trailer specially welded for this purpose. I don’t remember breathing that day, I was so nervous.

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Charlie fell asleep before the house was delivered, but Lexie was up, waiting anxiously. Witnessing her childish excitement was priceless!

The next few days were spend on  “interior decoration” and moving in.

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Make it to love it!

You may also like to check out my other posts related to the making of Playhouse:

Blog thumbnail - DIY Toddler Kitchen    Blog thumbnail - Floor Cushion    Blog thumbnail - My kids play house

DIY Toddler Kitchen

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I have been researching different designs for a toddler kitchen. People are so creative – I have seen some amazing designs out of old dressers, TV cabinets and even chairs!

I shared my ideas with my handy dad, and he brought the following: an old shelf with vertical (!) partitions, a very old bedside table and an old Ikea cutting board.

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I played around with the arrangement, twicked here and there, removed the shelves partitions and suddenly – I could see my vision…556561_10151225013336120_267727278_n

Then I painted, added a few horizontal shelves, and got my dad to cut out a hole for the sink.Image

As I never like to pay for anything, especially when its DIY, I like to challenge myself to keep the costs to the minimum, so I ventured out on “one-of-those” scavenger hunts. Every Home Centre has a discounted  section where they sell paints that were mixed but not purchased. You can get a good colour at half price.  Out of some purples, creams and oranges, I liked a pine green hue best. In another department store, I also bought half a can of green chalk board paint, some white paint and some drawer handles which I planned to use for the hobs.735162_10151225013826120_856342823_n

A short weekend plus valuable experience with power tools minus a few euros, and “ta-da!” –  my toddler kitchen was completed! At least the “architectural” part, as I have to admit that I still needed the following: a metal bowl for the sink, a tap and drawer handles for cooker hobs.

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Finally, I found the missing pieces. The tap is not exactly what I had in mind, I am still looking for something smaller and with personality (can you say that about a tap?), but for now, my daughter is happy, and that makes me happy. 🙂

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