How to Repurpose a Crib into a Mid-Century Modern Sofa

Small Sofa? Settee?  Large Chair?  I’m going with sofa.  This post will show you how to repurpose a crib into a mid-century inspired sofa.  Taking trash to treasure ranks in my Top 10 of all favorite things.

How to Repurpose a Crib into a Mid-Century Modern Sofa

Not even an expensive, convertible crib.  Nope, nothing but the least-expensive-but-still-safe sleep prison for my precious darlings.

Wait, maybe not safe since it was one of the drop-side cribs of death, so it had be repurposed or get tossed in the garbage.   The crib spent some time repurposed as a lego table– but the boys prefer the floor.  How else does one plant lego brick landmines to maim the parents?  JB suggested we just throw the thing away as he watched me haul it back down to the basement.

One does not simply throw things away.

When I realized that my basement fort couldn’t be a permanent office and moved myself back upstairs, I justified the expense of my time with a low $50 materials budget.   Our basement overflows with items waiting for new life, and I’m trying really hard to live the life of an anti-over-consumer.

I ended up spending $80 total– for a gallon of paint, two new brushes, and $30 bucks a yard upholstery fabric (then 50% off!) and some extra foam.  To date, I’ve spent a max of $7 a yard, it took me several days to work up the nerve to even cut the fabric!

Here’s the crib in the so-clean, pre-Zach nursery.  Those hand-painted sea creatures would eventually cause night terrors in my babies– MOM WIN!  I still miss my giant goldfish (which you can see if you click the link).

Sea Creatures

My office needed a chair, but not an overflowing monstrosity like the one above. Something comfy, but practical.   Something, um, free.

I’ve seen many crib-into-bench ideas and since the mattress also sat in my basement, I decked it out at a little couch.

It looked like a crib and crib mattresses aren’t particularly comfortable to sit on when one weighs more than a baby.

I poked around the internet, looking at couches, choosing a few mid-century modern couch designs as inspiration.  Nice clean lines– furniture whose footprint matches its function, nary a superfluous poofy cushion in sight.

IMG_6512_large

Inspiration Couch

I’m going to tell you the truth- if you’ve ever cut a piece of wood with a power tool; sewn a semi-straight line; and used a stapler– this project is doable.

Step 1:  Shape the arms of your sofa.

Our crib had those high, arched sides.  No good.  I used a jig saw and cut down at an angle.  I like easy, so the highest point of my incline meets the back of the sofa.

Step 1  Cut the round sides

Step 2:  Let’s Get Stable!

You weigh more than a baby; is the crib sturdy enough?  You can see the original bottom of the crib under the cedar bunkie boards (yup, had those in the basement; I got them for $5 at a thrift store 3 years ago).  If you don’t have random bunkie boards, cut 2 x 4s to length, and screw them into the frame.

2 Step 2 Bunkie boards

Glue and nail a thin piece of wood to stabilize the wobbly spikes to stabilize your arms.   This also gives the flat, mid-century modern form when you start to shape with the foam.

2 Step 2 Assemble

Step 3: Foam strip, a lot of glue, and even more tape.

3 Step 3 Lots of Glue and Tape and Foam

Sidebar:  Some 13ish years ago, adventurous friends helped me take a reciprocating saw to an over-stuffed couch, which is when we all learned that even pre-made furniture is largely shaped with cardboard.

Step 4: Cardboard for shape. Cardboard for stability. Cardboard 4 life.

Your goal here is to give a solid foundation to shape the cushions.  I had a few heavy duty shipping boxes (see above about not throwing things away).

4 Step 4 Add Cardboard for Stability

Step 5:  Padding

Turtles? What the what?  So. My mom made custom crib bumpers for the still-gestating first grandbaby.  I tied them so tight– no choking!– that they had to be sliced off with a very sharp knife, rendering them useless as crib bumpers. For years they’ve hung out in my scrap fabric project box just waiting…  to be put back together with the crib.  I used the bumpers to fill in the padding on the sofas arms.  Reunited, and it feels so good.

5 Step 5 Building up the cushions for the sides

Step 6:  Assemble the first layer of padding. 

Padding inserted, everything’s nailed or glued down.  Incidentally, this is about when I headed downstairs to look for a heavy-duty stapler.  That stapler is my new BFF.  Get a good stapler.  Tack nails and tape cannot replace a good stapler.   If they take my stapler then I’ll set the building on fire*…

6 Step 6 Building up the Arms and Back

*Dude! Officespace!

Step 7:  Estimate your fabric needs by making a pattern.

Large sheets make great slipcover/upholstery pattern pieces.  Unless, like me, you choose a fitted sheet. You can’t fold fitted sheets into neat squares because they are the devil’s work. Therefore, if you can’t fold it into a square, they will not make nice rectangles. But it did help me estimate my yardage (a king sized sheet is about 3 yards; I bought 4).

I ended up asking my first grader* about vertices and then drew out the geometry.  At the most basic, most furniture is nothing more than a simple quadrilateral.

*I’m only sort of kidding.

7 Step 7 Estimate Fabric Yardage and Measure your Shapes

Step 8:  A little more cushion, please.

Cardboard and thin foam isn’t very snuggly.  I intended to make a padded cushion with extra lower back support using scrap “mom, that’s too babyish for us” fabric and some of the 5 pound box of fiberfill I got on sale– 2 years ago.  THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN EASIER HAD I JUST BOUGHT FOAM*. Unless you are trying to prove something to yourself, just buy the foam.

*That deserved a yell.  I overstuffed the back cushion only to really notice the lopsidedness when I dry-fitted the upholstery fabric.  I’m not a perfectionist, but it was bad even by my standards and I had to rip out some of my precious staples to adjust the cushion stuffing because sofa Spanx doesn’t exist.  Lumpy is neither mid-century modern, nor comfy. When I reupholster other furniture, I will just buy the foam.

8 Step 8 Create a Back Cushion from Scrap Fabric

Step 9:  Embrace flexibility.

Remember how fitted sheets can’t become rectangles?  This is when old patterns come in handy.  Speaking of– have I mentioned that I can’t sew by following a pattern?  I can take stuff apart and make new things from it; I can look at an object and determine how to make the fabric piece together, but patterns– with their darts and seam allowances– make me all sorts of weepy.

9 Step 9 Old Patterns and Present Wrapping

Step 10: Foam on top

Take coupon and buy 2 yards of foam to smooth out the pillow.  Hey– they DO make soda Spanx! I stapled this stuff on top of my scrap-fabric cushion.

10 Step 10 Add Foam

Step 11:   Attachment

Staples– too many is not enough; so many 3/8 inch staples in this bad boy.  The fabric on the arms took the longest.  It’s in two pieces– the inner trapezium* meets the flat top of the outer trapezium.

*Seriously, that one I did learn from 1st grade common core math.

11 Step 11 Add Upholstry Fabric

Step 12:  Remember

You’ll say to yourself, naw– I’ve pulled the fabric too tight (you didn’t), and I’ve got enough staples (you don’t).

As for the edges? I found it helpful to think about neatly wrapping a present (not something I do much of– the neat part).  It’s the same sort of concept when wrapping a sofa.

12 Step 12 Wrapping the upholstery fabric

Step 13:  Details

I found button making thingys (that is the scientific name for them– my brain is spent after trapezium) on clearance for 97 cents.  I find absurd joy in making buttons.  I could make buttons ALL DAY LONG.

13 Clearance make your own buttons

Step 14:  Get a mascot and “borrow” your oldest child’s sonic screwdriver.

I haven’t put the knob back on the TARDIS door yet, which means you can’t get in without a flat-edged tool.  It’s funny until you actually lock yourself in there without a screwdriver one evening.

A few weeks ago I locked myself in on purpose as the boys left for karate.

Elliot: “Daaa–aaaddd! Mom locked herself in her TARDIS again!”

Zach: “Mom’s just gone to another dimension. She’ll be back by breakfast.”

Which would be hilarious enough, right?  Until several hours later, when this happened:

Elliot on his way to bed whispers through the door: “Breakfast is at 7, Mom. Don’t be late.”

Pure childhood memory gold, right?  Yes– except Elliot, at 5, has a grasp on reality somewhere in between  loosey and goosey.  A few days after my dimension field trip, Grumpy Cat (aka Tartar Sauce, aka TARDIS Sauce) showed up on my sewing table. Why?  BECAUSE I NEEDED A COMPANION.  Hard not to love that kid; he thinks JUST LIKE ME.

14 Repurposed Crib into mid-century inspired sofa

 

I even went and linked up at other DIY places this time.  Like My Repurposed Life and DIY Showoff

 

 

DIY Intergalactic Planetary TARDIS Office

DIY Intergalactic Planetary TARDIS Office

“I’m going to paint my office door to look like the TARDIS,” I said to my husband the other night.

“MMMhmmm,  ” he muttered never lifting his eyes away from his precious, the college basketball.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thus notified he offered no argument which therefore implies consent (I also watch Law and Order).

The door– like all of its matching friends– pays homage to the late Sixties obsession with brown paneling.  So ugly.

Ugly Brown Door

I used scrap printer paper to hold the places for the beveled panels.

Create Beveling on a Flat Door

Using dark paint in one corner creates the illusion of beveling on a flat surface.  I will use this trick again.

Windows with Shiny White Paper

 

I used shiny laminate paper for the top panels since I had, you know, accidentally painted them blue instead of leaving them white.

I had about two hours before needing to pick up my oldest from school.  The hall looked so bare around my TARDIS. It needed…something.   A painting of a planet and its moon*, yes.

TARDIS needs spaceIntergalactic, planetary

*No I’m not giving you a step by step of this part.  I didn’t use spray paint, but otherwise followed the steps in the aforementioned link.   

I could have stopped, but the planet and moon looked lonely.  It needed something more. Something intergalactic for the planetary.  Like a nebula!

TARDIS Planet, Moon, and a Nebula

Nebulae (see what I did there?  Fancy!) are really shockingly simple to paint.  I did all of this with acrylic paint and lots of blotting with paper towels.

My kids wanted to make their own outer space paintings (naturally). Here’s a pictorial on How to Make a Space Nebula in 9 Frames (the planet instructions are on that other link; no need for me to repeat her work.)

How to Make a Space Nebula in 9 Frames

Doing a crappy job with spray paint (e.g., creating the stars) proved to the most complicated part of the entire thing.

I love it. Everyone should enter their office via a TARDIS flying through a nebula toward the Planet Orangeish Thing.  And how glad am I to have Beastie Boys as my background music, finally displacing the week-long ear worm of “Everyone is Awesome”?

Here are the Before and After pictures of my DIY Intergalactic Planetary TARDIS Office.

Before and After 2 Before and After Facing Before and After Right

 

One more of my nebula.  Look at how pretty.

On Nebula I'm In Love

 

 

The Case for Displaying Imperfection in the Living Room

 

The Case for Displaying Imperfection

The case for Displaying Imperfection in the Living Room.  Yes, even your child’s art.

Last week I enjoyed having a man-cold.  And by man-cold I mean, ermahgerd-snot-can’t-breath-is-this-sinus-cancer cold and by enjoy, I mean laid in bed trying to remove mucous from my nose with the infant snot-sucker thing.  I whined and reclined, a lot.   Which, when that other parent’s home is fine, and less fine the rest of the time. Not-sick-Elliot became independently motivated and, um, created things.  Like this Halloween ghost I found taped by the front door in my living room. 

Ghostly

Since he started the morning of October 1st with, “where are the decorations? It’s HALLOWEEN MONTH Y’ALL” I’m not surprised to find evidence of his enthusiasm.   Not surprised, and frankly quite pleased.  I like holidays, sure, but I don’t drag all of this festivity out for myself.  Nope.

Just Hanging Around

Okay, maybe a few for myself.  For example, my window eyeballs.

The Windows Have Eyes

And fine, I’m the one that taped the place mat on the bearded dragon cage.

Even the Beardies

Some of these have become tradition.  Like the milk-jug, curtain-sheer ghost that hangs by the front door.  I never intended for this to be permanent, but here you go. This isn’t really my holiday, ya know?

Curtain Ghost

I never intended to hang skeletons in the shrubbery.  Have you noticed how very little children care about adult intentions?

Yarned Yard Skeletons

 

Coloring pages decorate random spots all over my house.  Kids with access to both tape and push pins, and a mother that thinks children should see their art all over the place.

Come on– you know you like the polished pinterest (or more accurately– what Martha’s been doing for a really long time)? 


Sure, theoretically.  I mean, I like to look at other people’s pinable houses, but that level of effort (both in the doing and the maintaining) just isn’t compatible with my life. Or my parenting style.

In the way I’ve come about each Really Important Life Lesson, I first needed an epic fail.

It’s October 2011, and the boys and I are unpacking the Halloween decoration bin. When I pull out Zach’s Halloween chain from the previous year I flinch, and glance over in time to see his smile wilt.  We stand there, both staring at this orange and black construction paper chain, remembering how frustrated we had been that day. Him trying to cut and staple–for the first time– and me blisteringly impatient with the sloppiness of his scissor work, his careless stapling.

He was three (one month to four),  but he was three at the time.  Three.  And I was angry with him for not trying hard enough.  I remember snapping at him, “you’re not even trying to make it look nice!”  More importantly, I absolutely remember the look on his face.

He. Was. Three.  And I was old enough to not be that invested in the outcome of construction paper.

But there it is, every October when I pull out this chain (last year he added a small one, I’m going to repeat that this year), I’m reminded that constant criticism of children murders their creativity.  Kills their self-confidence.  Might ruin a future artist’s dream.

The artistic plane, unlike the dinner table, is an amazingly easy place to praise and support your child.  Really. Stupidly. Simple.

Unchained Melody

And this is why you will find an odd piece of what might first assume is trash accidentally stuck to the door.  Because that’s not trash at all– that, my friends, is Elliot’s reduce, reuse, recycle ghost.

Ghosts Everywhere

 

 

 

 

 

Cinnamon Dough Ornaments

Cinnamon Dough Ornaments

Makes about a dozen, medium to large ornaments

Dough Ingredients

    1 cup ground cinnamon
    1 cup applesauce
    1/4 cup white school glue

Preparing the Dough

    Mix ground cinnamon applesauce and glue in a large mixing bowl
    Mix ground cinnamon with applesauce and white glue in a large mixing bowl.
    If the mixture feels too stiff, add a touch of water.
    Knead the clump together and wrap it in some plastic wrap, allowing it to sit for about an hour.

Making the Cookies

    Sprinkle some cinnamon on your prep area and roll the dough out to about 1/2″.
    Use your cookie cutters to create fun shapes in the dough; or
    Make coils of dough and sculpt your own designs such as letters and shapes.
    Be sure to punch a hole in the top of each shape with a straw or pencil.

Drying or Baking the Ornaments

    You can either let them dry naturally over a period of 3 to 5 days, or you can bake them in an oven at 200 degrees for about 2 hours (making sure you flip them halfway through).

This year’s ornaments. Yeah, I know– Martha’s job is totally safe. Hint: if the results of a for-child craft look perfect, it was likely not made by children. But the stars are mine, wink.

This year we added names in the hopes of preventing a repeat of “I don’t know which candy cane is yours” argument.

Cinnamon Dough Ornaments

For better or worst, we make these ornaments (or the salt dough version) every year. Handprints. Shapes. It’s fun, it’s easy*.

*Yes, it IS easy. With one child, calm children, or adults.

I realized today that the Making of the Ornament marks a milestone stored in the oldest Small Person’s head: CHRISTMAS IS ALMOST HERE.

So yes, they want to make the ornaments. They love to see the previous year’s ornaments when we decorate the tree.

However, the ACT of ornament-making with twitchy little boys sort of feels like I’m being punk’d by Santa.

On the bright side, tasting the dough isn’t a temptation (to me!) because of the glue. Also, the cinnamon in the oven smelled more festive than dirty dog feet and little boy farts.

Oh, did I neglect to mention that a contest of competing farts was the Funniest.Thing.Ever?

Boys, they pee all over the floor and fart all over your house. And we love them anyway.

Not a Snowball’s Chance

When you’re wearing shorts and a t-shirt as temperatures hover in the sixties and it’s the middle of December… snow seems unlikely.

But this is North Carolina and I’m out of milk so it will probably snow tomorrow.

Elliot goes to a co-op preschool and I was in charge of the Winter Party. It was Joel and I– which turned out to be really special for E, since he’s never had the two of us without his brother. Poor Second Born child.

I always planned for the stuff around the party– crafts, games, favors– to be very simple. Why? Because these are 3 and 4 year olds and they have the attention span of hyperactive gnats.

Then I saw a friend’s pictures of felt snowballs. FELT SNOWBALLS! Have you ever heard of such a wonderful thing?

I hadn’t, but of course it exists! Michelle, author at Rust & Sunshine not only made some, she also provides a free pattern so you can do it, too.

*No, really– she did all the work already– I’m not typing out my own version of her instructions, because that would be, 1) a copyright violation, and 2) redundant.

First, I made two snowballs and handed them off to my Small People. If there is a way to cause either body or property damages with felt, it’s gonna be my kids.

After they remained both injury and argument free, I added balled up socks to their stash and started sewing the class snowballs. Party favors, dontcha know? Two balls per kid– because one snowball per kid is lame– for a total of 24 felt snowballs.

The greatest time investment–as it always is with sewing– was in the cutting. The sewing part only took 3-4 minutes per ball.

The 30 minutes of sustained fun had by the hyperactive gnats? Worth it!

Felt Snowball Fight copy

Ways to Repurpose Cardboard Boxes into Storage

I told y’all about that time I took a reciprocating saw to my living room couch, only to discover that the bulk of its shape was formed by cardboard, right?

That moment changed my life– and not just from listening to the myriad of excuses from JB on why I can’t have a reciprocating saw. For all his concerns, you’d think he’s afraid that I’m going to cut a hole in the wall, or something.
The real life changing moment came when I started considering how often I paid considerable amounts of money for products that could be disposed of in curbside recycling. Which led me to all the various ways one can repurpose cardboard boxes.

Thus began my love affair with repurposing our heavy-duty cardboard boxes.

These repurposed cardboard diaper boxes lasted Z at least 6 months.

15 month old Z rocking diaper box covered in contact paper.

66 month old Z rocking his box fort.

They’ve been building various forts, beds, and hotels from these boxes all summer. Finally, a common interest.

He and E intend to grow up to be hotel typhoons (tycoons).

This has also been the summer (for me) of committing to using what’s here before buying from the store. Homeless clutter needed clearly labeled homes.

Liquor boxes are perfect– separate compartments and very strong.

So many boxes and some left over spray paint… I do love to paint.

I do love to paint.

See, the clutter just needed someone to believe in it again– to look at what-some-would-consider-trash and find future purpose.

I dig it.

I mean some of these boxes were just another brick in the wall, you know?

I had to take down a few parts of the hotel.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And, *weep* look at him, cleaning his brush!

Double imitation, double flattery, mega cheese.

You’re with me so far, right? Nodding your head, and considering all the various storage things that can be made from a leftover shoe box.

Liquor boxes, being designed to hold large glass bottles full of liquid courage are made from some really heavy-duty cardboard. Then the separate compartments? Begging to be a felt storage unit!

The best is the cost– NOTHING.

And then? Well then I saw these rough edges and thought: bias tape. But I didn’t want to use my good bias tape, because well… I have no idea. Ah-ah! Homemade bias tape– can’t be that hard!

This is where I entered the Ridiculous Zone.

Normal people don’t end up in these creative places.

At this point, the only remaining option was to:

Ideas for Repurposing a Crib: The Lego Table

I allow– nay, encourage — both kids to get down and dirty with the building projects. I want to pass the family tradition of DIY and hoarding repurposing common household items. Thus I started collecting ideas for repurposing an old crib about 2 years ago.

I love pinterest– I really do. However, long before wireless internet access and 4G networks, Good Housekeeping showed up in the mailbox. Women like Heloise shaped how I thought about housekeeping– and pantyhose.

Playing with Barbie to the background music of This Old House and Victory Garden adds up to more than a decade’s worth of subliminal suggestion. Mixing that with Wrath of Khan and the Shaolin Monk and… yeah, my formative years molded me eclectic.

Teaching children to see the world through the lens of creativity? Sort of my thing. The satisfaction of using real tools, of touching real wood cannot be replicated by Little Tyke.

When I repurposed the crib into their lego table, I had two very willing helpers.

Sand is a verb and the paint isn't crayola

An admitted side bonus of having them enjoy my hobby means that they are usually tolerant when I say “no, you can’t help paint with oil-based primer”. Usually.

Both of my babies slept in this crib–and my oldest starts kindergarten on Monday– but the Dropside of Death meant sending it to a landfill. Landfill? No way.

This past January, when I was deep in the swamp of kitchen cabinet painting, the boys and I did a side project on their crib.

Here– let me detail the steps:

    1) find your crib.
    2) wipe it off
    3) sand
    4) paint
    5) assemble three of the sides, leaving the 4th one available for a mystery project

Legos were assembled, children were happy, mom went back to being covered in white cabinet paint.

Then this started happening.

Picture showing a lego table made from 3 sides of a repurposed dropside crib

Granted if you replaced Legos with sticky notes, receipts, and pony tail holders their table looks a lot like my desk… still.

I used to feel like this each time I walked past the room.

Now, thanks to my handy Lego Storage System I:

When Pinterest Changed the World

You’ve heard of Pinterest, right? And then, because one cannot have yin without yang; Pinterest, You are Drunk? I have a personal submission for the second link: remember, laughing at other people without also laughing at yourself makes you an asshole.

I am a procrastinator. I make To Do lists only to willfully ignore every item. I seek pressure-filled, adrenaline-rushed situations. Setting soft deadlines for myself is like putting mashed cauliflower on a plate and calling it potatoes: a nice thought, but not fooling anyone.

In a few weeks, each of the Small People start schools in different zip codes. For those keeping notes, ADHD folk (yup, that’s me) generally struggle with multiple transitions. Multiple transitions involving two people that regularly take 20 minutes to walk a mere five feet? Valium anyone?

Sane Other people might be spending these next two weeks soaking in time with the kids, making lunch menus, planning outfits and updating the family calendar.

Or finishing the other important things like emailing Z’s new principal a head’s up that the child is capable of reading Harry Potter level text– but might prefer to speak his made up dragon language on testing day. Or perhaps dropping off his immunization records.

To that end, getting E’s health form filled out.

Or buying that other car, since the insurance company totaled out the Scion.

Instead of doing any of those things, I am sifting through mountains of paper and spray painting stuff.

To thine own self be true, right?

Wistfully reminiscing about that timeI was alone in my home for an entire weekend.

Because pinterest didn’t exist back then–

Making Magic

Making magic wands? Yeah, sure.

What adults learn from children–if they pay attention–is that the world is a magical place. That there might be monsters under the bed, or a beanstalk that grows high into the clouds. Or, if I make the environment friendly to them, laundry gnomes.

Please, please let laundry gnomes be real!

Zach has been reading since November and his skill with it still makes my brain hurt. Okay, in the interest of full disclosure, it squeezes my heart in a vice and makes me all teary.

So when we started reading Harry Potter together (not that he couldn’t read it by himself– he just won’t) I began to consider all of the wonderful things I could do with my own magic wand.

Laundery gnomes

Then I saw some old chopsticks and got to thinking… which is how I ended up making the easiest DIY magic wands in the history of craft making.

Supply List for the Easiest Magic Wand:

      Hot glue gun

 

      Chopsticks

 

      A few beads (I used pieces from a broken mardi gras necklace)

 

    Paint

Apply hot glue to the chopstick. Twist and twirl it– uniform perfection is NOT the goal here. Let the glue harden up just a little bit.

Add a few beads. Just a few– I did a version with more beads and it looked like a bedazzled corndog.

It was at this point that I went and looked an actual image of Harry Potter’s wand. Ahem. I mixed brown and a little black to make it streaky.

Ta-da! A epoximise spell!