You have likely seen the Little Tikes houses and play sets in backyards since the 90s. Most make me cringe. The pastel and faded colors have always been a big turn off to me from ever purchasing them. That is... until I found out that you can make them over! Note: it will take time and it will cost some money but in the end I would say this DIY is so worth it.
After consulting Pinterest for 1,000 ideas, this is how I gave our Little Tikes a makeover step by step:
Step One: Look for used Little Tikes on Craigslist or rummage sales to buy. I am amazed at how much people are reselling them for. I have seen some starting at $75 and up. And that's with them being faded or even broken a bit. pfff! Even if the sets are very faded they will look great once you are done with them! Don't let that deter you. Try to look at Craigslist daily to jump on the lower priced ones. I was able to get both the Little Tikes house and activity gym for $75 total but it took some time. The sellers were moving out of state and were desperate to get rid of them quickly. Win!
Step Two: Find a large vehicle or trailer to pick up the items. Use your husbands truck, remove the seats in your van or ask a friend/family member if you can borrow theirs. You will not fit these into your car going rummaging. Disassemble the Little Tikes panels and stack them in.
Step Three: Unload and wash the play set panels. Lay the Little Tikes panels on the grass or against the trees. Find a couple of large cleaning buckets and fill them with warm water and a bit of dish washing detergent. Enquire help from your littles who will now be more than excited about their new (to them!) play sets. This kept my own kids busy for the time that I washed the play sets. Take a hose and rinse the play set pieces and don't forget to spray the children. :) Let the play set walls dry while you go shopping for spray paint!
Step Four: Time to spray paint outside! But first, have your kids inside and if you are pregnant do NOT paint. I have a super helpful hubby who did most of the painting for me. Thanks hun! I highly recommend getting Krylon Fusion Spray paint that is specifically for Little Tikes kind of plastic. I chose earthy tones as I wanted to look out of our window and have our play sets blend into our nature a little more than their original bright colors. You can paint with any colors you want (and even have them match your home - adorable!) but I wanted to save some extra money and decided to only paint the windows and doors of the play house (leaving the wall panels and roof as they were saved time!) and repaint all the activity gym walls and slide. I purchased two spray cans of blue, two brown, two apple green, and one white. Paint the panels up against trees or the garage wall with cardboard or old sheets behind them to catch the spray paint.
Painting tip: If possible, remove the windows and door from the playhouse to paint. I was able to pull the windows out with lots of effort but unable to pull the door out on my own so I taped some paper in between the wall panel and the door to avoid any color getting on the walls. The picture below should help!
Step Five: Let the paint dry. The hardest step. Let the panels that are freshly painted dry and stay dry for seven days. Yes, a WHOLE WEEK! My husband and I learned the hard way that if you reassemble the parts before the paint is really REALLY adhered it will scratch off while the panel slots are pushed together again. nooooo! So instead, after 24 hours, stack the dry panels in your garage until they are ready to reassemble.
Step Six: Reassemble the Little Tikes panels! After letting the panels dry for a week you can reassemble the panels together like a puzzle and avoid any peeling of the paint. Hooray! Let my mistake be your victory, friends. You will need help to reassemble the panels. Bring out your kung fu skills and push, cram, and shove the panels back together. My husband had me hold one panel while he pushed or kicked the other panel in and sometimes would completely knock me (and the panel) over. Nice. Not so nice. We had some good laughs and I love that he was helping or I would have not been able to cram the pieces back together on my own.
Step Seven: Celebrate! Enjoy a drink and a half hour of your children playing peacefully with their new play sets that they (hopefully!) waited patiently for just as much as you. :) Cheers to summer, days outside with popsicles, chalk, and bringing a bit of the 90s back!