Little Tikes Makeover!

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. LittleTikesAds.jpg

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!

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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! 

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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.

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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!

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A Little Love.

This past weekend, my husband, sister, and I worked on a little project at our duplex. Back story of our duplex-- we bought a super old, like over a hundred years old, duplex a couple years ago. We totally gutted both halves one summer. With the help of our families, we completely renovated the kitchens and bathrooms (twice the fun!). We repainted every single room in each unit and restored some old, old woodwork back to shine. It was fun, or at least interesting. :) Maybe I should rephrase... It was a great experience. We learned a lot about team work, deadlines, lath and plaster, dust, and grime. We gave that duplex a lot of love that summer. So even though we finished each unit, fixed the yard, and replaced 26 windows, our sad lonely back stairwell went ignored. This poor stairwell wasn't in good shape to begin with, but after renovating, moving, demoing, etc. it was even worse for wear. We had giant holes, insufficient and hideous light fixtures, and mismatched woodwork. In my eyes, it needed just a little love to give us that welcome home feeling. My before pictures aren't a true before. This was after we patched up all the holes. Note: never tried to use plaster (unless you like instant cement and hardcore messes). These pictures do give a little idea of what it was lacking, however. A few smooches here, and a couple nuzzles there.

We replaced our back door for something a little more sturdy. In that process, we ended up having to kind of mix and match some pieces for the trim surrounding it. Adds a little character, maybe?

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It is absolutely lovely to have a window in this back entrance. It lets in a ton of light in what would otherwise be a kind of creeper stairwell. The original trim was unpainted wood. However when we replaced the windows, we put a white vinyl in (less expensive and for a back stairwell, we could stand to cut the cost). So that trim also needed to be painted. And holy cow, that window and floor needs to be washed! I think I was the last person to wash it, and we haven't lived there in about a year.

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You can see the mismatched walls pretty well in this photo. After lots of patching and some priming, we had about four different colors happening! And I won't even begin on that light fixture...

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That light is even worse.

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With the hard part of patching the holes being completed, the rest was simple. Replace the lights. Paint some trim. Paint some walls. And add a few finishing touches: Replace switches,  sweep, mop and shine, change out dead light bulbs, etc.

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What I love about this before and after is the simplicity. After the patchwork, all we did was paint, switch out some lights, and put in a little elbow grease. You can easily make a dramatic change in a room in your home by slapping up some paint. It's also, in the grand scheme of home renovations, one of the cheaper changes to do. Never underestimate the power of little changes as well. Switching out old outlets and switches for fresh and clean new ones is inexpensive, and can give a much more polished look to your home. A simple light fixture can add much needed light and a more modern twist. Granted, our light fixtures here are more about function than for appeal, but you get the idea. Taking time to really clean and shine up your woodwork can make everything seem so much newer. Or you can give the trim a quick sand, prime, and a fresh coat of white paint to brighten your whole house! It really is simple, easy things that can make such a huge difference to making your home more homey.

And for funsies...

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Have you been up to any simple changes in your house? What do you love to do to make that simple difference in your rooms? Please share!

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