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Ikea Bekvam hack – Toddler step

Alice is now approaching 17 months old and for most of her life so far (bar those sleepy newborn days) she’s been quite hard to keep entertained. Though nursery tell me she plays well on her own, at home she gets frustrated and wants constant stimulation. I mentioned this to a mum friend a few months ago and she told me she’d bought a second hand Fun Pod for her toddler and it had revolutionized their lives. Fun Pods also known as Learning Towers are elevated enclosed plastforms that toddlers can stand in to see what is happening at kitchen counter height. They are about £100 to buy new, but occasionally they pop up on eBay. I actually found a second hand one being sold, but chickened out of bidding at the last moment, because I worried it was going to be just another unnecessary “toy” to clutter up the house.

Of course I instantly regretted not trying to buy it, but then I discovered an Ikea hack which is arguably better than the Fun Pod, customisable and cheaper, so we decide to try making it.

This hack is based on the Ikea Bekvam step stool which costs £13 and there are loads of tutorials online which show different approaches to customising it, but we based our hack on this DIY at Happy Grey Lucky and made a few modifications.

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DIY paint tester pot doormat

Those of you who follow me on Facebook might remember that I shared a photo of a multi-coloured duckboard door mat a few weeks ago and said what a great use of our left over tester pots it would be. Well in the end I decided the duckboard probably wouldn’t stand up to all the toing and froing in our house and so instead decided to try the same treatment on a £6 coir mat

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Transforming a £6 charity shop bedside table

A few weeks ago a charity shop opened around the corner from my house in a newly built unit. There was a bit of uproar in the village as the developers had promised local people a convenience store and instead signed the shop lease over to a local hospice, but quietly I was a little excited by the news and when it opened I was not disappointed.

It’s proved to be a treasure trove of bargain finds from designer wellies to vintage jewellery, children’s clothes and furniture and I’ve somewhere local to donate my own stuff to a charity who need to raise £20,000 a day to keep going.

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Dip dye high chair makeover

I don’t know what it is with me and varnish this week, but it’s almost like I’m wandering round the house looking for wooden things to cover in paint! This week’s second makeover is my childhood high chair which has been in the family for many years and is currently used by Theo.

He has been asking for it to be painted red since he was old enough to speak, so I thought I’d finally grant him his wish, except that as soon as I said I’d spray it red he added another condition. He now wanted it red and pink!

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String art sign for my studio

If you’ve been following me on Instagram you may have spotted that a few weeks ago I attempted my first piece of string art. String art has been around since the 70s and can be either incredibly simple or extremely complex. Once you start browsing Pinterest and looking at how people have used the concept you’ll be blown away with the potential of it.

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I wanted to create a sign for my studio largely because it was being photographed for a book about She Sheds and it was an effective way of squeezing in a bit of branding! Here’s what I started out with… The wood for the sign was a simple pre-cut soft word plank which came from B&Q

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If I’d known this was going to be a successful project I would have sourced my equipment a bit better. As it is nearly everything in this photo had changed by the end! The packet of Panel Pins was what we had in the garage and I ran out of them halfway through the project and then couldn’t find an exact match! The embroidery thread was from my stash and it turned out it just wasn’t thick enough to be effective and even the hammer wasn’t right, I ended up buying a small toffee hammer!

But anyway, here’s how the process works! To begin with you measure your wooden surface and work out how big you want your art or wording to be, then print a template, I used Photoshop to do mine. Cut the letters out and attach them to the wooden surface with selotape. I used a piece of string fixed with drawing pins at each end to create a horizontal line to work on.

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Once the template letters are stuck down you can start knocking in the panel pins and the fun begins! It’s tempting to spread the pins out, but the closer you can get them the more interwoven your thread will be and the better it will look. I learned that the hard way. As you can see I’m only one letter in and I’ve already switched hammers…

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Once the pins are all in you can start the fun part… or if you are ridiculously impatient like me you can strat the fun part before you’ve done all the pins, just so you can see how it’s going to look! My new embroidery threads came from The Eternal Maker. I went into the store with a copy of my blog logo and matched up the colours as closley as I could.

string art sign in progress using embroidery thread

It was at about this stage when Jim said to me “You’ll hate me for this, but I really think you should have painted the wood” – I was too far in to turn back! I should warn you string art is very relaxing and great fun, but it takes ages to do and every now and again as you are twisting the thread round one of the pins it unloops and spirals backwards unlooping round half a dozen pins and taking you back several steps – aaahhh!

Despite everything I did manage to finish the main part of the sign in time for the photographs, but I deviated from my original plan to do smaller string letters underneath and cheated by cutting them out of felt. For a first attempt I’m pleased with the result, but next time I’d use panel pins with slightly bigger heads, put them as close together as I can and yes…. paint the board!

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Next time I’d love to do a large picture, though based on how long this took I think that would be quite an epic project… maybe something for the winter! If you are inspired by the concept have a look at some of the examples on the Pinterest board I created…

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