Sassy Chic - Doll Furniture Flip
Husband: “So wait … we’re going to go buy things at a sale where we’re trying to sell things and make money?”
Me: “Um, yes.” (pausing as he stares) “Well, I promised her she could get ONE thing since she’s being so good and letting go of a lot of toys and books. And if we find anything we really need for her in the next size up, that will save us in the long run … right?” (blinking at him, awaiting a response)
Husband: (says nothing, but shakes his head and agrees to board this illogical train of thought)
Did I accomplish what I set out to do at that consignment sale? Oh yes.
I took in a decent amount for the sale of some remaining baby items, outgrown toys and books, and a few larger pieces (a sling style bookcase, the much loved KidKraft uptown kitchen set, and some baby proofing gear we had held onto for far too long). And I got my kiddo a few “new” books, let her pick out one toy (she selected an emoji stamp set, so that’s a win-win since we can use it when writing her friends letters), and found my next project.
Just as we were rounding the last aisle to begin to head towards the checkout area, I spotted it…
A very much loved wooden doll highchair that everyone was passing up for much cheaper quality plastic versions. I saw right through the cracks and dents in the wood and split back plate, imagining rehabbing this tiny piece of furniture in an epic consignment sale flip.
Why I believe that my little DIY projects “will only take a week – TOPS!” (my husband just walks away shaking his head these days whenever I say these words) is beyond me. Perhaps if life didn’t get in the way or my crafting mojo didn’t ebb and flow like the tides, I could hold myself to that deadline. As Scarlett would say, “tomorrow is another day.” Am I right?
But here we are (three months later); and my quick rehab project is finally complete.
Oh, and I’ve now decided – against my better judgment – to keep the refurbished play thing to let my five-year-old play with it to her heart’s content rather than sell it for a profit (well, as much of a “profit” you can make at a consignment sale where you’re taking home a percentage of your total sales anyway).
Does it look brand spankin’ new? No.
Has it been restored to its glory days, before eBay would have classified it as “vintage” and slapped a $29.99 asking price on it? No.
But is it pretty darned cool and functional? Heck yes!
This DIY thing is still very much a work in progress for me. Even now that cracks and holes have been filled and sanded, the gazillion coats of acrylic paint have been applied, and everything is sealed in permanently (more or less), I find myself nit-picking some of the flaws I completely missed the first 300 times I looked over each part. But seeing my daughter and her friend from a neighboring apartment put it to the test tonight as they play with it as though it’s a brand new, ultra expensive doll accessory was so worth all of the hours I put into it. Don’t you think?
If you want to do a similar project, here are the materials I found most useful, as well as the steps I took to take this from a wobbly old kids’ plaything to a more chic looking one.
Supplies can be purchased at a hardware store – Mom & Pop or the chain variety – and many craft stores (my preferred store is Michael’s, but I go to others to get what I need). Now, think about how you would like to make your final product look and seek out items you need to accomplish that.
What I Used:
Permanent Acrylic Craft Paint (I chose Anita’s All-Purpose Acrylic in Morning Blue – the big bottle)
Small Roller Brush with Foam Rollers
Sandpaper (180 grit)
Acrylic Sealer/Finisher Gloss Spray (I went with DecoArt’s Americana kind)
Interior Wood Filler (I picked Elmer’s brand – the color changing type that “dries natural”)
Interior Wood Glue (also Elmer’s brand)
Shaker Style Wooden Pegs (I found the Woodpile Fun brand worked best)
Screws (I took the original rusty ones to Lowe’s and got small packs of replacement ones in a nice new shiny silver color)
Safety Gloves with Extra Protection for Fingers
Small Chisel Tool
IKEA Kids’ Paintbrush (the larger of the two brushes from the MÅLA watercolor set)
Steps Taken to Rehab the Doll Highchair:
1. Take the Furniture Apart
Be sure to make notes for each part, including which side you took something from (if it’s not obvious), which screw lengths belong to each hole, etc.
Keep any very small original parts (even if you plan to replace them with newer parts, as I did) in snack-sized baggies – you may need to find these again later to double check your work or reference how long a peg was
2. Remove Chipped Portions – for me, this was the back plate of the chair and proved quite
tricky, as it was like a thin sheet of paneling and beyond repair. I ended up using an attachment on the Dremel that looked like something I’ve seen my dentist use, combined with an archaeologist-style technique of gently hammering a very small chisel underneath parts and prying up sections
*Note: The "before" pic shown in the image above was taken from an eBay listing where the highchair was without much damage. The one I used had a considerable chunk taken out of the back plate
3. Sand Down Everything!
You want a nice smooth surface to work with and sanding can also show you what may need to be filled (and subsequently re-sanded)
Remember to wipe everythingoff with a damp cloth and let each piece dry completely after each round of sanding before painting or doing any additional work
You may choose a coarser grit sandpaper, but I prefer to go with a finer one and just use a bit more elbow grease to get the job done
4. Create New Pegs – Since the highchair was vintage (circa 1950s), the wooden pegs securing
the back plate disintegrated a bit when I attempted to carefully extract them upon dismantling the chair. I found comparable pegs at Hobby Lobby and was lucky enough to have salvaged one original peg. I had to use the Dremel again (thanks to the Safety Manager hubby recommending some heavy duty gloves!), but I was able to shape the pegs to the length and width I needed.
5. Apply Paint to Each Piece (Even the Little Stuff!)
I started out with my trusty foam rollers – they’re crucial for ensuring a smooth coat with no visible brush strokes
I lost count of how many coats and touch-ups I did, as the roller method sometimes didn’t adhere as I liked
I ended up finishing everything with a nice medium size paintbrush from an IKEA watercolor set of my daughter’s (the tip of the brush reminded me a fatter version of one of those Japanese calligraphy books I had growing up)
If you were curious about the chopsticks, this is where I used them. The highchair had these little tiny cylindrical parts that attached to the arms of the tray – I got creative and realized I could paint those in one shot if I skewered them onto the chopsticks and spun them around while painting … then I just rested them in a place I knew would ensure that the paint didn’t get smudged anywhere
6. Apply Decals – I chose stickers with black print and clear backing (a floral design as well as a
sassy saying “I ♥ You … Now Feed Me” one that was actually part of a set of cat stickers) and used Mod Podge to secure them, much like you would do decoupage
7. Seal Each Piece – this one’s pretty self-explanatory (number of coats is up to you – I probably
did 3 or 4 coats, as I wanted this to be shiny and glossy looking)
8. Reassemble the Furniture – this should be the easiest (and last) part of your project … unless
you’re like me and accidentally sealed off two crucial holes to the point where I couldn’t tell where they were originally. (Cue my frantic texts to my husband to “help a sistah out” when he got home from work, as I was too afraid of re-drilling them myself and ruining the whole thing.)
9. VOILA! You’re Done! – Present your child with the finished product and let him/her go to
town with the new plaything (or sell it and try to make a profit, as I’d originally intended to do here)