A Look Back at Our Favorite DIY Projects Past

Build, Kids, Projects

One rewarding part of starting Creatively Home has been looking back at the projects we’ve completed. We thought it would be fun to share some of our favorite DIY projects past. Unfortunately, we didn’t take many before photos, but trust me when I say everything was an improvement!

Fireplace Mantle and Headboard – Two DIY Projects From One

Favorite DIY project past - white craftsman style fireplace with herringbone marble surround

Our living room is loaded with oak: oak floors, oak fireplace mantle, oak moulding and full wall oak built-in bookcase. There can be no question the house was built in the 80s – the built-in provides a 3 1/2′ x 2 1/2′ opening for a television. Dean’s “need” for a new television provided a good reason to change the room’s orientation.

Mounting the television over the fireplace created a better room layout. We took the opportunity to switch out the drafty old fireplace for a gas insert and DIY a new fireplace surround and mantle. Since we will eventually move away from all of the oak, we chose White Dove paint for the mantle and gray marble tile in a herringbone pattern. We hid the television electrical and love our low-profile, craftsman style fireplace.

Favorite DIY project past - repurposed fireplace mantle transformed into headboard

I couldn’t bear to get rid of the oak mantle, so found the perfect repurpose – a headboard for our master bedroom. We resized the frame to fit our queen bed by cutting some length off each side and re-mitering one corner to shorten the top. Then came sanding, filling holes, sanding some more, priming, and painting several coats of our favorite White Dove.

Old fireplace mantle repurposed into headboard

For the center, I upholstered a piece of plywood and attached it to the frame. Then mounted with French cleats made from 2″ x 4″s and the headboard was complete. Repurposing the oak mantle was so satisfying and rewarding.

The oak bookcase wall is on our to-do list. We’ve thought about refinishing, reconfiguring or completely dismantling. Dean tends toward demolish and start over (the “burn it down” approach). Most likely, we will reconfigure and refinish to make use of the quality wood but make it work for us.

Toy Bench with Built-In Car Garage and Ramps

Favorite DIY project past for child's room - toy storage with built-in car garage and ramps

Our son LOVES cars. When we were ready to make toy storage for his room, our standard bench with compartments seemed a wasted opportunity. Instead, I designed a bench with play areas built right in.

Child's toy storage with built-in car garage and ramps

We put in a car “garage” connected by a ramp to the bench top and added cove moulding to keep the cars from falling off the sides or back. Dean cut out holes in the top and side of the bench with a jigsaw, then used a router to round the edges. After a stain failure, I pained the bench a beautiful deep blue chalk paint sealed with several coats of polyurethane.

Child's toy storage with built-in car garage and ramps

Both kids love playing with their cars on the toy bench and we are so happy with how this project turned out. As an added bonus, Dean LOVES any chance to use his router. My only critique is that the compartment with the ramp doesn’t provide much storage, but there is plenty with the other three compartments.

Radiator Springs

Disney Cars and Lightning McQueen have been constants in our lives for over 2 years. We fully embrace Cars because 2 years is basically an eternity in terms of young kiddos’ toy interests. Plus, both my son and daughter love the movies and characters and they play so well together with their Cars toys.

Favorite DIY project past - creating Radiator Springs playset - Sally's Cozy Cone motel

Last Christmas, we decided to go full-in on Cars and make the town of Radiator Springs. My dad, G-Pa, and I worked together one one of our favorite DIY projects past.

I gave him measurements and very rough design sketches for each building, along with images from our Cars books.

DIY project creating Radiator Springs playset - Flo's V8 Cafe

He built most from 1/8″ plywood, but also used paper mâché for Fillmore’s dome, corrugated cardboard for Sarge’s Surplus Hut and plastic food containers for Flo’s V-8 Cafe. Check out some more ideas on repurposing plastic containers. G-Pa and I (with some assistance from Gigi and Dean) painted each building with acrylic craft paint.

DIY project creating Radiator Springs playset - Luigi's Casa Della Tires

G-Pa also made accessories from squeezable kid food pouch caps – the leaning tire tower in front of Luigi’s Casa Della Tires and a tree. The kids walked downstairs one morning after Christmas to find the Town of Radiator Springs and were so excited! It continues to be a hit; they love playing in and around Radiator Springs (we left roofs off all buildings so the kids could easily reach inside).

Floating Narrow Bookshelf

Favorite DIY project past - floating narrow bookshelf in child's room

When setting up my daughter’s nursery, I wanted books easily reachable from her glider chair, anticipating we would read to her before naps and bedtime. Not having space for a full bookcase, I found some narrow bookshelves online for inspiration. I sketched a rough plan for a narrow floating bookshelf to mount on the wall next to the glider and put Dean to work.

DIY floating narrow bookshelf in child's room

To my simple design, he added 1/4″ trim to both cover the front edges and create a lip on the bottom to hold the books in place. Now that the kids are older, they enjoy reaching books by themselves.

Patterned Tile Backsplash

Favorite DIY project past - gray patterned tile backsplash behind stove and kitchen vent hood

Our patterned tile backsplash rounds out our favorite DIY projects past. We love the layout of our kitchen, but every element was white when we moved in: white cabinets, white tile backsplash, white walls, white formica, and white tile floors. We quickly made minor and inexpensive tweaks, like painting the walls and changing the hardware. New countertops, cabinets or flooring are not in our time or financial budgets, so changing the backsplash was the quickest and cheapest way to make a big change. We went bold with a dark gray patterned tile. G-Pa and I had a lot of fun with this project, which required some creative work-arounds to electrical and stove vent issues.

Child and Grandpa wiping grout off patterned tile backsplash

My daughter (3 at the time) had her first grout experience and will be a great helper the next time around.

Our future kitchen plans include changing the white tile floor. We likely won’t change out the cabinets, but are considering DIY’ing a new counter to replace the white formica.

Thanks for taking a walk down memory lane with us at our favorite DIY projects past. We have more fun projects to come…

Collage of favorite DIY projects past