One of the very best parts about being a mom to a three year old girl with an imagination is having a dress up box to help her transform her wildest dreams into reality.
But one small problem had turned this playtime favorite into a clean room nightmare.
Between my extensive collection of old costumes from days when I was required to dress up at work for theme days on a monthly basis, to the large selection of costume hand-me-downs from friends, my toddler’s costume box had literally transformed itself from her wildest dreams into the wildest mess imaginable at the bottom of her closet. I knew it was time to do something different when she thought it was more fun to build pallets out of the clothes then dig through them to play out her dreams.
Tip #1: Your toddler may be a hot mess, but her dress up closet doesn’t have to be.
So I set out on a mission las to find a dress up wardrobe of some sort. It turns out for around $150 you can purchase one online through Amazon. But that seemed pricey for the size and the quality.
Tip 2: Upcycle An Old Entertainment Center into a Dress Up Wardrobe
So what’s a (maybe not so) crafty mom to do? Why tackle her first “upcycle” furniture project of course!
Since I didn’t have anything around the house to transform, I turned to the Facebook Marketplace for inspiration. I typed in “Entertainment Center” and set the price range for under $20. As luck would have it, four entertainment centers popped up. About six hours after leaving Facebook messages for all four sellers and $15 later, I was the proud owner of an older style entertainment center.
Tip #3: Satin Paint is Best for Toddler Furniture
Now the mission to transform the piece into something that would make my little diva’s eyes sparkle with excitement began.
A quick trip to Home Depot ensued to gather supplies. With a little guidance from Mike, the associate working the paint area, my three year old picked out her dream color…”Fairytale Purple”. In that moment, I knew the stars were aligning to make this project extra special.
Mike told us paint is priced by the satin and while it would save us a few dollars to get matte, we really wanted a satin finish because we could wipe it down. Any parent with a toddler and a “wet wipes can clean anything” philosophy knows the word “wipeable” is golden. So satin paint it was.
Mike also recommended we use rollers. We were lucky enough to find two paint rolling kits for $5 each, and we grabbed an extra set of replacements for the rollers so we’d have a set to switch to between primer and purple paint coatings.
Home Depot Supply List
- 1 Sheet of Plywood ($13)
- 1 quart Kilz primer ($7)
- 1 quart satin latex paint ($16)
- 2 roller paint kit sets ($10)
- 1 package replacement rollers ($5)
- 1 drop cloth package ($5)
- 1 large dowel rod ($7)
- 1 closet rod holder ($4)
- 6 pink Knobs for decoration ($12, optional)
Tip #4: Enlist Your Toddler’s Help in Assembling and Painting the Project
Once we got home, the real fun began. My hubby and I took all the doors and fixtures off of the entertainment center. Then we wiped it down to remove all the excess dirt and oils.
We had purchased a piece of plywood to go along the back of the entertainment center instead of keeping the thick cardboard it had come with. We knew we needed something strong to safely hold the mirror we would install in the vanity section of the wardrobe later.
While we knew it would be a complete and total disaster asking our three year old to join us in the painting, we also knew it would be her favorite part. And since the final project was going into her room, perfection wasn’t going to outweigh quality family time together.
Tip #5: Let Toddlers Paint with Latex Paint, Not Primer
If I had the project to do over again, I would have painted the primer coat without assistance and then brought in my daughter’s paint rolling excitement when we got to the latex paint.
Kilz primer paint is much more difficult to remove from skin than latex paint. Latex paint peels right off. Kilz takes a lot of scrubbing and a few home remedies from Google Searches to remove (How to Remove Kilz from Skin).
Tip #6: Use Kilz if You’re Painting an Entertainment Center with a Glossy Finish
Kilz is a primer paint that is used as your base coat. The entertainment center I had purchased was glossy and dark. The dark color wasn’t a huge deal because we had selected an even darker color to paint over it. But the man at Home Depot told us Kilz would make it where we only needed to apply one coat of latex paint. Without it, he feared the latex paint would soak into the glossy finish and therefore we would need extra coats. Since a can of Kilz is about half the price of a second can of latex paint, we took his recommendation.
Tip 7: Let Your Kiddo Pick the Paint Color
I had originally envisioned a dainty white wardrobe with light pink accents, a few butterflies, boas, and flowers to round out the design. But the wardrobe wasn’t going into my room. So I enlisted my daughter’s guidance at the paint counter.
From the moment we walked up to the swatches wall, her heart was set on purple. Not a light purple either. She wanted the darkest purple they had.
I have to admit, the color she picked wouldn’t have even made my short list of options. But the finished product screamed her to the tee. More importantly, she loved it. At the end of the day, her happiness (and perhaps my inner OCD’s need to help her get a cleaner room) was the entire inspiration for the project.
An Easy DIY Upcycle Entertainment Center to Dress Up Wardrobe Project
I now understand why people get addicted to upcycling old furniture into new functionality around the home. I wish I could tell you in the end we saved a lot of money over buying an off the shelf version of a dress up wardrobe. We may have saved $20. But I can tell you the entire experience of working together as a family to complete the DIY assignment was priceless.