Little Emilia has lots of dress up stuff. There are always tutus, crowns, purses, princess wands and jewelry pouring out of the toy boxes. Last year I installed some hooks on her bedroom wall to alleviate the problem, but that’s no longer cutting it. I like to give my children a “practical” present for their birthdays (since they get so many toys from everyone else). So, this year, I decided to build her something to solve our little problem: a pretend play wardrobe inspired by a Pinterest project I saw about a year ago. Don’t worry… even though its practical, it was still her favorite gift this year!
The original wardrobe post was a stationary version made from an old bookshelf. It was painted purple, had a closet rod at the top, all shelves removed, and a fancy “princess” mirror on the outside.
I had intended to make a similar model and spent a couple of weeks looking for a good solid bookshelf on Craigslist and our local buy-sell-trade Facebook site, but found nothing. Tired of waiting around for the right post to come along, I decided to try out a used furniture store down on historic Union Avenue. As luck would have it, I didn’t find a traditional bookshelf, but instead found this superior little gem for only $35! You can’t beat that price. It has four sides, two with deep removable shelves and two with ledges designed for books. It had four casters and 6 shelves included. This wasn’t what I had envisioned, but the wood was in immaculate shape, it didn’t need any work, and it was the perfect size for a toddler.
Because I’m nosy, I looked up this exact piece of furniture online to see what it sells for brand new. The best deal I found was $214 with free shipping at this link: http://www.wayfairsupply.com/Guidecraft-Big-4-Sided-Library-Book-Display-G97012-EZ1234.html
It is made in America and constructed of solid Birch. I would give this product 5/5 stars for quality and durability.
As soon as I got it home, I realized the casters weren’t going to work on the high pile carpet in Emilia’s room. I could push it with some effort, but she couldn’t. Solution: turn it into a Lazy Susan. In order to make this spin, I needed a base. I got really lucky on this one, because my brother-in-law had gifted me a random giant wooden circle about a year or two ago; specifically a 32-inch diameter Rev-a shelf Lazy Susan shelf. It’s been collecting dust in my garage. “You’ll find something to do with it,” he had told me… and I finally had! As if by fate, the wood color matched my bookshelf! My point being, USE WHAT YOU HAVE!
I had never installed a Lazy Susan mechanism before and I will tell you it was a HUGE PAIN! But, it was definitely worth the effort and I can now see why, though very confusing, the instructions were written the way they were. Home Depot sells only one choice; a 6’’ Lazy Susan by Everbilt for $4.48. http://www.homedepot.com/p/Everbilt-6-in-Square-Lazy-Susan-Turntable-with-400-lb-Load-Rating-49548/203661089
The packaging states that you should install the top plate of the Lazy Susan to the shelf (in this case the bottom of the bookshelf) first, then uninstall it. WHAT? WHY? I didn’t take this seriously and instead just marked the holes on the bottom of the unit and drilled pilot holes. BAD IDEA. The darn thing is so tricky to align once you screw the bottom plate to the base. I had to undo it and start over. If you follow the directions, installing it should probably take you only 30 minutes, even without experience. An extra set of hands is helpful for this part! A BIG THANK YOU to my husband for working through this with me!
Now for the modifications I made to the unit:
(For ease of construction, I would do these things prior to attaching the unit to the Lazy Susan. I found it much more difficult to screw things into the wood when it was wiggling all over the place!)
I removed all but the top two shelves, one on each side. Make sure your kiddo can reach it! You want to be sure you do this first, because we’ll need to install the closet rod in relation to the shelf.
For the closet rod, DON’T use a tension rod. It WILL fall down on your poor kid every day. For $1.49 you can buy these plastic sockets at the hardware store. Allow at least 1” of space between the bottom of the shelf and the top of the socket. You want to be sure the hangers go on and come off the rod easily! http://www.homedepot.com/p/Prime-Line-Closet-Pole-Sockets-1-3-8-in-Plastic-N-6568/202636660
You’ll also need a wooden dowel rod (usually located right next to the sockets at the store) http://www.homedepot.com/p/Unbranded-1-1-4-in-x-48-in-Hardwood-Dowel-114-4EDC/100006905 $4.76 for 48”. I needed only needed two 15” pieces, so I cut it down with my miter saw when I got home. If you don’t own a circular or miter saw, the staff at Lowes or Home Depot can cut your rod down to size for you. Be sure to use short screws to install the sockets so they don’t poke out the other side of the bookshelf. Then just sit the pole down inside the sockets.
I didn’t want to waste any opportunity for additional storage so I also screwed in a double hook on all four panels flanking the curtain rod. I paid $2.98 for each of the hooks.
That’s all I did to it! Grand total: $25 in supplies.
Initially, I wasn’t sure if I was going to modify the two sides of the bookshelves lined with ledges, but as I sorted through Emilia’s things, I found these 2 1/2’’ pockets were perfect for purses and dress up shoes. She could also toss small things like jewelry in there. If you’re looking for alternate design ideas, I did consider installing four pretty glass knobs on the face of each ledge for more hanging space. The ledges could also hold Barbies and other small dolls!
I haven’t put any “decorations” on this wardrobe, but you can easily personalize it with removable wall decals featuring your child’s favorite princesses or little ballerinas. Perhaps I’ll get around to it… 😉