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playing up plywood

From Habitat magazine - issue 32, bright ideas for kids

With a few Resene testpots, simple shapes can become fun kid-friendly accessories.

Cloud mobile

Kids have a special superpower. When they see a simple shape, they don't just see a square, circle, rectangle or triangle – they see a robot, flower, spaceship or tree, and all they need is a bit of paint to uncover its true form. A helpful adult can make a few simple cuts using a jig saw, scroll saw or similar tool to create basic shapes out of plywood and sand down any sharp edges. Just wipe away the sawdust, then the real fun can begin!

Rain or shine

No matter what the weather, this children's nursery looks soft and serene thanks to its muted Resene colour palette. The wall is in Resene Thorndon Cream with cloud detail in Resene Eighth Thorndon Cream, the floor and shelf are in Resene Thor, the side table is in Resene Laser, the plant pots are in Resene Sandal and Resene Just Right, the vases are in Resene Thor, Resene Just Right and Resene Vintage, the tea light holder is in Resene Vintage and the wooden rainbow is in Resene Vintage, Resene Just Right, Resene Laser, Resene Thor, Resene Undercurrent and Resene Safehaven.

Cloud mobile: in Resene Eighth Thorndon Cream with raindrops in Resene Vintage, Resene Just Right, Resene Quarter Frozen, Resene Thor, Resene Safehaven, Resene Laser and Resene Sandal and wall in Resene Thorndon Cream with cloud detail in Resene Eighth Thorndon Cream.

Toddlers nursery
Cloud bookend: in Resene Undercurrent, Resene Bali Hai and Resene Quarter Frozen, sun bookend in Resene Pirate Gold, Resene Laser and Resene Mellow Yellow, wall in Resene Thorndon Cream and shelf in Resene Thor.  Mountain bookend: No hue is out of reach when it comes to colouring these cute mountain bookends. We used Resene Japonica, Resene Sebedee, Resene Paradise, Resene Gulf Stream and Resene Alabaster for ours. The wall is painted Resene Trojan and Resene Highland and the shelf is in Resene Java.

Silver lining

A popular nursery accessory of the 1950s, we think it's high time for mobiles to make a comeback. Start by cutting a classic scalloped cloud and a dozen or so raindrop shapes out of your sheet of plywood. Then, using a power drill, make holes in the tops of each of your raindrops, the top of your cloud and a line of holes across the bottom of your cloud – we made five holes along the bottom.

Paint your cloud and raindrops using Resene testpots in your favourite colours – we used Resene Eighth Thorndon Cream for our cloud and Resene Vintage, Resene Just Right, Resene Quarter Frozen, Resene Thor, Resene Safehaven, Resene Laser and Resene Sandal for our raindrops. You can even paint patterns onto some of your raindrops, if you wish. We gave some of ours stripes and others ticks.

Using sparkly silver string – though twine, thread, wool or ribbon will do the trick too – thread through the holes of your raindrops, knotting them on at even intervals before knotting the end to one of the holes in the bottom of the cloud. Then, thread a long length of string through the top hole in your cloud, knotting it securely. Hang your mobile from your ceiling using the appropriate hardware and high enough that it will be safely out of reach of little hands.

Shine on

Rain or shine, you and your kids will never get tired of looking at these cheerful bookends.

Download the templates from the habitat by Resene website, and trace the shapes onto plywood with a pencil (or draw your own) before cutting them out. We also cut arched shapes to cover up the vertical side of the metal bookends. We used Resene Quarter Frozen, Resene Bali Hai and Resene Undercurrent for the clouds, Resene Mellow Yellow, Resene Laser and Resene Pirate Gold for the sun and Resene Undercurrent and Resene Pirate Gold for the arches. Once your paint has dried, use a hot glue gun to glue the smallest cloud on top of the medium cloud, aligning the corners, then glue the medium cloud on top of the largest cloud. Do the same with the sun, stacking and gluing the smaller quarter-circle onto the larger one, then on to the rays.

Using quick bond glue, adhere your arches on to the front face of the bookends, then apply glue to the vertical edge of the stacked clouds and stick it to the centre of the arch painted in Resene Undercurrent. Do the same for the sun, adhering it to the centre of the arch that is painted in Resene Pirate Gold. Allow your bookends to dry overnight to ensure the glue has set completely before using them.

Peaky minders

These mountain-shaped bookends are one cute way to keep your children's books in line. We used Resene testpots in four different colours for our mountains to give them depth – Resene Japonica and Resene Sebedee for the orange ones and Resene Paradise and Resene Gulf Stream for the blue ones – but the sky is the limit when it comes to the colours you can use to paint your mountains. Once you've painted on two basecoats and allowed them to dry, mask off the tips of the triangles and paint on the snow caps to finish the effect. We used two coats of Resene Alabaster. From there, simply glue your smaller mountains on top of your larger mountains, aligning the corners, and then use quick bond glue that's suitable for both metal and wood to attach the straight side of your mountains to the backs of basic metal bookends. 

Paint Resene FX Magnetic Magic beneath your coloured topcoats to add another dimension of play. Motorway bookends: Kids who love reading as much as they love cars will appreciate these motorway bookends. Roads in Resene Shark and Resene Broom, toy cars in Resene Sebedee, Resene Untamed and Resene Mystery, wall in Resene Highland with road in Resene Shark and Resene Broom, toy chest in Resene Sebedee with lid in Resene Broom, and magnets in Resene Sebedee, Resene Broom, Resene Anise, Resene Japanese Laurel, Resene Java and Resene Bubble White.

A motorway for boundless play

When you love playing with cars, the world is your motorway. Help pave the way for creative play by using paint and masking to turn your child's bedroom or playroom into a whole world for them to explore. The lower walls and floor in this room are painted in Resene Highland while the road is in Resene Shark with dashed lines in Resene Broom and the mountains are in Resene Trojan with snowy caps in Resene Bubble White. To keep the space feeling light, the sky is in Resene Saltpan. The upper shelves are painted Resene Java with clouds beneath in Resene Bubble White, the lower shelf is in Resene Japanese Laurel, the chair is in Resene Anise, the toy box is in Resene Sebedee with a lid in Resene Broom, the hooks are in Resene Broom and Resene Bubble White, and the plant pots, bowls and vases (from left to right) are in Resene Broom, Resene Shark, Resene Japanese Laurel, Resene Anise, Resene Sebedee, Resene Bubble White, Resene Java and Resene Sebedee. Even the peg pedestrians have been painted to match in Resene Sebedee, Resene Broom, Resene Japanese Laurel and Resene Java.

To add another dimension of play, the grassy section of the wall has been coated in Resene FX Magnetic Magic then topcoated. Attach strong magnets to the back of plywood shapes or small wooden toys – cars, trees, buildings, letters and numbers – and your kids can enjoy countless hours playing out stories on their walls. To make things even better, choose Resene FX Chalkboard Paint or Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen for your tinted topcoat and the surface will also work as a chalkboard. Simply wipe it clean with a damp cloth.

Reading roadways

With just a couple of plywood squares and rectangles, toy cars and Resene testpots, you can put a pair of boring bookends on the highway to fun. We painted ours in two coats of Resene Shark, allowing time to dry in between coats. To speed things up, you can always use a hair dryer to put the drying process in the fast lane.

Once your paint is dry, use high quality masking tape to create the dashed centre line. Simply find the centre of your rectangle, apply strips of masking half a centimetre on either side, then use perpendicular strips of masking to create the gaps in between. We painted our dashes in Resene Broom. While your roads are drying, paint a few wooden or diecast vehicles using Resene testpots in your favourite colours. We used two coats each of Resene Sebedee, Resene Untamed and Resene Mystery for our cars.

Once everything has dried, use quick bond glue to attach your road sections to the back of your metal bookends and each other so your shapes create an 'L' shape. Then, glue the wheels of your vehicles onto your roadways so that they appear to be driving up and down your bookends.

Painted shelves
Mountain shelves
Painted roads

Did you know... Resene Zylone Sheen Zero is Environmental Choice approved and has no added VOCs, making it ideal for use in areas where occupants may be more sensitive to other paints?

Resene Safehaven

projects and styling: Laura Lynn Johnston
images: Bryce Carleton


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