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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Cardboard and Contact Paper

Admittedly, it's a decor choice more shabby than chic, but ever since having kids I've become a whiz at using cardboard and contact paper. These two things together have solved more household problems than I would have imagined possible.

It started with childproofing. We live in a Craftsman bungalow that was built in the 1920's, which has its charms and challenges. As you can imagine, many of those nifty childproofing devices simply aren't made with older homes in mind. Take those handy doorknob covers as an example: they don't quite work with antique glass doorknobs. Those plastic fireplace door locks? They aren't worth a thing if all you have is antique wire curtains.

I often remind myself -- somehow, our parents (and us kids!) survived without all these doohickeys. So I can do the same, if I have to. Given enough cardboard and contact paper, that is!

One of my favorite things about our house is the built-in china cabinet in the dining room. It has style and history and a neat mirrored area in the middle of the top. I thought it was great before I had kids, and I really appreciated it right after. It turns out that this area happens to be perfectly sized for a baby's changing pad, and at the perfect height. Who would have thought it? The mirror keeps baby entertained, so it makes for an ideal diaper changing station.

But my affection for this element of the house quickly waned. The cabinet has antique glass in each door, and as I watched BJ learning how to walk, I realized it was a terrible accident waiting to happen. The moment he took his first adorable, stumbling steps in the vicinity, I immediately visualized, with horror, what would happen if he were to pitch headfirst through that fragile, 70+ year old glass.

We couldn't move it -- being a built-in, and all. Removing the glass didn't seem like the best option, though I considered it. Then, after scoring some contact paper through Freecycle, I cut pieces of cardboard to fit over the glass, covered them with contact paper, and then used double-sided tape to fix them to the glass. Now, if a toddler falls and hits one of the doors, the glass will probably still break but the cardboard pieces will act as a cushion and keep the kid from being sliced up by jagged edges.

Last summer, when BJ was fully mobile, I was almost at the point of taking down the cardboard & contact paper inserts. But then I got pregnant again, and I figured it would be easier to just leave them up until BB is running around on her own (which will be soon enough, I'm sure). So this is what it looks like for now, and how it will remain for the forseeable future. Not exactly Sunset Magazine, but it certainly is functional!

As for that open fireplace? Again, I cut cardboard to fit, covered it with contact paper -- white this time, to match the trim in the living room -- and stuck it in the opening. Voila! No more crawling around in the soot!

This week, I put together yet another fine cardboard & contact paper creation. Lately, BJ has been very concerned that his baby doll does not have a bed of her own. (He's been doing a lot of imitation parenting: feeding his baby while I feed BB, trying to dress and undress his baby, and putting her to sleep when BB naps. Very cool.) Rather than buy something, I asked BJ if he wanted to make something together. Of course he said yes!

For our little project, I took a spare cardboard box, cut it into a rough cradle shape, and covered it with contact paper. I had him help "measure" by holding his finger where I would need to cut. He had a great time doing that and helping to smooth out the contact paper. As an extra bonus, BB was entertained by the wadded up sheets that we'd peeled off the back of the contact paper.

It was a great way to keep all three of us busy for a good half hour, and he was very proud of the end result!


April said...

Wow, you certainly are creative! Actually, I may have to borrow your idea. We have glass doors to our entertainment center, and they have been very worrisome. Off to find some pretty contact paper!

And too cute about BJ and his baby!

Angela said...

Wow! You are Magyver (sp? hmmm...) with cardboard and contact paper!