I found this children’s chalkboard easel at the Salvation Army for only $10 and instantly fell in love.
I had seen similar antique chalkboard easels online (here, here, here, and here) and had always loved them. Overall, it was in pretty good shape (except for the missing panel across the top) and I knew that with a little spiffing-up it could be perfect for Bailey’s room!
So, I started off by cleaning it really well and giving it a few coats of spray paint in a bright, fun color (I know… painting an antique… I am such a rebel).
I considered updating the chalkboards with a little chalkboard paint, but decided to instead use it as a painting easel/coloring desk (I have learned to restrict the use of chalk to the outdoors since Bailey tends to make such a mess with it). Since I didn’t need to save the chalkboard surfaces I was able to let my creativity run free… and boy did I ever!
I instantly thought back to these Childcraft children’s books (1961 editions) that I found while visiting the thrift store run by my childhood church.
I had fallen in love with the adorable illustrations and just had to have them. I figured that someday I’d find a way to put them to use in Bailey’s room. And for almost a year they’ve sat tucked away in a box just waiting for the perfect project.
So I disassembled the books and decided to decoupage with them (which I had never attempted before, but had always been curious to try)! I bought a $0.25 scrap piece of mat board at a frame store to replace the panel on the top of the easel. I covered both sides of it with a collage of pictures and rhymes.
Then I moved on to the chalkboard surfaces. I covered both of them just like I did the mat board for the upper panel. After popping the panel in the top of the easel I took it outside and gave the whole thing two even coats of spray sealer to protect the decoupaged surfaces and make things more wipe-able (you know… in case Bailey drips her finger paints down the front of it).
And Bailey LOVED it… I mean she absolutely went bananas over it!
But the story doesn’t end here. Unfortunately, the easel wasn’t originally constructed in a time where children’s safety was as big of a concern. I mean, don’t get me wrong… I’m not an overprotective parent by any stretch of the imagination… but after watching Bailey touch the bottom of the easel only to have the desk fall down and hit her in the arm, I decided that a couple safety features might not be a bad idea.
So we added a window latch to the front to keep the desk from falling open if Bailey bumped it too hard. We also added some hardware to the side that would prevent the entire easel from collapsing if she tried to move it or push it.
And lastly, we added a couple of small clips to the front (on the painting surface) to hold a piece of paper.
And voila! Here’s the finished product!
And just to refresh your memories here are the befores again. Crazy difference, huh?