DIY Baby Play Gym That Grows with Your Child

When Ideas Magazine asked me if I could make a baby gym that could grow into something else, this clever little frame was born. It will grow with your little ones and entertain them for years to come: from a cute baby gym to a dreamy dress-up closet and colourful play tent.

Remember to get your copy of Ideas Jr filled ideas on decorating your little one’s room with style. It even has creative pages to frame!

ideas jr 2018 magazine cover

Available now!


How complicated: easy

How Long: 2 hours (excluding drying time)


You will need:

For the frame

  • 2x 22mmx44mmx2.4m pine PAR
  • 1x 16mmx1m pine dowel
  • 16mm spade bit
  • Paint in the colour of your choice (we used Harlequin’s Furniture Chalk Paint in Isle of Wight)
  • 2m cotton sash cord
  • 8mm wood drill bit


For the mobile

  • Various extra-large wooden beads
  • Wooden curtain rings
  • Cotton twine


For the shelf

  • 200mmx300mmx16mm laminated pine shelving or plywood
  • 2m cotton sash cord
  • Paint in the colour of your choice (we used Harlequin’s Furniture Chalk Paint in Isle of Wight)


For the cloud mat

  • A piece of 1mx1m solid fabric (we used Home Fabrics Fibreguard Peak in Malachite)
  • Another piece of 1mx1m fabric (the same as the first, or mix things up! For the reverse, we used Home Fabrics Bambino Buddy in Sky)
  • 1mx1m batting


For the tent

  • 74m fabric (includes 20mm seam allowance on all sides – we used Home Fabrics Bambino Buddy in Sky)
  • 7m matching fringing
  • 5m matching cord to tie the edges



Cut the pine battens according to the diagram to form the legs of the frame. Then drill the holes as shown: use the spade bit for the larger holes and the smaller wooden bit for the hole near the bottom. Paint the legs and allow to dry. Then add the dowel and sash cord to create the frame.




Put the dowel in the lower holes of the frame and adjust the sash cord so that the dowel is roughly 80cm from the floor.

To make the cloud mat, lay down the batting and then add the two pieces of fabric on top, with right sides together. Then draw a cloud-shape onto the top fabric using chalk. Pin together all the layers and carefully cut out the shape. Then sew together, leaving around 20cm open to turn the cloud right side out. Close the opening and add top-stitching.

Use the twine and string up some beads and curtain rings. You want to create varying lengths to keep baby engaged! Make sure that you secure the beads very carefully so that they can’t pose a choking hazard. Then tie each string of beads to the dowel.




Adjust the frame by moving the dowel up to the top holes. Shorten the sash cord to accommodate the height of your child.

To make the little shelf, drill holes using the 8mm wooden bit as shown on the diagram. Then paint the edges of the wood and add a fun pattern to the top. We used the end of a small sponge roller to get the polka-dot effect! Once it’s dry, add the sash cord and suspend it from the dowel.




Keep the dowel in the top position, and remove one of the sash cords to create an opening.

Add a roll seam to the four sides of the tent fabric and add the fringing and cord. Put the fabric over the dowel and secure on the ends, threading the cord through the holes at the bottom.

Happy Making!


Simple Scandinavian Ladder

I never throw away cut-offs and wood scraps! They have a special place in my small backyard, where they often prove to be little treasure troves of pain, especially when feet find them. But they are treasures nonetheless; throw-away scraps are perfect for odd jobs, and their size and shape largely dictate what you can do with them; which is how this ladder came into the world.

This ladder is not the most original DIY, but it is practical and pretty. Initially, I left it unpainted, but when I saw this West Elm version, I was convinced white paint had to be part of my ladder.



Difficulty: easy

Time: 1 hour without drying between paint coats



  • 2 x 35mmx35mmx3.0m timber battens
  • 16 wood screws
  • Cold wood glue like Alcolin, or a strong wood bonding glue
  • white water-based paint
  • Painter’s tape or masking tape


  • Jigsaw
  • Drill
  • A piece of sandpaper (or electric sander)
  • Screwdriver
  • Paintbrush
  • Carpenter’s square
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil


rustic decorative adder

Measure and cut battens to 2x 1.5m pieces for the legs and 4x 0.5m pieces for the rungs.

Pro tipUse a carpenter’s square to ensure the pieces are cut perfectly square. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a wonky ladder.


make a ladder

Sand down the pieces to the desired smoothness. I only sanded the edges, because I wanted a rougher texture.


vintage ladder

Mark the positions of the rungs on the sides of the legs: I spaced mine 300mm apart. Remember that the rung will sit in the middle of the measurement. Drill two pilot holes for each rung, one a little higher than the other. This will prevent the wood from splitting and will ensure a stronger hold.


wood ladder

Put a drop of cold glue on the edges of a rung, wait a few seconds, and press it against the inside of the leg where you drilled the pilot holes. Move the wood against each other until you feel the hold securing. Use your carpenter’s square to ensure a 90-degree angle.


diy storage ladder

Fix the two screws in place for each rung and then allow the cold glue to dry.

Repeat steps 5 and 6 for each rung until your ladder is complete.


timber ladder

(If you want a smoother finish, now would be the time to sand!) Use painters tape to demarcate the areas the be painted. I measured 20cm from the outside leg.


make your own storage ladder

Paint the sectioned area of the ladder. Allow to dry between coats until you’re happy with the finish. Lightly sand in between coats if you want a smooth modern appearance.

Pro tip: Brush away from the painter’s tape, to avoid the paint bleeding. And don’t use too much paint.😉


Remove masking tape. I love this part – it’s stressful and exciting!

Optional: Apply a clear sealant or treat the exposed wood. Wait to dry…and you’re done!

DIY storage ladder 2

Congratulations! You are now the owner of a self-made Nordic-style ladder ready to hang your towels or blankets! Well done!

Happy DIYing!