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How to upcycle old toys into designer décor

Steven Sabados does it again with four amazing DIYs you and your kids will love.
October 1, 2020 10:06 a.m. EST
October 1, 2020 10:06 a.m. EST




Fact: Kids come with a lot of stuff. It can be hard to keep on top of the clutter – especially, when it comes to toys. Instead of throwing toys out as they outgrow them, why not get crafty and give them a second life as home decor that grows with your child? Enter Steven Sabados, who’s come up with four upcycling DIYs that transform old toys into designer decor.




  • hard plastic toys that are smooth to the touch with no texture
  • high-adhesion paint
  • colourful acrylic paint
  • clear gloss varnish


  1. Paint the toy white using the high-adhesion paint and let dry.
  2. Using your colourful acrylic paint, paint sections of the toy. Once it's dry, add contrasting colours in stripes or polka dots to create a statement pattern. Don't be afraid to get creative! 
  3. Apply a coat of clear gloss varnish for added sheen.
  4. Place on display in your home. 




  • large, sturdy plastic animal figures
  • ¼-inch wooden dowels
  • drill
  • table coaster
  • hot glue
  • high-adhesion primer or gesso paint
  • acrylic gloss varnish
  • interference paint (optional)


  1. Cut sections of dowel into 6-, 7- and 8-inch lengths.
  2. Drill a ¼-inch hole in the centre of the back of the animal, depending on the size of the dowel chosen.
  3. Using the same drill, drill a small hole into the centre of the coaster.
  4. Secure the coaster to the dowel using hot glue and set aside.
  5. Insert the opposite end of the dowel into the top of the plastic animal and secure it with hot glue.
  6. Paint the entire piece white, including the dowels and coaster, with a high-adhesion primer or gesso paint. Use several coats of white until covered completely.
  7. Once dry, apply a coat of acrylic gloss varnish and let dry again. 
  8. Optional: Apply a thin coat of interference pain to achieve an iridescent effect.



  • variety of plastic action figures (dragons, superheroes, dinosaurs, etc.) 
  • lamp with a narrow, straight base (roughly 14 inches in height)
  • hot glue
  • epoxy glue
  • masking tape
  • spray paint


  1. Tell a story by hot-gluing a collection of action figures to the lamp base. Apply the epoxy glue to secure (use a two-part epoxy), then let it dry overnight.
  2. Tape out the plug and electrical cord using masking tape.
  3. Take your piece to a well-ventilated area. Using spray paint in the desired colour, spray the entire piece, applying in thin coats.
  4. Let it dry then attach the shade. 




  • toy fire truck with an extension ladder
  • hot glue
  • epoxy glue
  • spray paint
  • pre-wired light
  • thin wire


  1. Using hot glue, secure the extension ladder so it sits upright to the desired height. Use epoxy glue to secure it permanently and let dry.
  2. In a well-ventilated area, spray paint the entire toy truck and let dry.
  3. Make sure the toy truck is heavy enough to hold the weight of the hanging light. Using a pre-wired light, secure the cord to the extension ladder using thin wire. Get creative with the wire!
  4. Enjoy the decorative light!

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