dear santa: a project

I was pretty worried (and mildly relieved) that last Christmas would also mean our last visit from Santa but oh HO HO HO was I wrong. It actually seemed like his fervor for the gentleman in the old red suit grew this year. Which was fun.

Not long after the tree went up Thanksgiving weekend, Connor wrote a letter to Santa. Pinterest to the rescue for an adorable template that I drew up on a piece of his sketch paper for him to complete. I forgot to note this would be in addition to the list he’d already given me … which was completely different. Of course. 

His list for Santa really was quite reasonable. He was pretty honest that he asks for different things at dad’s house which makes sense, but he’d asked both of us for craft stuff, which meant drawing utensils and paints and whatnot so he can draw sharks. His list for Santa is where all of the shark gear came in … shark stuffed animals, shark ‘fact’ books (not cartoon books. mom.) and shark clothing. He also asked for a small cute puppy, which playfully landed in his stocking Christmas morning. We named him Buddy and he looks much like a Ty Beanie Baby. #crisisaverted

He’d also asked me for a desk in his room. For his drawing. Connor’s room is not huge, but what IS huge is his closet. It’s fantastic to have a huge closet, but not when it takes up one entire wall, leaving only so much space for a bed, a dresser and storage crates. Remember all of those fun storage crates I made him? It was one of my first projects.

Looking at the crates got me thinking … I need to use those crates so I can gain some space. So, off to Pinterest I went again. Crate desk was one of my myriad of search terms over the coming weeks and I found a great sample that I shared with him along with some other ideas. He said he really liked it.

the original inspiration.

the original inspiration. credit: brit + co.

Well, I can do that (with some help), I thought to myself. So off to Home Depot we went to get a piece of plywood for the top. My uber-talented dad helped me cut some divots in the top to make it appear as if it were three pieces of wood connected to each other. After the cutting (and application of a veneer strip which was likely the most difficult part of the whole project), I went to town on it. Like, literally. This was the first time I’d actually gone through the distressing process that crafty folks typically describe by beating the crap out of something. It scared me. I won’t lie. I took a hammer and a screwdriver and a sock filled with nails to it. I hit it as many times as I felt comfortable and knew I needed to stop. So much aggression bubbling up.

I also tried my hand at a chalk paint for the first time. I wanted to achieve more of a white-washed look so I didn’t apply it too heavily. I applied two coats and was pretty happy with how it came out. It was super easy because it doesn’t require primer, dries super fast and also doesn’t require sanding. After the paint was applied and dry, I used a cheese cloth to apply a wax to the surface in the hopes it will hold up long-term. Fingers crossed. I’ve used the Minwax finishing wax on a few projects now and I’m really pleased with it.

Once I’d completed the top, the pops came by and we put it together. I followed the sample and used two crates on either side as the base. What’s fun is that the crates are old and don’t quite have the same measurements so we had some fun with lining them up in a way that made sense. We screwed the crates together for more stability before applying the top. With a few more screws (after much debate about how much space to leave off the front), the top was on and the desk was in place.

Separately, I’d been on the hunt for a similar chair. Did you know that chair is essentially an industrial-style dining chair and runs upwards of $250 on Etsy? I didn’t either. So, while my mom and I were out antiquing (which she hates, but obliged that day), I found a really cute school-type chair. I almost bought it but was still pining after a (mostly) metal chair. When I took my nieces out antiquing later in the week (which they loved!), we found this adorable stool at Painted Farmgirl in Hudsonville, and it was love at first sight. Yes, that’s an advertisement. Go there.

The stool wasn’t as tall as I’d hoped and it may not be our long-term solve but it was super cute and I knew Connor would like it. Also? Because of the size of his room, a smaller chair really worked well in the space.

I was able to get it in his room before Christmas and because he was with his dad, I knew he wouldn’t see it until Christmas day so I was really excited for the surprise. I’d almost forgotten about it when He came over Christmas morning and said, ‘Hey, my room was moved around!’ I quickly walked in after him and shared what we’d been up to. He said he really liked the stool, too, ‘even though it has paint on the top’. Kids. They just don’t appreciate used stuff.

He decorated it in his own special way with his sharks after we were done unwrapping gifts. I think (and am hopeful) he likes it. Santa left some duck tape on it, so I’m pretty sure he approves as well.

I was really glad to have the opportunity to get back into doing this type of work again. With my wrist (finally) getting strong enough to lift some stuff, I was really glad I could do something like this for Connor. It’s not much, but it was made with love and I hope it gives him a space to do some really cool work for some time to come.

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