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Writer Wednesday: Get Creative

While on lockdown due to Coronavirus, a lot of people are at a loss of how to spend their time.

I began this project months before Christmas 2019, so it began long before Corona, but I thought it might be a good post to share, as I was on a seriously low budget and only used items that I had at hand. Mostly – double-sided tape, cardboard boxes, and wallpaper. I even scoured the internet for sites that would give you free samples of wallpaper (some will give you up to 5, which are A4 size) though it’s always better to get it direct from the shop, because you can choose the part you want.

So, here are some things I made for my room, to give you an idea of how you can jazz up a boring space – or keep some antsy kids busy – during the lockdown. Pictures included.

And if you don’t know by now that I’m a HUGE geek and a collector…welcome, you’re clearly new here. Or, you haven’t been paying attention.

Let’s start with some of my favourite items: clocks!

I am a bit of a clock collector, so when I had the idea to add a World Clock to my room, I had to get inventive. Any of the ones available for purchase either didn’t fit the style of my room, or they were super expensive.

Instead, I bought a set of 5 clock-mechanisms from Ebay for £5, including delivery, and used an old cardboard box I had. Now, I collect HP merch, and I get a monthly box of items, so I know that every month I’m going to get a huge cardboard box, and I’ve been putting them to good use.

To let you see how I managed this, I placed my clock mechanism on the cardboard, guestimating what size of clock I wanted. This turned out to be easier than I thought, because it was the size of a side panel of the cardboard box. Then I found an image online, of a book with a city in the title, printed it at the right size, covered the cardboard in wallpaper we had left over from a room decoration, then pasted the cover image on top. Add on the clock mechanism, and VOILA!

BEFORE: the 3 stages, of my third and fourth clock in progress.

AFTER:

All I had to do was create a fold in the cardboard (or use a natural one) to make it stand on its own. Alternatively, you can cut out a kick-stand from the back of the cardboard, or attach one. But I like the fold method best.

Next up, we have some book boxes. Now, for anyone who has been following my blog, you know I love books. I collect paperbacks, and it means I need to get creative with space. My favourite method is to have 2 depths of books on my shelves, but that makes it awkward when you want a book on the back row and have to remove 20+ books from the front, to get access. So I made 3 different methods to help with this.

METHOD 1: a complete box, with no changes except to cover it with wallpaper and an image I cut in half, to cover the “doors”.

Because I left the rest of the box intact – covering the inside with plain white printer paper, to disguise the dark cardboard – you can now fill the box with books. When you need to get the books behind it, just lift the entire box out!

I am in the process of figuring out a “door handle” situation, that will keep the front doors closed at all times, until I need to open them. At the moment, I can’t find anything that suits, but I have a few ideas I need to test out. It needs to be easy to undo – to provide access to the books – without being a long, complicated process of tying and untying ribbon (which was my first attempt.) It also needs to keep the doors shut, as they instinctively spring open without any help. I don’t want to block the image by using an ornament, either. So if you know of anything, let me know!

METHOD 2: I use a cardboard box with the top flaps removed and don’t bother covering it. I probably will, later, only because of the aesthetics, but you can easily leave it plain cardboard, because it will be hidden 99% of the time. This one was a bigger box, so I put it on its side to make the most of the space provided behind this box ^ above.

METHOD 3: use a box to add height to the shelf, plus additional storage. Here, I’ve used an old CD box – long and thin – to add height for books that are already half the height of the shelf space. This elevates the back row, so I can see them, while leaving space for books in front. To add the ease of moving them, I used the lid from the box to sit the front row of books inside. Then, when you need access, you simply swing the lid to the side, or lift it out, and you have full access to the back row!

And, since I have a MASSIVE Agatha Christie collection, I line them up by collection : Poirot, Miss Marple etc : and I want them in the right order.

Here’s how it looks from the front –

Clever, right? You’d never know.

Alternatively, I used a larger white box at the back, to add height, and to provide storage, then placed a simple folder divider in front, to provide a backdrop. Like this –

As you can see, I ran out of lids. Oops! But, those 6 books at the front are a simple matter of two hands and one trip, so it’s less trouble, and there are overall less books on this shelf.

METHOD 4: a complete box, covered in wallpaper, with printer paper used to cover the insides. This is the same method as before, except, the design of the box didn’t have flaps but a complete lid that came in one piece. I loved the design and it worked perfectly for this special short-sample of wallpaper I had sitting around.

(Yes, I know there’s a hitch in the side. This was me opening the door to take the pic and it will be fixed.)

Here, you get a much better view of the wallpaper design. It looks neater, and from this next picture, you can see how it works when the box is opened:

As the box is right next to my printer, it’s full of useful stationary, and a solo novel, in case I’m sitting there for a while. The perfect pass-the-time supply box!

Another example of making the box’s original shape fit your purpose, can be seen here –

The box on the right, behind the Travelling sign, is it’s original shape. I covered the outside with wallpaper, then used it as a display box for some large fossils I had. The window-door is from an old unit we got rid of, and it was the perfect decide to provide a safer place to store the fossils while protecting them from any accidental falls from above, or dust.

Also, the Marvel bag is a simple gift bag from any store, that I used to store some loose books I probably won’t read again, but want to keep. This one is used for all my reference books from Uni. As is the Pin-Up Girl box beneath.

Finally, my million other uses for wallpaper.

An accent piece, on a sliding door.

On the ceiling. (Because I’m a huge spider-hater and this means I see far less of them, when they do appear):

An accent wall, to frame a painting :

This wallpaper was the original accent wall, behind the above image. It’s wallpaper that looks like a library bookcase, and we used it on the top plinth, that covers the sliding door tracks. When the bureau moved into my room, I had a lot of old board games on top that stuck out like a sore thumb. I had a long, thick piece of cardboard and some wallpaper…so I used it.

I made sure the cardboard was the right size and shape to fill the gap between the top of the bureau and the ceiling, then covered it in the wallpaper. As you can see below, it makes it look much neater, from the doorway across from the bureau, as if it’s an extension of the plinth.

I also used some sample wallpaper to cover these boring plain wood doors, to add a bit of life to a dull corner :

Finally, I took a few old boxes, taped them together to fill the space in this shelf, and covered it all in wallpaper. Then I used it to add height to the back of the shelf.

Using the top tier of an old box, which will be covered later, I added a sliding-shelf effect to the front of this shelf, to provide two-tier storage.

Now, whenever I need into the back row of books, I just slide out the box lid, set it aside, and lift up the picture behind to get access.

Speaking of which…that picture is from an old calendar. I had an old Leonardo Da Vinci calendar that I bought specifically for the images, and then kept the images I loved the most, for this reason. All I had to do was create a “tab” from paper — A4 halved, then folded into just a little over credit-card size, one half attached to the back of the image, and the other half tucked over the top of the books, to give it support.

At a glance, you would never know the books are behind it, and it adds some brightness to what are a row of dark books.

So, there you have it. Just a few of the ideas that have become a reality, over the last few months. Nothing spectacular. Nothing fancy. Just some simple, easy designs that require little patience, little skill, and brighten up what might have been a boring, dark space or somewhere you weren’t making full use of.

I have a massive pile of cardboard boxes saved over the last few months, and who knows what else I might come up with. But the key is in looking at what you have, what you have access to, and seeing if you can accomplish the effect and look you want, without a massive budget.

Because, in this difficult time, we’re all watching our bank accounts and being careful. Because you never know what the future holds.

And…FYI…yes, those are mostly (if not all!) LGBT books, though the majority on show are probably YA. If you see something you like, go ahead and look it up. You never know what you might find.

Also…all books on the Bureau top shelf are my published works.

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