Creative cubby hacks and more!

Sienna, 8, and Harper, 3, with mum Tanja. 225935_03 Picture: ROB CAREW

By Danielle Galvin

Every family adapted and managed Melbourne’s two lockdowns differently.

For Boroondara mum Tanja Mitrov, she made it her mission to get her daughters, Sienna and Harper outdoors.

“What kept me motivated during isolation was finding fun ways to get the kids outside and away from those screens,” she said.

“We kept ourselves busy by finishing off those home projects like painting, or started new ones that were on the to-do list, like building a veggie garden with them.”

Tanja, who runs a business called Art Deco Collective, got seriously creative to keep her girls engaged.

She wanted to share some of what they got up to, and she’s even grateful for the “crazy and unpredictable” year that 2020 was.

From transforming their cubby multiple times to making a not so scary scarecrow, she set the bar high.

“Since we couldn’t visit cafes anymore, I thought why not bring the cafe to us?“Lemons were in season which could only mean one thing … a lemonade stand! So that was the first transformation the cubby had. “I found a little online shop Olive Eve and Co that had cute lemonade printouts. “Then we just put the rest together by setting up their table and chairs outside, they had a go at squeezing lemons, and collected whatever we could find in the home from straws, to the drink dispenser, to making a menu using one of our Moodyboards.”

Similarly when October rolled around and trick or treating was off the table, Tanja transformed their cubby into a pink haunted house.

They painted pumpkins pink, had a pink balloon garland leftover from a birthday and she ordered some spider and bat balloons online.

“We made whimsical witches broomsticks from dried up twigs in our backyard, painted a sign and turned the veggie garden into a Cinderella pumpkin patch.

“It was so much fun!”

The other big project was the veggie patch which needed a not-so-scary scarecrow. “The scarecrow was a great one to make because we were able to use left over dowel or garden stakes, baby clothes (size 1 or 2 is perfect) and a hat that didn’t fit anymore,” she said.

“The only supplies we needed to get was the foam ball, burlap to cover the ball, wool for her hair, and raffia for stuffing.  All from Spotlight!”

They also built a fairy garden with little trinkets, built a macramé swing to hang from a tree in the backyard, and made a treehouse platform using some old doors that were laying around in the shed. “We will eventually make it a bit more aesthetically pleasing, but the most fun of it was salvaging what we had laying around and getting creative.  The girls loved it. And so did we.”

Tanja is hopeful her ideas and hacks may inspire other parents.

“The best way to encourage other parents to get creative is to just think how can I make life magical for the kids?  And just watch those ideas pour in. “There are so many tutorials on YouTube and inspiration on Pinterest and Instagram to give you ideas, then you just make it your own by using what you have laying around and getting the kids involved, whether it’s collecting any little treasures to create a fairy garden, to cutting up scrap fabrics to make a bunting!”

Follow Tanja on Instagram, tanjamitrov.styling

Tanja’s tips for transforming your cubby!

Little hacks to really create that charming look for your cubby is so easy!

Oh the power of paint is a huge one. You can instantly give your cubby some personality just by painting the door a different colour.

1. Changing the window and door is a cheap and effective thing to do. We went from timber knobs to brass ones and even a little brass knocker and added a bell to really tie it all in to. If your cubby has windows, turn one side into the cafe window.  My daughters love serving me coffees and burgers through it.

3. Add festoon lighting! It really creates the most magical feeling at dusk and they are not expensive to buy at all. We ordered ours from Temple and Webster.4. And make use of every corner of your garden, including the back of your cubby! We got a huge piece of marine ply from Bunnings, primed and covered it with blackboard paint, and attached it to the back of the cubby.  It covers the whole back of the cubby, and would you believe that we still run out of room to draw on it?