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Customising our children’s playhouse {Ikea hack Mala easel}

Customising our children's playhouse with a blackboard

We’ve had an Ikea Mala easel for a few years and it’s in constant use. You may have seen one before, with a blackboard on one side, a whiteboard on the other. It also has a roll of paper which can be pulled up and over the whiteboard for more drawing possibilities. It’s a good design (as you would expect from Ikea) and folds flat when not in use.

It has been brilliant for encouraging the children to get creative and we’ve used it whilst both children have been learning their letters and numbers, as well as for general creativity.

Ikea Mala easel hack project

The only problem is the amount of floor space it takes up. I don’t want to get rid of it whilst the children still use it but I was looking at it yesterday and wondering how to make it smaller. Then I had a great idea. Why not remove the hinges and legs and use it to customise our children’s playhouse.

We have a gorgeous playhouse for the children and I knew a blackboard and whiteboard would be a great addition. Upcycling our Ikea Mala easel was a pretty simple hack.

First we took the hinges off, keeping them to one side for future use. Then we cut off the legs and the tray, sanding any rough edges.

Ikea Mala easel hack project

I drilled a large-ish hole in the top corners to hang the boards.

Ikea Mala easel hack project

Then put corresponding plastic coated hooks inside and outside the playhouse to hang the boards.

customising our childrens playhouse

We gave both boards a coat of varnish, the wood was already treated but I wanted to be sure they would last the winter, and hung them up. The boards are interchangeable, we put hooks inside and out so we can put the boards where the children want them and even take them down if necessary. They are great for extending the children’s play outside which is something I am keen to encourage. It’s also a great way to customise our children’s playhouse and make it work for them.

Customising our children's playhouse with a blackboard


  • Reply
    Lubka Henry
    August 17, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    This is such a lovely idea and a great way to keep the little ones occupied 🙂

  • Reply
    August 17, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    I used to love easels when I was younger! My little sister adored hers, I think it had a chalkboard on it! Loved this post, such a great idea! x

  • Reply
    Richard Allen
    September 7, 2016 at 10:40 am

    What a great idea! Smart recycling of a potentially obsolete toy..I like!

    I’ve had issues with my little one getting bored with her playhouse, so I tried to change her perception of it from a playhouse to her own proper little clubhouse. So when her friends come round now, they have their own little club hideout – a whiteboard on the side would give them the chance to write their rules for all to see.

    I’m totally going to steal your idea!

    All the best

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