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I’m preparing for a big move and am up to my eyeballs in leftover recycling bin supplies, spare scrapes from renovation projects, and general small odds & ends to get rid of. This sweet little recycled gnome home turned out to be the perfect “just-use-it-up” craft project. From fabric scraps to oatmeal boxes, plastic lids, buttons, and bits – the entire thing was made and decorated with household supplies destined for the trash! And keep reading to see how we turned this into the MOST adorable DIY night-light…
PRESS PLAY BELOW TO SEE A PREVIEW OF OUR TOADSTOOL COME ALIVE AT NIGHT!
There’s not much to the construction (a simple cut, paint, and glue job) so all of your creative energy can be saved for the fun part – putting a tiny gnome-worthy world together!
To make your own recycled toadstool DIY gnome home you’ll need:
Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains a few Woodpeckers Crafts and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*
- A piece of scrap cardboard (about the size of a piece of construction paper)
- An empty round oatmeal canister
- Scissors or a utility blade
- An x-acto knife
- A foam brush
- A hot glue gun (we like this low temp glue gun for kids)
- Gesso (to quickly prime and prep your oatmeal box for painting)
- Fabric scraps for decor details
- Corks, lids, spools, or other recycled supplies for furniture
- Small cardboard squares and string for artwork
- An egg carton cup and small garden clippings for a window planter
- A button or similar small bit for a doorknob!
DIY Recycled Toadstool Gnome Home Instructions:
- Sketch a toadstool on to cardboard, cut out and paint
Sketch a basic toadstool (top only) onto a piece of cardboard that’s about as big as a sheet of paper, then cut out and paint. We painted ours red and then glued some big white tagboard dots on top.
- Cut small windows and a door out of a round oatmeal carton
Using an X-Acto knife, cut windows and a door into your oatmeal box.
- Paint the oatmeal carton
Using a foam brush, I applied a coat of gesso (basically a white paint primer) first. This will ensure your paint sticks to the oatmeal box and (no matter the color) it will fully cover all the printing. If you’re using a more expensive paint, it also saves a bit too!
I finished the base of our gnome home with one coat of soft peach-colored paint.
- Glue the toadstool top to your oatmeal carton
Hot glue your toadstool top to the front of your oatmeal carton.
I found it helpful to put a small rock or similar in the bottom of our oatmeal round to keep the base from tilting forward.
- Decorate and add details!
Now for the fun part – decorating!
I started by painting a little red window trim around the windows. Next, we added curtains by tying up some small squares of scrap fabric and hot gluing them to the inside of the windows.
A teeny-tiny inviting flower box was too cute to pass up, so we cut trimmed off the end an egg carton, painted it, hot glued it underneath the window and filled with itty-bitty live flowers and succulent cuttings.
A spool of white thread + plastic jar top and two coffee creamer lids make the perfect gnome-sized table and chairs.
And as a finishing touch, a button – hot-glued to the door to create to make an adorable door handle. This gnome is ready for company!
More ways to play with your recycled gnome home…
- ADD ACCESSORIES. We have big plans for this little woodland corner – wouldn’t a gnome-sized vegetable garden be adorable? Or a mini mailbox for letters to our new gnome friends?
- MAKE IT A DAY OF MUSHROOM PLAY. Our friends over at Make It Your Own created the cutest mini mushrooms out of recycled materials and we’ll definitely be adding a few of those too (they even put together a mushroom play learning game that’s…aghhhh, SO. ADORABLE.).
- READ A GNOME TOME. Some of my very favorite books growing up were about gnomes, trolls and fairies. The gorgeously-illustrated classic Gnomes by Will Huygen is the gold-standard in my opinion, but there are SO many good ones! Find your next favorite gnome read-aloud in this list of gnome books for all ages from Goodreads.
- LEARN ELVISH. Did you know that J.R.R. Tolkien developed entire imaginary languages to accompany his Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books? Tolkien used the Roman alphabet to write the names and words of Elvish origin in his works. Quenya is a spoken language, while the Tengwar is an alphabetic writing system, and both occasionally appear in his books. YOU can practice writing them and use them to create secret coded messages (as we did with our Morse code valentines and secret message sailboats). We’d like to think our gnomes our fluent.
- MAKE IT A TOADSTOOL FAIRY NIGHT-LIGHT! We added a flameless tea light to our gnome home and suddenly our little toadstool turned into twilight mushroom magic! To make your own DIY toadstool fairy night-light, add a string of pre-programmed LED fairy lights instead. Pop them into your oatmeal container on the appropriate timer setting for the perfect fairytale homemade night light!
My friend Mary-Alice suggested I name our abode Amanda’s Home for Wayward Gnomes, and now I can’t shake the vision of a band of tiny troublemakers moving in and making merry mischief – ha!
Don’t you just love creating small structures and tiny worlds? For some more recycled building ideas, check out the cardboard box city neighborhood we put together and filled with drawing prompts! Or try making a Mid-Century Modern-inspired shoebox house with printable patterns and landscape elements. For extra credit, grab a couple pieces of square scrap wood and make the simplest DIY beach dollhouse EVER (I swear!).
*A note about affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Amazon or Woodpecker Crafts. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click-through to make a purchase, we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!