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How Leanne Ford Upgraded a Hand-Me-Down Cozy Coupe With 4 Cans of Spray Paint

Before and after. Photo: Leanne Ford

Most kids’ toys and their garish primary-color schemes are not the most aesthetically pleasing to look at, but it doesn’t have to be that way. When designer Leanne Ford received a hand-me-down Cozy Coupe, that iconic red-and-yellow bubble-roofed ride-on car, from a friend (hers was actually from Step2 and was originally pink and blue), she thought to herself, There’s gotta be a way to make this good-looking. So with the help of teammate April Lawrence, who led the project, Ford figured out a way to completely transform the look of the ride into something that wasn’t an eyesore. “Kids’ things take over the house; they’re never just stuck in their little playroom,” she tells us. “Now every time I see it, which is all day, every day, I love it. I still love it over a year later.”

In terms of the colors she picked, Ford simply wanted it to look “old-fashioned” and went with a black exterior and camel-brown “leather” interiors. “April went above and beyond and put the little leather stitching in and did it on the steering wheel, too,” says Ford. “I didn’t even think of that. I thought that was the best part.” And if you’re feeling iffy about painting over your child’s favorite color, don’t be. “We don’t have to be a perfect parent by getting your kid everything in their favorite color. Your toys are in my house, so I get a say sometimes,” she jokes.

Below, Ford takes us through step-by-step instructions on how to give your little cruiser a new paint job — and a new lease on life, as it were. You can apply this process, quite literally, to any number of cast-off items and hand-me-downs, too. (It also makes an easy, creative, and inexpensive gift from a crafty, say, uncle.) “Anytime I pass a thrift store now, I’m like, What can I get and actually make it look better? All of these hand-me-down kids’ toys don’t have to go to waste. They can live another life. We redo our kitchens. Why can’t we redo our play kitchen?”