Disclaimer: I am a serious pet parent. I've wanted a baby Golden Retriever for years, so when the time finally came to start "nesting" before my furry baby would be coming home, I really invested myself into it. And that included some heavy-duty DIY.
The crown jewel in my living room is the crate for my pup that looks like a piece of furniture - I get endless compliments on it, and you'll almost never notice that the inside is just a standard dog crate! I live and die by a clean, polished aesthetic, and while I had every intention of crate-training my pup, I didn't want my living room to have a black wire dog prison as its centerpiece . . . so I decided to make my own piece.
Better-looking crates - ones that look like furniture - exist for purchase out there in the world but are typically less sturdy and definitely not chew-proof. What's more is that they're absurdly expensive, and I wasn't looking to drop $500 (or more!) on something that might be chewed apart within minutes of putting it to use.
After an embarrassingly extensive amount of unfruitful research, a little light bulb went off: I could create my own happy medium! Get the wire crate, and build a simple frame and lid around it to give it a furniture aesthetic and tabletop functionality.
I promptly called my dad - a retired construction exec and Home Depot frequent flier with a Tim Allen-status toolshed - and asked if he thought it would be doable, and if so, if it'd be affordable. A few screenshots and specs later, and we were meeting up at the hallowed halls of hardware, orange aprons, and sawdust.
Why It's Rad
Aside from being infinitely more aesthetically pleasing than the wire dog prison, this is a safe choice for your dog. The crate goes inside the wood frame, so the puppy never gets a chance to chew up the wood while they're teething. Paint can sometimes be toxic to dogs, and you don't want splinters getting lodged in their little gums, so this is a way for you to get the look you want while still protecting your pup.
Additionally, this serves as a more functional piece of furniture than a crate (while taking up the same amount of space in your home), making it great for storage, decor, and lighting. It also adds more of a den-like quality to the crate so your dog can feel safer and cozier when they camp out inside.
This is a frame construction; there is no bottom piece, and the wire crate is not attached to the "furniture" in any way. You're building a basic frame and a lid, so it's very simple and one of the least complicated furniture DIYs you'll ever try.
We decided to make the entire piece from melamine that my local Home Depot had in stock. This saved us from having to (1) buy paint and (2) use paint, therefore saving time and money. Melamine is also cheaper than wood, so there was even more money saved. You don't have to use melamine - especially if you're looking to make your furniture piece a different color - but if you're into plain white and a good bargain, then boy do I have the materials for you!
Also, a heads-up: you'll need to have the melamine pieces cut. As in, sawed. If you don't have a saw and don't have any desire to use a saw, then fantastic! Me either. You can have the friendly folks at your hardware store make cuts so you can take home the perfectly sized pieces for your project.
Aside from the melamine, we used the following:
Melamine finishing tape
Melamine finishing dots
Drill (to make holes for the screws)
Power screwdriver, if you have it. Otherwise, biceps.
The sizing of the wood pieces will depend on the specs of your crate. I opted for a 36-inch crate, which was the average size for a fully grown female Golden Retriever (joke's on me if she outgrows this). Keep in mind that when you get a puppy, you can partition the larger crate (most crates come with one!) to make them feel more snug and secure in a smaller space, and then move the partition as your pup grows. If you want to get the most time out of your furniture piece, I'd strongly recommend getting the largest crate necessary for your pup's expected adult size - then you never have to make another one!
Here are the sizes of the pieces we bought:
One 42x29x1-inch piece of melamine for the lid
Four 38x2.5x0.75-inch pieces for the long top and bottom crossbars
Four 26x2.5x0.75-inch pieces for the short top and bottom crossbars
Four 28x2.5x0.75-inch pieces for side A of the corner posts
Four 28x1.5x0.75-inch pieces for side B of the corner posts
Cost and Time
This took roughly six hours to put together, broken up into two days. The out-of-pocket cost for the melamine materials was about $100. I scored the crate on mega sale at PetSmart for about $25. There are plenty of bargains for inexpensive but well-rated crates on Amazon, too!
Keep reading for the instructions!
- Additional reporting by Lauren Harano