When my son was knee-high to a grasshopper, he was dinosaur crazy. At the age of three, he dreamed of being a palaeontologist, and words like Pachycephalosaurus and Compsognathus rolled off his tongue easier than Mommy or Daddy. He’s all grown up and doing his honors in psychology but still loves those prehistoric creatures. He recently moved into an apartment, and I wanted to see if I could make him something as a housewarming gift that would fit his aesthetic décor style and his love of long-gone reptiles. Basically, dinosaur décor for grown-ups.

Did your son or daughter collect prehistoric creatures when they were younger? We had a whole drawer full, so when my son moved into his own apartment, I decided to repurpose those plastic toys into fun dinosaur décor for grown-ups. This tutorial will show you how it’s done. #ACraftyMix

And I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out. If dinosaurs aren’t your thing, you can replace the figurines inside with special keepsakes, farm animals, or cute knick-knacks.

Did your son or daughter collect prehistoric creatures when they were younger? We had a whole drawer full, so when my son moved into his own apartment, I decided to repurpose those plastic toys into fun dinosaur décor for grown-ups. This tutorial will show you how it’s done. #ACraftyMix

Okay, before I share how to make dinosaur décor for grown-ups, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. And don’t forget to subscribe so you’ll never miss a post!

What you need

  • Cheap plastic dinosaurs
  • Sturdy cardboard box
  • Texture paste or make your own
  • Free box template
  • Glue gun and glue sticks
  • Sharp craft knife or scissors
  • Masking tape
  • Battery-operated fairy lights
  • Black and gold acrylic paint
A box of old plastic dinosaurs

How to make dinosaur décor for grown-ups

Turning the dinosaurs into something more classy and grownup

This is a super easy décor idea and can be completed in a day. Sort through your stash of plastic dinosaurs and pick the ones that stand on their own. I chose a T-Rex (of course), a Triceratops, and some kind of raptor.

Three dinosaurs that will be used for home decor

If your dinosaurs are made from a rubbery material, paint them with gesso first.

If your dinosaurs are rubber, apply gesso first

The gesso stops the spray paint from becoming tacky. Spray or paint the dinosaurs a matt black.

Paint the dinosaurs a flat black

Don’t they look so much more grown up already?

Paint the dinosaurs black

Making the lightbox for the dinosaurs

While you wait for the paint to dry, cut out the cardboard lightbox template.

Cutting and folding template for the cardboard box

You may need to adjust the size a little if your dinosaurs are bigger or smaller. Mine are roughly 12 cm x 12 cm x 12 cm ( 5 6/8“ x 5 6/8″ x 5 6/8″).

Cut out the box template using the size of the dinosaurs as a guide

There are three pieces:

  • A top,
  • A bottom,
  • And a long “Side, back and side” piece.

Use a craft knife to score along the sides and fold.

Fold the sides to make a box

Temporarily tape the top and bottom of the box up and check that the dinosaur fits.

Check to see if the dinosaurs will fit

If you’re going to add fairy lights, measure the back, including the thickness of the cardboard on the sides, and cut a second back piece.

Measure the back square

Using the battery pack of the fairy lights as a guide, cut a slot out of the second back piece to house the battery pack.

Cut out a piece so the battery pack fits snuggly

Dismantle the box so it’s flat again, and tape off the sides of all the pieces.

Use masking tape to neaten up the edges

It helps neaten them up, especially if you made a boo-boo cutting them 😉

Tape up the edges of the box

Apply texture paste to one side of all the pieces, including the flattened-out “back and sides”.

Apply texture paste to the inside and outside of the boxes

While the paste is still wet, fold the “back and sides” piece as shown below. Use a piece of masking tape to keep the sides up while the paste dries.  

Use masking tape to hold the basic box form together while it dries

It should hold its shape well, once the texture paste dries.

Leave the pieces to dry

Hot glue all the pieces together to form a box.

Glue the box pieces together

Don’t worry if there are slight gaps between the pieces. Once we apply the texture paste to the outside of the box, they’re hardly noticeable.

Ignore the gaps. We'll cover them with texture paste

Glue the cardboard “battery pack” backpiece on.

Add the back piece that will house the battery pack

Apply texture paste to the outside of the box and leave it to dry completely.

Giving the lightboxes a grown-up touch

Time to turn those boxes into something classy 😉 Paint the inside of the box in a color of your choice. I used a beautiful metallic copper. Paint the outside of the box black for a high contrast, classy look.

Paint the cardboard boxes black on the outside and copper inside

Once the paint dries, make a small hole in the back of the box. We’ll thread the fairy lights through it in a minute.

Make a small hole at the top of the box and insert the fairy lights

Tape or glue the battery pack in place. To disguise the tape, you can paint it black. The tape makes it easy to remove when you need to replace the batteries.

Tape the battery pack to back of the box and paint it black to match

Pop a pre-historic creature inside, and that’s it. The dinosaur décor for grown-ups is all done.

Did your son or daughter collect prehistoric creatures when they were younger? We had a whole drawer full, so when my son moved into his own apartment, I decided to repurpose those plastic toys into fun dinosaur décor for grown-ups. This tutorial will show you how it’s done. #ACraftyMix

Switch the lights on and enjoy.

Did your son or daughter collect prehistoric creatures when they were younger? We had a whole drawer full, so when my son moved into his own apartment, I decided to repurpose those plastic toys into fun dinosaur décor for grown-ups. This tutorial will show you how it’s done. #ACraftyMix

Doesn’t it look like they’re coming out of some volcanic portal?

Did your son or daughter collect prehistoric creatures when they were younger? We had a whole drawer full, so when my son moved into his own apartment, I decided to repurpose those plastic toys into fun dinosaur décor for grown-ups. This tutorial will show you how it’s done. #ACraftyMix

I staged these on a shelf with one of my all-time favorite paintings.

Did your son or daughter collect prehistoric creatures when they were younger? We had a whole drawer full, so when my son moved into his own apartment, I decided to repurpose those plastic toys into fun dinosaur décor for grown-ups. This tutorial will show you how it’s done. #ACraftyMix

I usually paint portraits that are as realistic as possible, but this young lady was an experiment in breaking the rules 😀

When women were warriors art work

My hubby framed her in copper pipes that have tarnished over time. You can get the same look on copper using a few simple household ingredients.

Copper pipe frame around art work

I do hope my son enjoys his housewarming gift. What do you think? Would you add dinosaurs to your decor?

If you like the idea of making dinosaur décor that a grown-up will love, don’t forget to pin it for later.

Did your son or daughter collect prehistoric creatures when they were younger? We had a whole drawer full, so when my son moved into his own apartment, I decided to repurpose those plastic toys into fun dinosaur décor for grown-ups. This tutorial will show you how it’s done. #ACraftyMix

Sharing is caring.

Did your son or daughter collect prehistoric creatures when they were younger? We had a whole drawer full, so when my son moved into his own apartment, I decided to repurpose those plastic toys into fun dinosaur décor for grown-ups. This tutorial will show you how it’s done. #ACraftyMix

Oh, and if you’re looking for some of the things we used, we’ve got you covered. Disclosure: Clicking on the links below means we may receive a commission from Amazon. But don’t worry, it won’t come out of your pocket, and it helps us make more amazing crafts to share with you 😉

Krylon Premium Metallic Spray Paint Resembles Actual Plating, Copper Brilliance, 8 Ounce (Pack of 1)
Peruser Dinosaurs Toys 12-Pack 5' to 7' Realistic Dinosaur Figures with Dinosaur Book, Kids and Toddlers - Great Gift Set, Birthday Present, or Party Favor!
Sale DecoArt Americana Acrylic Paint, 2-Ounce, Lamp Black (DAO67-3)

And if you prefer to buy rather than DIY, then maybe these beauties will appeal.

Carrick & Cross – Dinosaur Wall Decor, Wooden Wall Decals – Featuring, Black Oak Stegosaurus, Oak Triceratops & Walnut Brachiosaurus - Dino Wall Art, Perfect in any themed Room; Nursery or Bathroom
Ukonic Jurassic Park T-Rex Logo LED Wall Light Sign | Ready to Hang Wall Decor Artwork, Trendy Living Room Essentials, Home Decor Accent | Dinosaur Toys, Gifts and Collectibles | 12 Inches Tall
Dinosaur Wall Decor Dino Geometric Wooden Wall Art Nursery Room Decorations For Baby Boys Girls Toddlers Kids Bookshelf Bathroom Bedroom Classroom Bedroom Playroom Living Room Modern Minimalist Design

And as always, wishing you a wonderful, crafty week filled with lots of love. Thank you for popping in for a visit.

Made with love by a Crafty Mix