It’s worth repeating: dads are awesome. Even though 2020 has been a tough year for many of us so far because of the coronavirus pandemic, the lockdowns have unlocked a lot of creativity in some people. Take one dad from London, for example, who let his creativity loose in the most magical way. Dad Dylan crafted a replica of Diagon Alley from Harry Potter inside of his daughter Ella’s wardrobe and she absolutely loved it. As a matter of fact, we loved it as well, and we think you will too, dear Pandas. So we invite you to scroll down and check out the magical wardrobe that we’d secretly love to have at home, too.
Dylan told Bored Panda that it took months to work out how he was going to build the mini version of Diagon Alley. “I used mainly wood and MDF, but also I found wallpaper, for example, with books printed on it which really helped make it look good but take less time.” The actual building part took Dylan from August 24th to the end of September, Ella’s birthday. On the last night, he was up until 2 a.m. finishing everything off.
“I wanted to do something special for Ella after homeschooling while I was working too and staying in so much. Inspiration happened one lunchtime standing in the room wondering what to do with it and it occurred to me that even though it was not much use as a room, it felt like a mini street as we live in an old Victorian terrace house,” Dylan shared with Bored Panda. Read on for our full interview with this great dad who’s an inspiration to us all.
An amazing dad built a Harry Potter-themed surprise for his daughter, Ella
The dad then bought various things off the internet to put in the shop windows, starting with tiny books and ending with feather quills. “The street surface is Lino which is soft and warm to walk on. I also live in a street of many kind people, so I was given old photo frames which I used for shop windows,” he added.
Dylan built a model of the street first, then ordered the wood, and sent detailed plans of the shopfronts to his friend Rob from R Concepts at Shepperton/Pinewood Studios. Rob then cut the shopfronts out. According to Dylan, his buddy can “literally build anything” and actually built a truck from scratch last year.
“Then mainly I had lots of frame building and painting to do. It was a bit of a marathon doing it on my own, but music helped me through,” Dylan shared, adding that he listened to Oasis, Coldplay, The Beatles, Pearl Jam, and others. What’s more, he even put on the Harry Potter theme song at one point. That’s when he realized that his daughter would love this.
Inside Ella’s wardrobe is a miniature version of Diagon Alley
The mini version of Diagon Alley was a surprise, so Dylan needed to find a way to keep it secret from Ella.
“So we played hide and seek when she got home from school. After a few goes, she decided to hide in the wardrobe which had a curtain behind it. She didn’t find it straight away, but she also knew I had made something for her so her first words were, ‘I can see something in here,’ then silence as she walked in and then, ‘Can we keep this here forever?!’”
That’s when the dad and daughter duo explored all of the shops together and she opened the presents he had put in each one.
“We played for the rest of the weekend, for example, making ice cream in the ice cream shop with a machine I found. I also dressed up as Hagrid which was hilarious for us both as my accent was terrible, but we went back through the wardrobe to the muggle world as Ella and Hagrid and took cushions from her living room for her reading nook above her bookshop on Diagon Alley.”
Each shop is incredibly detailed and lovingly crafted with a bit of help from Dylan’s family and friends
Ella is a Harry Potter fan, but she has only seen the first film so far because she’s too small for the others right now. “Her mother and I want her to be able to watch them as she gets older. I’m reading her the book at the moment, she loves it and really looks up to Hermione,” dad Dylan revealed.
According to Dylan, the project was a crazy idea to start with, and was obviously going to be a lot of work. Even though he didn’t know how he’d do everything, he was determined to finish the birthday gift project. Now, he’s inspired and believes that anyone can do what he did, no matter what their project is.
Dylan suggested that anyone who wants to do something unconventional, special, and something that would help others through this difficult time should never give up on it. Instead, they should be patient and take a lot of time to think about their projects and to receive unexpected help.
“If a day is hard, then do something to make the next one better,” he shared some motivation. “Thank you to authors like J.K.Rowling and filmmakers, as your stories and films are really helping people at the moment. They certainly have helped us during the first lockdown.”
Check out the video about dad Dylan’s secret wardrobe project right here
“I thought maybe people wanting to do a similar thing might want to see which is why I made a video diary of me making it, but I didn’t expect such a huge and heartwarming response. There are a lot of kind and awesome people out there!” the dad was overjoyed with the response.
Ella’s dad couldn’t believe how much attention his Harry Potter project got online. He got nearly 3.4k upvotes on Imgur and people can’t wait to see more photos and videos of the miniature Diagon Alley.
Inside the wardrobe, you can see plenty of shops that line Diagon Alley, from Ollivander’s wand shop and Eeylops Owl Emporium to Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlor and Quality Quidditch Supplies.
However, the dad’s not done yet and he’s already promised to upload more photos in the near future as he builds a new shop in Diagon Alley for Christmas.
“I just like building things in my spare time. I did get some help cutting the shop fronts on a big cutting machine and my mother painted the shop signs,” the dad shared on Instagram that he had a helping hand.
He added that the space inside the wardrobe is not too small in reality: 4 meters by 1.4 meters (that’s 13 feet by 4.6 feet for all of you American witches and wizards out there).
Be sure to keep an eye on the dad’s social media accounts—he promised to share photos of his other projects in the future, too.
What do you think of the dad’s project? Would you love to have something similar in your own wardrobe? Share your thoughts with everyone in the comments below, dear Readers.