Hey y’all! Thanks so much for those of you who commented on my first week’s Have You Ever Considered blog post! My husband by the way was sharing the oat milk ‘secret’ at work to those who were bummed to find out about the national shortage, and made a few people’s day 🙂
This week I want to talk about the stuff that, to those who aren’t used to building stuff around the house, might initially seem terrifying, too complex, or both! I know it did for me because when I wanted to build something several years ago I just went all wussy and asked my husband to do it for me, even though technically he didn’t have any more experience than I (just a greater interest at the time in learning how!). After he did a few projects then I realized, damn, I can do that! The difference of course between the two of us in this regard, I’ve learned, is that he’s got a much better attention to fine detail (I, for example, hate pre-drilling holes if I can avoid it…and it often shows. Same goes for painting – I kick ass at the first coat, and these days I have him come in and do the final “pretty coat” on the walls, haha…). But seriously, I’ve started to get a little obsessed with the idea of building stuff and, even though it exhausts me with the 8 straight months of DIY work on the house, nowadays whenever I think of buying a piece of furniture, I first ask – “can I make it?” And – beyond the leather sectional we just (finally!) bought and the jute rug for the living room – most of the time the answer is, You Betcha. And holy cow, the money saved? Tons. And how cool is it to come home and look at something and be like, I made that? Totally freakin’ rad.
And so, I ask…have you ever considered making furniture…YOURSELF?
The above are four pieces of furniture – our kitchen island (left), my office nook’s console (center top), our coffee table (center bottom), and our once-breakfast-nook-table-turned-temporary-dining-table-to-become-my-office-desk – that we made! EVERY ONE of these items were made from 100% repurposed wood as well. The island and the office console were inspired by free plans I found on Ana-White.com (I love this site! And FYI, even though it seems to be a nonstop ad for Kreg Jigs, you do NOT need one for 99% of the projects on here – just do a search on how to drill holes without one and you’re golden), the coffee table was inspired by this $1,500 dining table from West Elm, and the ever evolving nook table? My own design because I did not want a table where you knocked your knees on the edges in a small nook (we had built those benches in that photo – this was taken in our little Portland house). What were these made from and how cheap were they to make? Straight up transparency, y’all:
- Kitchen Island: The base was made from old 2×6 cedar fencing that we had taken down to expand one of our pastures for the veggie garden. The bottom shelf was made from parts of the bench seating (which was made from repurposed cedar fencing from our back yard in Portland!). White paint is zero-VOC interior satin we had on hand from the walls. The top? These 2x12s were our big splurge, reclaimed doug fir, heavy as hell, picked up at Salvage Works in North Portland and used for both the island and our kitchen countertops (~$200). Considering most kitchen islands of this style, and adding “reclaimed” to the description on fancy sites, are in the triple digits? A sweet deal. Used zero-VOC water-based stain and sealer that we had leftover from an earlier project for these. Cool huh?
- Office Console: 100% repurposed 2×4’s we had on hand and zero-VOC white paint, the same stuff we used on the kitchen island. Let me tell you, this many 2×4’s are WAY heavier than you might imagine, hahaha…but it is exactly what I wanted for this corner of the nook I’m using as my home office, and imperfections included, it was? FREE.
- Coffee Table: Dan made this one, as I mentioned based on a table I’d lusted after online. Rather than spend a thousand bucks plus, we again went to Salvage Works and found one piece of reclaimed red oak (they get most of their stuff from ancient barns they’ve deconstructed in Oregon) for $250, bought a few dowels, cut these into a tabletop and two legs, connected them and…voila!
- Breakfast Nook Table: How do you know you’ve made a sweet little table? Both of the offers that came in on your house had the prospective buyers trying to get us to include it with the house. Aw hell no! Anyhow, this was another “double repurpose” project and was made for free! I designed and Dan made – the top repurposed from part of an old Pier 1 Imports TV cabinet I’d had for years (back when we all had tube TVs…), the vertical legs are 4×4 fence posts, and the bottom horizontal parts (feet?) are simply 2x4s that my husband cut at an angle to classy ’em up a bit. Right now it’s our dining table til we get – yep – our very own one made (ahh, Pinterest…), but it is destined for my office as now I have a little rug and an office chair and gee-wouldn’t-it-be-nice-to-have-a-work-table-in-there-to-actually-WORK on? 🙂
So what’s up next in the furniture building side of our whirlwind of DIY activities? I’ve got a few things on the list, including finishing the master bathroom vanity (base is done, now have to pick out what kind of sink we want before I can design & build the top), attacking a built-in bookshelf plan (something about stacking our books on the floor in the corner of the living room is just not working out…) that I’ve been putting off for some time, and this badass full-length mirror / medicine cabinet combo piece.
Where do you get all this free wood, some ask? Well first thing’s first – go onto Craigslist or a similar site’s “free” section – you’d be amazed at how much construction leftovers people want to get rid of without going to the dump – bricks, 2×4’s, fill dirt, and so much more! If you are especially fortunate, you have places like Habitat for Humanity ReStore or The Rebuilding Center or similar places that take donations of building materials and let folks either have them or sell them for a seriously nominal price. Then of course – ask your friends and neighbors! You’d be amazed how many folks have leftover wood from projects just sitting in their garage, barn, toolshed, etc. For example, we ran out of scrap wood for our current hearth-building project for our future wood stove and so the first thing I did was text three of my neighbors and, sure enough, one said Heck Yeah Come On Over and we literally were able to get a whole bunch of free 16′ 2×4’s. Sure they were wet but we just brought them into the garage and let them dry out then…good as gold! Not only eco-friendly, but this stuff saves us some $$$$…and takes things off neighbors hands that they’d have to either burn or pay to dispose of!
SO….what have you always wanted to build…but were too nervous to try?
Please share your thoughts here in the comments…and note if you want suggestions on how to do it or how to make it easier (sadly, some of those DIY websites make things much harder than they need to be…)!