Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wall mounted lid organizers

Now ever since I've made my pot rack, I've wanted a way to store my pot lids so that I could completely clean out my former "pot cabinet."  After some research I found several very ugly industrial looking solutions. I figured I could improve upon them.

My grandmother died several years ago, and my mom has not gotten around to dealing with most of her possessions.  So whenever I need something furniture-wise I tend to go mining in her house.  I found exactly what I was looking for.  A huge painting of ducks. Some stiles from Bart's Barn were purchased for 50 cents a piece to make up the rest of my supplies.

MR Ducks.
I really hope none of my relatives painted this picture, because I slapped a coat of blue paint on it. I cut the ends off the stiles so they were as wide as the inside of the frame. I cut the ends into graduated blocks 1 inch, 1.5 inches, and 2 inches tall.  Everything got painted blue.  Then I used some white paint and some dark blue paint to mix up some just a little bit different color blue.  To stripe the stiles I covered them with massive amounts of painters tape, painted the darker color over the lighter one, and hung them up to dry with cup hooks.

Hung from a string attached to a temporary nail in my rafter.

Remove tape while the paint is still wet!

Then I went about attaching the stiles to the blocks of wood.  I clamped the stiles to the table to prevent them from rolling on me. 

Then I carefully leveled the stiles and screwed them in from the back of the picture. I put the shortest stile/lid bar at the top and the tallest at the bottom.  For good measure I added a spare bit of wood with a bunch of cup hooks to hold utensils. I hung it on an unused wall in my kitchen.  The only way I can get a photo of this actually hung on the wall is to put my camera inside my pantry.  So here it is.  Yes I know the picture is not fabulous.  It's dark in my pantry. 

Yay storage!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Rescued Chair Night Stand

My mom's been spending the night more often since she started visiting my chiropractor in town, and she's blind.  Or rather, she doesn't know exactly where everything is in my house, and stumbles around a bit in the dark when she spends the night.  I keep my house pretty dark at night, because I can't fall asleep if there's basically any light anywhere.  So I decided that the guest room needed a nightstand and a lamp. 

I went to my parents' house a few weeks ago, and on my way, I noticed that their neighbors had thrown out a perfectly good kitchen chair.  Ok, so the legs were broken, and it was kind of beat up, but other than that it was just fine.  So I ripped the legs off (by hand) and painted it green. 

I went a thriftin' and found a very cheap hideous wooden lamp.

This got a coat of yellow paint and a hand me down shade. 
To mount the chair, I got some brackets and attached them to the wall. 

Then it was just a matter of adding a light bulb, setting the chair on the brackets and screwing it in!  Sounds easy right?  The hardest part was screwing from underneath without letting the chair fall on my head.

There ya go Mom.  Now all it needs is an alarm clock.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bedside Table Reboot

Most of my furniture is a hand-me-down.  When I run through the list of furniture in my house, I can only think of three pieces I bought new.  Everything else is either a garage/estate sale find, a dumpster dive save, or mined from my parents or my grandparents houses, like my bedside table.
I'm sad.  Paint me Handy Mandy!
So the other day when I lifted the table, and the top came off, I decided it was time to do something about my sad, water stained, broken down bedside table. I wanted a two tone look, instead of a solidly painted piece, because the table is solid maple, and the wood underneath is beautiful. So I removed the hardware, sanded the easily accessible sides, draw front, shelf and tabletop. I decided to paint the uprights, mostly because I was too lazy to sand them down.  I glued the table top back together as it had come into three pieces, and waited.

The uprights I painted purple, I stained the exposed wood with a light color for a nice contrast, and replaced the hideous shelf paper with something a little more girly. 

Pretty wood grain!

Then I took a canning lid, and VERY CAREFULLY sanded the entire thing going in one direction the whole time.  This was to get the words that were printed off the top, and even up the surface afterwards.  It also makes it ever so slightly more shiny.  I drilled a hole in the middle of the lid and the drawer, and applied my newly acquired hardware.  (I got my hardware at Bart's Barn, my favorite store!)

All done!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bike inner-tube shelves

In my wanderings on the interwebz, I came across a going green contest, where people were upcycling this that and the other.  One of the entries was a man who had made shelves out of two furniture feet and some bike inner tubes.
The heck you say?

Well I thought that was kind of groovy, so I set out to replicate it.  I was thinking it might be a perfect way to store the excess DVDs that were stacked atop my DVD shelving unit.  I didn't have any furniture feet, so I had to make something that would work.  Bart's barn provided a large thick dowel that started out it's life as a closet bar, and a piece of particle board.  Total cost, $1.75.  I cut the dowel into 8 inch lengths and the particle board into 5 inch squares. I marked the middle of both, drilled holes, and screwed one to the other.

I used inch and three quarters deck screws for this so they wouldn't come apart.

And then everything got painted fire engine red.
*insert siren noises here*

The inner tubes I acquired by going to my local bike repair shop and asking for any punctured tubes they were going to be throwing away.  I figured they probably had some fancy recycling program to turn them into shoes for starving children in third world countries or those rubber fall zones at playgrounds, but lucky for me, shipping them costs too much to make anyone want to recycle them, and I got myself several handfuls.

So I found two tubes the same size, and saved the rest for another project. I mounted one of my bright red brackets, and then hung the tubes on it.  I hooked the other bracket to the tubes and stretched it as far as I could and marked the spot on the wall.  Then I unhooked the tubes, screwed the second bracket into place, stretched the tubes between them, and loaded it up with my excessive DVD collection.

I'm kind of impressed this worked at all actually.

I may have to tweak the placement of the brackets a bit, because those tubes are a lot more stretchy than I assumed.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Reclaimed cabinet door shelves

Casita Amanda, as it has come to be known, is very small.  930 square feet is plenty for one fabulous do-it-yourselfer and her furry sidekick.

But a small house from the 1960's does pose some very serious storage issues at times.  I spend a lot of time looking around my house and thinking, "I know there's more room here than I'm taking advantage of. Where can I put more storage?"So when I decided that my tiny powder room off the master bedroom needed more space to store things, shelves were in order.

For the actual shelves, I haunted my local Habitat for Humanity Restore, aka Bart's Barn, until I saw a cabinet door that had been sliced in half.  It was dark and glossy and too wide, so I took a trip to my dad's table saw to cut it down to size, and my mom diligently sanded away the finish so that it would take the paint.  Thanks mom and dad. I like it because it's got a lip on it, so my round things like lipstick won't roll away.
Pfft! Like I ever wear lipstick. That's a laugh. 

I applied two generous coats of white paint, also procured at Bart's Barn, which I didn't know was oil based at the time. Pro tip - if you're covered in oil based paint half an hour before you're supposed to be at a dinner party, regular old canola oil will dissolve that stuff right off your skin.  And it leaves your hands nice and soft.

I inherited the shelf brackets from the previous owner.  She had them close to the ceiling, and they were covered in dust and gunk. I used the pine shelves elsewhere in a closet, but I kept the brackets, knowing that they'd make throwing up some shelves pretty simple one day.  One coat of fuchsia paint later, and they're ready to attach to the back of the shelves.

I held the shelves in place and leveled them, and then marked the holes with a pencil so I'd know where to drill.  I drilled pilot holes and inserted molly bolts into them.

They're called ribbed plastic anchors on the package, but I've always called them molly bolts so molly bolts they are.  Use a hammer to gently coerce the bolts into the holes.  Don't hit too hard or you'll bend or break the plastic.  You always want to use these if you're screwing anything of any weight into dry wall.

Then I used screws to attach the brackets to the wall.  I was able to use my power drill to screw the bottom screws into place, but the top ones were in an awkward position due to the bracket's shape, so I did those by hand.

And TA-DA!  Storage!

A quick aside.  I love to shop at Bart's Barn, because not only do they have all kinds of neato reclaimed everything, not only is it generally much cheaper than anyplace you'd buy it new, not only are the staff friendly and helpful, but every time I shop there I'm donating money to an organization that gives people the dignity of owning their own home, of building wealth and getting out of poverty, of saying I live here, as opposed to I stay there. And that, well that means something.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bike Wheel Pot Rack

I hate digging in my cabinets for my pots and pans.  I end up emptying the entire cabinet to find the one pan I need.  I've always wanted a pot rack.  But they're huge, and expensive.  This one which is beautiful, cost $310.  There's no way my cheap self is going to pay that much for any kind of storage solution, unless it's a storage shed or something. So while I was out browsing pinterest, I saw a pot rack made out of an old bicycle wheel, well.  I just had to make one.

My dad had loaned me an old rusty bicycle wheel for my geometry kids' pi day last year, so I had one in the garage.  The hardest part of this whole endeavor was getting the tire and tube off the wheel.  It was, like everything my father hordes, old and cracked.  It was practically glued to the wheel.  I ended up cutting it off with a box cutter.  Carefully. Then I removed the axel and bolts that held it in place. I tried to remove the gears, but turns out they're welded on or something, so I left them on.  It adds interest anyway.

Next up was a trip to the hardware store.  Have a look at what came home with me.

I started out by fitting the long all thread onto the axel of the wheel.  I slid a washer onto each side of the axel and tightened down the nuts.

Next I located a joist in my ceiling, and drilled a hole to hold the hanger bolt. Make sure you drill directly into a joist!  You don't want your pot rack to fall on your head.  You'll know that you have gotten into the joist when you pull your drill out of the hole above your head and are blinded by not only dry wall dust, but sawdust as well.

Now I twisted the hanger bolt into the wood, pointy side in.  I had problems tightening the bolt, because there was nothing for a tool to use for purchase, so I went ahead and screwed on the coupling all the way to the end of the threading, and used an adjustable wrench to tighten it all the way into the ceiling, to ensure it wouldn't fall out.

Next I used my hacksaw to cut the all thread down to the appropriate length to keep me and my tall friends from bumping our heads on my pots. Now we put peg A into slot B, and we have ourselves a pot rack!

I used the S hooks to hang my pots from my new rack, and voila!  More cabinet storage!  Now I just need to figure out a way to sort the lids in the cabinet so they are also easy to get to. But that's another project.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Satellite Dish Patio Umbrella

I saw this on Yard Core and thought it looked really cool.  And my dad, being a pack rat, just happened to have a full sized satellite dish. I think we got it from my great uncle, who has no kids, and therefore, lots of money, and is always buying the newest coolest thing on the market. I remember when he got a CD player before anyone else, and it was huge.
Anyway.  First order of business was to remove the huge heavy ring attached to the back that let you attach the satellite to the pole and angle it however you want, and split it into two parts for easier movement and storage.
 Once I'd done that I had to clean the darned thing pretty well, because it's been sitting in my dad's backyard for about ten years.  Then I had some repairs to do.  The dish is really light weight aluminum, and as such, having been in the same place for so long, some of the mesh was torn from wind damage, and saplings growing up through my dad's garbage heap and into the wire mesh. So I took a hammer and dolly and beat that sucker into submission, until the shape was right.  To strengthen the places where it was torn, I took some thin wire and some needle nose pliers, and "sewed" the mesh back together.  

Then I attached a flange to mount the dish on to the central circular doohicky, using a heavy duty metal bit and some carriage bolts and nuts.

Next I painted the whole darned thing smurf blue. It took 5 cans of spray paint and several hours of patience. 

Don't mind my thumb there.  We transported the dish to my house, and re-assembled.  This was a lot harder than it sounds. 

I had bought a 10 ft. pole to mount it on, and had an 18 inch pole that fit just around it, by some amazing coincidence.  The 18 inch pole was found in the depths of my dad's workshop.  I don't know where it came from.  The 10 ft. pole was just a galvanized steel pole threaded at the end.  Now, I wanted the lip of the umbrella to be just tall enough for any reasonable adult type person to be able to walk under comfortably, without being tall enough to be seen by the code enforcement officers from the street.  I checked to see if there were any codes against patio umbrellas, and there weren't, but I'm sure they would find some fault with it. So I used my fancy shmancy edumacation to conclude we needed to chop off about a foot and a half.  Not every girl is lucky enough to have a hacksaw of her very own. Then we pounded the shorter pole into the ground where we wanted it, took it out, removed the dirt, and pounded it back in. Threaded the newly resized pole onto the flange, and slid the tall pole with the new umbrella into the void in the ground created by the smaller pole.  

Tada!  Now all it needs are a couple of chairs to go under it.  But that's another project now isn't it?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The "We Girls Can Do Anything, Right Barbie?" Generation

I grew up in the 80's.  Which means that I had a front row seat to a feminist movement that saw women in the workplace move from being scandalous or desperate to being downright normal.  As a woman in my late 20's, at least for a little while longer, I am expected to work. If my heart's desire is to marry someone and spend my days as a homemaker, mother, and housewife, I'm considered spoiled or selfish because I'm expecting someone else to support me. In the last 30 years, we've gone from fighting for the right to work if we want to, to being as oppressed by the need to work as we were by the idea that we shouldn't. And while I could write several essays on this topic, this isn't exactly my point.

I call women who grew up during this time the "We Girls Can Do Anything Right Barbie?" generation.  I know there are still some of you who remember the commercials where Barbie, in her stylish power suit and brief case would go from the sharp office look to the sexy cocktail dress with ease.  Growing up in this generation instilled in me one powerful truth.  I could do anything that any old boy could do, but I had to prove it to the world. The day I internalized this message was the day Handy Mandy was born.

My earliest handy memory is a day when my father was changing out the flapper on the toilet, because the old one was rotten.  He took the lid off the tank and explained to me how the toilet worked.  I might have been 5 or 6. I was fascinated.  I knew how something worked.  It was an empowering feeling, and I liked it.  Over the next few years my dad, who had not found much of a mechanical inclination in my older brother, succeeded in teaching me everything from how to change a tire, to how to use power tools.  As a practicing Methodist, I went on many a mission trip, from places as near as Frisco Texas to San Juan, Costa Rica.  I painted houses, built floor joists, framed walls, dry walled rooms, re-shingled roofs, built wheelchair ramps and touched basically every part of a house except plumbing and electrical.  Those were deemed too dangerous for teenagers to be messing with.  So my dad taught me how to handle those things. At 24 I bought my very own house.  It was a serious fixer upper.  I did not hire a contractor.

These days my projects are mostly limited to whimsy and finding storage solutions.  I was lately doing some research on how to make a patio umbrella out of an old satellite dish, and though I'd seen it on the DIY channel, I could find only one decent picture of one, and no instructions.  So I thought I'd forge on ahead, and help out the fledgling DIYers out there.  And thus this blog was born.