Monday, February 11, 2013

Toy Box from Desk Drawer

See the drawers on the right?  The bottom two are really just one big deep drawer with two handles so it looks like two.
A few months ago I scored several drawers from an old wooden desk similar to the one above, only painted black.  They were just too sturdy to end up in the recycle bin, and I was sure I'd be able to put them to good use one day.

That day came recently when I decided the toys being stored in different places around our house needed to be weeded out and placed in one spot, so when the kids came over they would know just where to go to find their favorites.

The large drawer was already the exact size I needed, so no need to do anything to the basic structure.  
The bottom of the drawer, however, was made of thin wood and would never be able to withstand the rigors of life as a toybox.  

Lucky for me I had held on to an old cabinet door that was just the right size.  

I nailed that on with my trusty nail gun.  Yes, I left it white.  It wouldn't be seen anyway, and I was on a roll and didn't want to take the time to paint it and then let it dry.

Next came these sturdy castors from Ikea.  I love their castors, even though the largest ones are quite pricey.  These are the medium size, though, and just right for what I needed.  Plus, any larger and the box would not have fit the space I had in mind.

One side of the drawer had holes where two handles had been fitted in order to make it look as if it were really two drawers instead of one deep one.  

I covered the bottom set of holes with a random piece of hardware and glued one in place on the opposite side as well, so they matched.  Then I inserted a length of rope for the handle--long enough so the box could be pulled around by someone under two feet tall, lol.

I didn't bother with repainting the box.  The color goes with the room, and I love the beaten up weathered shabby chic look.  (Even if I'd painted it, the box would eventually look like this again.  :)

The final touch was adding the label.  I used my Robocut and some grey vinyl I had left over from another project.  The vinyl sticks great, but since I knew it would get a lot of wear and tear, I gave it several coats of Modge Podge. 

The box fits perfectly under the bench in my entryway.  Now the kids know exactly where all their toys are, and I have a less cluttered home to boot. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Outdoor Fire Pit

In laying out my outdoor zen garden (as my mil likes to call it),  I included a spot for a fire pit.  We had a number of bricks stacked haphazardly behind our shed, but for a long time I was secretly holding out on using them for anything, hoping that those bricks would be some day be used in a kitchen add-on.  However, when neighbors added on to their similarly shaped home without the use of extra bricks, I realized that I was holding out for naught.  So, with a little premixed mortar and some planning help from my brilliant son, I went to work.

These bricks have been stacked behind our shed since we bought the house, over 10 years ago!  And who knows how long they were there before that.  I didn't encounter any snakes, but there were TONS of spiders and lizards!
My biggest issue in building the pit was the inability to cut my bricks. I had to plan around full bricks.  I had seen a youtube video describing how to make a rocket stove, which leaves space at the bottom between the bricks to feed the fire.  I thought maybe I could do something similar.

A few weeks before "the build" my son was visiting.  I  described what I wanted and between the two if us we came up with a design.

As you can see, he gave some serious thought to the project.  :)

 Everything I needed I already had:  the brick, the tools and even the mortar.

I've had this premixed mortar around for a while, and it's come in quite handy for quick tile projects. Even though this one was planned out before hand, it was carried out "spur of the moment" (as in, I woke up one day and decided it was the day to make a fire pit).

I had placed a squarish piece of cement to mark the spot for the pit, and I decided to 
just build around it.   First I laid the bricks in a square around the piece of cement, which will become the base of pit. 

The second row, however, would allow for an opening the size of a half of a brick.  It will be used later to feed the fire, or I can block the space with a broken piece of brick.

The mortar was real easy to put on, sorta like icing a cake.  Unfortunately, my cakes turn out a little messy, as did this project!

The next row was laid out the same as the first, as well as the third and fourth ones.  I was concerned about the stability of the walls, since I didn't stagger the bricks, but they seem fine.

Just for good measure, I slapped on spread some extra mortar on the inside corners.

The last row was not really a row at all.  I just placed two bricks at each of the corners.  This will hold up a grate for fires, or the wooden top I plan on making to cover it during the summer.

The mortar shows quite a bit in the photos, but with weathering and use, it will blend in nicely with the brick.  (At least that's what I keep telling myself, lol.)

At dusk, it's the perfect spot for a glass of wine.

With the sun almost all the way down, it's ready for some marshmallows on a stick!

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