Tag Archives: DIY

Poor man’s woman ‘s breakfront

It should be apparent to anyone who reads this blog semi-regularly that I an mad for food, decidedly one of those people who lives to eat. I like the trappings of meals; dishes, presentation, etcetera, but when it comes to spending money, I prefer generally to put it toward actual food. Still, I’ve been thinking for awhile that I’d like to display some of my pretty dishes. In my fantasies I imagine having a china cabinet with glass doors and lighted shelves. Why, the linked one costs a mere $2700 😕 and would only require removing perhaps half the other furniture in this small home to make space for it. So yeah, I’m not going to be buying anything like that but my yearnings haven’t ceased.

I’ve recently posted about fixing up found shelves and found drawers. After I got the small drawers I no longer needed the open shelves in my room, which had kind of been a stop-gap measure anyway. I didn’t want to part with the shelves so soon, especially considering their secret message on the back which was there when I spotted them awaiting trash day.

I’ve also got this little wooden piece that’s in the living area that I found and fixed up in 2018. I like it a lot and it’s been great.
IMG_20180323_163411
I was brainstorming and had an idea but wasn’t sure it’d work till I fetched the yardstick and did a few measurements. Voila! My idea, combining two pieces into one was going to work for my poor man’s woman’s simple breakfront. I thought breakfront was the right word and once I googled it, my definition was confirmed. A breakfront is merely two pieces, hence the break.

I put the open shelves on top of the white/orange/green unit (I don’t know what you call a piece of furniture with both a cabinet and drawers). The colors already matched; I just painted the backs of the open shelves white and took the long, narrow decorative front piece off the bottom and nailed it to the top. That last effort completed it – now it looks like one (intentional) piece. Standing 57″ tall and not 3′ wide, it’s of modest size but much bigger and it would likely overwhelm the space. (Furniture is swell but I still want room to walk around!) I was so excited to put dishes on the shelves. I realize without doors, the shelves & dishes will get dusty but I think the look of this makes it worth a bit of extra cleaning.
IMG_20191229_153335_kindlephoto-27178422
IMG_20191229_152253_kindlephoto-27216717

In the process of making this I bumped – only bumped – my beautiful, stupid icicle lights that hang from the high narrow shelf on the wall (above my new “breakfront) and they quit working.😐 I was bummed, all the more because it’s the second strand to quit. I’m wondering if I should try something else, maybe a single strand of lights.

IMG_20190826_190012_kindlephoto-7251011

The lights that are no more

IMG_20191229_153702

Here’s ths new piece in context – I’m delighted😊

Lastly, the square table is a new-to-me piece I found this summer. I’ve really been liking it. (I still have a bigger table stored away if I need it.) My dream table for this spot is small and round. Who knows – one may just turn up some day… I doubt, however, that a china cabinet of my fancies will show up so for now, I’m satisfied with my little piece.😊

Found wood drawers get fixed up

I have professed my fondness for actual wood furniture so it’s a happy day for me when I – literally – find some, roadside that is. I have been wanting narrow wood drawers and saw these. They were “structurally sound” and I saw potential so I brought them home. They stand 30″ tall and are not quite 16″ wide and not quite 10″ deep.
IMG_20191210_131419

I took off and threw out the back cover which was not real wood and in bad shape, stained and warped. I can put another cover on if I want to but I’m not too worried since the back will be against the wall, limiting how much dust will potentially get inside. I also removed the small “front” at the very bottom.

I decided to effectively raise the height of the drawers by making a simple little stand out of scrap wood, which adds an open shelf at the bottom.

I removed the small wood knobs and replaced them with a quartet of fabulous metal drawer pulls (a sun, moon, leaf, and flower) that I’d put on kitchen cabinets a year ago (after having found them roadside on a ratty little set of fake wood drawers that weren’t any match for their beauty). Here they were on the cabinets.

I painted the outside of the unit light green including the little stand I made, and although the pictures aren’t showing it, the drawers themselves are painted one coat of a darker green – I let just the drawer fronts go after only a single coat because I realized the “distressed” look it created was kind of working. I liked it! Again, sorry, the picture doesn’t really show it.
IMG_20191221_135813_kindlephoto-31378955
IMG_20191223_193832_kindlephoto-34262618

The drawers, likely being old, were somewhat “sticky” and I found the advice online to rub a bar of soap on the bottoms and also inside where the drawers touch. Very effective! Although I’d washed the whole thing before beginning the fix-up, I also put a coat of white paint on the insides of the drawers since I planned to put nice things (clothing things) inside and from the looks of it at least one drawer had held tools or something similar in its previous life. I lined the drawers with pretty wrapping paper.
IMG_20191216_063858_kindlephoto-31701414

And then the fun part: putting stuff in them. I decided they’d be best for things I don’t use too often but still want to have at hand easily. (Shown here are my stash of “fuzzy socks” some oversized scarves, and a few tights.)

The drawers are very sweet, hold a decent amount of stuff and aren’t taking up much space in my small room. I’m really pleased with how they turned out for not much trouble at all.

How I make a cabinet with shelves from scrap wood

Throughout the time I’ve been writing this blog I’ve occasionally posted pieces on simple furniture I’ve made. Nobody taught me how to make stuff; I figured it out for myself. Unlike many other things I’ve self-taught, I don’t turn to library books or other instructions because frankly, they tend to look intimidating and demand a lot more steps, effort, and purchases than I am willing to undertake. I make things that suit me – they’re not meant to be heirlooms or wow any carpenter who happens along (I’m smart enough to not let a carpenter or anybody skilled get too close a look at my homemade creations). Point being, I’m not killing myself here; just saving money and having the satisfaction of making something. Oh, and exercising – all that sawing and hammering and hauling stuff about is burning calories.😁

I was seeing a man many years back who did offer the suggestion that I should use screws in my endeavors rather than just the nails I had been. This was good advice (I mean what the hell did I know?). Screws make pieces stronger and are easier to remove, particularly if you’re making something that might be subject to change down the line.

One style I return to again and again is a simple one for building shelves or cabinets. I took the time two weeks ago to take photos of how I made a simple small cabinet. It’s pretty much the blueprint for every one I’ve previously made. If you’re at all handy, it really isn’t difficult and it’s fun.

I had a few small shutters that I took off a cabinet I remade in the kitchen. They were cute and after I unsuccessfully tried to “re-home” them, I decided to use one in a project. In December I purchased a wonderful little set of five essential oils on Amazon. They’re not available now so the link is there just in case you want to see what I got. I thought it might be nice to have a small cabinet to hold the oils and my tealights. I love tealights and use them almost exclusively. If you wander off to another room for something and aren’t watching them like a paranoid hawk, they’re far less likely to catch your house on fire than tapers or pillars as tealights generally mind their own business quietly and don’t go shooting huge flames skyward.

Here are the four pieces of wood I sawed to the dimensions I needed to make a unit – essentially a box – to be hidden behind the shutter. The teaspoon is there just for size reference.

IMG_20190203_133910_kindlephoto-4793437

Next I started screws in the four corners of the top and bottom pieces. It’s easier to get them started on a flat surface.IMG_20190203_134404.jpg

Here is the bottom and top screwed into place.IMG_20190203_135345_kindlephoto-4750960

I made sure the shutter wood fit nicely as a door the way I intended before proceeding. IMG_20190203_135555_kindlephoto-4707815

Here I have cut a board for a shelf and am checking to be sure I’ve made it the right size before sawing the others. I tend to be a sort-of-measure-once and cut-multiple-times kind of person.😐IMG_20190203_140259_kindlephoto-4656523.jpg

I sawed two more shelves and eyeballed them to see where I’d want to place them in the cabinet. I got the essential oils out to make sure they’d fit on a shelf.IMG_20190203_141825_kindlephoto-4615242

With a shelf like this that isn’t going to hold much weight, I feel free to just use nails as shelf supports. It is the easiest, cheapest method and they don’t take up any space. I pounded two into either side of every spot I wanted to support a shelf.

IMG_20190203_142708

If I am making a shelf that will hold weight I make wood supports like this one I did in the food cabinet. These are just short boards nailed into place. In this case prior to assembling the tall cabinet I lay the two sides down on the ground and attached the supports; this way I can line them up and the shelf will be even when upright. The photo is a typical support for a heavy shelf, in this case my food “pantry.” I made this one many years ago and it has dutifully held the weight of my overstuffed shelves, including lots of canned goods.

IMG_20190216_134626.jpg

The shutter already had two hinges attached so I used them as is. I only bother to place one screw into each one as a time saver, especially  with a very lightweight door like this.

IMG_20190203_144131.jpg

I painted the whole thing white.

IMG_20190203_155540

I often skip adding a back of any kind and just let the wall be the back of a shelf unit. If I build a tall cabinet, I typically add a support piece to the back, though, so the whole damn thing doesn’t sway back and forth. It’s quite something what a little back support will do! In this case, just to keep the wall clean and because it was no trouble, I decided to add a back made from a cardboard box. Here’s the plain box and the piece I cut to size and painted white.

IMG_20190204_134735_kindlephoto-4535921

The back stapled into place.IMG_20190204_135129

Lastly pounded two picture hangers into the top of the back. These have pointy ends that drive into the wood.IMG_20190204_141036

The final cabinet hung on two small nails in the wall. I added the red dots since I already have a similar cabinet nearby that has red dots on its larger shutter door. So cute!IMG_20190215_170140_kindlephoto-143755.jpg

The inside look. I added a second coat of paint before taking this picture just to make it a little nicer.IMG_20190215_170050

The door wasn’t staying quite shut so I added this simple hook.IMG_20190215_172108.jpg

 

There outta be a song about IKEA stuff by the road (or: “Repurposing” furniture for small spaces)

In late winter, I spied two large pieces of IKEA furniture by the road not too far from where I live. I immediately wanted them and wasn’t going to let not having a car stand in my way. I went home and fetched a dolly and hustled back to their location, worried that somebody would snap them up before I could. Fortunately, they were laying on their sides, looking a bit coffin-like frankly, so they were less appealing to other potential road scavengers.

As you probably know, much of IKEA furniture is made of that composite junk and thus is heavy, although granted, any piece of furniture standing 6 feet tall is going to be heavy. I wrestled one up and onto the dolly and began to pull it home. Which was naturally uphill.

Now I have hauled a lot of stuff home in my day and I have to tell you pretty much nobody ever offers assistance. Please understand I am not saying they should – I’m competent and doing these whacky things is my own idea. Besides, I must look like I know what I’m doing. So I was surprised that along the way not one but TWO different men in vehicles stopped to offer help. I politely declined (but boy wouldn’t they have been surprised had I replied, “Well you COULD go back and get the other one for me.”) And yes, after I got one home, I DID go back and get the other one.

I decided to put all the shelves from both combined into one unit and to use that in place of a dresser. I’d been moving away from using dressers for awhile – I don’t have a lot of room and I like being able to see everything at once. With a dresser I almost never pay attention to the clothes stacked on the bottom; they cease to exist so far as I’m concerned. I put the IKEA piece in my room and added the long mirror to the front which is ideal because I’m out of wall space. I’ve previously painted the back of the door that same lime green as well as the overhead fan blades so there’s a lime green accent theme.

IMG_20160629_162607_kindlephoto-698064

I stack jeans, leggings, and shorts while storing small items like socks, undies, scarves, etcetera in their own compartments in fabric boxes. One day I may make all the boxes match but that day has not come.

IMG_20160629_162404_kindlephoto-649897

I thought the handle on the IKEA unit was weird and hard to get hold of to pull open. Fortunately there was a better handle on this little shelf/drawer unit (also found, repaired & painted earlier this year) so I swapped the handles. I had to drill new holes but otherwise it was easy to do.

IMG_20160629_162911

Here’s the little shelf/drawer unit with the IKEA handle. It works fine there. (I’ve got various jeans shorts and capri-length jeans in this drawer. Everything else – tops, dresses, jackets, skirts, shorts & pants that need ironing are hung in the closet).
IMG_20160629_163013_kindlephoto-400725

I got inspired to put the other IKEA unit on its side in the main living space where it holds the giant TV – no flat screen here – resting it on wood pieces. I did add one more piece of wood as an internal support as I could just see that heavy TV crumpling the flimsy wood in short order. I painted the clear plastic insert slate blue on the inside. It holds lots of bulky stuff that is needed but better out of sight. I left the original handle because it actually works turned this way.

IMG_20160506_101359_kindlephoto-511484

IMG_20160506_101439

 

Let’s fix up a little wood table!

At the same yard sale I found this dress/blouse, I also found this little 23″ table:

That's the price tag still on it: $1!

That’s the price tag still on it: $1!

My space is limited and I think in terms of scaled-down furniture. The table was wooden, solid, and showed promise. Now, roosters aren’t really my thing, and the top bird was peeling off besides. I tried to scrape off the rest of the rooster but it was a pain and not really worth it to me so I decided just to paint. A friend had recently given me aqua spray paint which I used first on this project. I thought the aqua could be a good fit here too. It was!

Buh-bye roosters!

Buh-bye roosters!

I try to only get things from yard sales that I need (either stuff I don’t have or which could stand improving/updating). Here the table holds a fan (which is getting a ton of use this Spring). The fan was also a yard sale find several years ago. It worked fine but the settings label came off and wouldn’t stay glued. Hence the handwritten numbers!
P_20150621_082520