Tag Archives: DIY

PLANTER DIY

I want to start our adventure in the treehouse of honesty because there are no secrets between us. This post barely qualifies as a DIY and I know that. This is actually part of a much larger post about an update to the back patio but I haven’t gotten all that junk organized yet. I also know what a large and ravenous fan base this site has amassed, so rather than leave the hundreds of thousands of you in the dark I’ll give you what I have at the moment. I’m just a simple servant, really, whose actions are dictated by the will of the masses. If you find yourself cackling about the thread-bare nature of this website’s content then I suggest you turn the mirror on yourself and take a cold, hard look at the reflection, you monster, because you pushed me to do this. Furthermore, if in your inevitable state of despair over the lack of a meatier post you choose to flood the TINAH account with emails containing subject lines like, “need moar plz”, “Suspense is killing me!”, “RE can’t breathe you are like air BRB dying” or something less specific, I won’t encourage it but I also won’t stop you.

OK.

Now that I’m free from any legal liability I can remind you of this DIY trellis I once made with medieval decorative death utensils:

Savage beauty.

As far as plant ladders go I’m not mad at it. Somewhere Sandra Lee is on her seventh cocktail and is enjoying this trellis. (Like, she just finished an end-of-summer tablescape for her new book “TablESCAPES” and instead of using sugar water like her producers suggested she used real rum in The Malibu Bay Tease and now she’s ass-over-teakettle after taste-testing one too many and Andrew Cuomo’s locked himself in his study because he knows she gets aggressive when she drinks brown liquor.) So it’s not the trellis:

Vomitfest.

What I abhor is that slop bucket of a planter. IT’S DEFILING MY PEEPERS WITH ITS MEDIOCRITY, YOU GUYZ. It’s got a dumb stupid face and I don’t like it.

**RANT BREAK It’s slim pickings out there, my little goat herders. You really only have two options when searching for a planter. Your first option is Home Depot. There are lots of planters to choose from at Home Depot! They have small ones and they have big ones! They have ones with edges and ones without edges!! They come in a great many variety of colors, like orange and green!!! Most are plastic but some are terracotta, which is exotic and also fun!!!! They are very sophisticated and classy and unique AND BY NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T SENSED THE IRONY THEN YOU’RE A MONSTER OF EPIC PROPORTIONS. Yes, Home Depot has what you need but they also have what your neighbor needs, too. You will find an affordable planter but it will be dull and boring and look like everyone else’s. Buy one and you will end your own life from being a basic bitch.

What’s the alternative? LUXURY MONEY. That’s right! The other option is taking out a second mortgage and investing that luxury money into a planter from Design With Reach or Modernica or some other fancy place like that. This option gives you a lot of variety and a lot of sophistication and a lot of glamor. Wouldn’t life be easier if we didn’t have a budget hhhnnnnnggggghhhh???? But that’s not reality. Reality is we’re all poor and have to stick to a budget and eat our tuna from the can by bending the lid into a spoon. THOSE ARE FACTS.**

I didn’t like the options I was left with. I could either get another ugly dump trough like the one I had before or spend an entire weekend running around Manhattan in search of a new one only to possibly come up empty. No. Not for El Jefe. I like a challenge but our public transportation system is teeming with rat kings and cockroaches looking to kiss me on my mouth place so instead of taking the train all over town I just went to this local mom & pop shop in my neighborhood called The Container Store.

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For $10 and a few air kisses I got this amazing accessory basket, which looked vaguely like a planter but more importantly like something I could make definitely look like a planter. So I bought it. When the clerk handed me my receipt and thanked me for shopping I said, “OH NO, THE PLEASURE WAS ALL MINE, BETH!” and howled with laughter as I ran out sipping my venti low fat upside down caramel mochaccino.

First order of business was to prime this little dime piece so I could paint it later. Brushed nickel is just fine for your mom but this is not your mom’s website, is it? NO. So stop being a total mom and go buy a spray can of primer, you goon! I used Rust-oleum Painter’s Touch ULTRA because I only like to use products that sound INTENSE. I would not recommend using the half-empty can of slop primer you have laying around from one of your last projects. You won’t get as even of a finish with a brush as you will with a spray can so spend the $4 for the spray stuff, will you? I don’t want to have to call you a goon again. It hurts me more than it hurts you.

The longer you leave it the better the bond between the primer and the planter,  so set it aside to dry while you scoot on down to the hardware store again. Like a goon I forgot to mention that you should’ve bought spray paint when you picked up your primer. I went with black for mine because that’s the color of everything on my patio and on this day I was feeling unoriginal and matchy-matchy. Like I said before, I’ll explain what I’m doing on the patio later SO STOP HARASSING ME ABOUT IT. Gawd.

Just like last time, let the paint dry.  And just like last time walk your human legs down to the store while you wait. I intentionally didn’t tell you to pick up top coat while you were picking up spray paint because the Rule of Three suggests that things are inherently funnier when they happen three times. You should be laughing right now. Side-splitting laughter is what should be happening to your entire body at this moment. Maybe even a little pee is coming out, I don’t know.

I think I tweeted about this when it happened but–GUYZ–promise me you’ll pay attention when applying your top coat, mmmm’kay? Your top coat can looks strikingly similar to your primer can:

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I know! You’re thinking BUT, EVAN, THE CAPS ARE TWO DIFFERENT COLORS. YOU’RE A DUM-DUM and you’re right! They are two different colors but if I wanted to be a detective I wouldn’t have used the pages of my Hardy Boys books to make cootie catchers when I was a kid. Keep your eyes peeled on this last step! You don’t want to spray some gray primer on your sleek black basket and have to start the process all over again.

Once you’re primed, painted and properly sealed, it’s time to line the inside of the basket so it can be filled with dirt and plant corpses. The weave of the accessory basket I got is large so I bought a $3 roll of vinyl-coated aluminum; that’s Spanish for screen door material. (You can use chicken wire if the weave of your basket is smaller.)

I’m going to attempt to explain this next step but words and I don’t really get along too well with math. To get a snug fit between your basket and lining measure the bottom of the basket–the length and width. Now measure the height of the walls. Hopefully you’ve picked a basket with even sides. If not, may God have mercy on your soul. The size of the square of material you need to cut for your lining will be:

[(2 x Height) + Bottom Width] by [(2 x Height) + Bottom Length]

Make sense so far? Once you have your rectangle of lining cut, you have to cut into the corners to make them fold up and join together. Measure, from each corner, the length of the height of the basket. Cut a small snip in the liner. That’s your marker. Carefully cut into each marker until it meets the cut  from the opposite marker of the same corner. Finish and you should have some funk-looking thing like this:

How did we do? If you ended up with something resembling an oval go ahead and roll your eyes and say in a loud, sarcastic voice, “THANKS A LOT, EINSTEIN.” It’s fine. I can take it.

If by some miracle you made it out of this step with a piece of aluminum like you see above then the smell of booze probably doesn’t remind you of your childhood. Congratulations to your parents!

Next step. Zip ties. Those you should’ve also picked up at the hardware store and why you didn’t I have no idea. To save myself from having to paint again I got black ties. (If you’re swinging for a chartreuse planter, well, dude, you’re shit out of luck. I would wait to paint your wildly inappropriate colored planter until the very end.)

Jam that freshly cut liner in the basket and with the ends of the zip ties poke holes through the liner’s weave and secure it to the basket’s uprights:

Work the ties all the way around the perimeter of the basket so the liner is super secure!

A note about the liner: it should be given a generous spray of top coat so it doesn’t corrode and rust over time. I did with mine and I did it after I secured the zip ties. You’re probably screaming at the computer WHY ARE WE DOING A TOP COAT AGAIN. WHY DIDN’T YOU WAIT UNTIL YOU WERE DONE WITH THE LINER TO DO IT ALL AT ONCE YOU BIG DUMB GAY MORON and to that I say ANOTHER COAT CAN’T HURT. IT WILL LAST LONGER. I TAKE OFFENSE TO THE WORD BIG. THE REST IS FINE.

Bite your tongue, spray it again, let it dry and you’re pretty much done. Really! You’re standing before a fully operational planting mechanism. Your eyes are melting in their sockets from the beauty of it all.

For filler I used moss as a bed and then threw in some dirt…

…but you can use just dirt or rocks or empty Otter Pop wrappers or whatever else you have in abundance. I don’t know your life.

All that’s left to do is take this new invention from Apple called a screwdriver and affix it to your favorite wall-thing:

This is a huge improvement over those run-of-the-mill plastic ones, am I right?

Here’s what you’ll need:

Accessory basket $10

Rust-Oleum Primer ULTRA Cover $4

Rust-Oleum Spray Paint (matte) $8

Rust-Oleum ULTRA Cover Gloss (clear) $4

Roll of vinyl-coated aluminum $3

Pack of zip ties $2

Dirt (steal it from your neighbors)

Plant (steal that, too)

Total cost: $21

Now go make yourself a cocktail to enjoy as you sit and ogle your new beauty creation. You’ve earned it!

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FREECYCLED: SCHOOLHOUSE BENCH

There are a lot of things I’m painfully unaware of in the moment. When I order popcorn at a movie theater and leave with a buttered crotch–that’s one. When I’m texting in bed and forget about gravity (ouch!)–that’s another. When I’m caught picking my nose by the person in the cab right next to mine–WHICH WE ALL DO BECAUSE WE HAVE MEDICALLY-DIAGNOSED IRRITABLE NOSTRIL CAVITIES AND THAT’S A REAL THING–well, sure, that’s probably another good example of how I’m not always aware of my surroundings. The exception is when I’m on the street. That’s a different story. On the street there is garbage and garbage makes me happy and garbage keeps me focused. If you don’t know by now how much I love garbage and the potential I see in it then you must just be here for the silly dog pictures.

It was one of my first winters in Manhattan when I went to meet some friends for a CWC (classy woman’s cocktail). The night before it snowed almost a foot and the city was enveloped by a thick, white blanket of powder, like a layer of butter cream frosting over a sheet cake. One margarita became nine and what was intended to be a night cap turned into a sloppy stumble home at 3 AM through the dark streets of West Harlem, which should tell you something about what a fearless terror I was at 22 years old. Speaking of, I would like to take this opportunity to formerly apologize to all of the five boroughs of New York City for the emotional and physical distress caused by 22 year old Evan. He roamed the streets at night, inebriated, sifting through your garbage. He aspired to be Cry Me A River Timberlake but could only pull off Like I Love You Timberlake. He said things like “chill” and “that’s bananas”. He didn’t have much regard for his personal safety and when he rode the subway he always had a scowl on his face. He acknowledges that after three pitchers of tequila he really should’ve just taken a cab and called it a night but instead he did cartwheels up and down 137th Street, listening to She Wolf on his iPod, and he’s real sorry about that.

Drunk, damp and cold I barreled ass over tea kettle down the street, exercising the limits of my healthy buzz, when out of the corner of eye I caught a bright yellow table leg poking up from the snow, buried beneath a black Hefty bag and stack of AM New Yorks. What I dug out from that mountain of trash would eventually follow me from place to place (to place to place to place) for the next 8 years:

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Battered and bruised but brilliant (alliteration!)

Even through my double vision I could tell this thing had good bones. It was beat to hell but it weighed a damn ton. The top was bespeckled with all kinds of things: paint, plaster, stain, polyurethane. One of the legs was missing a huge chunk from it, but the cross braces were in good shape so structurally it was sound, which I tested by laying on it in the middle of the sidewalk (22 year old Evan’s idea). I found it 3 blocks from my apartment–I’m not sure how I was able to haul it back home–and my arms had given out by the time I made it to my front door. I woke up the next morning and marveled at my accomplishment, yet still slightly unsure of how this bench got to be in my room. Go figure. Most people have a drunken night and wake up with a strange person in their bed. I have a drunken night and end up with strange furniture. I’m proud to say that since this time I’m a little more socially acclimated–but only slightly.

Because the circumstances surrounding the bench were so unique it moved with me to each subsequent apartment. When I moved into my studio and got some outdoor space I made a pact to finally give it the facelift it deserved. Sanding can be a difficult business to tackle indoors. You can do it, for sure, but the prep work and clean up is drag. I’ll have to write a post on that later because it can be done. Whether or not anyone actually wants to do it (or read it) is another matter entirely.

Initially my plan was to go very simple and elegant with it; strip it entirely, use a delicate maple stain to highlight the wood grain, upholster the top with black leather and brass nailheads. It was a good plan, it was, but things kind of went south when I ran a sheet of coarse sandpaper over the top and found out how deep the different layers of paint and stain actually went:

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That right there took Daddy roughly 90 minutes of hard, finger-paralyzing labor. Ugh.

So I changed my plans. I think it’s great to go into a situation with your guns blazing but leave yourself some room to edit and scale back. Be practical and don’t get down on yourself for cutting corners if needed. The original design for the bench would’ve been stunning if it was executed but it also would’ve taken 10+ hours, and if you’re a weekend warrior like me that’s several weeks of work. Nah-uh. No thank you, sir. Next!

As a compromise I decided I would sand down the entire the top. The struggle was real on that poor bench’s face and it needed some love, no doubt about it. I couldn’t cut a corner there. However the legs and braces were in good shape, so to save myself some time I would lightly sand down any rough patches, prime and repaint in a darker color, most likely black, to cover any blemishes I couldn’t remove with the paper. The leather idea I threw out because who am I Finn Juhl? GET REAL, EVAN, YOU CAN’T UPHOLSTER.

Here’s what it looked like after the first coat of stain. I went with Minwax Dark Walnut instead of maple since I knew I would be painting the base a deep black and needed a wood tone to compliment:

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I had to make several passes before I was satisfied with the color. Also some woods are far more porous than others so if your stain doesn’t take right away just persist! You’re not doing anything wrong. For this project I went with five coats in total. By coat three I had achieved the dark walnut look but I wanted a deeper tone so I kept slapping that shit on. With a foam brush. Have a mentioned that before? TEAM FOAM BRUSH. I hate bristle brushes. They need to go somewhere far away–like hopefully where Woody Allen’s films from 1987 to the present will go–and never ever come back. I also use a rag when I stain, too, to wipe down any excess, so don’t forget to bring one of your old camp t-shirts with you. It helps ensure I can be as sloppy as possibly when applying the stain and I don’t have to worry about streaking or pooling.

For the base I went interior semi-gloss from Behr, but only because I had some extra lying around. This is hardly an endorsement for Behr. Unless one of the good people at Behr is reading this. In that case you can make the check out to CASH. Please email me for my address and thank you in advance!

Here is where I ended up:

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For a garbage bench salvaged from the bowels of uptown Manhattan I think it has been done justice. Sadly I had to part with it just before the Apartment Therapy shoot but I was able to find a friend who could take care of it for me until I get a little more room. All in all this project cost a whopping $9, which was the cost of one of the ‘ritas that sent me off into the night when I first discovered it all those years ago.

Now, for the people who are here only for the silly dog pictures, thank you for putting up with all of this nonsense. Your reward is a Finn in a shearling:

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NIGHTSTAND DIY

Last month you might remember I mentioned an exciting little nugget of DIY showed up on my doorstep. Well, that mystery package was actually a hunk of beautiful Northern California buckeye burl wood and the DIY in question is a new, sexy and rugged nightstand for myself.

The inspiration came from Morgan over at The Brick House. She did a fantastic color dipping project for Sherwin-Williams’ National Painting Week which I have been dying to do myself ever since I read about it. (By the way, go check out her blog! It’s brilliant and you’ll be much smarter for having given it a look-see. Promise.)

If you scroll down to my previous post about upcycling my Jon Hamm look-a-like lamp the last picture shows what I was working with in the nightstand department. When I moved into my studio I needed a something in a pinch and chose the Mid-Century Nightstand from West Elm. While I like West Elm furniture (my bed is WE and has been outstanding for going on five years now) it didn’t really fit the style of my apartment–I always knew I’d swap it out at some point–and once I found the perfect piece of lumber (from eBay! Who knew?) I finally had the opportunity to do something unique with the space next to my bed.

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The piece came totally raw, so I first started by finding the lowest grade sandpaper the corner hardware store carried (40) a buying a lot of it. I don’t generally recommend buying sanding blocks. If you’re like me and don’t have a lot of storage go with paper sheets instead. They’re just as effective, cost less and are easy to store if you have leftovers. I seem to always have a use for sandpaper, too (strange, I know), so having a little extra is always a good thing. Plus, for this project, you will need an assload.

Then I set about creating a smooth and even surface by sanding with the wood’s grain until my hands became bloody stumps. Even though I new which side would be my top I sanded both sides of the wood anyway. It might seem like more work than’s necessary but if you don’t you’ll have wood dandruff flaking off from the underside of your nightstand for years to come.IMG_4416Burl wood is a fairly soft wood but if you get a piece as raw as mine you’ll really need to work at it to get an even consistency throughout the piece. IMG_4417Also, burl wood is an abnormal growth found on trees, the product of an environmental stress suffered by the tree, most often caused by fungal or insect infection, so you may need to sand deeper than you expected to eradicate any bands of dead fungus or such. (Oh, nature!)

IMG_4418Oh wait, did I mention sanding until your hands are nothing more than oozy little potato buds? I did? Well, ok, I really meant it.

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Seriously sanding Susan

If you’re not giving yourself blisters THEN I DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT.

Once you’re done with the coarse sanding and you’ve bound and dressed your wounds, if you can still lift your arms take a finer grade sand paper (120 or higher) and give the whole thing a little love. Nothing nuts, just light and even to smooth the whole thing out. Again, with the grain people. The grain is your friend.

Now, depending on the piece of wood you find–raw, vintage, pre-stained–this step may be different for you. Since my piece was raw (and because I’ve made no illusion to being a patient person) I didn’t use a primer; just went straight to staining. If you don’t have a raw piece of wood, or if you do and are seeking a specific tone, priming never hurts and will always give you the upper hand. I, however, had some leftover stain from a previous project that wasn’t as dark as I wanted so I knew I’d be making several passes with the stuff to enrich the color anyway, regardless of the wood absorbing the stain or not. Leave it to me to not do thing the way you’re supposed but that’s half the fun of DIY-ing. You have to find your groove!

Speaking of staining, I get asked a lot what kind of brush do you use for what and why. Well, friends, this may be wildly inappropriate for me to admit but I don’t really know. Nor do I care. I use foam brushes for just about everything because I feel they’re more forgiving than bristle brushes when you make a mistake. Plus you’re not forced to hunt for runaway bristles stuck in the coat of the thing you’re painting/staining/priming/sealing. For me, it just cuts out the worry of screwing up. So…foam brushes. Forever and always.

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Dark walnut beauty

Stained and drying, I went on to the next step: the legs. For this you’ll need an equal number of galvanized pipes and floor flanges. No, a flange is not one of Pheobe Buffay’s fake names, but what you’ll need to affix the leg to the bottom of the nightstand. The size and length are totally up to you. For this project I used three 1/2″ x 12″ pipes and their corresponding flanges. Home Depot will always have this stuff in stock–look in the plumbing aisle.

Grab a ball of twine while you’re out, too. Jute is best or any other kind of untreated rope. I found a roll of jute at the corner hardware store for $3. Just don’t get anything waxy or plastic. You won’t be able to paint that and also…gross.

IMG_4426Warning: this next part may obliterate your thumbs, so if you actually gave yourself blisters from sanding earlier, well, (1st) Bravo to you, welcome to the club! and (2nd) you may want to wait until you’re healed before attempting the following. However if you’re feeling wildly adventurous throw on that White Snake denim jacket and continue being a total badass!

IMG_4427Screw the flange to one end of the galvanized pipe. Place a small bead of glue (I used hot glue because I’m Martha Stewart and have a glue gun at the ready at all times, motherfucker, but you can use Gorilla Glue or something else if you’re basic like that) at the top, where the flange meets the pipe.

Using your bruised and bloody thumb as a guide tightly wind the jute around the pipe with your other hand, pushing upward with your thumbs every few rotations to make sure everything’s right and tight. I used a relatively thin gauge of twine so it took me about 30 minute/pipe, but if you’re using thicker rope it may go quicker.

Drop a little beadlet of glue every inch or so along the pipe to make sure the jute doesn’t jostle. When you reach the end of the pipe cut the twine, giving yourself roughly 1/2″ on the end to tuck inside the pipe and glue. Maybe do this step with a knife, or chopstick if you have one handy, so as not to burn yourself/adhere your first layer of skin to the pipe.

Once that’s done it’s time for my favorite activity: spray painting wildly and without abandon! Like Morgan did in her post, you can dip the legs in a can of paint, which is probably easier and less messy, but I didn’t have any so I just went full tilt with a can.

The length of the color block is totally up to you. I did 3″ from the bottom of the leg, taped if off and covered the rest of the leg in a grocery bag:

IMG_4428Jute is spongy so don’t be surprised if you have to dip or spray a few times to get your desired color density. Those should dry pretty quickly but you may be held up at this point for a day or two as you wait for the stain to dry before applying your top coat.

I’m not a huge fan of polyurethane in general (it just seems so obviously environmentally egregious) but I understand why we use them, so use it I did. It’s important to seal up your work after putting this much time and energy into it. When you do apply the poly top coat definitely use a foam brush. High gloss polys are very unforgiving to mistakes so a fat foam brush will be your best friend for this next step. I also recommend three to four coats. Seriously. You know I’m not a fan of extra steps but I think you’ll really be glad you took the time here.

Allow each coat of poly to dry fully before taking a microgrit sandpaper (maybe 240) and lightly sand to even out any inconsistencies. And, as always, wear your mask and goggles, ya dopes! How many times do I have to say it!?

IMG_4441Wipe off the poly dust you made from sanding with a damp rag, let the surface dry then repeat the whole thing again until the top of the nightstand has your desired sheen.

Oh right. I already attached my legs by now, so you should do that, too. Screw those suckers on.

IMG_4442Last, pick up some Johnson Paste Wax. It’s like $6 and you can find it anywhere, maybe even at your local drugstore. This will give your studly table a creamy, smooth and delicious finish.

Take your time and work it into the wood. You’ll want to do this every 3-4 months or so just to keep the top supple and sexy. Grrrr!

IMG_4446And that’s it!

I will finish this post by saying this project was CHEAP (because it was) but I won’t finish this post by lying saying it was quick. The steps are easy and require very little skill, but you really need to set aside an entire weekend and then some to complete the process.

I will say, however, that your time will be rewarded ten fold. This thing is a real beauty.

Also, see that nudey portrait in the stunning aluminum frame? I found it the day before, leaning against a tree on my block, while taking Finn on his morning walking. Pretty great, right?

*Cue the Countess*