The Great Crate Challenge

Howdy, Folks!   I love blogging.  I have to say.  It’s fun, rewarding, therapeutic and a great way to meet some awesome people whom I would have never met otherwise.   A while back I agreed to team up with some amazing bloggers for a project challenge.   Basically, we all had to go buy crates from Michael’s and do something with them.  Thus, The Great Crate Challenge was born….

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I thought about it for a while, and after some deliberation, decided to take my crates and make a bench for either our foyer or much-neglected front porch.

Before I began, I developed a highly technical plan…

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Impressed? 😉

Then, I purchased my materials…

– 3 crates from Michael’s

– 1″ x 12″ x 12′ whitewood board (cut down to (2) 1″ x 10 1/4″ x 55″)

– Bolts, nuts, and washers to bolt the crates together

Other materials, which I already had…

– Wood screws

– Stain/paint

– Wood legs (which I found at Goodwill for practically pennies)…

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I was cracking up as I left Goodwill that day because the cashier made such a stink that I’d found the legs before her.   Heehee!  Sorry, lady.  Finders keepers.   Anyhoo, I’d done some research prior to making my plan, and found that 17-18″ is a good height for a bench, thus these legs were too long.  So, Joey cut them down with the miter saw to 4 inch lengths.

Once I had all of my materials together, I did a dry run in the foyer so that I could figure out how I wanted to paint/stain the bench (Lucas helped).

We placed various stained items nearby and tried to visualize which finish would look best.  Lucas was no help in deciding.  He liked everything.   But somehow, I managed to convince my lovely cousin, Kristyn, to babysit AND brainstorm with me all in one day.   It was super helpful to bounce ideas off her and I came out deciding to stain the top, bottom and legs and red-wash the crates to give the bench kind of an industrial-old-schoolhouse feel.

I sanded all of my pieces to take off any splinters or harsh edges.  Then, I used Varathane’s Early American stain, applying 2 coats with dry time between to my whitewood pieces and legs.  Once the stain had dried, I treated the stained elements with several coats of Formby’s Tung Oil as discussed in this post.

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For the crates, I decided to use a red-wash technique so that the woodgrain would still show through.  I poured some of this paint…

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…into a cup and diluted it with equal parts water.  I simply painted it on and let it dry.  I experimented with wiping off the excess, but that caused the crates to take on a pinkish hue.  Not good.  Plus, the wood was so absorbent that simply painting it on didn’t leave drips anyways, so I just applied the paint and called it a day.

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Once the components had dried, it was assembly time.  Joey did most of it with some direction from me per my plan.   We started by attaching the legs to the bottom.  This was a bit of a different process for us because of the random Goodwill legs I’d found.  The screws on top were much too long for the standard brackets sold at home improvement stores.   Luckily, Joey figured out that the metal threading that held the feet in place on the bottoms of the legs (the part that he’d cut off) fit the screws perfectly.  So, he removed them…

He drilled holes in the bottom board where the legs would go and played around with the components to determine the most secure way to attach them.  Ultimately, he found that inserting the metal screw-catch thing (technical term) to the opposite side of the board allowed the legs to be attached more securely.   (Note: If you simply purchase legs from Lowe’s or Home Depot or whatever, you can purchase metal brackets right along with them to secure the legs, easy-peasy.)

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You can see here how the metal threads are on the top side.  The screw catches the thread from the opposite direction holding the legs snugly to the board…

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Next, he bolted the crates together using a clamp to keep everything flush and lined up…

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Once the crates were bolted together, he screwed the crates to the bottom using wood screws….

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…and repeated the process with the top…

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Once we’d completed our new baby bench, I tried it in the foyer and then on the porch.  And the porch won out.  Big time. (HEADLINE: Porch Engages in Victory Dance While Foyer Weeps Rocking In Fetal Position)…

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I absolutely love it!  It turned out better than I imagined.  I feel like the industrial schoolhouse vibe was totally achieved and it adds a nice punch of color to our porch.   Plus, crates + bricks are sexy.  Forhousestuff.  Just sayin’.  I still need to treat the bench with something more inclement-weather friendly now that it’s final placement is determined.  Honestly, I really thought this guy’d end up in the foyer so I wasn’t too worried about that in the painting/treating stages.  I’ll get that done soon to keep him looking healthy.  In the meantime, I will spend my free time sitting and staring at him with a goofy smile on my face.   Crate. Mission. Accomplished.

Update: It’s been approximately 9 months since we built this bench and I’m happy to report that it’s still going strong.   It has remained in only outdoor covered areas (first our front porch, and now our covered back patio) and it has suffered no damage or weakening whatsoever and remains sturdy as can be.  I can’t speak for how it would fare if left in exposed outdoor areas, but it seems to be perfectly fine if sheltered from the sun and rain.   We still couldn’t be happier with this project. 🙂

So, that’s my contribution to The Great Crate Challenge!   Now, check out the other awesome projects created by my fabulous bloggy friends….

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Benchmarked!

Happy Tuesday, Folks!  I hope everyone had a safe and relaxing weekend. As mentioned in my last post, ours was a little different… though with a few nice surprises.  For example, if you follow me on Facebook you may have seen my excitement on Sunday when I woke to discover that my revamped foyer cabinets (aka: my brightey whiteys) were featured on Tatortots and Jello!   I was so amazingly flattered that they chose my children cabinets to sit alongside such greatness.  You can check it out (along with the other awesome projects) at this link.  And yep!  After looking at all of the big, beautiful, bright photos in that wonderful post… and then my teeny, tiny pic…  I’ll definitely be incorporating larger pictures on the blog from now on.  Ya live, ya learn.  🙂

Anyhoo, the other day, I was minding my own business when I had another sudden bout of inspiration (sort of like with my bamboo light fixture).  Ya see, we’ve had a little eyesore issue that I’ve been trying to contend with.   Brace yourself.

This was the view through our bedroom door…

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Attractive, right??  We used to have a cute little shelving unit in this space, but once we adopted our new grown-up nightstands, I moved it out.  It just didn’t work anymore.  And what was left was an ugly cord and blankness.  I really just stuck the blue vase over there to get it out of the way. I decided that some sort of bench would be a good solution for the space, and absolutely fell in love with yet another inanimate object the last time I was at Target…

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It was perfect!  A smaller, bold pattern to contrast our larger-patterned, muted bedding.  The size was right.   I liked the legs.   But I wasn’t willing to pay a hundred bucks for it.

So, I chose to create my own version on the cheap.   Ya see, my moment of inspiration occurred in the instant that I remembered that we had this ottoman in our attic…

I raced up there in a moment of determination and brought it down in a haze of glory.  I thought it would work well.  It was small, square-cushioned, and free.  A good blank slate.  😉

I started by removing the cover (my mother-in-law recovered it years ago with the brown microsuede)…

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…and discovered ducks!!  Huh…

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Then, I used this spray paint and gave the wood legs a few thin, even coats (check out some general spray-painting tips in this post of yore )…

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…Which left this…

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Yeeeahhh… I didn’t even bother to cover the fabric.  Alas, there will be no ducks in my future.

I found the fabric below at Hobby Lobby and just knew it was “The One”.   I thought it was similar to the Target bench fabric in the lines and feel, but was slightly more graphic, which I was all for.   It was $8.99/yard and I had a 50% off coupon which brought it to around 5 bucks including tax for the one yard I purchased.

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Now, as many of you know… a seamstress, I am not.   However, I’m trying to grow my skills, so I figured, no time like the present! And then I procrastinated. Out of fear.  But only for a little bit.  I decided to pin and sew along each of the corners to create darts of sorts (if there’s a correct term for this, please let me know).   I started the process, and then as I got to pinning my second corner, I realized that the fabric was the wrong way… so I flipped it over, wrong side up and started again.  My corners looked like this once pinned…

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Then, I retrieved Dusty (aka: my sewing machine), and simply sewed straight(ish) lines right over my pins.   I turned my slipcover right side out and tried it on for size…

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To my sheer and utter amazement, it didn’t look too bad.  Sure, its not perfect.  It has a few puckers and curvy lines, but ya know what??  I’LL TAKE IT!!!!  I removed the cover, trimmed off the excess material…

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… and slid the cover back on my ottoman.   I trimmed the bottom fabric, leaving about an inch of excess and folded it under so that the fabric would be neat around the legs…

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Then, I used my trusty staple gun to secure the fabric using the method outlined in this tutorial for recovering seat cushions…

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This next part, I have no pictures for, unfortunately.  But I’ll just say this… anyone who can secure embroidery tacks in a straight line deserves a medal (or a talk show)!  I spent ages (and sacrificed many an innocent tack) trying to hammer them in straight around the legs.   I’m happy with how they turned out in the end, but the process was no joke.  So, without further adieu, here’s the final result…

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And here he is in his new home….

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Our doorway view is much cuter now in my humble opinion.

So, here’s the cost breakdown for this project…

Ottoman: Already owned

Spray paint: Already owned

Fabric: $5

Embroidery Tacks: $2.50

TOTAL SPENT: $7.50

So, yeah.  I’m definitely satisfied with this project.  I think I actually like my bench better than the Target version, which says a lot, ’cause that Target bench is the cat’s meow.  I like the bolder fabric, but that the overall bench has a similar feeling to my inspiration. And the embroidery tacks… Worth every frustration. They add a little rustic twist and contrast the gold legs, which now tie in to Drex’s brass accents on the opposite side of the room. And.I.sewed. And.liked.it. Weird.

So, what have you guys got going on?? Any inexpensive knock-offs happening in your neck of the woods??

 

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Linked up to: Home Stories A to Z, Home Coming, The DIY Dreamer, I Heart Nap Time, Natasha in Oz, Burlap and Babies, Lines Across, Tip Junkie

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