Expand Your Horizons: Propel Your Bulkhead into the Spotlight

Most people hate them. I’m talking about bulkheads – that wasted space above the kitchen cabinets or in the basement hiding mechanical runs. By the way, most people hate propeller puns too, but I’m a huge fan 🙂

Today I’m going to show you one way to jazz up a bulkhead with an airplane propeller!!

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We’re not even finished construction of my craft studio and hubs’ mancave in the basement, but I couldn’t wait to start decorating. We had this boring bulkhead over the entrance to the mancave and I knew it would look great as a feature that can be seen as you descend the stairs.

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The propeller we wanted to hang conveniently had a hole in the middle.

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Hubs decided to enlist the help of a friend to make us a metal post to hang it on, although you could probably achieve the same thing with threaded plumbing pipe and collar. It’s essentially a piece of steel pipe welded to a circular base (also made of steel). The base was drilled with four holes around the perimeter so we could potentially hit a stud or two when we were mounting it onto the bulkhead. Here’s the front and back view showing the welding:

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Our first step in hanging the propeller was to make a cardboard template of the propeller. We marked the template in the centre and then taped it up with painters tape. This helped us determine where along the bulkhead we wanted to position the propeller. We lifted the painters tape and nudged the template a few times until we had it where it looked good. We marked the centre with a piece of painters tape on the bulkhead and hoped there would be a stud nearby.

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Hubs used a stud finder to check the bulkhead; he found his stud and I found mine! He predrilled to make sure he was hitting wood.

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By turning the base of the hanger slightly, hubs was able to drill two pilot holes into the stud.

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Then he screwed the hanger to the bulkhead.

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Hubs lifted the propeller up to the bulkhead and slipped it onto the piece of tubing sticking out from the base. The tubing is tight enough that the propeller can’t slip off, but loose enough that we’ll be able to remove it if we want.

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Here’s the before and after. The propeller really warms up the space and adds some visual interest as you enter the mancave!

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Now to finish and furnish the rest of the mancave! Hubs really needs to get around to covering up the massive hole in the wall that houses our electrical panel; but that’ll be the focus of a future post!

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At Birdz of a Feather, we’re feathering the nest… one room at a time. If this project has inspired you, please pin and share on Facebook. Here are a few other project ideas to check out:

Sole Searching – A Shoe Storage Solution

Shoe Storage Solution 001_BOF

Ikea Stenstorp Kitchen Cart Hack

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Hidden Kitchen Storage: Turn a Filler Panel into a Pull-Out Cabinet!

Before and After_FINAL BOF

The Making of a Craft Studio (Part III) – If You Build It, She Will Come!!

C_Life is better in the studio_FINAL

Follow my blog here or on Bloglovin’ to see other DIY projects, in and around the home.

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Succulent ‘Seat Cushion’: Hypertufa DIY Planter

I have to say that hypertufa ‘seat cushions’ are my all time favourite DIY upcycle project for the garden! You may recall the chair we upcycled for our back garden and turned into a planter, but the hypertufa planter in that project was store bought. When we stumbled upon a discarded chair at the side of the road last week, hubs and I couldn’t wait to try making our own hypertufa planter from scratch for the first time!

At first glance, we both thought the chair was cast iron, but on closer inspection it turned out to be a plastic imitation. Hubs and I loaded it into the car; luckily we grabbed it before anyone else did!

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Since the middle of the seat was cracked, it was perfect for our purpose.

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Once we got our newest find home hubs punched out the rest of the middle of the seat.

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We measured the circumference of the circle to determine the size of the bowls we would need to act as a mold for the hypertufa:

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We found a variety of metal bowls at value village.

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The two larger ones were going to be just right for the mold.

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Below, I’ve documented our first attempt ever at making hypertufa so you can learn from our trial and error! Making hypertufa is a fairly easy DIY, however it’s a long process to perfect it. It could take anywhere from four to six weeks due to the curing time needed and the time it takes to leech out the lime contained in the portland cement so it’s a safe container to house plants. Since we started ours on the July 1st weekend, it won’t be ready to plant until August – which is nearing the end of our growing season! If you make your hypertufa in the fall instead, you can let the weather work its magic and naturally leech the planter over the winter. It will be ready for plants at the start of the next season and you won’t loose out on growing time.

To create the hypertufa bowl, you will need:

  1. Mixing pails (we used two, but you can get away with only one)
  2. Water
  3. Peat moss
  4. Perlite
  5. Portland cement
  6. Plastic cup or container to measure all four ingredients (1 part of each)
  7. Paint stick to mix
  8. Rubber mallet
  9. Gloves
  10. Sheet of plastic
  11. Cooking spray (acts as a release agent)
  12. Colorant (optional – if you want to color your mix). We wanted the bowl to blend in with the chair so we added in a black liquid colorant.

We don’t mind storing bags of the three main ingredients (peat, cement and perlite) because we’ll likely make more hypertufa. However, because you’ll need only a bit of each item, if this is your first project, beg and borrow a few cups of each ingredient from family or friends who might have some extra to spare. We were able to get some peat moss from my MIL so only had to buy the portland cement and perlite.

Find a sheltered spot to work in – out of direct sunlight and wind – to keep your hypertufa from drying out too fast. We worked in the garage and laid down a sheet of plastic onto the floor in case we had any spills. Here you can see the bag of peat moss. We sifted through to remove any large pieces of debris we didn’t want in our final mix.

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Peat Moss

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Perlite and Portland Cement

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Cement colorant and cooking spray

Don some gloves and spray the inside of the larger bowl and the outside of the smaller bowl with the cooking spray (make sure you get the rim too).

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Set the bowls aside.

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You’ll need to measure out one part of each ingredient. Note that we measured out one part water and put it into the first plastic mixing pail, but it probably makes more sense to add the water into the dry ingredients so you can control the consistency better! Next time we make hypertufa, we’ll mix all the dry ingredients first and add the water into the same pail.

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In the second pail we mixed all the dry ingredients together thoroughly: one part each of portland cement, perlite and peat moss. If you didn’t previously sift through your peat moss, you might want to remove some of the larger chunks of debris now to make a smoother mix.

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Once the dry ingredients were mixed, we poured them into the bucket of water and mixed thoroughly but as I said earlier you can add the water directly into the dry ingredients instead. That way, you can control the amount of water you add. Depending on moisture and humidity, you may have to add a little more or less water to get the right consistency.

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We forgot to add our liquid colourant to the water before adding the dry ingredients so ended up adding it in after. If your colourant is dry to begin with, however, add it into the dry ingredients instead.

Our mixture was the consistency of dry cottage cheese. I’ve seen wetter, more pourable mixtures on other sites, but my preference was to leave it just hydrated enough to pack.

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Pack the wet mixture into the bowl and distribute evenly. I tried to keep the thickness to about an inch.

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Insert the second bowl on top and centre it. Continue to add mixture between the two bowls until the mixture is level at the top. Tap the sides with the rubber mallet to release air bubbles.

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You’ll need to weight down the top bowl while it’s drying so it stays centred. We happened to have gravel, but you could add rocks, sand or anything heavy that will ensure it all stays put.

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Lowes has a great video you can watch that will show you all the steps I’ve described above.  They also have some great suggestions for adding texture to the planter that we’d love to try next time.

First Stage of Curing

How long a hypertufa project takes to dry will depend on the size and thickness of your project, the humidity and the temperature. It will probably take anywhere from 2 – 4 days for the first cure. Just like every project hubs and I try for the first time, it’s all about experimenting and learning from your mistakes to gain expertise.

We placed the whole thing into a plastic shopping bag, sealed it tight and left it to cure for 24 hours on a level surface. You could use a black garbage bag, or plastic wrap, but make sure the plastic is tightly sealed to retain moisture and help it dry slowly.

After 24 hours, removed the inner bowl, then wrapped it back up again in the plastic and set aside for another 24 hours.

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On the second day, we conducted a fingernail test to see if we could scratch off any of the surface. If you can, seal it up and wait another 12 – 36 hours. If you can’t then release the outer mold carefully; it’s still really fragile!

Since the project is still damp, you might want to wear gloves when you handle it.

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As you can see above, we had to tap around the outside of the bowl to help it release. It was stubborn though, so hubs resorted to running a straight blade around the inside of the rim to loosen it.

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That did the trick, however we had it perched on top of an overturned bucket and it slipped and fell to the ground! In retrospect it would have been better to release it right on the ground so it didn’t have far to fall. Luckily it remained in one piece!

Here it is unmolded; we couldn’t wait to test the fit in the chair itself and we were happy with the results!

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Once unmolded, you’ll be wrapping the hypertufa back up in plastic again but you’ll have a decision to make on how you want to cure it.

Second Stage of Curing

This stage lasts about three – four weeks; the longer and more slowly it can cure in a moist environment, the stronger it will be in the end. You can cure your project either in direct sunlight or in a shaded area; either one will work but a cooler environment will take longer to cure. If in a shaded area, open the bag every once in a while and mist the surface to keep it moist then reseal the bag.

If you can place the hypertufa where it will receive direct sunlight you won’t have to mist it periodically. Our back patio faces south, so we left it there on top of a bench. Because the bag is sealed, it creates a humid environment. The heat will cause a lot of moisture to be released from the cement, which condenses on the inside of the sealed black plastic bag. This creates a water supply that will help keep your object properly hydrated while it’s curing.

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Just When You Think You’re Done!

After a month or so of curing, you’d think you’d be done, but you’re not! The portland cement contains lime that can be alkaline to plants so it should be leached out – either through a process of soaking it over the course of 3 days or by leaving it out in the elements to leach naturally before it’s planted (that’s where making your planter in the fall has its advantages).

To leach the hypertufa of lime, soak it in a container of water. Change the water each day for 3 days, then it will be safe for plants. If your project is too big, you can hose it down a few times a day for five days.

If you prefer to let nature take its course, leave the planter outside for one or two months.

Don’t forget to drill some drainage holes into the bottom of the hypertufa planter. We used a 3/8″ bit. You can further finesse it by sanding any rough edges smooth, but we left ours ‘rustic’ because the succulents will eventually hide the edges.

They say that patience is a virtue, but in the interest of time, and since our hypertufa planter won’t be completely cured until the end of the planting season, I’ll leave you with a reveal shot of our roadside chair find as it looks with the existing succulents from our back garden – through the magic of Photoshop:

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Depending on the size of your container, when you plant your hypertufa you can probably get away with five to eight succulents as they will spread and grow in with time. I try to leave about an inch of spacing between each one.  If you’re the instant gratification type, you can pack them in, but I like to give the plants an opportunity to get bigger and reproduce on their own.

Add a good base of soil into the bottom of the hypertufa before adding the succulents so the roots have something to grow into. The succulents should also sit above the rim of the pot so the leaves can’t rot in the soil.

I love it when succulents drape over the edge of the container and the arrangement has an assortment of different heights as shown here in the post I wrote on creative planter ideas for the garden:

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However I’ve always liked the look of having them mounded at relatively the same low height  – it just looks more lush and cushion-like to me……….

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As compared to this arrangement with staggered heights which hides more of the chair detail:

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For all our planters, the majority of succulents are hardy so they will last over our harsh winters. A properly cured and leeched hypertufa can withstand harsh winter temperatures without cracking. We’ve left our store bought hypertufa out during the winter for many years without fail, however we also sometimes store it in the garage until spring and bring it back out. Either way, the succulents seem to be happy.

If you love embellishing your garden, I hope you’ll try this project; please pin and share on Facebook!

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For other inspiring gardening posts, check out the following:

Add Some ‘Zen’ to Your Back Garden with a Water Feature

Back Pond_Garden summer 08 052_BOF_FINAL

Create a Small Water Feature to Add Curb Appeal!

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Building Trellises and Privacy Screens

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How does your garden grow?

Backyard Oasis Transformation_FINAL

Low Maintenance Gardening (Part 1): Dry Creek Bed

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Low Maintenance Gardening (Part 2): Rock Garden

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Follow my blog here or on Bloglovin’ to see upcoming DIY projects – both in and around the home.

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Jewellery Cabinet Makeover Reveal

My husband and I have a soft spot for the runts of the litter. No, I’m not talking about puppies, I’m talking about trash that no one would even think to touch let alone refurbish. When hubs spotted this old tool cabinet in the garbage, he had to try to save it!

At first I thought I’d make it into a craft cabinet, but then I had a better idea! I needed somewhere to store my silver jewellery so it wouldn’t tarnish before I had a chance to wear it. This cabinet provided the perfect solution – with a lot of body filler, sanding, a few coats of primer and paint, plus some special finishing touches, we upcycled it into a jewellery storage cabinet!!

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Here’s how it started out:

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It looked even worse on the inside!

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Here’s a closer look at the detail once hubs did his magic on this sad looking piece!  We added some modern handles to the drawers:

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We made it into a rolling cart of sorts by mounting wheels onto the right side for mobility while legs on the left side help keep it stationary when it’s in place. We also added a handle on the opposite side to act as a grab bar so it could be lifted and re-positioned. The trick to keeping the cart level is in making sure that the legs and wheels are exactly the same height.

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Wheels on the right side allow it to be moved with the grab bar on the opposite side

Hubs removed the wooden knobs and replaced most of the hardware including the door locking mechanism so we had a key. To get the cabinet open, you have to use the key to release the right side of the door. The left side can then be opened by reaching in and squeezing the catch to release it.  Being able to hide away the key provides some peace of mind in keeping my jewellery collection secure when we occasionally have strangers in the house.

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Clockwise from left: inside view of door lock, outside view of keyed lock, door catch, gravity door holder, roller catch

Here’s the before and after transformation of the outside of the cabinet:

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However, the inside of the two doors is where the transformation really gets interesting. Hubs spray painted metal panels with a durable car paint and then installed them with screws to the insides of each door:

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I purchased a bunch of high quality earth magnets:

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Then I purchased some resealable plastic pouches in two sizes to organize my stash. I made sure that the smaller size would easily fit into the larger bags so I could combine the two if necessary.

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Large pieces such as necklaces go into the larger plastic bags and then small pieces, such as earrings, in the smaller ones. If I have a matching set, I just double up by inserting the small bag of earrings into the bag holding the larger item to keep them all together!

For silver jewellery especially, this resealable bag system is ideal. Who wants to spend time polishing? Not me. If you squeeze the air out of the bag before it’s closed, your silver pieces will stay tarnish free – just be sure to close the bag tight!

I can easily see what I have when I open up the doors and the magnets make it a cinch to keep it all organized.

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Tarnish free!

As you may have seen in my previous post, the inside space was pretty bare so we added a shelf for more storage to make the piece even more functional.

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With the addition of the shelf, I now have extra storage space for purses and a few overflow shoeboxes too.

Hubs has a way of turning idioms on their end: maybe you really can make a silk purse out of sow’s ear afterall?  I certainly was doubtful we’d be able to pull off something useful from a tool cabinet that looked as bad as this one did to start!

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We temporarily had this cart sitting in our office until I decided where I wanted to place it permanently. Now that it’s in place, I’ll complete it with a mirror on the wall above it.  The mirror will add additional convenience – allowing me to see how my jewellery looks when I try it on so I can immediately return any pieces I swap out back into the cabinet.

If this project has inspired you, please pin and share on Facebook!

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The next time we made over a cart, we made it easy on ourselves and started with a brand new Ikea Stenstorp to create this kitchen storage hack:

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Add a Melamine Shelf Inside a Cabinet for Storage

Hubs upcycled this old tool cart into something special. What that ‘something special’ is won’t be fully revealed until my next post. However, in the interim I’m going to show you how to construct and insert a laminate shelf into a cabinet for more storage space.

Here’s how the cart looked before hubs sanded, filled in all the dings and repainted it:

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Below is how the interior looks now (but there’s an even better surprise to come next week)! The shelf we installed increased this cabinet’s storage potential greatly.  To make the shelf, you’ll need a white melamine panel, iron-on edge tape to match the colour of your shelf (we used white laminate), scissors, an iron, rubber roller and file.

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Hubs had some leftover melamine board from a 4′ x 8′ sheet he used for a previous project. To start, mark the board to the depth you want (ours is 10 3/8″) and length. Deduct 1/8″ from the length measurement for clearance on the sides and cut out the shelf. Hubs used his circular saw with a straight edge clamped to the board to get a straight cut.

At this point, you’ll have raw press board on the outside edges and will need to apply some iron-on tape. We only did the front edge, but you could also do the sides if you choose. Since you don’t see the back, it isn’t necessary to edge it with the tape.

Clamp the shelf into a workbench:

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Cut a piece of iron-on edge tape slightly longer than the length of the shelf (you’ll file all the excess off later).

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Test it for fit.

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Heat up an iron to high and place the tape glue side down over the edge; centre it so that it overlaps slightly along all edges.

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Apply the iron to the tape and keep it moving to melt the glue. Make sure you get all the edges and don’t stay too long in any one area or you’ll run the risk of burning or melting it!

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When ironing is complete, apply pressure along the length with a roller to ensure good adherence.

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Let it cool completely before moving onto the next step. Here’s how it will look before the extra material is filed away:

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There are power tools you could use to trim away the extra material, but hubs went ‘old school’. Take a fine file or rasp and run it at an angle in a downward/forward motion along the edge of the tape. Continue filing off the extra material along all edges until the tape is totally flush with the shelf.

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Be cautious when filing at the ends; ours wasn’t quite glued down and we had to iron it again to reactivate the glue before proceeding. If it’s not glue down properly you could accidentally rip a chunk off and expose the fibreboard underneath, which would be difficult to disguise.

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Take the shelf out of the clamp and then proceed with installing shelf supports into your cabinet using these; you’ll need four supports per shelf. We got ours at Home Depot in a package of eight.

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We determined the height we wanted the shelf, put a line of green tape, then measured two holes equally from the front and back on each side.

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Before Hubs drilled the four pilot holes, he added some green tape to the drill bit to ensure he wouldn’t drill too deep (measure it against the shelf support pin).

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Hubs switched to a wider bit (to match the circumference of the shelf support pin) and drilled a left over piece of scrap board to make sure the shelf supports were going to fit properly into the hole:

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He tested it with a shelf support to make sure the fit was good:

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Apply some green tape to the new bit to mark the depth to drill (as you did with the pilot hole).

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Re-drill the pilot holes with the wider bit and insert a shelf support into each hole.

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Rest the left side of the shelf onto the shelf supports with the other end angled upward. Then slide the right side over the supports until it snaps in place. If the shelf is too tight to lower into place, you forgot to leave the 1/8″ clearance – that’s what gives it enough play to install it. You’ll have to shave a bit off and try again.

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There you have it – a new shelf! I can’t wait to show you the final reveal in my next post! Hint: this makeover is for the gals out there (and no, we didn’t turn this into a bar cart; that would be too expected)!

Until then, here are a few other storage ideas we’ve completed:

Sole Searching – A Shoe Storage Solution

Shoe Storage Solution 001_BOF

Ikea Stenstorp Kitchen Cart Hack

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Hidden Kitchen Storage: Turn a Filler Panel into a Pull-Out Cabinet!

Before and After_FINAL BOF

The Making of a Craft Studio (Part III) – If You Build It, She Will Come!!

C_Life is better in the studio_FINAL

UPDATE: July 11, 2016 – click here for the final tool cabinet makeover reveal!

Follow my blog here or on Bloglovin’ as hubs and I continue to feather the nest… one room at a time.

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