Wednesday, April 10, 2013

DIY Diary // 07

As a kid, I hated home improvement stores. It probably stems from the time we closed down one-that-shall-remain-nameless with my parents, after spending two hours on a Friday night staring at a display of mantles (that all looked the same and were all ugly, mind you) and leaving without one. That was the day I vowed I would NEVER return to a home improvement warehouse...and never, ever become an adult. How boring.

And then this week, I made three trips to our local big-box hardware store in one day. I'm really good at keeping promises to myself.

A few weeks ago, I posted a mood board for our kitchen makeover, and I am so thrilled that one huge part of that is now complete! Since our wedding and receiving all kinds of wonderful things from our registries, we have been unable to use our kitchen table. All of the items that wouldn't fit into the existing cabinets found a home there, so we knew we needed to come up with a way to create some extra storage space in an area that doesn't have much square footage to begin with. A custom option seemed the only way to go, and from my years of scouring the internet for fun things to do with a home, I remembered and found some resources for making shelves out of plumbing fittings (which, hilariously, the pipes are called nipple...and you can bet that we made plenty of jokes about that) and boards...all of which can be purchased at your local - you guessed it - home improvement store.

Most of the blogs that feature creations like I envisioned are very vague when it comes to exactly how to concoct your own custom shelving unit; however, armed with a list of general materials and my middle school tech ed knowledge (the first time in 15 years that I've appreciated the fact that my parents encouraged me to take tech ed as an elective in sixth grade - I hated being one of only five girls in that class while my other friends took theater arts, and visual art, and music), I was able to draw out my vision and order the supplies I *thought* I needed. Hence, the excessive number of trips to Home Depot.

This was my list of supplies:

2 - 6" galvanized nipple (feet below the bottom shelf)
18 - 8" galvanized nipple* (horizontal supports)
12 - 12" galvanized nipple (vertical supports)
2 - 18" galvanized nipple (longer vertical support between third and fourth shelves)
12 - 3 way tee fitting (connect vertical and horizontal supports)
20 - 90 degree elbows (attach to back side of horizontal support, and attach crossbars at top)
6 base flanges (two for bottom feet w/6" nipple; four for top support)

(all nipple was 1/2" width)

*It turns out that I actually needed fourteen 8" pipes and four 10" pipes for the top crossbars...I will now be making something with four extra 8" pipes that were ordered in excess

Short shelves x 3 - 24" long pine board (one 6' board cut into three pieces did the trick)
Long shelves x 2 72" long pine board

Black matte spray paint (for the pipe)
Wood stain (for the shelves)
Tung oil (for the shelves)
Degreaser (to clean the pipes, we used Dawn)
Hanging hardware
Drop cloth or cardboard
Lots and lots of old t-shirts or other cloth that can be thrown away

A drill with 7/8" drill bit (even though the nipple is only 1/2" wide, we learned the hard way that that is the measurement of the inside of the pipe - that was another trip to Home Depot. The outside measures 3/4", but because wood doesn't stretch at all, 7/8'' is the perfect size to drill your hole).

And a few things I learned along the way:
  • Just accept that a big project like this (definitely the most ambitions DIY I've attempted to date!) is going to take longer, cost more, and involve more trips to the hardware store than you'd like or could imagine - unless you really, really know what you're doing. I didn't have any clue what I signed up for.
  • Order supplies online. I promise it will save you money, even with shipping. You'll appreciate the savings when you have to go back and rebuy supplies at a brick-and-mortar store because you did something wrong.
  • Googling any process that you're unfamiliar with is a good idea before you get started. I had never stained wood before, and was a little sad that the stain did not go on evenly when we applied the first coat to our pine boards. A google search after the fact told me that it would have been a good idea to apply sealer first. At least I also learned from that article that it's a good idea to apply a finish after the stain...which was another trip to Home Depot, but at least I knew!

It's all worth it in the end. I literally poured blood (cuts from twisting a drill bit with my bare hands, one of my less brilliant moves), sweat, and tears (when we cracked one of the boards beyond usability - after it was stained and finished) into this project. But I can't stop looking at it now that it's done, and we LOVE being able to use our kitchen table again! (Okay, I also have to note that the shelves need more stuff/styling...I put a couple things in to photograph them, but it's still a work in progress). Next up, adding curtains and textiles and objects, and then we will be in a REALLY good place.

If you're looking for a good online tutorial for making something similar, this was my favorite (definitely the most helpful/useful).


  1. Looks AWESOME, Anna! Hopefully, Aslan won't decide to a little home repairing of his own with the shelves. ;)

    1. funny you should say that because not an hour ago, he took down that cabinet again! i was going to clean my house - it has been a disaster since the first cabinet debacle, and then we decided to start the shelf project, and now i have cabinet innards all over the floor's never ending!!!

    2. Woah! I see he's really not liking that cabinet. Hmmm....

    3. we're taking a trip to IKEA tonight to resolve this once and for all! a cabinet with legs seems to be in order!

    4. Sounds like a plan! Maybe that's what Aslan is trying to tell you, "Why don't they have legs on these cabinets?" ;)

  2. Is that drip coffee maker from C&B? If so, Nathan and I registered for it :) How do you like it?

    1. OMG, WE LOVE THE CHEMEX!!! (okay, well Ben loves it, because I'm not a coffee drinker...but you can also make loose leaf tea in it too!). Best thing we got from our registry.