Archive for the Creative Reuse Category

Mossy pathway

Posted in Creative Reuse with tags , , , , on April 23, 2013 by Lax Cat Creations

pathway

Above is my Pinterest inspiration for the short walkway on the side of our house.

Below is our walkway before landscaping and our pile of bricks (from tearing down the chimney).

2012-09-30 2012-09-30 001 027

2012-09-23 2012-09-23 001 002

pathway1

The fancier bricks were left scattered around our lot by the previous owners. The plants have some growing to do before it looks like the one on Pinterest but I really like how it turned out. It have a feeling I will LOVE it during the muddy Portland rainy season!

2013-04-11 2013-04-11 005 002

Now I really need to do something about that empty space to the left…

2013-04-11 2013-04-11 005 001

Advertisements

Microwave Cabinet – Extreme Makeover!

Posted in Creative Reuse, Tutorials with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2012 by Lax Cat Creations

This ingenious upcycle post is compliments of Tom’s newly wed brother, Jon, and wife Carrie. They did an amazing job transforming this cabinet inside and out using pallets and a creating a butcher block top. I am privileged to share their creation…

before after

“Carrie and I had been looking for a project to do together and we had access to some tools that some friends let us use. We knew that we didn’t want to spend much money on the project and Carrie wanted to try to refurbish a piece of furniture. We looked in the classifieds for a cheap piece of furniture that we thought that we could improve.

I found a microwave stand that someone was selling for just 10 dollars.

First order of business was to disassemble it and see what we were working with under all the paint. Carrie thought of a design that would look good with a butcher block top and rustic look. We needed some material so we spent $7 at the ReStore on some old 2×2’s sitting in a bucket, a drawer, 2×4 that I would cut down for the face, and a nice piece of wood for the face of the drawer. We found some old pallets to use for the inside (free).

After a lot of sanding and some paint stripper we reached a solid wood body that was in great shape to reuse.

Carrie planed the 2×2’s down to size to get a hard edge for the butcher block. Then one by one we glued-and-screwed them together. For the end pieces we counter sunk the screws and capped them with dowels. After assembling the top we clamped it together and let it sit for a few days.We sanded the top from 100 to 320 grit, then we treated it with butcher block oil from Lowe’s ($12).  We applied four coats, scuff sanding with 400 grit between each coat. I’ve heard mineral oil can also work for this.

Once the face frame was cut and assembled, I disassembled the pallets and cut the slats to length.  The slats were installed on the floor of the cabinet and across the back to give it the rustic look.  We added a shelf as well.  Carrie wanted some legs for the cabinet and thought that we could use the left over pallet pieces. So we glued, clamped, and cut them to size.

We eventually found the hardware at Lowe’s ($10), despite looking at the ReStore.

After assembling the cabinet and putting the drawer in it was time for the finish. Using white spray paint, we coated the wood, though it was a hassle and took many coats. We would suggest using a spray gun or a very nice brush as this would be cheaper and more environmentally friendly. Once dry, we sanded the edges of the cabinet down to bare wood and used some old wood stain to coat the entire piece. Without allowing the stain to dry we wiped it off with an old rag. This not only stained the wood but also stained the white paint and gave it more of a cream color.

When the finish was dry, we attached the door and hardware along with the butcher block top.I tried to reuse every part of the original piece possible, but since we used a different top and left one side open we had some left over material to use for the next project.”

– Jon – Salt Lake City, UT

 
Click on photos to view gallery

I hope you find their creativity as inspiring as I do!

UPDATE:

Jon and Carrie sold this item to a couple remodeling their kitchen, making $100 in profit. They are now on the lookout for their next project. Stay tuned…

money

DIY Mei Tai Baby Carrier

Posted in Creative Reuse, Tutorials, Upcycled Forest Nursery with tags , , , , , , , on November 9, 2012 by Lax Cat Creations

What can you make with an old pillowcase, two curtains, a tablecloth, and 6 cloth diaper inserts? Well, lots of things probably, but how about a mei tai!

I cannot tell you how excited I am about this baby carrier.  In addition to it costing me nothing (I used what was in my linen closet), it was actually very easy to make. I am NOT a seamstress and this was my first real sewing project. Thankfully, I had my dear sister to help. She is less of an amateur than I, and owns a sewing machine to boot!

I started out following the tutorial by SkippyDooDah and ended up changing a few things to meet my needs better. I left the panel rectangular and sewed the the straps at a right angle instead of on a diagonal. This helps keep the straps from sliding off the shoulders. I added a hood and made the straps longer to fit Tom. I also made the waist band thicker for extra support.

Below are the dimensions and materials I used. You definitely want to use strong fabric or reinforce it like I did with the straps if you are at all unsure.

Shoulder straps – Two pieces- 3m x 25cm.  I used black curtains and sewed a strip of the green curtain inside for reinforcement. 
 
Padding for shoulders – I used 2 Fuzzibunz elite diaper inserts for each strap (4 total). Each insert is  28.5cm x 10.5cm. We sewed 2 together lengthwise so the total length of the padding is 57cm.
 
Waist strap – 2m 8cm x 30cm. I used a very dense tablecloth.
 
Padding for waist – 2 Bumgenius diaper inserts sewn together lengthwise. Each insert is 30.5cm x 13.5cm.
 
Body panel – 45cm x 40cm. I found that the width of a standard size pillowcase is the perfect height. It also means three less edges to sew!
 
Hood – 32cm x 22cm. I used the tablecloth for this as well. I cut off the hem of the tablecloth to make the ties.

I cannot stress how important it is to iron all of the folds before you sew. This probably goes without saying for the experienced seamstress but if you are like me and like to wing things, this is for you!

Pillowcase panel

Reinforcing the shoulder straps

Shoulder straps are sewn folded over the panel. Straps are then sewn shut from the top end leaving an opening for the padding.

2 bumgenius diaper inserts in waistband

No-sew hood ties from the tablecloth hem

After all of the pieces were attached, we sewed several lines lengthwise on all three straps. This keeps everything in place and gives it a finished look.

Since making this I have retired my moby and use this exclusively every day. I think $150 to buy a mei tai would have been money well spent but how cool is it that we made it instead?

Mei tais are extremely versatile and comfortable to wear. They can be worn in front or back for infants through toddlers. After you’ve sewn your mei tai, learn how to wrap it here.

On another but related note, is there anything more lovely than a sleeping baby?

Snowboard Bench

Posted in Creative Reuse, Tom's Boards, Tutorials with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2012 by Lax Cat Creations

This picture is the inspiration behind the name “Lax Cat Creations.”  This is one of my first “creations”.  The Elan 155cm snowboards were from Arizona Snowbowl where I first went snowboarding for “real”.  I had spent many a school snow day in the woods on a cheap K-Mart snowboard, but the Elan 155 was the first legit board I rode.

The construction crew I was on was building a Santa Fe styled home and had a number of viga poles throughout the house.  These two are the ones that didn’t get thrown into the wood stove that winter.  I used a chain saw, angle grinder, and drill to create the bench.

Arian never let me bring it in the house, so it was relegated to the deck. When moving from Bend, OR to Portland, we were trying to downsize and the bench and I parted ways. During the last hour of our weekend garage sale, a single mom stopped in looking for a gift for her five-year old boy who just learned to ride that winter.

I do miss adding stickers from snowboard trips and new gear, but the thought of it in some young boys room acting as a catch-all brings a smile to my face.

– Tom

Finished Nursery

Posted in Creative Reuse, Upcycled Forest Nursery with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2012 by Lax Cat Creations

The nursery is finished!

Well actually it was finished about 4 1/2 months ago, in time for Ansel’s arrival, but I am just now getting around to write about it. I am so pleased with how it turned out. There is a lot going on but that is how I tend to decorate. I get going and want every part of the room to be special. At least I know visual stimulation is NOT something Ansel will lack!

I also like that many elements in this room are appropriate for when he’s older as well. (Where the Wild Things Are, anyone?) This room also works for a child of either gender. Heck, I would put half of this stuff in my own bedroom.

Click picture to see the panorama full size.

Here I am, so glad to be finished with this room and so ready to have the baby. Four months later I have yet to look that well-rested!

DIY Fabric Storage Boxes

Posted in Creative Reuse, Tutorials, Upcycled Forest Nursery with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 12, 2012 by Lax Cat Creations

I made these cute fabric covered storage boxes to go in my baby’s nursery. He is due any day now!

As a first time mother, I am slightly overwhelmed by the amount of “things” babies seem to need. I am also not the most organized person. My goal is to make it easier on myself by having boxes to grab some things out of instead of having to dig around in a drawer. I think I will end up using one for diaper covers, one for inserts and the other one for… something else.

I used three matching boxes that I had on hand.   (These happen to be from Swanson Vitamins where I regularly order my supplements from.) I cut out the handles, cut off the top flaps, and cut three pieces of cardboard from a separate box to glue on the bottom (inside).

I then cut three long strips of the printed fabric to wrap around the outside. I cut the brown fabric for the inside and bottom into individual pieces to fit each side.

I used regular white glue diluted with a bit of water instead of Modge Podge. It is so much cheaper and works just as well. I don’t have a specific formula for glue and water, I just mix until the consistency is right for painting. For the printed fabric the ratio seemed to be about 60-70% glue. I used the glue straight for the brown fabric which was a lot thicker.

I did not paint a layer of glue on top of the fabric as I wanted to keep as much of the soft fabric look and feel as possible.

I cut the cardboard pieces to insert in the bottom so the bottom is even and uninterrupted by the flaps of the box. I used these pieces as the template for the brown fabric pieces for the bottom (outside).

I then glued the bottom cardboard pieces in place.

Cat trap! Pixie has an idea of what I could use the third box for…

 

I glued each of the pre-cut brown pieces.

 

A metal ruler really helps tuck the fabric in at the corners.

Overall this is a very simple project that anyone can do. The measuring and cutting can be a bit time consuming but, thankfully, you can make beautiful fabric boxes no sewing required!

This adorable fabric is from the Wee Woodland collection by Keiki for Moda. I bought mine from Etsy.

Old Door + Fallen Branches = Shelves!

Posted in All Things Trees, Creative Reuse, Tutorials, Upcycled Forest Nursery with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2012 by Lax Cat Creations

To go with our forest theme, as well as to be consistent with our habit of upcycling materials for our nursery, we decided we needed shelves that made creative use of something old and also had something woodsy. We kicked around several options and I poured through pinterest photos looking for the perfect idea. I saw several shelves held up with rope that I really liked, rustic looking but a bit too beachy. Tom had the idea to use branches as braces.

Tom also thought it would be cool to make use of an old door for the shelves instead of buying regular shelving. We found this one at The ReBuilding Center here in Portland.  Old is in many ways synonymous with quality and craftsmanship in the world of construction. This door is solid wood through and through.

Tom cut the door in two pieces.

Safety Tip: Materials painted before 1978 are likely to have lead paint so be sure to read up on it and take the necessary safety precautions!

He then cut each piece of half lengthwise.

We painted the shelves with several coats of polyurethane to seal the paint and provide a wear resistant finish.

For the supports I found fallen pine branches on my walk home from the bus stop.

Tip: Use a portion of the branch to rub and knock off all the loose bark.  This will save the mess inside and reduce the flaking of the bark after the shelves are in use.

We mounted the backs of the shelves to the wall using long screws anchored into the studs.  The shelves are leveled and temporarily held in place using a piece of lath.

The most challenging part of this project was getting the branches cut. Living in a condo with no work shop makes projects like these challenging, but not impossible.  A piece of ply wood can be used to layout the shelving location and a keen eye and patience can be used to trim and cut the branches until they meet the wall and shelves in just the right way.

The branches with less “character” can be cut much quicker using the plywood as a guide to keep your cuts perpendicular and straight.

If you have access to a proper shop, a set of clamps, and a deep enough saw, these cuts can be made in a very clean manner. For the rest of us, we’ll use the “rustic” excuse.

After the cuts are made and the branches all meet the walls and shelves in an acceptable layout, we pre-drilled holes in everything and began screwing it all together.  We used multiple screws for redundancy where the branches were thick enough.  These pine branches were soft enough that the screws could be counter sunk and hidden in the bark.

This branch was the most challenging.  It meets the lower shelf half way up and then connects to the upper shelf in two locations.  We live on the second story and Tom was  up and down the stairs for 30 minutes trimming and adjusting.

After getting everything together, we applied another coat of polyurethane to everything.  Applying the final coat to the branches first allowed any residual bark to flake off onto the dry shelf surface instead of onto a fresh coat of wet polyurethane making for an easy clean up and smooth finish on the shelves.  The polyurethane did a great job and securing the bark to the branches.