Thursday, May 21, 2015

DIY Vertical Succulent Garden: eHow's Ikea Lack Hack #ProjectThrowdown Challenge

Over the last couple of weeks we've been stretching our creative muscles and working with new-to-us materials on what's turned out to be one of our favorite new projects — the hanging vertical wall garden pictured above.

To give a little background, when we were invited to take part in a project challenge with a group of 5 other eHow bloggers we admire, it was a no brainer saying "sure!" The concept is simple — we were each asked to use the same specific materials and our imaginations to create a home decor project. For this #ProjectThrowdown challenge, each creator was asked to use:

1. Ikea Lack Table
2. One sonotube
3. Paint, stain or decoupage
4. Chain

First of all, did you know what a sonotube was? We didn't — turns out to be a large cardboard tube used for making concrete columns. After initial panic set in, our creative juices started to flow and as you can see, we ended up re-imagining these materials into a vertical wall garden. The Lack table acts as the birch-backed base, we used a textured stone spray on the sonotubes, which encase tiny succulents and the chain supports everything in place on the wall.

We love how it turned out — there's depth, texture and an interesting intermingling of materials between the faux birch, stone finish and natural plants. The challenge has been fun to participate in and definitely got us thinking outside the box with materials we might not have normally used. We're also big fans of Ikea Hacks and can now say we've hacked a Lack table (say that 5 times fast). With that, we've been eager to share the full project details here one the blog.

Complete Materials List:
  • Ikea Lack Table
  • Link chain, 3/4-inch coated
  • Screws (#10 3/4) & Screwdriver
  • 3 Sonotubes, 12-inch, 10-inch and 8-inch round
  • Box cutter with sharp new blade
  • Medium to coarse grit sandpaper & (optional palm sander)
  • Liquid rubber
  • Stone textured spray paint
  • Wire hardware cloth
  • Protective gloves
  • Permanent marker
  • Wire cutters
  • Aquarium glue
  • Potting soil
  • Floral moss
  • Various sized and shaped succulents and small decorative plantings
  • Chopstick
Half of the adventure during this challenge was gathering the materials. When picking up the Lack table from Ikea, it was the large square tabletop that really spoke to us as the vision for this vertical wall garden. Discarding the legs for use in another project down the road, we then played around with various sized sonotubes to make a stacked design that would fit within the perimeter of the tabletop base. Here we are in Ikea looking for the Lack table and later in the hardware store, trying to visualize a design with the sonotubes on top of the tabletop:

Yep, I'm sure we got a few strange looks along the way, but hey — it's all in the name of DIY! Looking back at these photos from sourcing the materials list, it's pretty amazing to see how they transformed into something completely new:

Here's the full rundown on how we made the wall garden...

Knowing we'd use the chain as a sturdy backing support to hang the finished wall garden, Tim went ahead and installed the chain 1/3 of the way from the top of the table's back using #10 3/4 screws and a power screwdriver to drill right into the table backing:

We then cut 2-inch rings from the ends of each sonotube by first marking the cut line with a pencil and tape measure, then carefully slicing through the cardboard with a sharp box cutter.

The 2-inch ring size provided that depth we were going for, allowing enough room for shallow plantings, but was also a short enough size as not to overwhelm the final piece.

I smoothed away the rough edges, peeling cardboard and divots in the 2-inch rings leftover from cutting by using a medium to coarse grit sandpaper. Our palm sander came in handy for any tougher to sand areas.

Small plants like succulents are nice low maintenance plants that can thrive in shallow soil and low sunlight with minimal watering — and when it's time to water, a few healthy squirts with a spray bottle will do the trick. That being said, because we'd be filling the tubes with natural materials like soil and small plantings, we wanted to give the cardboard a sturdy, water-resistant exterior — so we opted for liquid rubber.

After laying out a protective barrier (paper grocery bags always do the trick for us) in a well ventilated area, we coated each of the three sonotube rings with the liquid rubber according the package directions. It's very similar to using spray paint — thin and even coats until full coverage is achieved, with dry time between each coat. And yes, we went with the As Seen on TV can.

Once completely coated and dry, we then applied 3-4 even coats of Valspar Stone spray paint, going for a textured, gray stone finish. This stuff was pretty amazing, easy to use and the finish came out identical to the texture and color on the top of the can.

While the stone finish was drying, I went ahead and cut circles from the metal hardware cloth to match the diameter of each sonotube ring — these grids will help keep the soil in place on the finished piece. I found it easiest to use each circle as a template, marking points on the hardware cloth along the top of the circle edge, then snipping the metal at each marked point with a pair of wire cutters.

Tips — cut the hardware cloth right where the metal meets the circle edge. With a slightly wider grid, you'll be able to fit it right into the cardboard ring without the need for adhesive. I also found wearing protective gloves during this step was helpful for gripping the cutters and avoiding getting poked by the sharp metal cuts in the hardware cloth.

Next, I gently pressed and fitted the metal grids into each of the matching sonotube rings. Pressing from the base of the ring through to almost the top edge worked really well. The metal grids fit with just enough tension to hold themselves in place along the cardboard walls — no adhesive needed.

After cleaning and clearing away any debris from the Lack tabletop and base of each cardboard ring, we applied aquarium glue along the base of each ring, one at a time, pressing them into place on the tabletop to form the stacked configuration we'd originally mapped out. Then we weighted them down with a few pieces of scrap lumber to fully dry and adhere before moving onto the next step.

Once dry, our vertical wall planter was complete — all we needed to do was get planting. We'd picked up a variety of small sized succulents and vining plants at our local garden center, looking for different shapes, colors and depths that would intermingle well.

As a first step, we filled each gridded circle with a layer of potting soil that came almost to the top of the metal grid. At this stage, it may seem like there's no way the soil won't fall out once hanging up, but trust us, it works — just keep going!

I freed as much soil from each succulent and small planting as possible to expose the roots in preparation for planting into the grids, then decided on the general placement and configuration for each plant.

To plant, I snipped away portions of the metal grid to expose bigger openings that would accommodate the plant roots, but only enough as to still keep the plants snuggly in the configuration. Each plant nestled into the soil with a gentle press and extra scoop of soil for added security.

To finish, I added a layer of floral moss around each planting and remaining grid space. While probably not necessary for functionality, I couldn't help but think the moss provided an extra barrier for spillage, plus helped to conceal the metal grid, giving the vertical garden more of an overall natural look and feel.

Tip — Spreading the moss across the grid and pressing into each opening using a chopstick helped secure everything in place.

Once filled to our desired liking, I gave the entire plant area a healthy misting of water and then we let the garden rest for a day while the plants got used to their new habitat. It's a good idea to let the garden rest, gradually propping it up on an incline over a period of several days as the roots become established.

We decided to hang our new wall garden on the recently exposed brick chimney up in Brandon's room. It's a light-filled space and looks so good up against the raw brick.

From here, we'll continue to mist the plants every so often and watch this little garden of ours grow and evolve throughout the summer.

And since this project is part of a friendly challenge, you can see what each of the other creators came up with using these same materials in this eHow post.

if you like what you see we'd love for you to "vote" for our project by pinning it from the challenge Pinterest board or posting to Instagram with the tags #ProjectThrowdown, @ehow_team and @17apart (so we can follow along). The creator with the most pins/regrams will be the winner and have the opportunity to be featured across eHow.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Weekend Basics: May Roundup

This May has been filled with eventful weekends — day trips, outings, weddings, projects and more. At just over halfway through the month, we've been on a whirlwind of activity and wanted to share a roundup of weekend happenings around here if you care to see...

To kick off May we hit the road and spent Derby day down in Deltaville, Virginia. Our friends have a beautiful house on the river they've been renovating and we were delighted at the chance to see the progress, kick back on their newly built stone landing overlooking the water and soak in the rays. As for Basil, this was one of those road trips he could join in on — and he was all nose to the wind.

Tim helped bring in the oysters we ate directly from the traps in the river while Basil looked about ready to jump in after them — they don't get much fresher than that.

We ate them grilled and a few raw, which we paired with a pomegranate mignonette.

When Derby hour neared, we had fun pulling out the over-the-top southern hats our friends had made for the party and even Basil got in on the festivities, donning his new B.W. Barkery bow tie collar for the event.

Last weekend we celebrated the marriage of our cousin Lindsey's wedding. The ceremony and reception both took place outdoors down at Historic Tredegar here in Richmond:

They had a giant LOVE marquee sign set up at the reception for photo-taking and a polaroid 300 camera with an oversized picture frame for guests to snap instant shots that were collected in their wedding guest book. 

We had an incredible date night, sipping rosé, catching up with that side of our family and enjoying the summer evening outdoors in such a picturesque setting.

In other memorable events — this past Friday I had the pleasure of surprising our niece, Virginia, at her kindergarten lunch:

She's attending the same school here in Richmond that her mother and I attended, so I had fun telling her and her lunch-mates all about what it was like when I was there in school. I had an even better time listening to them guess my age before telling them I was 32 — note to self, small children know how to make an old gal feel young.

Back at home we've been out working in the yard, watering many of the edible plants we got into the ground last month and working on a few in-progress upcoming projects for our DIY series.

We've also stopped into a few flea markets, yard sales and auction houses when passing by, scoring a few new favorite vintage finds for the house and shop. A few people have mentioned interest in a post all about our vintage adventures, so we'll have to work on pulling some of our favorite tips together to share here on the blog in a future roundup.

At already a portion of the way into this busy week — thanks, as always, for taking the time to stop in and check out what we've up to lately. 

P.S. There's still time to enter for a chance to win two pairs of fashionable suspenders from JJ Suspenders — all the details in our most recent giveaway.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Fancy That!

Original image by Tori Watson

Today we're back again, sharing all the smaller things we're into (or fancying, hence the series name) that might not fit into a single post for one reason or another. Sometimes there might be a long list of randomness, other times it might be a single gem — whatever the case, here's what we're into right now.

-Instagram to follow: Worley's Lighting

-Would you boil an egg in the shape of a heart?

-Weekend project idea: Transform a flat surface, like a door, or storage compartment into a functional piece of furniture using a set of these new-old-stock mid century table legs.

-Did you know dropping a penny in the bottom of a tulip-filled vase will keep the blooms from drooping?

-Emily Henderson’s expert guide to buying art on Etsy.

-19 minimalist DIY ways (including one of our own!) to bring understated style to your home.

-Finally, there's still time to enter for a chance to win two pairs of fashionable suspenders from JJ Suspenders — all the details in our most recent giveaway.

Discover More:

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Over on eHow: DIY Industrial Entry Bench

We've mentioned a few times that my daughter, Stephanie, recently moved from our place into her first apartment nearby with one of her college roommates. Throughout this process, we've gained an empty guest room upstairs (handy for shooting big projects), and have also had fun making a few projects for her new place. The first request we were thrilled to DIY turned out to be this custom bench for their entryway.

We'd recently tackled a pair of custom bookcases for our office using plumbing pipes and untreated lumber from the hardware store, so applied the same idea in a much smaller scale here. Making this bench was really a matter of picking out a wood stain and piecing everything together like a puzzle. You can find the full step-by-step tutorial with a materials list in our latest project post with eHow.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, our project supervisor was on the job, inspecting every last detail (only the best will do for his Stephanie):

Making a bench like this allows for customization. Stephanie needed a specific size to fit on the wall between her entry door and the other furniture in the apartment's opening room. To make this bench a custom length, you could use a longer or shorter wooden board and lower connecting base pipe; all other components and steps for putting it together remain the same. Something like this could be shortened to make individual seats or stools — or lengthened to make a bench spanning the full side of a dining table.

For the feet of the bench, we tried out a fun hack — trimming down a few corks from bottles of bubbly we'd saved. After a couple swipes with the box knife, they slid right into the openings of the bench's leg pipes and the end result turned out really well. We like how they provide a little visual interest, but also protect the wood floors and carpet from scratches and marks:

As with most projects around here, it wasn't long after we started shooting the final pictures of this bench that our oblivious model walked right into the frame, striking a pose that looked like something out of Garden & Gun magazine:

Then he just made himself comfortable on the rug, since we were all just "hanging out" up here in Stephanie's now-empty room, right?

Oh Basil, you never cease to bring a smile to our faces.

Head on over to eHow to find our full tutorial with step-by-step instructions and exact materials list for making one of these entry benches for your own space.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Giveaway: JJ Suspenders

Today we're excited to be hosting a giveaway for two pairs of remarkable suspenders from JJ Suspenders. One lucky ready will win both of the pairs, pictured in Desert Navy and Chesnut Java below, featured in today's post.

Desert Navy & Chesnut Java suspenders from JJ Suspenders

Based in Michigan, the collection of JJ suspenders is thoughtfully manufactured in both the USA and the UK — each pair is handmade to provide a perfect look and fit. You can shop by style, material, color and pattern, which makes it easy to quickly find a pair for a coordinated event or your specific style.

We also like their custom style guide with tips for when and how to wear the appropriate suspender. Just this past weekend Mary and I got into a "friendly debate" over what "cocktail attire" meant for a 4:30pm wedding (I ended up going with dress pants, coat and tie instead of a full suit and fit right in, in case you're wondering).

 Above images via the JJ Suspenders blog

When it comes to ordering, taxes are included in all the prices, so what you see is what you pay, plus free shipping for US customers with orders over $50. Learn more about JJ Suspenders, keep up with new designs as they're released and special promotions by following their brand new Facebook and Instagram pages.

- + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + Giveaway Details + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + -
One of our readers will win the two pairs of suspenders featured in today's giveaway. The giveaway is open internationally, though shipping will be charged for winners outside of the US. To enter, simply use the Rafflecopter form below — there are several options for you to choose from for entry. Feel free to use a few or all for more chances to win. For those unfamiliar with Rafflecopter, you fill in the fields using your choice of Facebook or your email, which is only used to contact the randomly selected winner (no spam) — it's that simple.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Our friends at JJ Suspenders are generously providing the two sets of suspenders for one lucky reader included in today's giveaway. All the thoughts and opinions are (as always) our own — thank you so much for supporting the partners that make 17 Apart possible.