The Interior Frugalista: July 2013

July 26, 2013

DIY Outdoor Bar & Potting Bench

You may want to grab yourself a coffee before reading this post because I have a lot to share with you today.
Outdoor Bar & Potting Bench

The actual building of this bench was the easy part. Unfortunately I was so engrossed in building it that I completely forgot to take pictures of each step. Basically we used leftover lumber from previous projects.
Materials Used:
  • The frame was built with 2x4's.
  • The top and bottom shelves were made with ripped fence boards that we cut in half on the table saw.
  • The lattice is doubled up for strength and will hide the ugliness behind the bar.
  • The lattice is sandwiched between 1x1's on the front and back which are nailed into the 2x4 frame.
  • The lattice is spray painted with a Moss Green color.
  • It has two coats of Behr semi-transparent stain in a Natural Cedar color. 
I found the metal candle sconces on clearance. One was brown and the other charcoal so I sprayed painted them black.  Now the fun part began...adding some personality to this baby!

I started with a splash of colour using Behr Premium Plus Ultra in Antique Red followed by a few protective coats of satin Polycrylic.

Chalkboard Menu
I found a long since forgotten frame missing it's glass in our storage room. The picture inside was an old lithograph print from the 30's of Blue Boy - it was in poor condition so please say it wasn't worth anything...Ahem...because I painted over it with Black Chalkboard Paint...Gulp!

I painted the frame with a couple of coats of Antique Red (same color as the bar). I then watered down some acrylic craft paint in a Bright Yellow (it's all I had on hand) and dry brushed it over the red, wiping any excess as I went along. I followed up with a few coats of protective satin Polycrylic.

Image Transfer
Using Microsoft Word I typed "Boissons à aujourd'hui" (Drinks Today) using a French Script font. I changed the font color to a light grey (almost white) - enough that I could see the text on my computer screen but would create a good transfer onto my black chalkboard surface. I increased the size of the font to fit my chalkboard and changed the settings to create a mirror image. I cut wax paper into 8 1/2 x 11 sheets (letter size) and fed them over the bond in the tray of my laser printer.

My printer didn't like this stuff much but with patience, persistence, and some effort I managed to get a good copy. Then I put the ink side down onto my chalkboard and firmly rubbed the wax paper until the letters transferred onto the board. I watered down some white Acrylic Craft Paint and using a fine tip artist's brush, carefully painted over the transferred letters. I don't have the steadiest hands so it isn't perfect but I'm okay with that!

Clay Medallions
When I was rummaging through my storage room looking for the frame I used for the chalkboard I stumbled upon some molds from my paper making days. I decided they'd make cute little medallions for the bar!

I firmly pressed Sculpey Baking Clay into the molds.  Once I got a good impression I removed them from the molds and baked them in the oven on a foil lined cookie sheet at 275° for 15 minutes.

Once cooled I painted them with Acrylic Craft Paint.

Using a cloth I rubbed Burnt Umber Acrylic Craft Paint into the crevices and wiped off the excess. This gave them an aged appearance. Once dry I applied a few protective coats of satin Polycrylic. To adhere them to the bar I used Clear E-6000 Epoxy and clamped them in place. I think they add a fun element!

Making a sign using another transfer method:
Again in Microsoft Word I created text and images the same way I did the French graphic for the chalkboard. Except this time I printed them on regular bond paper.

Then I meticulously cut all the white space (or as much as I could) around the graphics and text.

I applied Modge Podge with a small foam brush over the printed images and on the bar itself. I gave them a gentle rub with my fingers to ensure a good bond, pressing out any wrinkles and bubbles. I let them dry over night.

The following day using a spray bottle, a clean white cloth and my fingers I gently saturated the paper and slowly rubbed it off in layers.  You can see from this picture the image was still a bit cloudy.  I kept applying water and rubbing with my finger carefully, ensuring that I wasn't rubbing away the graphic. Once I was satisfied, I then applied (with the same foam brush) a clear coat of Polycrylic. Any remaining cloudiness disappeared.
In hindsight, I wish I would have made the sign with pallet boards or another wooden surface and hung it with some twine. My sign is smaller than I would have liked.

Potting Bench
Potting Bench

You were probably wondering what in the heck the hole was for, right?

The tray was built with 1x2's and a piece of plywood cut to fit the opening.  It is a perfect spot to transfer dirt from bag to plant pots!

The Bar
Outdoor Bar

Again the opening...

Insert a cooler into the opening.  If yours has a drain hole, connect a long plastic tube to it and have it drain onto the ground behind the bar.
If you want to be festive, have a vase sitting on the bar with those cute little paper umbrellas from the Dollar Store. Hey, I try!

Remember this tray from an earlier post?

Painting the cooler
We've had this plastic cooler for decades.  Light that will never do!
I'm not going to lie, this was a lot of work for an old plastic cooler.  Someone on Pinterest or Hometalk used a stainless steel sink in her outdoor bar.  But of course I saw that after I painted this! 

I used Rustoleum Spray Paint for Plastic in Red, Moss Green and White. I started painting the stripes using painters tape.  Yeah, that didn't last long!  Soon I was holding a piece of cardboard against the cooler and spraying.  After it was all dry I applied several clear coats in a satin finish.  

Truthfully, I don't know how well this is going to hold up.  If it doesn't, well there is always the stainless steel sink idea!

Outdoor Bar

Potting Bench

The completed outdoor bar and potting bench.
Time to fire up the BBQ, blend some Margaritas, make a bonfire, and christen this baby!

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July 25, 2013

Backyard Firepit {redo}

I don't know where the "Cation" went in our Staycation? We definitely stayed and we worked our tail feathers off! Here is another project we worked on during our 1-week staycation without the cation.
This is the Before shot of our firepit.  Not terrible - made with simple cinder blocks and a few rows of roman pavers.  It served us well for many years.
But we decided to move our firepit several feet towards the center of our yard and further away from our neighbour's garage. As soon as the decision was made I pulled out the shovel and started removing the sod. Which wasn't the smartest thing to do because I have a meniscus tear in my knee and I'm waiting for surgery. My ambition came back to bite me in the, ahem, knee!  That was several weeks ago so I was happy to finally get started on this project. So long mud - hello pretty roman pavers!


We lucked out and found small stacks of pavers, albeit three different colours, being cleared out for $1.00 each. Hubby and I looked at each other and said, "we'll make it work".  As it turned out we rather like the randomness of the four different colours.

Here we as in Hubby are adding Polymer sand to bind the pavers.

I've decided I need to build a replica of the tete-e-tete my Dad built many years ago. Next week's project... (shhhh, I haven't told Hubby these plans yet)

Looks so much nicer now! Psssssst, that path on the right is leading to something I've been working on for a couple of weeks. The Reveal will be posted by the end of the week.

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July 24, 2013

How To Turn Plant Pots Into A Water Fountain

For years I've been wanting a unique water fountain for our deck. I found many beautiful fountains but none that fit our budget. Every August, when they typically go on sale, I would frequent my local garden centers and home improvement retailers but the styles I liked would be picked over.

One afternoon while relaxing on the deck I glanced over at the heap of plant pots we didn't use this summer. Stacked one on top of the other were a trio of pots that we've had for many years. While looking at the stacked configuration a light bulb went off in my head. What I saw wasn't a stack of plant pots but rather a Plant Pot Water Fountain.

How To Turn Plant Pots Into A Water Fountain

I spent a few days scratching my head to come up with a plan.

How To Turn Trio of Plant Pots Into A Water Fountain

I cannot tell a lie, we had several frustrating botched attempts with this project. Rocks that were too small and kept plugging the pump. A spray nozzle that overflowed onto the deck. Painting a large plastic base to catch the overflow but the paint peeled despite several coats of protective finish.

We also had a chunk break off one of the pots while trying to make a hole in the bottom to accommodate the pump....ahem...with a hammer. Oh well, like they say, live and learn. At least by following this tutorial you won't make the same mistakes we did.

Materials To Turn Plant Pots Into A Water Fountain

Eventually, we figured it out and today I'm sharing the step-by-steps so you too can build one.

How To Turn Plant Pots Into A Water Fountain 

Water Fountain Materials List

*affiliate links are included so you can see the products used to make this fountain
  • 3 plant pots to create a tier in different sizes.  You want to ensure they have center holes on the bottom that will accommodate the pump tubing or else you will have to drill the holes.
  • 2 terracotta pot saucers close to the diameter of the bottom plant pots
  • PVC pipe large enough to stabilize a pot sitting on top
  • Pond Pump (see note below)
  • River rocks 

We used a 100 GPH Pond Pump. However, it's important that you purchase one that can lift the water vertically to just above the height of the top flower pot. I have been advised that it's a good rule of thumb to purchase one rated at least 6-inches higher than what you need. If it pumps the water too high, discharge the flow reducer valve to adjust the flow to where you want it.

Step 1 - Sealing the drainage hole on the bottom pot

In order for the water to recirculate, you will have to seal the drainage hole in the bottom pot. We used a small tile but a piece of plastic would work too. Secure it in place with silicone, running it all around the tile as well to ensure a tight seal. Let it cure for at least 24 hours.

Step 1 How To Turn Plant Pots Into A Water Fountain

Step 2 - Inserting the pump

  • Place the pump on a sturdy base in the center of the bottom pot.  Based on the type of pump you purchase and the size of the pots, you may be able to avoid this step.
  • Attach the plastic extenders to the pump in order to raise it so the spray head is above the rim of the top pot.  
Step 2 How To Turn Plant Pots Into Water Fountain

Step 3 - Making plant pot risers

  • Cut the PVC Pipe to a length that will allow the second pot to sit just below the rim of the bottom pot. Repeat this step for the second pot and the top pot.
  • Now that you have the desired heights for each pot, remove the PVC pipe and notch out a groove in the bottom to accommodate the pump's electrical cord (see picture below).
Step 3 How To Turn Plant Pots Into Water Fountain

Step 4 - Base for largest Plant Pot

Set the plastic pipe so it rests on the bottom of the largest pot. This becomes your base for the next step. You'll notice the sturdy base we used to raise the pump to the desired height fits inside the PVC pipe.

Make sure you cut the plastic tubing nice and straight so your pots sit level.

Step 4 How To Turn Plant Pots Into Water Fountain

Step 5 - Base for medium plant pot 

  • Drill a hole in the center of the medium terracotta pot using a ceramic drill bit. Make sure the hole you are drilling is big enough to accommodate the pump extenders.
  • Set the largest terracotta base through the pump extender and let it rest on the top of the PVC pipe (see photo below).

Unlike the photo below, it is better to place the terracotta saucer upside down to help conceal the lip.

Step 5 How To Turn Plant Pots Into Water Fountain

Step 6 - Inserting middle plant pot 

  • Repeat Step 5.
  • Insert PVC Pipe into the second pot.
Step 6 How To Turn Plant Pots Into Water Fountain

Step 7 - Base for top plant pot

  • Add the next size terracotta saucer. Remember to place it upside down (unlike shown in the picture below).
Step 7 How To Turn Plant Pots Into Water Fountain

Step 8 - Inserting the top plant pot

  • Add the smallest pot on top of the terracotta base.
  • Ensure your spray head is just above the rim of the top pot.  You may need to add another pump extender to achieve the correct height.
  • Insert the fountain spray head onto the last pump extender.
Step 8 How To Turn Plant Pots Into Water Fountain

Step 9 - Adding river rocks and water

  • Add river rock onto each saucer until the terracotta saucers are completely concealed. Make sure you use a combination of large and small rocks. You want the large rocks to fill in the void between the saucer and the pot. The small rocks will help to conceal the saucer.
  • Fill the bottom pot with water and plug it in. Don't be alarmed by the noise the pump makes as it's priming. 
Step 9 How To Turn Plant Pots Into Water Fountain

And there you have it, an inexpensive fountain for a deck, patio, or apartment balcony. If you enjoyed my Plant Pots To Water Fountain tutorial, please share it with a friend and/or save it on Pinterest.

How to build a water fountain from plant pots

The type of spray head you use will determine the way the water fountain is assembled. Read further for more information...

Spray Head Styles

Mushroom Spray Fountain

This is the spray head style we used on our water fountain, the water simply flows through the pots to the bottom pot. Ensure that the water does not spray over the edges of the pots or you will soon run dry. You will need to eventually add water to the bottom pot due to evaporation. This option easily dismantles for winter storage.

Waterfall Spray Fountain Style

If you are wanting the look of standing water in the pots cascading over the edges, you will need to silicone around the holes in the middle and top flower pots where your tubing is passed through. By doing this the water will be held in each pot and will flow over the sides. Again ensure the water does not spray over the edges. This style does not allow the fountain to be disassembled for winter storage. 

Blossom Spray Fountain Style

For this style, you will need a basin with a much larger circumference than the bottom flower pot so the spray can flow over the edges of the pots and land in the basin. In this design, your bottom pot will have a hole in it so the water recirculates from the basin rather than the bottom pot.
NOTE: The basin must be deep enough to hold a sufficient water supply to keep the pump submerged in the base pot.

Looking for more water feature inspiration? We also built a gorgeous DIY Outdoor Water Wall.

A big Thank You to the following for featuring this project:

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July 23, 2013

The Looking Glass (How to turn ordinary glass into a mirror)

This was the little project that could. Inspired by Pinterest, I kept coming across these fabulous looking time-worn mirrors that were DIYed using ordinary picture frame glass. Determined that our outdoor space needed A Looking Glass, I went on the hunt for this magical product. 

I drove to every craft and home improvement store in our town and throughout the neighboring city. The clerks looked at me like I was from another planet, "you want what?"

Persistence is one of my strong suits and Determination is my middle name, so I contacted the folks at Krylon and learned that it is not available in Canada. What!!!!! When I say I wanted this product, I mean I WANTED IT BAD and I found it on Amazon. Shipping and duty cost more than double the price of the actual product but like I said, I wanted it BAD.

Turning ordinary glass into a mirror

So when UPS showed up at my door, I did the happy dance. Here is that liquid gold, Krylon Looking Glass Spray Paint.

Krylon Looking Glass Mirror Like Paint

You may be asking yourselves, so why didn't she just go out and buy a mirror? Because I had to see this stuff in action and if it worked, then just think of the possibilities for other fun projects!

And the fun begins...

How To Turn Ordinary Glass Into A Looking Glass Mirror

Spray fine coats on the back side of the glass and let dry around five minutes between coats and that is all there is to it!

Coat #1

Glass after one coat of reflective spray paint

Coat #2

Glass after two coats of reflective spray paint

Coat #3

Glass after three coats of reflective spray paint

Coat #4

Glass after four coats of reflective spray paint

Coat #5

Glass after five coats of reflective spray paint

Coat #6

Glass after six coats of reflective spray paint

What I love about this finish is that it remains slightly opaque after it dries which makes it more interesting than just a plain ordinary mirror.

Ordinary glass DIYed into a mirror

The picture frame I found in our basement storage room. I painted it with chalk paint in the color Versailles. I gave it a lightly distressed finish by sanding back some of the colors to reveal the wood underneath. Because it is hanging outside, I applied several coats of exterior polyurethane to protect the finish.

So that my friends is how to turn ordinary glass into a Looking Glass!

I found the perfect spot for it on our deck.  When you are sitting in the Adirondack chairs facing the house, you now see a view of the yard.  Love it!

Regular glass into Outdoor mirror

I must say it was worth the cost of having the Krylon Looking Glass Spray Paint shipped because it was so much fun to try. I plan on turning dollar store glass into mirrored glass next.

Have you ever used looking glass spray paint? Has this inspired you to give it a try?

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