Monday, April 18, 2016

Making a Repurposed Outdoor Light

            It’s almost time for favorite summer traditions—firing up the grill and entertaining friends, sitting on the porch talking into the night, whiling away an afternoon on the porch swing…going outside is something we all anticipate as winter melts away in the spring sunshine.  This year as you clean up the yard and begin updating your outdoor spaces, you might consider redoing your porch or patio lighting for a fresh look.  The project doesn’t have to cost much; you can repurpose any number of items you might already have in the house or garage, or you can visit a local thrift or antique store for ideas.  Your new light will add ambiance and charm to evenings spent outside. 

            Almost anything can be made into a light.  First, you will have to decide what type of look you are going for—an electrical hanging light, sparkly fairy lights, or candles.  For an electrical light, you will need to purchase a lighting kit from a hardware store.  They are easy to install and can be used with regular light bulbs or vintage looking Edison bulbs.  Fairy lights can be added and come with electrical or battery operated options. 

            Secondly, you will have to determine the style you want to achieve.  Do you want an industrial, metal look or a soft, romantic light?  Are you going for rustic-farmhouse, or more of a lodge look?  Your house style and patio furniture will help in making this decision.  Keeping the style in mind, look around and see what objects you can repurpose.  You can make a single hanging light, or use a base such as a wooden ladder or bed springs suspended from the ceiling to hang several lights from. 

Here are some ideas for objects you might use:

  •  Any metal basket, such as an egg basket, hung upside down
  • A minnow bucket
  • A metal funnel
  • Colanders
  • A bird cage
  • Galvanized tubs or pails

  •  Mason jars or wine bottles
  •  Barn lanterns filled with fairy lights
  • Round barn vents

  • A chicken crate with a row of lights inside
  •  Baskets, such a round apple basket
  •  Lampshades with the cloth removed
  • A bicycle rim with lights threaded down through the spokes
  • An indoor chandelier spray painted a fresh summer color
         You can hang individual lights, a row of three lights, or hang several objects such as mason jars or bottles together to create a homemade chandelier. 

If you need further instructions, both YouTube and Pinterest have a plethora of easy to follow tutorials.  For safety, be sure to check with an expert if you don’t know how to connect the electricity in the ceiling to your lighting kit.  Once your creation is installed, sit back with your lemonade and enjoy the compliments!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Thinking Inside the Box

           As spring approaches, most gardeners pour over seed catalogs, dreaming about new plants to add to their landscapes. I am no exception, but while it’s still too cold to get outside and get my hands in the dirt, I like to use the time to treasure hunt for unusual vintage pieces to use in our garden and on the porch.  One of my favorite staples is wooden crates.  Sturdy, colorful boxes serve multiple uses, and they pair well with herbs and flowers.

            Large crates can be placed on the patio and filled with any combination of plants.  Arrange a variety of sizes of crates on a step or in a corner to make a lovely vignette.  You can also turn a crate upside down as a display base to create height for a potted plant.  Boxes with dividers such as soda crates are great for displaying individual, small pots or starting seedlings.  They also make handy carriers for multiple small vases.

            If you turn a crate on its side and attach the bottom end to a fence or wall, you will have an instant display shelf for potted plants, garden statuary, or birdhouses.  

They are also handy receptacles for garden gloves, hand tools, and seed packets.   If you take your veggies or flowers to the farmer’s market, crates make sturdy carriers and appealing staging backdrops once you arrive at the market.

            When looking for crates at antique stores or shows, make sure the crates aren’t stained with grease or other hard-to-remove substances, and test their construction for sturdiness.  Look for boxes with colorful fruit labels or graphics that pop.  Make sure the depth of the crate is appropriate if you plan to add plants.  Deeper crates are better for full season plants, while shallow depths are appropriate for short season crops like lettuce or spinach.

Once you get your crate home, protect it from soil and water by lining the inside with a black, plastic bag cut to fit.  Add about an inch of pebbles and horticultural charcoal in the bottom before pouring in soil to filter water and keep the crate from staining or retaining odor.  When the season is over, be sure to give your crates a good cleaning and store them inside for protection from the weather.

            As you get ready to plant this year, “think inside the box” for a fun and functional vintage touch in your garden.