From bread rack to bar cart

Apparently if I see an old, rusty metal shelf on casters in an antique mall, I will pay all the money for it.

Ok, that’s not totally true. But I will rack my brain trying to figure out how to use it in our house, remove the tag (so no one can claim it while I walk) and visit the front desk to inquire about a discount (Hello easy 10% off!), and then somehow convince my husband that said rack can be a belated birthday gift for me (my birthday was in January and we bought this in March.) Long story long, we bought a bread rack.

When we found it, it looked like this:


But in my head, it looked more like this:002industrial_bar_cart

After a year of collecting, our decanter collection outgrew our petite bar. We’ve been casually looking for a different bar set-up. This cart totally clicked for me. The only problem (and the reason it was stored in the captain’s bedroom for many months – you can see it hiding in the corner in this post) is that the grated metal shelves offered an unstable surface. Great for bread, not for bottles.

House Hunters 2.0 gave us the boost to get this bar built. First that required a trip to a hardwood lumber place Aaron has been stalking on Craigslist. It’s a small shop filled with lots of wood, including some exotic options. While we have a serious soft spot for zebra wood, we thought it would be too loud and too pricey for this application. We mulled over the selection and almost settled on some basic poplar before noticing a pile of ambrosia maple. We learned that the discoloration and holes are caused by ambrosia beetles that burrow in and bring fungus. Those splotches definitely stole our heart. We dug through the pile looking for the perfect pieces and chose some of the “buggiest” (according to the wood shop employee.) We left with 4 boards (30.5 board feet) for a total of $91.50.

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The boards weren’t wide enough to span a shelf, so we needed to join them. The boards were rough cut and only square on 3 sides so Aaron started by trimming the rough edge off 2 pieces.005industrial_bar_cart

Then he used the biscuit cutter to create some grooves.006industrial_bar_cart 007industrial_bar_cart 008industrial_bar_cart

Biscuits + glue + clamps 009industrial_bar_cart 010industrial_bar_cart 011industrial_bar_cart 012industrial_bar_cart 013industrial_bar_cart 014industrial_bar_cart 015industrial_bar_cart

Once the glue dried, he made the final cuts to make each shelf the right length and width. 017industrial_bar_cart 018industrial_bar_cart 019industrial_bar_cart

He also removed the excess glue drops and gave everything a light sanding.020industrial_bar_cart 021industrial_bar_cart

While the boards dried, Aaron tested some oil options on a scrap piece of wood. 022industrial_bar_cart

Black walnut023industrial_bar_cart

Tung oil024industrial_bar_cart

Light walnut025industrial_bar_cart


Originally we thought we would want a darker tone, like the dark walnut. But after we chose such a pretty, defined wood, we were torn. We popped the test piece of wood onto the cart with a few bar accessories to help make the decision. But we were still torn. We worried that the light walnut would make the wood stand out too much. And we worried that the dark walnut would hide it too much.


In the end, we decided that we loved the wood too much to tone it down. Both sides got a coat of light walnut danish oil.  027industrial_bar_cart

This involves 2 coats of flooding the board with oil and spreading it around with a brush. The second coat is applied within 30 minutes of the first so that it is still wet.

030industrial_bar_cart 028industrial_bar_cart 029industrial_bar_cartOnce the boards were prepped, we turned our attention to the cart. I gave it a good wipe down with soapy water to remove any loose dirt while keeping the rusty patina.

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Then Aaron made some vital repairs to the shelves, tightening the bolts and replacing a few lost ones.034industrial_bar_cart 035industrial_bar_cart 036industrial_bar_cart

We laid the wood in place and it really started to come together.037industrial_bar_cart

The wood adds so much warmth to this piece. 038industrial_bar_cart

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We pulled out all of our full decanters, all of our empty decanters and all of our bottles of booze. Then I uttered words I never thought I’d say: “We need more alcohol.”


The overall effect is nice, but it’s a touch barren. I guess that’s what happens when you install 24 square feet of bar…041industrial_bar_cart

We opted to keep the styling really simple, focusing on the decanters and mixing in some bottles for interest. 043industrial_bar_cart 044industrial_bar_cart

We pulled out a wine infograph poster to add even more height to this corner of the room.045industrial_bar_cart

And we kept a little space for actually mixing a drink.047industrial_bar_cart

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So, I guess we’re just down to the super hard task of collecting more bottles of alcohol. Woe is us.

How to build a horizonal ipe fence

I know I sound like a broken record, but work on wrapping the carport in ipe continues. It’s a tedious project, but each row makes a visual impact. In case you’re interested in (or crazy enough to think about) building a horizontal ipe fence, here’s a guide.


Obviously you need to order some wood. Here are some other products you’ll need:

The folks at Advantage Lumber helped us estimate the quantities. Once we’re done, we’ll let you know if they were on target.


Let’s talk for second about ipe clips. Each box includes:

  • 175 ipe clips
  • 190 screws
  • A star drill tip
  • A drill bit
  • 12 ipe plugs
  • Instructions

You want all of these things. If you don’t buy them, you can just drill each board into the fence post and live with all of those screws staring back at you. But your yard (and your eyes) deserve better than that. These fasteners will anchor the wood to the post and remain hidden. Plus they help space each row appropriately. They come in different gap sizes, we opted for the smallest gap.

Ok, let’s build a fence! Choose a piece of wood. Ideally you want a piece of wood that is rather straight. We’re working with B grade wood, so sometimes that means chopping off a bit that’s warped.

Cut the wood to size. Note: It’s helpful to have someone who is good at measuring perform most of these steps. (You’ll notice that it’s not me.)


The boards are held together and anchored to the post with ipe clips, but to start a row you’ll need to secure the bottom directly to the post. On each end of the board, measure how much the board will overlap the post and then mark the center point. Keep that measurement in mind (or write it down) because you’ll use it a lot.


Drill a hole using a 1/8″ drill bit and then a 3/8″ countersink bit. Aaron loves this one from Rockler. The hole is for the screw and the countersink is for the ipe plug. (More on that later.)



Then seal the end of the wood. This keeps the ipe from cracking over time. It’s also important to do this after you measure/drill so you don’t end up with wax all over your tools.



Liberally apply the wax to the ends of each board use a brush. It’s a good idea to do this in the grass in case there are drips.


Construction adhesive offers additional holding power. Add some to the post before placing your board.


For the first board, screw one side into the post.


Level it. Then add a screw to the other side.


The boards will need a space for each ipe clip. This is easily achieved with a biscuit joiner set at the appropriate depth for the ipe clip. We did a few tests on scrap wood to get the depth correct. For the first row, we opted to make the biscuit cut once the board was in place.





Drop an ipe clip into the biscuit cut.


Use the drill bit from the ipe clip kit to pre-drill a hole for the screw. Then use the screws from the kit to attach the board and clip to the post. Screw down and at an angle.


Choose another board, cut it to length it and mark the center points that you measured earlier. From here on up, make the biscuit cuts on both sides (and both ends) of the board now.


Don’t forget to seal the ends. Add construction adhesive to the post, and place the board onto the ipe clips from the row before. Level the board <– This is very important to ensure your fence stays level all the way up. If you’re working with B grade wood, which we are, most of the boards are not going to be perfect. You can compensate some by pulling down on one end of the board (or sitting on it in extreme cases) to make it level.

Repeat until you reach the top of your post. For the last board, make your biscuit cuts only on one side. Then drill a hole to attach the board to the top of the post.

Use the ipe pegs from the ipe clip box to fill in the screw holes. Add some wood glue.


Tap it into place with a hammer.



Once the wood glue dries, chip off the excess with a chisel so the plug is flush with the board.



Congratulations you just built a section of horizontal fence. From here you can apply ipe oil if you want to darken the wood or let it weather to a silvery color. We opted for the former.


It’s a pretty simple process, but it is time consuming. This section of fence took us an entire Sunday. Of course, we took A LOT of breaks to admire the progress and exclaim how excited we were. Make sure you build that into your timeline.

How to: Make an organic, industrial light fixture

The lighting in the living room was seriously depressing. Some holes in the ceiling¬† and a defunct fluorescent fixture led us to believe that this space was primarily lit by fluorescents at one point. When we moved in, we inherited a sad bunch of single bulb sockets. Even with high-watt incandescent bulbs, these “fixtures” did little to illuminate the room because they were tucked up among the duct work. I’ve circled them below because they are easy to miss.


Single bulb and an old hole…


As a temporary fix, we added a DIY fixture that used to hang in Aaron’s office at the studio. This gave us a little more light over the couch.


Aforementioned dead fluorescent fixture. Now removed. RIP.


I didn’t have a hand in coming up with this particular fixture, but Aaron has lots of ideas in this realm. (It’s also not the first time he’s made a light fixture for the firehouse.) He has a pretty extensive Pinterest board for lighting inspiration. For the living room. he honed on this gem (originally from Petite Passport):


There wasn’t enough room in the original ceiling boxes for all of the pendant wire and he thought it would look more finished if the wires weren’t coming directly out of the ceiling.


So for each drop (we have 4 total) he spray painted an electrical box, ceiling box plate with center knock out (not pictured) and an electrical conduit coupling. They got a flat black treatment to match the cord.



The new box is screwed right into the existing box.


Next it’s a good idea to lay out your pendants. We just spread the sockets on the floor to give us a good idea how the lights would be spaced. This also helped ensure there wouldn’t be too many wires going into a box. The conduit connector can only hold 4. Once they were laid out, we strung fabric-wrapped cord from the box to the approximate location where a bulb would hang. This allowed us to eyeball the amount of swag each wire would have.


Then we needed something to loop the wire through. In a normal ceiling, you can just screw in a hook or an eye bolt. Because we have old plaster ceilings, Aaron grabbed some toggle bolts to give everything extra staying power.


He removed the screw and replaced it with an eye bolt and washer (both painted white) in the same size as the screw.


Then it’s just a matter of drilling and adding the bolt. The cord is looped through and we decided to hold the two pieces together with some thin metal wire (the same stuff we used for our DIY decanter tags.)


Determine how low you want the bulb to sit. We opted for varying lengths, which adds to the organic feel.

Then it’s time to attach the socket. This seems like a good time to mention that we are not certified electricians. This is relatively easy, but if you have any doubts, please consult a professional.



Here’s what you need – a socket, a standard cable grip (also called a strain relief) and the end of your fabric wrapped cord.


Slide the standard cable grip and top of the socket over the end of the wire.


Push them up a few inches to give yourself some room to work.


Cut the cord wrap to expose the wires and remove the excess insulation.



Strip the wires.



Take the inner part of the socket and loosen the screws on each side.


Make a hook in each strand of wire and wrap one around each screw.


Tighten the screws


Pull the top of the socket down.


Screw on the bottom of the socket.



Push the standard cable grip into the top of the socket. This will lock the wires in place.



Repeat for each pendant and wire the other ends into the box. Then add a bulb. We opted for 40W incandescent bulbs. This gives us a ton of light in the space, and the whole system is on a dimmer so we can set the mood for movie watching.



Viola! This is a really adaptable project. If you don’t have this many boxes on your ceiling (most residential spaces don’t), you could simply hang the ceiling box and wire a cord to a plug. Swag the cord to the wall and down to an outlet for an even more draped effect. You could also wire each pendant cord to a plug and plug them into a 4-gang outlet in the ceiling box (a la the inspiration photo).


This simple fixture has made a huge impact in the space. We love that it adds some interest and softness to the ceiling. But most importantly it gave us much needed LIGHT!

Has anyone else created a custom light fixture? We have several more brewing for other areas of the firehouse. Oh, what about lamps? Let’s not talk about the number of things we’re hoarding to be turned into awesome lamps.

DIY decanter tags

Is it odd to follow up a booze centric holiday season with a post about booze? Technically, we’re talking about the outside of the bottle in this post so hopefully that’s ok. When we swapped some furniture and pulled out our fledgling decanter collection, several people asked “How do you remember what’s in each bottle.” At the time, we were relying on Aaron’s razor sharp mind (and if that failed, his discerning sniffer) to keep the liquids straight. Our collection has ballooned and a more tangible tracking system was in order.

In keeping with our minimal, industrial aesthetic, Aaron found some metal rimmed tags and tag wire.


I clipped the string and added a liquor name to each.


A simple twist keeps the tag in place.


Then fill the bottle and twist the wire in back.



Now it’s easy to tell what each bottle is holding, which is good because after Christmas and a stop at one of our favorite antique malls in Kansas City, we have a few more to add to the collection. In related news, we need a bigger bar.












And that is about as crafty as we get around these parts… unless you count the yarn pompoms that I make each year to top Christmas gifts.


How to make wrapped canvas prints

In the flurry leading up to the open house, the top priority (besides fixing the fire pole) was getting some art hung in our studio. Canvas wrapped prints are our favorite way to show off our work, but even at photographer prices, they add up quick. When we made the move to St Louis and opened our first stand-alone studio, we invested in a large format printer that has more than paid for itself thanks to numerous prints (for us and for clients). Printing is just the first step, so Aaron put together a little tutorial on how to make wrapped canvas prints.

First miter cut 1 x 2 pieces of pine to create the stretcher bars.



If you’re a perfectionist (which I say with love, because I am one as well), you can bevel the front edge so just 1/8″ of canvas touches the wood on the front of the frame, making for a nice sleek edge.


Nail each frame together.




Flip the print over (it’s good to have some Kraft paper down at this point to protect the image) and center the frame.


Wrap and staple, starting with the long edge.


A stretching tool will allow you to pull with one hand and staple with the other. Make the print as tight as possible.



After the edges are stapled, fold and staple the corners.






Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat (as necessary)



For the back, cut Kraft paper so that you have some overlap then attach it with hot glue.


Run an edge cutting tool set to 1/8″ along the side of the print to get a perfect edge.





Then add hanging hardware.


So, is this just a photographer skill or have any DIYers out there been dying to know how to stretch canvas prints?