I love reusing and transforming old stuff. No. 1, I’m cheap, and No. 2 (or 1a) I hate the idea of throwing away good things.
I had an old Ikea desk I bought for my daughter, dirt-cheap but semi-stylish, like most Ikea designs. By the way, why did it take the Swedes to show us that cheap furniture can still be designed well? It’s the same with kitchen cabinets–we just keep on cranking out the same tired looks and styles. I’ll leave that rant for another day.
Anyhoo, I dragged that beat-up desk across the country with us to Portland, mostly because the legs were so simple to take off. But when we needed a small deck table, I got to thinking. I could layer two pieces of plywood to make a thick top, brush a polyurethane finish on them to resist the drizzle, and screw on those Ikea legs. The plywood cost under $40, bringing my total to just over $50, for a table that fits my space just right.
I’m guessing you don’t have an old set of Ikea table legs, but here’s the cool thing: they sell tons of screw-on legs separately! The ones I used here cost just $4 each! That’s nuts! So you can screw them onto any old slab or tabletop you have and make something cool!
I was lucky enough to find a patio umbrella with a white pole, which looks good with the legs. By the way, if you live somewhere that freezes in the winter, I’d take the table in for the snow season. You might also use spar varnish on the tabletop, not polyurethane as I did. I may come to rue that decision, but some sanding and refinishing will set it right.
One more tip: Take your time choosing the plywood, to find at least one piece with a nice look to it.
Whether you have a patio or just a nice piece of lawn, you can build a sweet fire pit with concrete blocks. I used the Rumblestone system, manufactured by Pavestone and sold at Home Depot, among other places, but any blocks will work. It matches my patio, and I bought all the stones for both at the same time.
The two main keys are locking the blocks together with construction adhesive (it comes in tubes like caulk) and installing a steel insert of some kind. You can use galvanized steel panels or almost anything. I used the insert sold by Pavestone to fit the design I built.
Unlike real stone, concrete can crack in very high heat. A loose-fitting steel liner shields the concrete and provide an insulating air barrier. Old-school technology that works.
Check out the pics for the step-by-step, and build your own. Then stare into the flames and discover the mysteries of life. Or just drink good beer and talk about dumb bullcrap.
With the pavers laid down and the edging installed, there was only one more step: brushing sand into the cracks to stabilize the stones. It’s easy. You buy paver sand–the same stuff that went under the pavers as the final base layer–and spread it around with a big, stiff push-broom.
Then you spray the hose everywhere to get the sand to work its way down into the cracks, and repeat the process…more sand, more water, until there are no gaps after you spray. That really locks in the pavers so you don’t hear them crunching against each other much as you walk around.
But I went a step further. The Rumblestone paver system can also be used to build fire pits, retaining walls and more. I don’t need any more walls, but we love the heck out of a campfire. There is something about staring into the flames that feels primal and fuels great conversations (lubricated with fine ales).
The stones simply stack with construction adhesive between, and Pavestone (the manufacturer) offers a variety of plans for fire pits, each one detailing which stones you need and how they go together.
Call me crazy, but I think I might mount a pull-down movie screen on the wall to make the party zone complete. Fire and a flick. C’mon over.
The fire pit was easy to build, following a plan from Pavestone. Construction adhesive goes between the stones. Let it dry for a couple days, and the whole thing is rock solid.