Addicted 2 Decorating had a GREAT parts list and picture to go with it, which got me looking at plumbing materials and brought the project in around an impressive $60. For my outdoor use though, bottom-mount wheels weren’t going to work on my bumpy, often cluttered surface. I needed a top hanging solution.
Design the Life You Want to Liveuses pretty custom made wood wheels, which they also sell. More than I wanted to spend with this project but if I were doing an inside project, would be worth considering.
Many, many thanks to In My Own Style for making chalk paint accessible to me! Diane Henkler gives you three different recipes so you can mix it up depending on what you have around. I appreciate also that she gives her take on which ones work best. I keep it simple (the calcium carbonate+water version) because I just never seem to have the other stuff on hand and it has worked great so far on a couple of chairs, shelving and a fake electric fireplace in the basement.
If you haven’t used chalk paint before, its big draw for me is that you can paint with it even on glossy surfaces without having to strip off the sheen (but I think a light sanding is still a good idea). It has other benefits including a lovely flat finish, that you can write on it in chalk, and how nicely it takes wax.
If you don’t want to mix your own, premade ones from Annie Sloan and CeCe Caldwell get the best reviews. For me right now, being able to inexpensively mix and test my own makes all kinds of things possible. Thanks Diane and all the other bloggers who have showcased their chalk paint projects.
Jewelry is beautiful art. But when it’s stuck in a box, you don’t get to see it enough. Plus I wanted to cut the clutter on top of my dresser. Enter the picture frame jewelry organizer. I made two for me and loved them so much I decided to make jewelry organizers a main holiday gift for family and friends.
Budget: to make two for myself with thrifted frames, I spent about $15, excluding the cost of tin snips, so about $7.50 each. But it’s possible to spend more depending on your materials choice. When I got into manufacturing mode and was buying bigger sheets, the cost came down to $3-6 each.
Timing: summer and fall I added empty picture frames to my thrift store check list and accumulated the ones I needed at the right prices. I also started searching for metal sheets/radiator sheets to use in the frames. Since I was spray painting some of the frames, it was most ideal to be able to do this outside, before the cold set in, so that was the urgency in finding the frames. Once it got cold, I hit thrift stores for inexpensive jewelry. For this, the gift was the organizer, not the jewelry, but I wanted to include at least one item with the organizer so the recipients would know what it was.
Shopping list: here’s the snapshot list. Still, do scan the details below to save some cash and time on this project.
Frames without glass
Paint or spray paint (optional)
Radiator grill sheet(s) also known as “metal sheets” or “aluminum sheets.”
Small s hooks (optional, for necklaces)
Thrift store find jewelry
Tin snips or other scissors that easily cut sheet metal
To do these as gifts the way I did, you will need:
Frames without glass. These are sometimes as cheap as $0.50 at thrift stores. I focused on wood, avoiding metals. Go for frames that have a little projection from the wall. Here’s why: you’re going to hang jewelry in the face of the frame so you creating a little distance between front and the wall prevents your earrings from hitting the wall. If you’re going to buy new frames, watch for sales, and make a budget – remember, when you buy new, you’re also paying for glass you don’t need. If you’re shipping gifts, keep manageable size in mind. The easiest frames to work with are the ones that have little tabs holding the glass in place (see below). You’ll ditch the glass but the tabs are perfect for holding the metal sheet. However, if they don’t have little tabs, you can still wedge the metal sheet inside the frame securely. If you’d like to make a frame, Ana White’s great blog has a post on barnwood frames that would work well for about $1.50 each
Paint or spray paint, if you want to change the color. I focused on black and white with a couple of silver frames. For this project, I only used spray paint
Radiator grill sheet(s) also known as “metal sheets” or “aluminum sheets.” The sources I used were Michael’s (with a Retailmenot coupon code – but be aware, these are in store and not shown on the Michael’s site. They’re about $11-14 without the coupon for a smallish — about 12″x24″– sheet so bring that coupon!), ACE Hardware (pretty choices though not super cheap, about $25-$30 for a larger sheet), and Home Depot (the most cost effective — $22.78!– for a 3×3′ aluminum sheet but limited pattern choices). These come in both a silver and gold finish. I used silver but the gold is chic these days. What’s right for you will depend on how many you want to make — see below. Some notes on choosing:.
a) The cloverleaf and star patterns are most readily available and work well. If you choose a pattern with narrower openings like this oriental one below, it can be hard to get earrings with their backers through the spaces. So the tighter patterns are best used for necklaces with small s hooks.
b) Rustic look note: you could use chicken wire for a farmhouse sort of look, either in a single or double layer. This is often very cheap at used building goods outlets. I got a roll for only $3 but the look was less polished and it wasn’t as easy to work with my always-torn up hands as the aluminum sheets.
c) MD is a leading manufacturer of these sheets. They seem to sell mostly through retailers but the choices on their site (page down) are fun to browse.
Small s hooks (about $1.20 for a pack of eight at True Value). You need these if you want to use your organizer to hang necklaces.
Thrift store find jewelry: for earrings, you want fish hook style.
Tin snips or other scissors that can cut thin metal (available at craft and home improvement stores). I kinda balked at investing in tin snips but I am glad now that I did: I seem to use mine for something every week. Here’s where a Retailmenot coupon at Michael’s also is a big help (about $7.50 with a 50% off coupon). These are also available from home stores and Amazon (here are my Tekton snips on Amazon, about $9).
Let’s get started: The basics of this project are that you’re going to replace any glass with a metal sheet cut to slightly over the size of the frame opening. It’s that simple! A step-by-step follows.
Take your frame and get it clean and pretty: pop out any glass and set aside
If you’re painting you frame, do it now
If your frame came with a mat, use that as your pattern to measure out the size to cut your metal sheet insert, adding 1/4 inch on each side. If no mat, measure your frame’s opening and add 1/2 inch to your measurement on each side. Basically you want a 1/4 inch excess on all sides so it fits securely in the opening. Also, this gives you the chance to let the metal protrude from the frame a little, which can look and work great. If you’re cutting multiple inserts, lay as many out as possible on your metal sheet so you can eyeball how it all fits together as shown below:
Use a pen to mark off one insert at a time or just do a quick snip with your tin snips and cut along the line. Remember to go slightly big since you can always make it smaller later. Also, do one at a time instead of tracing them all at once. As you cut, things will shift slightly and you don’t want unnecessary marks, especially if you’re using a Sharpie!
Cut your inserts using your tin snips
Install your inserts into each frame from the back. If there are any little mat holders, flip them back down to keep the sheet firmly in place.
You are done. No joke.
One more note: you might end up with some extra strips of the flat metal sheets. Hang onto them! They can be used to wrap a votive or for other small projects.
So what about you? What’s your favorite DIY holiday gift this year? Do you struggle with mass production AND personalization the way I do?
Note: the links here are for your convenience. No compensation to me for either the supplier listings or following the links.
Phase One: The builder’s grade nipple light needed to go. It would be fine in many settings but in this house, with such low ceilings, the dark light just drew attention to the lowness of the ceiling and smallness of the room. Brightness wasn’t the first priority since the room also has table lamps for task lighting. But I wanted just a little prettiness, a little bling.
One habit I’m trying to form is to duck into the ReStore every time I hit the library since they’re in the same strip mall. And it paid off!
I found this pretty little crystal chandelier for $10!
What do you think? I love its prettiness and the spears of light that it throws when on. Have you ever had a great thrift lighting find?
Black or dark grey garden hoses: I want them to disappear against the house but this house did come with a couple ugly bright green ones. Note: have tried spray painting one, we’ll see if it makes it through a whole season . . .
Barn door wheels, or barn door kit. Update: Found it!!!! $20 for two 1915 pulleys at an estate sale. Now it’s time to get that door hung: DIY Sliding Barn Door Hardware.
Folding luggage rack for guests: got cats, guest suitcases need to be off the ground. Amazon has one new for $20-$25. Update: Found it at the Youth Ranch thrift store for $4.
Gentleman’s Butler: I want a place to toss my clothes that I’ll probably wear again tomorrow. Don’t want it in the closet with the truly clean clothes. For now, maybe forever I’ll use the rickety but pretty chair Grandpa built. Love the valet idea but the chair is probably more functional. Will use that until . . .
Outdoor rocker: want, not a need, already have seating, this is to charm up the yard
Better lighting for guest room. Currently a builder grade nipple light, which makes the ceiling look lower. Found at the ReStore for $10! Vintage chandelier
One nice thing about this 1947 cottage is the garage has two entrances, one of which was a cool looking — and working — sliding barn door. But the other door? A beat up old steel door that couldn’t actually close — and, because it was steel, couldn’t be trimmed to properly close. It also didn’t take paint too well.
Because the back of the house faces the detached garage, I look at those two doors ALL the time. I tried sprucing up the view with outdoor furnishings and the like but since the bad door had to be propped open, you basically could always see inside the garage. Just not pretty.
One day I decided to poke around in the garage rafters in a hunt for some free lumber (I dwell in hope). Many cobwebs and displaced spiders later I discovered a door that matched my existing slider! Eureka! This beauty had obviously once possessed the exact hardware the existing door has but the old kit was nowhere to be found. And so the plot hatched: restore the dual sliders.
In my naivete, I assumed that sliding door hardware would be slightly more pricey than regular door mounting hardware. Oops.
Reality set in: sliding door kits that would allow me to remount the old door and sorta match the current one were not cheap. The stuff from various vendors was pretty. Yet everything I could find was totally out of my $50 allocated for this project, around $150-$350 for a quality outdoor slider kit.
Next step: read a bunch of DIY posts. There were many where folks bought full kits and installed those. These were fun to see yet mostly for inside sliders and out of my want-not-need budget.
Mostly the posts were about building custom or refreshing vintage doors. Great ideas but already I had the door. I needed to get that bad boy up without spending more than $50. Also, this project required outdoor quality hardware whereas a lot of the pretty hardware kits were for inside use. The most useful two posts from searching on “DIY barn door hardware” were:
Addicted 2 Decorating had a GREAT parts list and picture to go with it, which got me looking at plumbing materials and brought the project in around an impressive $60. For my outdoor use though, bottom-mount wheels weren’t going to work on my bumpy, often cluttered surface. I needed a top hanging solution. But I would totally use their plans inside.
Design the Life You Want to Liveuses pretty custom made wood wheels, which they also sell. More than I wanted to spend with this project but if I were doing an inside project, would be worth considering.
Fast forward five months, which means about 60+ yard and estate sales visited with my dream finds list hovering in the back of my mind. And then, at this one estate sale in the garden tools pile, I looked over and saw:
For $20, my wheel problem might be solved. With the rustic look, I thought they’d go okay with the cottage exterior, even though my two doors would not be matchy matchy. And I loved that they came from an old local home.
Next it was time to assemble the the rest of the hanging kit. Top of the list would be to find some kind of plate I could add to the door that could handle the fat hooks and be tough enough.
For once I did what you’re always supposed to do and rummaged around my nearby ReStore for something that might work. In the framing hardware area, I stumbled on two long, sturdy metal slats(?) with big holes punched in them. They’re used for something in construction – another customer in the checkout line said they’d be priced at $45 each new. So big, they were definitely overkill for my project but I couldn’t beat the price: $5 for two. And I just loved that feeling of thrifty re-purposing.
Next, it was time to paint the new old door using leftover accent paint from my DIY house painting job.
And once that was done, it was time to measure the door, the opening and the wall space I had to work with. Next I went to see the knowledgeable guys at the nearby True Value. I had the shopping list from Addicted 2 Decorating and walked out of there with:
Two galvanized iron floor flanges (1/2″),
Two four-inch nipples (1/2″)
Two elbows (1/2″)
One 8′ conduit pipe (1/2″), custom cut and threaded (I learned that means they put the little grooves in the ends).
Now it was time to measure, measure and remeasure. It turned out I made the pipe too long so I had to trek back to the store and get it cut and re-threaded. This added another $1.30 to the project, a super bargain. (Yes, I was ready to buy a whole new conduit pipe. I am that ignorant.) Then, I had to make sure that the rail mounting height would be high enough to handle my pulleys, the door hardware and the door itself.
Next I mounted the pipe/rail, which was the trickiest part of the project after all the measuring. Here’s why: 1) I wanted to do the whole thing all by myself. Having a second person would have made it easier since there was a lot of weight to balance during the install but this adventure is mostly about doing stuff on my own. So I used my painting ladder to prop up the rail wherever I needed a second pair of hands. 2) The guys at the store told me to expect the rail to bow a little. If my pulleys/wheels were normal weight, it would not be a problem but the vintage pulleys were really heavy — about 20-30lbs each. So no matter how level I managed to make it, it wouldn’t look perfect. (The guys at the store nixed my brilliant idea of strengthening the conduit by inserting some rebar: said it wouldn’t help with the sag.) Still, I told myself, one step at a time and all that.
After that, I screwed in the second elbow. Next, I installed the second flange. While I’d marked it off at 7′, I had to be prepared to adjust the length slightly because the elbows, nipples and conduit screwed in altogether ended up with a slightly different length. Once elbow #2 was in, I could tell where the second flange should go. Last, I screwed the second nipple into the flange and elbow at the same time. I wasn’t really sure how or if that would work but somehow it did.
Now it was time to test the mystery door hanger part on the pulleys. As you can see, once there’s weight on the hook, it flips the pulley so it rides on top of the conduit.
After that, I propped the door up under the pulleys to make sure the measurements still worked and the door would hang level.
I attached the door in place. This is probably not the best way to do it however, I was working solo and it was all getting very, very heavy. I just didn’t trust my back to hold up to trying to raise up and hang the door on the hooks the door once the hanging hardware was mounted. Guess this is another spot where a second pair of hands could have helped. Still, according to my level, that door got installed level. Still, you’ll see from the conduit sag that it’s not perfectly level. Most important: finally it was in!
I was pretty excited and relieved at this point. I took a big step back and . . .
It did not look fabulous. The functionality, yes, it worked. But my cool vintage pulleys seemed lost next to the too shiny silver hanging slats. I’m not a fan of painting hardware but in this case . . . my friend Kate agreed. I thought about just scuffing the slats to take out the shine but they’d still be vast. Time to whip out the spray paint.
So that’s it!
I love it! It hides the ugly stuff inside the garage, opens easily, stays where ever I put it and is fun to look at. Also in this last photo, I’ve added a door pull (for convenience, looks) and a stay roller on the bottom (for stability, to keep the bottom of the door against the garage).
Looking back/better next time:
The main three things I did right were:
rummage in the rafters to find a free door
look for online advice
stayed open to alternatives for conventional sliding door wheels
If I had the scratch — and someday I might — the one thing I’d do differently is talk to a metal fabricator (or blacksmith?) about getting a sturdy replacement for the conduit, which does sag under the weight of the heavy pulleys. Maybe over time it will bother me that the two doors don’t have matching hardware and I’ll redo the whole thing with a pre-made kit. But right now I’m really happy with it. I got the functionality I want and the whole thing was really pretty fun.
I did overspend against the $50 budget. Percentage-wise, by a lot, 22%. In dollars, less than $15.
Project costs summary:
Door: $0, found in garage rafters
Paint: $0, leftover from house painting
Wood screws for hardware mounting: $0, leftover
Two vintage roller/pulleys: $20, ($10 each), estate sale
Two 4″ nipples: $3.18, ($1.59 each), True Value Hardware
Two elbows: $1.98, ($0.99 each), True Value Hardware
Two floor flanges: $4.98 ($2.49 each), True Value Hardware
1/2″ conduit plumbing pipe cut to 8′ length: $13.75
Re-cut and re-thread pipe to 7′ length: $1.30
Two re-purposed door hanging hardware metal things: $5 ($2.50 each), ReStore/Habitat for Humanity
Stay roller, $7.99, Mintcraft through Amazon
6.5″ door pull, $6.17, National Hardware through Amazon
Black spray paint, $0, leftover from another project
Total project cash outlay: $64.35
So, I went $14.35 over my project goal — more than 22%, urg. With better measuring I could have saved $1.30. Also, I could have skipped the door pull ($6.17) –or gotten a smaller one– and not bothered with a stay roller ($7.99). All of that would have brought the project in at $48.89. Yet still, in real dollars, that $64 is not a lot.
Would you ever try this project this way? I get that my vintage pulleys at $10 each were a real find but a quick search on eBay for pulley shows that they are out there and available (I’ve seen several that could be used the same way listed at $9.99).
One note: if you’re thinking of sliders outside, know generally these aren’t going to be tight fitting the way a normal door would be. That works for me because I wanted doors that would hide the garage mess and block things blowing in when closed. But in the high desert, dry climate here, air tight isn’t a necessity. For locking, you can add a simple latch and use a lock as shown on my pre-existing slider.
Feedback? What would you have done differently? Have you done a DIY barn door? Outside or in? Regrets or gloats? I’d love to hear it all.
Flying under the radar just now . . . this is an draft version of my blog. It’s public so I can get some feedback from advisors and friends on the architecture and content but it’s not ready for prime time. If you want to jump in and share your opinion, please do! In advance, thanks for your understanding.
Welcome to my nesting blog. Here’s how I’m making a home in this new-to-me little egg house at the foothills of the Rockies. Here’s how I’m trying to figure out the next chapters a life that has not quite gone according to plan. I hope you’ll join me on the ride.
More about me: tight budget vs lofty ambitions. Some days I meet the challenge, others feel like epic fails. I believe that living in a beautiful, happy space extends to your whole world. That world includes a home shared a bunch of creatures, who often pose a design challenge. It also includes fabulous family and friends.
This life didn’t turn out the way I thought it would. Each day is a challenge to regain my stride. Gone are my executive days of hiring a professional for every job or just buying what I think I need whenever I want it. These are the days of figuring it out for myself, coming up with alternatives, and sometimes just making do with less. Good for my character, hard on my ego! Yet as they say, the only thing you can do is start from here. Let’s make it fun.