Friday, January 7, 2011

welcome to... our (mostly) recycled wood cubby house

It’s done! Well aside from christening it with a sign out the front “The Grugly House” (The Graham’s Ugly House), Zak and Layla’s little cubby is finished. It’s been played in, eaten in, fought in, messed up and already had knob hooks pulled off and the curtains flown out the window as a flag. So basically, they love it and are enjoying it just as we hoped they would.

For those who don’t know, we set out to build the cubby as much as possible out of recycled wood. It started when our fence blew down in a storm and I thought it’d make great cladding. Then Steve got super-excited and started scavaging around for bits and pieces. Aside from a few structural beams, concrete, screws and plywood, the whole house – and some of the furniture – is made from found materials. Inside the walls is a carpenter’s nightmare – all sorts of scrappy, mismatched timbers – but it very much solid and structurally sound and covered, so the insides don’t matter anymore!

We used parts of a bedhead (roadside find) for the door and window frame; the window is cupboard doors from a TV cabinet (roadside find); the lamp on the outside is from the garden of our old house; the floor is wood from the nearby school they were throwing away, a friend’s leftover decking and our old stair rail; the roof is clear Laserlite and used to be our front porch. It’s UV and makes the little box extremely light as it’s see-through and though it can be hot on scorching days, if the door and windows are open, it’s breezy enough. I love that they can see the sky from inside – I want a clear roof!! Inside the walls is wood from everywhere.

As we started the finishing touches – beading to patch up the plywood, we realised just how, um, non-professional we were. So instead of fixing all our big spaces and weird off-measurements, we played it up a little by leaving gaps, breaking up the beading and gluing it on a little crookedly, not spak-filling the screws and just making it a little worse for wear. I deliberately didn’t paint the back of the door properly – to give it a little rustic feel – and we left the floor pretty uneven despite planing it as we just couldn’t be perfect!

I painted the whole inside with Whisper White we had leftover and the floor with leftover cabin paint. You’ll no doubt recognise the bunting, some of the chairs, deerhead and the wallpaper used ad nauseum inside – I had lots of scraps so might as well use them up – I don’t change my MO much do I?! I just cut out a few animal shapes and used spray adhesive to stick them to the wall. We had a plain mirror from IKEA the kids and I painted and decorated with leftover letters we randomly stuck on and I used the knobs from Layla’s dresser on the back of the door (glued them onto nails hammered into the door) for little hooks for their bags and apron.

I made the little table out of cut-down table legs I’d bought ages ago for a project that never eventuated and the top of an old IKEA toy box that was so ancient it finally fell apart. We painted it with the leftover paint from my craft table makeover and I mixed up some pink paint for the stool just to see Layla’s eyes pop out of her head in excitment about a pink stool. I whipped up some curtains from a Dandi tablecloth and just used a piece of dowel from Zak’s party to hang.

 The corner cabinet was a wall cabinet from our old kitchen. I”m not sure why we still had it but it got a lick of paint and is a temporary kitchen/shelf/cabinet until I can either make one or find something to transform into a mini oven/stovetop etc. I thought I’d found something – an old wooden planter – but it was a little too busted up. Even for our Grugly house!
And of course the finishing touch is the chandelier – the lady next door was throwing it out and pulled it back off her council clean-up pile to pass it over the fence in the hope we could use it. COULD WE?! Turns out it’s almost worth more than the cubby itself and everything inside it! I love it! And am not painting it as I originally thought I might…

 So there we have it – I hope it was worth the (very long) wait. The kids seem to think so – as did all their little friends who came over for mother’s group today and played. Until it rained and then it was much more fun to dance around in the rain in their undies. Hilarious.
Belinda x

{Images by Belinda Graham for The Happy Home}

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