Saturday, August 22, 2009

Habitat can be Habitual

My first how-to on my blog will go against the grain of the blog title--it was about as far from quickie art as one can get. This project actually took me about 3 years to complete. But only because I have an {undiagnosed} case of adult ADD--I kept getting distracted by other things. However, I think the end result was worth all the grumbling from Ray Jay (living with me is just his cross to bear, but at least the cross is bedazzled). So without further ado, here's my first project:

Drawer Table

The title doesn't lend itself to anything glamorous, but just hang with me, it gets better. But first I have to tell you about one of my favorite places in the world: the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. I am so sorry if you don't have one of those where you live. I'm sure you have heard of Habitat (if you haven't, you've been living in a cave), an organization which "brings families and communities in need together with volunteers and resources to build decent, affordable housing for low-income households." Well, the ReStore is a retail arm of Habitat for Humanity that makes available to the public the materials that have been cast off from tearing down, remodeling houses, etc. They also take donations of furniture, exercise equipment, and even clothing. These items would have otherwise been headed for a landfill. So if you're looking for some cheap vintage molding (our store sells it for 25 cents a foot--or it is a yard? anyway, it's cheap!) or paint, or bathroom sinks, or toilets--you name it--it's probably going to be at the ReStore. Just don't go to visit the ReStore in your Sunday best. Ours is located in an old car dealership and the bottom floor, which used to be the garage/repair shop, is très dirty. All you priss pots out there who regularly have your nails done and don't go anywhere without your clickety clack high heels might not like this. But I would love to see you try to navigate it...

My very favorite things to scavenge there are the kitchen cabinet doors and drawers. [Spoiler: I'm going to show you something in the future that I do with the doors.] They sell for $2-$3 each and hold endless potential for creative re-purposing. Which finally (I'm sorry--those who know me well can testify to the fact that I can't tell a story quickly) brings me to the project--the Drawer Table.

Drawer Table Materials

-1 cabinet drawer (in case you missed it, they're $3 at the ReStore!)

-2 x 2 piece of wood (got mine at Lowe's for around $2-$3)--one long length should be enough for the 4 pieces into which you're going to cut it




-broken dishes and/or tiles


-E-6000 or some other good glue

-drawer pulls


  1. If you're a meticulous worker (which I am NOT--I just don't have the patience for this step), sand your drawer to prep it for the paint.

  2. Cut your 2 x 2 piece of wood into 4 equal pieces. These pieces will be the legs for your table. If you are picky and want your table to be really tall, you might need another long 2 x 2 piece of wood. Which will probably call for another trip to Lowe's, since I only mentioned one piece in the list of materials. Well, that's what you get for being picky.

  3. Turn your drawer UPSIDE DOWN. The bottom of the drawer is your table top. Screw the table legs into the drawer in each of the 4 corners from the top (which used to be the bottom--have I confused you yet?) of the drawer. It is very important that you do this before you add the mosaic because because the mosaic will cover up the screws. [Note: Ray Jay, my handy assistant, also added screws to the sides of the cabinet where the legs touched for added support--this is totally optional, but recommended if your neighborhood is like ours and children turn into table hopping monkeys from time to time.]

  4. Paint the table and legs. Let it "cure" for a day or so before starting the mosaic. I also distressed mine with the sandpaper I was supposed to have used to prep it.

  5. This is one of my favorite parts because I get to whack stuff with a hammer. I love to whack stuff with hammers. Take your tiles, broken dishes, or whatever you have to use as a mosaic and get it ready. Here's a good safety tip for whacking stuff with a hammer: you can avoid putting your eye out by 1. wearing those dorky safety goggles, and/or 2. wrapping whatever you're whacking in an old towel. Then start adding the tile pieces to the top of your table (which used to be the bottom of a drawer, remember?) to establish your design. This part is where I got log jammed. I had my design laid out and ready to glue when I had some friends over one day. One of my friends' little darlings decided to pick off the pieces and throw them into my yard. This is where I just had to love the child through Jesus. Seriously. So moral to the story: if you have kids with tile-throwing potential, store this project in a safe place until you glue down the pieces.

  6. Glue down the pieces with some good glue. Elmer's ain't gonna do it--it has to be a little stronger than that. Let the glue dry.

  7. Add the grout. Let it dry for about 15-20 minutes, then scrape the excess off the top. This is a messy step. After it's completely dry, take a wet rag and clean off the excess grout from the sides and wherever else your messy self got it.

  8. Add some cute drawer pulls (which, obviously, are just there for decorative purposes).

  9. Put it somewhere EVERYONE can see it. Because YOU MADE IT! Mine is on my front porch. I get to see it every time I pull into the driveway. It makes me smile.

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