February 2010 Issue
Room to Improve
Brighten up your space indoors and out with these winter project ideas from do-it-yourself gurus Matt Fox and Shari Hiller.
The long-awaited winter thaw traditionally triggers thoughts
of home improvements.
And no two Ohio natives know more about such projects than Matt Fox and Shari Hiller of HGTV “Room by Room” fame. The do-it-yourself gurus — who are appearing at The Great Big Home & Garden Expo at the International Exposition Center in Cleveland Feb. 6–14 (check the schedule at greatbighomeandgarden.com for Matt and Shari’s appearances on Feb. 6 and 7) — have made a career out of showing the average homeowner that you don’t have to be a master carpenter or professional decorator to achieve great results. They suggest two projects as proof. For more home-improvement projects, visit mattandshari.com.
Ready to Garden
Matt’s Birdhouse Bench
Matt’s bench, the top of which features a picket fence flanked by two birdhouses that serve as storage for gardening gloves and small implements, is a more advanced project that requires the proper tools.
Included here are the directions for the basic potting bench. Click here to see and print out diagrams.
Directions for the picket fence and birdhouses can be found at ohiomagazine.com. Materials here include the fence and birdhouses.
“There’s a lot of cutting and drilling of holes,” Fox explains. “Most stores do a certain number of cuts for free. But if the clerk is standing there cutting every little piece, it’s going to cost you.” He recommends priming and painting all of the pieces with an exterior latex paint after cutting and before assembly.
“Once you have something built, it’s a lot harder to get into the nooks and crannies,” he says. “You want to make sure, especially for an exterior product, that everything is sealed. If you decide to use the bench outside, I would suggest applying a spar, or marine, varnish after assembly.”
Materials for potting bench:
Directions for potting-bench base:
- 1x2 pine: one 8-foot length and one
- 1x4 pine: two 4-foot lengths, seven 6-foot lengths, three 8-foot lengths and one 10-foot length
- 1x8 pine: one 8-foot length, one 6-foot length and one 10-foot length
- 3/4-inch plywood: one 4x4-foot sheet
- 2-inch galvanized deck screws
- 2 12-inch brass piano hinges
- 2 wooden knobs
- Exterior wood glue
- Circular saw with straight edge or edge guide
- Miter saw
- Jig saw
- Drill with bit and driver to fit screw-head size and a 2 1/2-inch Forstner bit or door hole saw
1. From each of two 6-foot 1x4s, cross-cut two 35 1/4-inch lengths for a total of four front/back legs (A).
2. Rip-cut two 6-foot 1x4s to 2 3/4 inches wide. Cross-cut two 35 1/4-inch lengths from each for a total of four side legs (B).
3. From each of two 6-foot 1x4s, cross-cut one 46 1/2-inch length for bottom rail (E) and one 21 1/4-inch length for bottom stiles (F) for a total of two E and two F. From a 4-foot 1x4, cut two 21 1/4-inch lengths for center supports (F).
4. From remaining 6-foot 1x4, cut two 24-inch lengths for top stiles (D).
5. From 10-foot 1x4, cut two 49 1/2-inch lengths for top rails (C).
6. From 8-foot 1x2, cut two 42 1/2-inch lengths for front/back cleats (G).
7. From 3-foot 1x2, cut two 17-inch lengths for side cleats (H).
8. From remaining 4-foot 1x4, cut one 46 1/2-inch length for back lip (I).
9. From 3/4-inch plywood, cut one 24 x 48-inch piece for top shelf (V) and one 22 1/2 x 46 5/8-inch piece for bottom shelf (W).
10. Pre-drill and countersink all screw holes as indicated in following.
Directions for base assembly:
1. Referring to Figure 1, butt side leg (B) into front/back leg (A) and secure with three screws along length. Repeat with remaining side legs and front/back legs for a total of four leg units.
2. Referring to Figure 2, butt bottom stiles and center supports (F) into bottom rails (E) and secure with two screws through E into ends of each F.
3. Referring to Figure 3, butt top stiles (D) into top rails (C) and secure with two screws through C into ends of each D.
4. Measure 12 inches from bottom of each leg unit and mark. Position bottom of shelf assembly at 12-inch marks and secure with screws to each leg.
5. Position top-frame assembly so top of assembly is 3/4 inch above top of legs and secure with screws.
6. Attach front and back cleats (G) and side cleats (H) to inside of top frame with tops of cleats flush with tops of legs.
7. Position 22 1/2 x 46 5/8-inch piece of 3/4-inch plywood on bottom shelf supports and secure with screws at each corner.
8. Position back lip (I) on top of shelf between back legs and secure with screws.
9. Position 24 x 48-inch piece of 3/4-inch plywood on cleats so top of plywood is flush with top of frame. Secure with screws at each corner.
Shari’s Shelving Unit
The easier of the two projects is an unfinished pine shelving unit
37 1/2 inches wide by 11 1/4 inches deep by 84 1/2 inches high, outfitted in flat drapery panels that can be pulled back to reveal decorative storage boxes covered in coordinating papers and fabrics — or left closed to conceal an unsightly jumble of stuff.
“It’s like creating a little closet, a way to get extra storage for all that junk,” Shari says of the result.
Those who don’t have saws and/or a sewing machine (or just want to save time and effort) can have their boards cut at the lumber yard or home-improvement store, purchase an unfinished wooden shelving unit and/or buy flat drapery panels and adjust the shelving unit’s dimensions accordingly.
Materials for shelving unit:
Materials for drapery panels:
- 1x12 pine: two 8-foot lengths and three 10-foot lengths
- 1x2 pine: one 8-foot length and one 6-foot length
- 1 1/4-inch wood screws
- Table saw with miter gauge or circular saw with edge guide
- Miter saw
- Carpenter’s square
- Drill with bit to fit screws and countersink bit and driver
shelving unit assembly:
- 10 yards woven cotton or
cotton-blend fabric (5 yards for
- Coordinating thread
- 2 yards Velcro
- 2 hook-and-eye assemblies
- 2 large decorative buttons
- Straight pins
- Sewing machine
1. Cross-cut each 8-foot 1x12 to 83 inches long for the sides. Use edge guide or speed square with circular saw to ensure straight cuts.
2. Cross-cut 10-foot 1x12s to seven 36-inch lengths for shelves and two 37 1/2-inch lengths for top and bottom of unit.
3. Cross-cut 1x2s to fourteen 11 1/4-inch lengths for shelf supports.
4. Place 83-inch-long boards side by side with tops and bottoms even. Mark sides for tops of shelf supports as desired.
5. Drill and countersink all holes for screws. Attach shelf supports to sides by driving screws through supports into sides. (“Screwing is a lot better than nailing,” Hiller advises. “With nailing, you always get a little wobble.”)
6. Attach top to sides with screws through top into sides. Attach bottom to sides with screws through bottom into sides.
7. Place shelves on shelf supports. Secure with screws through shelves into supports if desired.
1. Cut two panels and two linings 85 3/4 inches long and 33 1/4 inches wide.
2. Lay out each panel and lining, right sides together, and pin.
3. Sew each panel and lining together, leaving 12 to 18 inches open at top.
4. Clip seam allowances at each corner and turn panels right-side out.
5. Pin seam allowances at each opening into place. Iron panels, taking care to steam seam allowances.
6. Cut two 32-inch strips of Velcro. Pin “soft side” of Velcro just inside top of each panel’s lining side and stitch Velcro’s perimeter, closing opening in the process.
7. Liberally staple other sides of Velcro lengths to top sides and front of shelving unit.
8. Hang panels; hand-stitch overlapping edges together.
9. If desired, fold panels back and mark locations for hook-and-eye assemblies on each side. Stitch assemblies into place, then cover stitching with decorative button on each side.
Matt Fox's Potting Bench