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pipe shelf project: how we made an industrial modern desk space

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Our 18-month long, unplanned renovation of our little river cottage is nearly complete. I am so excited to start sharing some of the final details with you. One new addition that we are especially happy with is a pipe-and-wood book shelf that Chad built in a little nook by the back deck doors — the area formerly known as our dining room. This is a look that admittedly is crazy trendy at the moment.  Two shops we love, Watson’s Cabinet in Hudson, NJ and Salvage Style in Maplewood, NJ, have pipe shelves that they use to display their lovely wares, and inspired us greatly.

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Here’s Chad’s step-by-step.

1. Plan the space.
First measure the space and spend some time online looking at various designs.  There are a whole lot of ways to build shelves and you might like one style over another style out there. I chose to make the desk area more open by putting the support pipe in the back, closer to the wall.  One link that I found really useful was this one from Beneath My Heart.

2. Buy the parts.
Iron pipe can be purchased at your local Home Depot or Lowes and it comes in a few different diameters.  You can also buy galvanized steel rather than iron, but it costs almost twice as much. Instead, I chose to use 1/2 inch pipe and spray painted it silver to give it a galvanized steel look.

When you are selecting the pieces of pipe, make sure you choose all the same diameter (it comes in 3/4s or 1/2 inch). I also discovered that Lowes sells the pieces individually wrapped in a plastic baggie, while Home Depot sticks the price tag directly on the pipe which was nearly impossible to remove. Go to Lowes to save yourself a step there!

After making sure you have the right diameter, choose the lengths you want.It all depends on how much space you want between your shelves. I chose a 12-inch height.  Under the shelves, the support is made up of an elbow and a tee and 6-inch pipe. If you want deeper shelves, you may need longer length pipes.  I decided to use 12 inch wide pine and stain it.

Here are some links to parts I bought. (Here’s another hit: Save your receipts!)

Floor flange 1/2 inch

90 degree elbows

1/2 tee

12 inch pipe , 1/2 wide

3. Measure them out on the floor.
Once you get all the parts, you’ll want to measure out your plan on the floor. I started by sketching out what a wanted to build on a piece of paper and tried to think of it as a Lego project, making sure I had all the parts that would fit together.

4. Spray paint the parts.
Do this before you put everything together. This is optional, depending on the look you want. I sprayed paint about 2-3 coats on the metal parts.

5. Start attach to the pipes to the wall and floor.
Attaching your first pipe to a wall can be tricky.  You want to make sure that you are screwing the floor flanges into a stud and not just the drywall.  Since I knew exactly where I wanted each support to go, I had to attach a 4-inch wide board to the wall and use it as my anchor for the supports.

Basically, the board is drilled to the studs and now I can put the supports anywhere I want on the board. Make sure it is level.

6. Prepare to add the wood shelves.
Put on a pair of gloves because little threads from the end of the pipes can cut your fingers when you are screwing them together. When you place the first pieces down, it’s important to use a level and long shelf board to make sure its level both left to right and back to front. If the first  pieces are not level, your whole shelf unit will be wonky. You can tighten or loosen the parts, but don’t depend on that. If your floor is uneven, you may need to put something under the footers to balance.

7. Final touches
I coated the desk and shelves with Polyurethane before putting them together.

When you are ready to apply the shelves, be mindful of where you place them on the pipe.  Measure them first, and carefully drill holes where you want the vertical pipes to pass through. Be mindful of where you want to shelves to rest on the 90 degree elbow supports.

 

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See more of our cottage renovation, here, including a slab-wood counter top for the kitchen, and how we chose our exterior paint color.

From our partners

the deal on farmigo: how this online farmer’s market is improving our meals and school

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A few weeks ago one of our friends and fellow elementary school mom had the idea to bring Farmigo to our community. The concept is simple. Order fresh farm goods online through the easy-to-use site, pick up your edibles once a week at her house, and a portion of the sale gets donated to our local school. In the first week, we raised over $600.

Clicking through Farmigo you can find all the staples you need: bread, eggs, milk, meat, and of course, fresh veggies and fruit. Start browsing around and before you know it you are adding things to your basket that whet your appetite and inspire the chef in you. The first week, I admit went a little order-happy and bought more stuff than we could finish off in a week, but now I seem to be in a groove. I found the key is use Farmigo to supplement the trips we take the main supermarket, and the treat is discovering ready-made short cuts that make getting a healthy dinner on the table during the week super simple. We currently have fresh ramp-ravioli and spinach pesto in the fridge.  Today, I’m going to bring a cup of bone broth with me to work as part of my low-cal lunch. And, I can’t wait to eat our fiddlehead ferns! The plan is just to keep them simple, with a light saute of butter and lemon juice.

Benzi Ronen, founder and CEO of Farmigo, told Forbes this week that he thinks his start up will kill the supermarket. I don’t know if I agree with that. The physical act of hand selecting your food with your eyes and hands and nose should never be fully replaced with online ordering. It’s skill set and social ritual that is too crucial to our civilized lives. But if you have a hard time making it to the weekly farmer’s market, and consider buying locally sourced food a priority for you, Farmigo is a no-brainer. The fact that it helps our school with additional funds is only a bonus. We’ll be using the money, in part, to start a vegetable learning garden at our school. How cool is that?

Learn more about Farmigo here. And if you’re already using it, tell us what’s in your basket!

From our partners

real life test kitchen: a green smoothie that tastes good

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When it comes to smoothies, I like the ones that remind me of milk shakes: preferably ones that have some peanut butter, banana, and perhaps some chocolate, tossed in. I’ve never been a fan of make-at-home green smoothies, mostly because the ingredients aren’t things I have handy. Enter this delicious whipped number I discovered at Bon Appetit. It’s a kale-banana-peanut-butter smoothie, and it couldn’t be more delicious or good-for-me. You simply mix almond milk, a banana, two tablespoon’s of peanut butter, a cup of chopped kale, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a few ice cubes in the blender. Voila, a yummy breakfast that will power me until 1pm, no problem. I do suggest brushing your teeth immediately afterwards, however. Those pesky little pieces of kale can be quite persistent! Click here for the full recipe at BonAppetite.com.

From our partners

cottage renovation: choosing a paint color

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As fall’s rainy months kick in, we are in a race to finish the exterior on our river cottage renovation. After removing the old and worn stucco, replacing the sill beam, raising the house and digging a french drain, we were ready to chose the siding. We had a great deal of debate about whether to go the least inexpensive route (vinyl) or the most expensive (a concrete composite, like Hardy board). In the end we went with cedar planks, which are classic and strong. Another feature to the cedar planks, which could be a pro or con depending on how decisive you are, is that they are primed and ready for the paint color of your choice.

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Though our house was originally butter yellow, we knew we wanted to paint the renovated version a dark color — something that would help it meld into its surroundings but also not be drab.

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We zeroed on grey blue hues and started testing out strips of the cedar board. It is unbelievable how different the colors all looked in the bright sunlight compared to the color strip from the store. Our first choice, Benjamin Moore’s Oxford Blue turned out to be much too bright and light. So we opted for Evening Dove. You can see from the photos below how different it looks depending on the time of the day and sunlight position. I love it!

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Another big debate we had was how much of the trim to leave white. At first we left the top and side board trim white but realized it made the house look too cutesy and rather small. In the end, we painted everything — even the gutters — the dark blue color, which really makes the white window trim pop.

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Next up: Picking a bright color for the front door. We want something really bold and modern. Chartreuse? Sunshine yellow? Classic red? Let us know your suggestions!

From our partners

real life test kitchen: homemade gummy candies

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The other night we were at a friend’s house for dinner, and the two-six year-olds decided to “make” some candy. The patient mom allowed them to pour some sugar in a bowl, toss in some honey, a few drops of fruit juice and a pinch of cinnamon. They heated it on the stove until it was gooey mess, spread it out on a piece of parchment paper and stuck it in the fridge. About an hour later it was thick enough that they could roll into a ball and pop it into their mouths. Without a doubt, this was one of the happiest moments of Isadora’s life thus far. A big light bulb went off in her head. You can make candy!

Her new discovered passion bubbling, the next day we looked up candy recipes. Many of them call for thermometers and double boilers, so they were off the list. Then we spotted this one for gummys at Goodie Goodie. Brightly colored squares of goodness that barely required anything special. The only thing we had to buy was some unflavored gelatin and flavored extract. Luckily, we had a few silicone ice-cube trays that worked nicely as the molds. I sprayed them with a non-stick spray first, which helped when it came time to wiggle them out the next day. The hardest part of this recipe? Waiting! You have to leave the gummys in the fridge overnight to solidify.

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Homemade Gummy candies – adapted from Goodie Goodie who has many gorgeous photos of the process.

What You Need:

4 Tbsp gelatin (get two boxes)
1 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups boiling water
4 cups sugar
1/4 tsp flavored extract – we used orange, lemon and peppermint
1-2 drops food coloring
sugar for coating

How To Make:

1. In a large pot, soften gelatin in cold water for about five minutes. Meanwhile, but the kettle on to boil water.
2. Stir in the boiling water until gelatin dissolves. Add sugar.
3. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 25 minutes. Stir constantly.
4. Divide evenly into bowls, one for each flavor and color you want to use. I used three.
5. Add 1/4 tsp extract and 1-2 drops food color to each bowl. Stir to combine.
6. Pour into spray-coated pans, cover with plastic wrap. Chill overnight in the fridge.
7. The next day, remove gelatin cubes from trays. I did them one at time and it took a bit of wrestling, but they all came out perfectly. If you’re not using a cube tray, cut gelatin mixture into 3/4 inch cubes using a knife dipped in hot water.
8. Roll cubes in sugar and let them sit at room temperature for a day or two to crystallize.
9. Store in an airtight container.

Isadora was so proud of her homemade gummys that she brought them to school as a snack. We actually ended up cutting the cubes in half because no one really wanted to eat a big cube. They are lovely, super sweet, and very chewy.

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