I did a favor for a friend who had just purchased a Hair Salon. The purchase left her capital depleted and rather than inviting new clients in, her new digs conveyed more of an antiseptic waiting room vibe.
So I combed the basement and garage for trash to turn into treasure. My solutions had to fit a $200 budget and work with some existing pieces that I would not have picked. The resulting design played a big part in launching her business! As we all know it’s not necessarily, about what you spend that impresses. Design can be about the imaginative process that fuels creation and a willingness to see lemons as lemonade.
I thought I might share one of the projects from this DIY success story, pictured above. It was fun to make and this particular piece generated a number of queries from her clients who asked how they could purchase one. In all honesty, it was not really finished – it was meant to have a cantilevered floating shelf, that would be left in the natural maple finish and wrap around the base to conjoin to the two work stations to the left and right of the wall art. This additional would tie the light maple laminate surface of the work stations to the white wall art and create visual flow and interest on that blank wall (painted with Benjamin Moore Nantucket Blue).
But my friend loved it as is, and in the interest of time (getting clients in those seats to replenish cash flow) she leaned rather than mounted it on the wall. I felt unrequited by the design compromise but after all, it’s about her salon, that she will spend 8 hours a day inhabiting.
Sadly, I did not take process pictures. I had a $200, 2 inexperienced helpers, and 2 days to reinvent the wheel – so I beg your indulgence in sharing some Google Sketch up images I created instead.
As I assembled my reclaimed materials, I felt like a kid making a tree house. And yes, I thought of the “White Room” in every season of HGTV’s Design Star…
I scavenged left over maple veneer finishing tape, a left over piece of maple plywood (you can often find a good left over piece at the cutting area in Lowe’s or Home Depot), a quart of white enamel latex paint I had on hand, white shower calk, 3 small melamine floating shelves I had meant to use in the kid’s bathroom and 3 birds nests – yes; birds nests. For $3 I bought some grape vines at the grocery florists to finish the look.
Lay your Plywood sheet out across two saw horses. The piece I used was about 18″ x 5′, but it was intended to have a cantilevered shelf wrap around the lower aspect of the base. I have shown this step in even numbers for the sake of demonstration.
Measure and mark off your plywood piece. The piece above has 10″ areas marked off as shelves centered on a 2′ x 4′ piece of plywood. In practice, lay out your floating shelves on the plywood piece, and trace them; then tape the outside of the drawn square with blue tape; this will avoid shredding the veneer surface with the saw.
You are going to cut inside the traced line, trying to leave the drawn line untouched by the saw blade. The floating shelves can easily be made of 4 equal pieces and screwed together, but I had an inexpensive pre-made set from Lowe’s on hand. Drill large pilot holes near the inside of the 4 corners (as shown above); needn’t be perfect, but DON’T drill across your guide lines!
Now, take your jig saw, preferably one with a laser (these are not expensive as power tools go) and use your pilot holes as a place to begin cutting. Wear safety glasses, and don’t turn the blade as you cut!
- First step should look as above.
Now take your floating shelves, and put them through the holes. It should be a very tight but do-able fit. You may need to take a rubber hammer and tap them in gently on all sides. If you don’t have a rubber hammer, place a spare piece of plywood or thickly folded cardboard between the hammer and the area you are tapping down to avoid denting the floater shelves.
The completion of Step 3 should look as above.
Squeeze out a line of white calk all around the joint on the finished side of your shelf, and run your finger down the seam to make sure it penetrates the seam and is flat. My unit is finished on both sides, but no one sees the back…
Now heat your iron and get out the adhesive backed 3/4″ veneer tape (shown to the right of your iron in the tools image above). You are going to position the tape with the adhesive side against the unfinished depth aspect of the plywood, and iron it with your iron on the hottest setting; make sure it’s straight! Iron along the sides – yes, it’s that easy!
Now, if you wish, it’s time to pain the shelf. Use a tack cloth or damp smooth cloth to clean any dust of the surface first. You can also use water-based polyurethane to seal it, which comes in quart cans and does not require ventilation, like oil-based poly or varnish.
Two steps to go! This is the messy part…I wanted a more contemporary look, as though the nests were white and plastic coated, like some of those fabulous Areaware bowls made of plastic soldiers. I used white latex paint, but in retrospect Gesso would have been preferable.
Open a gallon of white latex paint. Pour one-third of the can into a paint pan and set aside.
For interest, I angled mine at 45 degrees. You can do this easily with professional results, using a pocket drill guide, available at most home supply stores, like Lowe’s, Home Depot, or Ace Hardware to name a few.
- Saw-your-own plywood furniture (makezine.com)
- Courtney & Trevor’s Playfully Sophisticated Pad House Tour (apartmenttherapy.com)
- 28 Innovative Plywood Creations – From Plywood Bicycles to Cockpit Cubicles (CLUSTER) (trendhunter.com)
- DIY Repairs: Uneven Paint Job, Reupholstery, & RenovationGood Questions Roundup (apartmenttherapy.com)