DISCLAIMER: This is a sponsored post brought to you by 3MDIY.com. All opinions are my own.
I must show you something shameful.
It’s this random corner of our outdoor area. It’s right outside the workroom (can’t show you the workroom because that would be like shoving your eyeballs into a bowl full of mashed sweet potatoes…aka pretty gross and very messy) and it has been sorely neglected.
Here is the view from the top of the deck so you get some perspective on the situation. We added some plantings and mulch this year to this back part of the yard and added pavers to the edge (just like we did in the front) but the back patio got zero attention. Less than zero actually. It was like negative seventeen on the attention scale. It actually became the spot we threw stuff that we didn’t want to put anywhere else…like the shop vac that needed draining after it got bleach-washed from being in our main drain, and some of the extra pavers that will eventually finish off the garden beds, and some old cracked pots. (not to be confused with crack pots…totally different thing).
The thing that was driving me the most nuts was this area right here…
I mean…didn’t we just spend a small fortune to have this house painted?! And then to see the mildew growing on the wall was just too much for this hormonal pregnant girl to handle. #nesting
Something had to be done.
Honestly when I went outside, I figured I would be back inside in a matter of minutes…hence the pajama pants.
But then when I got to working, I hollered up to Jeremy that he would be on kid duty the rest of the day…mommy was busy making the house beautiful with a shovel. Not the first time I ever said that line.
First came the clearing out of the mud. I used a flat edge shovel to scrape the mud off the concrete pad.
I also used it to remove about five inches of the soil that was right next to the patio because the water was just flowing from the highest point (the dirt) to the lowest point (the patio) while bringing the mud with it. This area is very moist (we need to do a french drain over here eventually) and ideally the water should stay as far away from the house as possible. If I could keep it dry…well, that would help with the mildew/mold issue that makes me wanna croak a wad. (that’s a thing by the way…not something I just totally made up).
After it was finally cleared, I sprayed it all down with the hose and broomed any stray debris. But there was still the issue with the mold/mildew.
Mr. Clean to the rescue. And yes, I save my old, used dish brushes so that I can use them for gross projects like these.
After a quick scrubbing it looks so much better. I wish it was spring already so that I could pressure wash the floor but I know that would be a total waste of time at this rainy point in the year. I also have to make a mental note to touch up the base of the concrete wall with the house paint. Not in a month because I will probably be too huge to bend over and touch my knees. Will you remember to tell me to do that in late May, early June? Put that on your calendar.
At this point, I was feeling rather pleased with my progress. I had cleaned up the majority of the mess, created a little water escape route for the patio runoff, moved all the pavers, cleaned up the pots that I wanted to keep down in this area, chucked all the old root-filled dirt and dead plants that were in the rest of the pots, broke up the rest of the cracked pots to use as drainage elements for future potting projects and put everything back in it’s place.
Then came the time where I got to decide what to do next. That’s when I remembered a favorite project of mine…the fire pit.
The fire pit was something we actually tackled right about a year ago. Weston was overdue…I dug…Weston was born…Jeremy built the pit. It was pretty epic for us to tackle and finish a project with a newborn. But we did it. I should pat myself on the back for that one. Again.
But one of the problems with the fire pit was that we didn’t have a spot for the firewood.
That’s my thought process when I thought of this little space next to the concrete wall….what a perfect spot for our firewood.
It would be ideal because it would have a concrete base, no wood trim nearby (for termites to jump ship and try to attack our house), it’s well protected, and with the right cover…it could keep the wood high and dry.
The only issue is…it would have to be custom made because the inexpensive ones I found online were all either too big or too small or had reviews that included info like “could bend outward if too much wood was on it” or it wouldn’t support our grate.
What grate you say? This one…
The grate is something that we got from Jeremy’s dad. He also gave us the fire pit metal thingie. We use the grate on top of the pit for special events…like when we have a fire roast and everyone throws a foil wrapped potato on there…or a can of ‘dumpster soup’. It’s come in handy. What isn’t handy is storing it. So my plan was to build a firewood rack and allow the grate to be placed on top…to create a table-top of sorts. Thank goodness I had this 3M post because it was just the kick in the pants I needed. And because I am on a build-it kick and would love to show some wood who is boss.
The first thing I did was map out how big I wanted the actual rack to be. I used Outdoor ScotchBlue tape to mark my lines.
It helped give me a nice visual of how big I really wanted this bad boy. Then my little helper and I measured the tape…it was just at 56″ x 19″. Perfect size to support the grate which is about 60″ x 24″.
Jer ran to the store and got my supplies…I ended up needing only five 2x4x8’s of pressure treated lumber…which at $3.58 a piece came in just under $18.
Shameless copy of the last photo of me using the miter saw…
Let’s pretend that didn’t happen But it did…I miter sawed the heck outta that wood. In pajama pants.
So after I cut all my pieces, I went inside the garage to assemble everything.
Here is my cut list for those of you trying to recreate my eighteen dollah firewood rack…
- 4 – 2×4’s @ 56″
- 6 – 2×4’s @ 16″ (remember that 19″ minus the depth of two 2×4’s is 16″ – crazy math)
- 4 – 2×4’s @ 29″ (I wanted the height to be just at 3 feet, so these four pieces are the upright supports)
I also used other supplies…a drill, some exterior 2.5″ screws, a non slip drop cloth, safety glasses and some clamps. I later used stain and a foam brush so if you didn’t have any screws or the stain, this project could run ya about $12-$15 more depending on your area’s pricing.
(Please excuse the crazy selfie…I have come to realize that it’s incredibly difficult to pull off a good self-focused shot of oneself doing a DIY project.)
Basically at this point, you just screw it all together. In your old work pants. Because the pajama pants are gonna be soaked to the knee.
The top piece is on the bottom in this photo. Basically it’s just two squares with the short pieces on the inside of the long ones. Really simple.
The hardest part is doing these angled screws. I called in Jeremy for this photo because I figured another selfie would be too difficult. After seeing this photo, I may have to reconsider that decision….because dude…really? the bald spot?
After it is all attached together, it should look something like this…
It looks to me like a really sturdy spot for firewood to sit (it will rest on the bottom) and then also a great resting area for the grate to be stored.
I went back and forth on the finish…do we make it match the exterior furniture or match the deck? In the end, I went with the deck because it was less work. The wood required a couple coats of this preservative wood finish (we had it color matched to red oak for an old deck project when we added some decorative supports).
So I whipped out a new R-95 mask (thanks Abby for the mask info!) and opened the garage door to get some more ventilation before covering the entire thing with stain.
After it dried and we filled it with firewood, it is looking just dandy in it’s new home. I love how it’s multi-functional…it holds wood and the grate and creates another spot for me to put things out of the boys reach. Jeremy likes it because it means that he is no longer hauling wood in from the forest, splitting it, and letting it dry inside every time we want to have a bonfire. I think I will order a cheap premade cover that I can sew tighter…or maybe I’ll make one from a tarp and some velcro strips…who knows. The entire thing is SO much better than a pile of broken pots and mud, right?!
And the best part is the fact that I think I kinda impressed Jeremy. My boyfriend usually doesn’t act wowed by any of my projects…in fact, if I get a second glance at anything, it is like I tooted money while flying in a tornado of rainbows (try to imagine that one). But this time, he was definitely a fan of…probably because it involved two of my weaknesses…cleaning and organization.
In fact, he even said “Maybe we could make some cool outdoor art or a giant clock for over it.”
Jaw on the muddy ground.
And then he suggested that tonight that we have a bonfire and roast hotdogs and marshmallows. Seriously. All it took to loosen him up was some time with the boys and a little cleaning/building/firewood storage. Note to self
There are definitely things on the to-do list in this area…namely pressure washing and paint touchup (which you promised to remind me of after LJ arrives) and then also I want to paint that light fixture just like I did with the ones in the front.
Instead of thinking about that right now, let’s just relish in the fact that this little corner of the yard isn’t driving me crazy anymore. It’s just so darn charming. And if I do say so myself, it really finishes off this spot. Like Tom and Renee, you complete me rack. You complete me. Now for the before and afters…
Oh yes. It was worth every penny. And I’m sure that if you didn’t have the grate, then a few 2×4’s cut to length and attached directly on top would be a great way to finish it off too. Either way, it is such a treat knowing that we can have a roaring fire without having Jeremy go on a hike into the woods…never to be seen again…or at least for the next thirty minutes
Thanks 3M for sponsoring this post. It always helps to have someone else give me a deadline on projects…and this one was probably something that I would have pushed to the back burner but I am really thankful to have you crack the whip and help me get this done. My boyfriend and kids thank you too…ya know…cause there are marshmallows involved now.