Furniture Upgrades & Building Stuff

Planning And Prepping A Carport Pergola

What carport? This carport. You know, the one that almost kept us from considering this house because we were so anti-carport? My how we’ve changed our tune after spending a few years with it…

Sherry actually mentioned the new tune we’re signing back in this Listy McListerson post: “we originally wanted to convert this into a garage, but now we’re leaning towards adding a trellis arch so it’s all lush and pretty like a carport with a pergola instead of being closed in and dark like a garage (we’d lose some light from two windows into the laundry room and office if we closed it in).”

The lost windows were a big game changer, since we learned that fire codes would require us to close them off. See this guy over our built-in desk? It would be gone-zo along with the window in the laundry room.

We also got over our need for garage storage because our basement and attic have proven more than sufficient. So Operation Garage Conversion has officially become Operation Carport Fancification. Our main tactic? Adding the architectural interest that Sherry described above. In short, taking it from something like this…

…to something like this. Just more real, less Photoshop-tacular. And maybe with some nice greenery running up it.

If that Photoshop job isn’t doing it for you (it’s barely doing it for me) the first image in this article might. It wasn’t until we started hunting for inspiration that I realized attached pergolas are a thing. Some fancy folks even dub them “garage arbors.” So the idea of a carport arbor (a “carbor”?) didn’t seem that far-fetched. But figuring out how to actually build one had me all like…

Then Google led us to Workbench Magazine. Well, specifically this 2008 article on – you guessed it – building an attached garage pergola.

And it wasn’t just any article. It was an article with building plans and diagrams. Glorious, glorious diagrams.

And, as if the pergola heavens were shining down upon us, their plan was just about the exact size of what we needed to do, so we could follow their material and cut list almost to a T. Hallelujah. So I printed out the plans and made myself a date with the Lowe’s rental truck.

After finding the plans, and buying and hauling back all of our materials, we were finally able to get a start building this weekend, and the first step was installing an extra column on the house-side of the carport (since we needed a place for the pergola brace on that side to attach).

We’re currently in the process of rerouting the drainpipe, priming and painting a lot of wood, making our own curved wooden braces, and cutting all of the slats for the top part. So if all goes well, we should have that knocked out by early next week so we’ll be back with a post full o’ details for you guys then. The plans involve some fairly intricate cutting and bracing (at least by my standards) so we’ll have to see how all that goes. Wish us luck!

People ask us how we get the courage to take on larger building projects like this a lot, and our answer is always “break them down into smaller parts so your brain doesn’t explode.” So to demonstrate that, here’s our own broken-out pergola to-do list:

Anyone else out there ever built a pergola? Who thinks HGTV should add Pimp My Carport to their programming? Just me?

Psst- I wrote this for Boston.



A Cheap & Easy Shelf For That Blank Spot Over The TV

Ding dong, the bare spot above the TV is dead.

Remember how it used to look like this for a few years?

And then we graduated to a bigger tv and kept an eye out for the right media cabinet for another year or so.

And then we finally got here with the help of a $59 cabinet that we found at a thrift store…

Whew. So glad it’s NNM (nekkid no more). Don’t mind that power strip on the ground, I’ve since shoved it behind the media cabinet to hide it.

Dang it feels good to be a gangsta have a shelf there.

We actually debated a bunch of options for above the TV (hanging frames/art, something 3D in the “wall decor” category, hanging a ready-made shelf, making one of our own so we could pick the length, depth, and the brackets, etc). The last idea won out thanks to keeping an eye out for anything in any of those categories for the last few years, not finding anything that worked/we loved, and finally taking matters into our own hands and making something that fit the wall perfectly.

The good news? It only took us a few hours and around $20.

As for how we made it, we picked up a 10″ wide poplar board from Home Depot and just cut it to length and supported it with some store-bought brackets, also from Home Depot. Oh and the overall finished shelf length is 56″ since the media cabinet under it is 60″ (we thought that was a nice compatible length).

When it came to the color of the shelf and the brackets, we primed and painted them both white (the brackets were originally silver), just because we didn’t want the shelf to be bold/contrasty (we wanted it to layer into the room like the white frames over the sofa, the white mirror over the desk, etc).

We also decided that putting the brackets on the top of the shelf instead of under it would keep everything on the same plane – instead of having potentially distracting brackets poking out from the bottom of the shelf and encroaching on the TV. It’s totally one of those to-each-his-own things, but we like the brackets up top in here since we have brackets under the shelves in the kitchen (Ikea sells some shelves with brackets on top, so it’s apparently a pretty common thing).

We just didn’t want the shelf itself stealing any attention from any zombies, white walkers, or dignified Brits that we might be watching on the TV below it (feel free to guess what three shows we just referenced). #nerdsforlife

Then we just used heavy duty anchors that were guaranteed to support a lot more weight than we’d ever put on that shelf to secure each of the brackets. We also added some extra strength adhesive to the bracket bases before screwing them into the face of the shelf for added insurance. Many people screw and glue things from above and it holds nice and firmly, so it’s not necessary for the brackets to be under the shelf in order to support it. Let’s just say that at least three Clara’s could theoretically hang on it…

Oh man. Could you lick these flowers, or is that just me? They’re called rhinocerus ranunculus.

I can’t tell you how much better it is to sit on the sofa without having weird “ugh, this wall has been blank for years! Dude GET ON THAT!” thoughts.

Now I can just sit with my feet up and dust my shoulders off, Jay-Z style.

As for what’s living it up on our new shelf, I leaned a few frames that we already had up there (and even used poster putty on the base of them to keep them nice and secure). Inside of them we have:

Of course there are also those pretty fresh flowers that’ll die in a week or two and then I’ll find myself sitting on the couch thinking “ugh, those flowers are dead. Dude GET ON THAT!” – but the good news is that I’m now the proud owner of pretty West Elm paper flowers (more on that here) so those’ll hopefully pick up where the real ones left off.

And then I’ll just get to sit on the sofa and concentrate on the zombies. As it should be.

Oh but before I go, blam:

Can you believe that’s how this wall of the living room looked on the day that we moved in?

Now it’s all “look at me now.”

And speaking of look at me now, if $herdog could rap like Karmin I’d just walk around dropping mics. Seriously, there would be at least ten mic drops a day.

Which might take up a fair amount of time, so maybe it’s for the best that I’m a terrible rapper. Leaves me more time for DIY.

What do you guys have over your TV? A mirror? A plant? A zombie action figure (you know, to complement the real ones on TV)?