I am a lot like Laura Ingalls.
Let me explain.
We used to live in a (relatively) little house in the middle of (relatively) big woods. Now we live on our own very tiny prairie. At least when we moved in it was like a prairie, because it had been empty for two years, and the bank that foreclosed on had never bothered to mow the lawn. This is why people don’t like banks. Anyway, so the grass was four feet tall.
Like a prairie.
And THEN we all got malaria.
We don’t have malaria, but we also don’t have any trees, and, after a decade of living where it was nearly impossible to grow things (well, besides trees) because of the heavy tree cover, I feel almost an obligation to attempt to grow stuff here.
Sadly, we’re not very good at growing stuff (except boys).
But we’re working on it. We’re making slow progress on the garden in the backyard, and now we’re taking advantage of our super bright sunroom with some new plant shelves in the windows.
Dave and I sat and stared at the window for awhile to try to come up with a plan for cat-proof, baby-proof, dog-proof shelves, and the plan we ultimately settled on is really simple (and cheap!)
We knew we couldn’t have anything climbable from the ground. We toyed around with something hanging from above, but finally decided to pretty much just…hang shelves right in front of the window. The two main plant and window-friendly modifications we made (over just sticking some planks on some shelf brackets and calling it a day) were adding a little ledge all around the shelf to keep the pots safe from accidental bumps/rare Georgia earthquakes/etc. (okay, mostly just accidental bumps) and adding pieces of wood to bring the brackets level with the window moldings.
Materials to make two window shelves (obviously you’ll need to adjust the lengths to fit your own windows):
*8 ft 1×6 whitewood plank, cut to size
*8′ fill strip, cut to size (this is what we used to make the ledge around the shelf. Apparently it’s supposed to be used for repairing lattice, but it was exactly the size for what we needed….just a very thin, skinny piece of wood. We found it with the pressure treated lumber (at Home Depot)): you’ll need strips cut to go along the length of each shelf and smaller pieces for the ends.
*1×2 pine board to cut into small pieces to bring the shelf brackets level with the window frames
*pack of 3/4 inch wood screws
*paint or stain
The total cost for all of this at Home Depot was $18.30 (we used paint and wood glue we already had on hand).
Basically what you’re doing here is building a shallow box. Here’s what they’ll look like when you’re finished:
The most important thing to remember is to be precise with your measurements. For example, don’t forget to include the width of shelf sides when you measure the ends, or you’ll have to go back to Home Depot for another fill board:
BLACK+DECKER Lithium Autosense Drill to try out, and this was a perfect project to use it for. The idea is that the drill has an automatic clutch and monitors the torque needed to drive the screw, so that it’s perfectly flush on the first try. How does it KNOW?! I have no idea. Magic?
Anyway, though, this was great for this project, because we were working with really thin pieces of wood for the sides, and too much pressure would easily split the wood. Dave is really excited about the whole torque control thing, because this is how things usually go when I try to use our other drills:
“Gretchen? That sound it’s making? That means you’re doing it wrong! Gretchen? You’re stripping the screw! Gretchen? Maybe I should just do this myself.”
Power tools and I do not always get along. Or at least we didn’t back in the days before
Automagic Autosense technology.
Okay, so first we cut all the wood after carefully measuring:
Then we attached the sides to the 1x6s. Dave clamped all the sides together to pre-drill four holes along each long side. This made me very nervous that they weren’t going to line up right, but it turned out fine.
We cut the 1×2 into pieces just about the same length as the shelf brackets, in hopes that they would just kind of blend in and be unobtrusive.
Then we pre-drilled holes through them and hung them flush with the window frames with deck screws (making sure to leave space for the screws from the shelf brackets to go in next):
And then attached the shelf brackets to these little blocks and screwed the shelves into the bracket tops (after more pre-drilling! Pre-drilling is important for not splitting wood and such, even if you have a fancy drill that knows when to stop the screws):
Then you put plants on them. We’re still working on that part. I bought a bunch of cheap terracotta pots at Home Depot and painted them in various ways: some with white spray paint (umm, should have used primer), some I whitewashed, some I sprayed with Rustoleum “champagne mist.” And I brought out a few of my vintage planters, too, since they’re not going to have a finished master bath to live in anytime soon.
I plan to do mostly herbs in these, but I’ll have to do some research about other stuff that does well indoors and in containers, too. Right now we have basil (it looks very droopy in some of the pictures, but apparently it just wanted water. It’s fine now!), peppermint, and some succulents.
And now for the results of my attempts to get decent pictures of shelves hanging in a bright window:
And, in case you’re wondering how the curtains look pulled over the shelf (you can tell something’s back there, but the curtains are really more functional than aesthetic in here anyway: when we want the room to look its prettiest, we leave them open ;)):
WIN YOUR DRILL HERE!!!!
contest has ended
And now for the part where someone wins a drill! I have a brand new, extremely shiny drill to send to one of you. First go read more about the drill and its features here (like maybe you want a more technical explanation for how it works than “magic”?) and then enter to win by leaving a comment telling me what features you think are the most magical and/or how you’d use the BLACK+DECKER Autosense Drill, and I’ll pick a winner at random. Entries close at midnight on June 30, 2014. ETA: just found out I have to limit this to US residents only, unfortunately! Winner will be notified by e-mail and will have 24 hours to respond with a shipping address.
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