Repurposing a Drop-Side Crib

It was “large item pick-up day” a couple of weeks ago in our city, a monthly garbage collection event that never fails to both fascinate me and fill me with dismay. The stuff that gets hauled out of houses and piled on the curb! On this particular day, I ended up stuck behind a garbage truck that was gobbling up a fuchsia leather sofa, a process that took several chompings before the sofa was finally consumed. I sat there and watched, hoping against hope that the sofa was irretrievably broken or ruined, and that it wasn’t out on the curb simply because its owners were re-decorating and didn’t want the bother of calling Habitat for Humanity (or some other such organization) to arrange a pick-up.

Although our city sends out informational leaflets on garbage collection, explicitly encouraging people to donate usable household items such as chairs, tables and shelves, to organizations such as Goodwill, many people clearly can’t or won’t be bothered. This means that our city is a paradise for those people who make their living fixing and/or repurposing furniture items, as well as for those who simply want or need to set up their home as frugally as possible. While there is a certain something in the rescuing and re-imagining and re-making that really speaks to me (I admit to feeling a powerful urge to stop and poke through curbed items, and I did pick up a library cart (!) last year that I will eventually blog about), the minimalist I-hate-clutter side of me has so far prevented me from giving in to the impulse to stuff the garage with potentiality. For now at least, I’m more interested in using what we already have on hand, like our now-illegal drop-side crib, for example.

I blogged about our crib several months ago, sharing a photo of what became of one of the side rails, and confessing to a somewhat over-the-top sentimentality about our children’s “stuff”. It was my intention, early on in the planning stages of this blog, to dole out these finished pieces one by one, but that seems almost coy now; all the pieces have been completed, and are sitting or hanging in their final locations, just awaiting photographing. So, in the interests of contributing to the repository of useful inspiration that the internet so often is, and linking back to the original tutorial we used, I’d like to show you what we did with the other four pieces of the crib.

This piece sits in a corner of our master bedroom (or, putting that sexist term aside, the owner’s or principal suite):

At night, this bench gets piled with the five decorative pillows which sit on our bed during the day. Prior to making this bench, those pillows would simply get piled in the corner, which I have to admit worked just as well.

This next one sits in our mudroom, and in my mind, I refer to it as the if you build it they will come … NOT … bench:

Because things that don’t line up evenly niggle at me, we also had to build the cubby shelf above the bench. We modified an Ana White plan (http://ana-white.com/2011/07/martina-bath-wall-storage-shelf-hooks) and I initially planned on one cubby per person, for mittens and what-not, and even envisioned (momentarily) making fabric baskets to fit inside the cubbies to keep everything neatly organized. Then I remembered my name is Marian, not Martha. Ah well… It’s hard to tell in the photo, but ALL five cubbies are filled with my husband’s cycling gear; considering what he puts up with, I’m perfectly OK with this.

We built this bench hoping it would be a repository for school backpacks, but I failed to account for the fact that, unlike in our previous house, in which the kids arrived home from school via the attached garage, in this house, they enter through the front door. They dump backpacks and shoes upon entry, and because life is too short to be on them everysingleday to walk the backpacks through the house to the mudroom, there they sit. (We also have a ginormous front door shoe problem that I need to tackle; the backpacks are one thing, but the shoes (the SHOES!) are positively driving me up a creek).

When this logistical flaw became apparent, I was a bit miffed; I figured the bench was going to be largely useless. However, because there’s a law pertaining to horizontal spaces (they will get piled with something, sooner or later) we discovered a use for it when our youngest started hockey last year, at the ripe old age of nine.

A rather verbose aside:

We exist in what many might consider to be mutually exclusive state of being: we’re Canadian, and we’re NOT hockey.

Yes, it actually is possible. And, contrary to what one hockey-crazed Minnesotan once insinuated, Canada does not kick you out of the country if you fail to profess an all-encompassing love for the game; they won’t even do it if your meh is perilously close to actual dislike, which is pretty much where we sit on the sliding scale that measures hockey-ness.

Because we’re not only NOT hockey, but are actually closer to UN-hockey, this meant that we were just a bit bewildered when, shortly after moving here, our youngest asked for a stick and a tennis ball and told Dad to take shots on him in the neighbour’s net which sat (communally) in the cul-de-sac. Truthfully, we hoped it was simply a passing phase.

It wasn’t. Soon, street hockey wasn’t enough: he was asking to play the real thing. On ice. And with a team. Stalling, we told him he couldn’t play hockey until he learned to skate, so we enrolled him in lessons. And all during those Friday evening sessions, he kept gazing wistfully at the other end of the ice, where boys in full hockey gear were being schooled in power skating, wielding sticks and juggling pucks. Succumbing, my husband asked around at work: what to do with a nine year-old kid who has never played hockey on actual ice? When most Real Canadian Kids start at four? His co-workers’ advice? Enrol him in a summer hockey camp. So that’s what we did last summer. We got him padded up with second-hand gear, hoping fervently thinking he might not like it, but alas great news! He loved it, and last October began playing house league hockey.

So this means two things:

  1. The bench has a use! It’s where our son’s humungous hockey bag sits, with all his gear strewn out on top, airing out after practices and games. (Because, oh my! the sweat pouring off these kids when they get off the ice!)
  2. I’ve had to become the thing I never imagined myself becoming: a hockey mom. Considering that I felt we had dodged a bullet when our older son showed no interest in the game, this is quite a feat for me 😉 . (Fact: hockey change-rooms have to be some of the least gezellig places on the planet. And sitting in the stands with rabid NHL-dreaming overly-competitive really, really, really excited parents who eatsleepbreathe hockey … ? Um, yes … this doesn’t quite make my list of gezellig-things-to-do-on-a-Saturday-morning … BUT (!) I do have to admit that as the season wore on, I began to see why our son was loving the game … )

Moving on …

The crib spring is, for now, hanging on the wall in our mud room, and is a message centre of sorts:

So yes … I admit this is a bit strange. When our 16 year-old son saw this he said, OMG Mom, really?! Why … ?! Just why would you … ?

Although I’m normally not one for cutesy decor, I have to say there’s something eclectic and industrial to this vignette that really appeals to me, especially when taken in context with the washer and dryer which sit in the same room. Maybe one day, if we move to another house, it’ll become a trellis for peas, but in the meantime, it functions very well in its role of fridge declutterer, holding the calendar, a birthday calendar, and a small blackboard (I rolled chalkboard paint on the glass of a framed embroidery I was no longer fond of) where I jot notes about when I last watered the plants, chores for the children, and library book due dates. It’s also where I clip school notices and field trip forms. (As it was July when I took the photo, it’s rather emptier than it usually is).

My favourite piece, a small shelving unit, sits in a corner of the dining room:

I think perhaps the top left corner is in focus … clearly, I need to work on my photography skills …

The open spots on the top and middle shelves are where framed photos of the kiddos usually sit (I took them down for the picture because I’m still a bit paranoid about the Big Bad Internet). Because my method of design involves at least six hands holding up sticks of wood, this piece took several months of pondering, and at least two false starts. We were a bit hard-pressed to figure out how to construct the shelves and the front supports in order to remain in keeping with the style of the crib, but I think we managed fairly well in the end.

And to keep the fate of the crib in its entirety all together, here again is the first piece I blogged about, the plant bench which sits in our ensuite:

photo

To wind up, I’d just like to provide encouragement to those people who may look at these projects and think, Ah, but we’re not handy enough to make anything ourselves. It’s actually not that difficult to do small woodworking projects, either from scratch, or by repurposing something you already own. Prior to moving into this fixer-upper four+ years ago my husband and I had done very little DIY work (apart from painting), and it was only my anger at a contractor (you want THAT much money for THAT teensy job?!) that set our handy wheels in motion. Home Depot will gladly cut large sheets of wood into strips for those who don’t have access to a table saw, and while we did buy a mitre saw, a mitre box and a hand saw would have worked just as well. For the actual construction of these pieces, we found a Kreg Jig (an inexpensive tool used to drill pocket holes) to be an invaluable tool.

8 thoughts on “Repurposing a Drop-Side Crib

  1. I love all the ways you decided to incorporate the crib. I think my favorite is the behind the tub plant stand.

    Glad to see you blogging again too! I’d missed you.

    Like

    1. Many thanks, Kate, on both counts 🙂

      (I do hope to pick up the pace with the blog when September rolls around, although I do have to admit I’m enjoying other people’s blogs much more than my own lately!)

      Like

  2. Wow Marian, this is brilliant! I am so impressed at your woodwork skills. In awe in fact. Learning to do stuff like this is on my list, and I think has to be coming soon. Because what I did when I was offered some parts from a similar cot was to use them as makeshift fencing around my allotment, cobbled together with plastic cable ties. Not a thing of beauty, but helpful in my ongoing battle against the marauding badgers.
    It’s astonishing isn’t it how wasteful many of us are. Although where I live we have a thriving Freegle group plus a council waste place where the emphasis is on sorting stuff for reuse and recycling, and only then waste, plus a growing culture where it is socially unacceptable to just throw stuff ‘away’. None of that was achieved overnight, but little by little, over several decades, I have seen it grow to where we were the front runners back in the late 1970s when we had our own home which we could only afford to furnish from other people’s waste stuff (spare bed/sofa made of old door with old mattress on top, fridge found on the street, sink unit found on street, other things donated by family and friends of parents – the usual).
    I am heartened that both my sons and their partners take this as read – well, like many young people they can’t afford to do otherwise, but even so, the whole upcycling trend has become ‘a thing’ when in my young day it was just downright weird and our parents felt sorry for us, not realising that we did that stuff of choice as well as of necessity.
    So – carry on giving your children and your friends and family and blog readers inspiration, and watch as change happens. You just have to accept that often it is at too slow a pace sadly.
    So glad to see that your ‘indecision’ on blogging has resolved – this was worth the wait!
    All the best, Deborah

    Like

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Deborah — they’ve made my morning 🙂

      When I was looking online for inspiration for our crib, I happened across many instances of people using crib parts out in the garden. I think it’s a fantastic use of these items, and were it not for the fact that I am so emotionally tied to our crib, and didn’t want to see it exposed to the elements, I would definitely have considered putting parts of it to use out in our garden (it was actually quite a stretch for me to come up with places INSIDE the house for all five pieces!)

      My husband and I got married quite young, and were both university students at the time, so we too, set up our apartment with cast-offs, my in-laws loaning many of our furnishings from their considerable excess. In fact, our kitchen table is still the one they “loaned us” — 25 years ago! — which speaks volumes about my sometimes painful propensity to “make-do”, something I know my in-laws occasionally sigh about. I am incredibly heartened by the whole up-cycling trend, and I think the internet has played a key role in moving this forward (providing both inspiration, as well as know-how, making it possible for “non-handy” people (like my husband and me!) to feel that they too, can be successful at projects).

      Our small city is very behind the times when it comes to waste management! I have written to them regarding yard waste composting practices, but perhaps a letter about the “large item” pick-up is in order as well. According to a friend of mine, the reason they have it is so people aren’t “stuck” with large items they have no means of getting rid of, and while I can see her point (we don’t really want backyards turning into junkyard-type repositories of stuff people are unable to transport off their property), I do think many people are taking the easy way out.

      Like

      1. I’m finding that ‘indecision’ about getting rid of stuff can often be a bonus, as sometimes inspiration about a new use or place for something old only strikes me after a while.
        However, there’s quite a bit of stuff we’ve hung onto for quite a time in case it was useful for either of the boys that we’ll soon need to get rid of as they both have their own places so that ‘some day’ has now arrived and they don’t want much of it. I’m thinking this is a task for the autumn – new year, new start….

        Like

      2. It’s lovely to put a positive spin on indecision, isn’t it? I suffer rather painfully from indecision and sometimes berate myself for it; it absolutely IS a bonus when indecisive “percolation” results in a newly imagined use for an object 🙂 .

        I too, think of autumn as a new year and a fresh start, and although I’m not looking forward to our daughter leaving again for university, I am rather looking forward to all her stuff going 😉 . She’s going to be moving into a house (in her university city) and will need all the things she took when she lived in a dorm last year (which was brought back and unceremoniously dumped in our basement in May) as well as some additional stuff that I’ve been saving (specifically saved in case any of the kids needed or wanted it when setting out on their own). As our daughter is our eldest, we still have many, many years of stuff going away, and then coming back. I think it must come as somewhat of a relief when the stuff is no longer coming and going, and when you feel you can safely get rid of stuff for once and for all. I know my sister-in-law, although sad about her grown daughter moving out, absolutely LOVED having her take ALL of her stuff!

        Like

  3. I love this, Marian! I’m glad you put the projects all together in one post, too — it makes clear that you’ve practiced the upcycling version of “snout to tail” cooking. That’s inspiring!

    The other thing that I think is really neat is the way that using parts of the crib in different projects automatically give you a consistent aesthetic carried through your house. I mean, I am sure there are other things in your house too of course! But I think that kind of repetition of a theme or stylistic detail can lend a really pleasing quality to a small family home. You’ve found quite a clever way to accomplish that — ah, Dutch efficiency! 😉

    Like

    1. Ah, thanks Sarah! Your “snout to tail” analogy made me laugh — and I AM rather a “snout to tail” kind of person, come to think of it … I’m *totally* a scraper of jars and a user of dregs, so I guess it should come as no surprise that I had to find ways to use the WHOLE crib 🙂

      I hadn’t considered that the crib would bring a consistent aesthetic through the house, but I think you’re correct in this as well. They also fit in really well with the rest of our furniture, which means that the crib pieces, beyond being sentimentally ours, also entirely reflect “us”, if that makes sense — the rest of our furniture has simple lines and (mostly, anyway) leans towards a cottagey feel. (I was going to say it was a “bonus” that the pieces worked so well with what we had already, but if our style wasn’t relaxed and cottagey to begin with, we probably wouldn’t have tried to incorporate pieces such as these).

      Like

This thinker would love to know what you think ... thank you for taking the time to leave a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s