a reclaimed journey

TLB 1A Reclaimed Journey – Building Our Home With Recycled Materials

By Emory Ann Kurysh

When the idea to build our home first came to light, the goal was to make it look like a heritage barn conversion, primarily built from reclaimed materials. The benefits in doing so were vast and varied, not the least of which involved embracing our own creativity and challenging ourselves in the implementation of the design ideas.

Part of our motivation was driven by the knowledge that salvaging building materials cuts down on landfill waste and is environmentally impactful. Another factor is that the cost of recycled materials generally runs much lower than their newer counterparts, and reclaimed materials instantly add a sense of character that can’t easily be accomplished in new constructions. 

Ours was not a journey of how a completely recycled home came to be, but rather a lesson learned on the reality of using secondhand building materials.

The Big Picture

In planning our home, the most dominant design feature was to make use of reclaimed barn wood siding. But early into our build this became apparently difficult.

The first issue we ran into was that the lengths of the reclaimed boards were not long enough to run either horizontally or vertically without showing significant breaks. The second issue lay within the condition of the wood itself. It was extremely weathered, which was our initial draw to it, but would require significant work to prevent further deterioration to use it on the exterior of the home. The fear being that over time it would be exposed to issues such as accelerated rot, infestation and warping.

So we had to create a new strategy to get us the look we envisioned, but with a new durable material.

The decision was reached to use untreated rough-cut pine in place of the barn wood. Although it wasn’t originally in the plan and budget, this decision turned out to be the most aesthetically pleasing and soundest option.

Taking it Inside

The theme of recycled wood continued within the interior of the home. The handrail for the staircase was also to be constructed of barn wood. All of the balusters, guardrails, and posts were to be fabricated from pine, running horizontally. When we installed the staircase, we learned that it is against building code standards as the guardrail was deemed to be ‘climbable’. So yet another major design plan was discarded. The solution involved raw materials in the form of large, rough-cut beams and rebar. Again, this major alteration increased the budget. However, it provided a more stable handrail that was wholly unique and justly fitting for the overall look.

The ceiling was the third and final compromise in the use of reclaimed materials. The plan was for recycled metal roofing to be hung instead of drywall to reinforce the heritage barn concept. It would have saved on time, future maintenance and cost.

After conducting an extensive and unsuccessful search for a large quantity of reclaimed metal, the idea was scrapped.

It turned out this was for the best. Research later revealed that a metal ceiling would more than likely have created poor acoustics and could have affected resale value. It was ultimately the contractor’s suggestion to install a tongue and groove ceiling. A pine ceiling would not only be a quicker install than drywall, the wood would add strength and would be visually much more appealing.

Vintage Lighting

To stay true to the original design we were able to source vintage lighting for the exterior of the home. Five large, gooseneck, gas station lights were purchased from an online retail store dedicated to selling refurbished lighting. We found this to be more fitting than using modern fixtures. We liked that they would be unique to the home and that it would cut down on landfill waste.

Repurposing the Reclaimed

Rather than being used for its intended purpose, the barn wood that was gathered was eventually used in numerous projects around the home. The majority of the wood was repurposed for various storage solutions.

The reclaimed fir and other recycled wood was cut down and hung in every closet and pantry, and in the bathroom and bedroom as shelving. Various pieces of furniture were constructed out of the antique pine and fir. Two dog beds were custom-made from old pallets and casters. In some rooms, long pieces of shiplap were used as the trim.

The Journey

As first-time homebuilders, we understood going into this project that many of the design plans would either be modified in some way or altogether scrapped. Rather than using mostly reclaimed materials on the exterior and within the house, the end result was an amalgamation of new and raw materials.

We found the best impact in using recycled materials came from using these materials within the interior decoration of the home. Having these details within every room unquestionably added the character we were looking for in our new construction.

We achieved our one-of-a-kind heritage barn-inspired home by blending new with wonderful reclaimed and recycled materials which allowed for a quicker build, and a more solid house. While we learned a number of lessons along the way, the challenge we presented ourselves with at the onset of the project pushed us to look at every aspect of the building process to see how we could make an environmental impact.

TLB 2To read the article in its entirety, or to see more from the summer issue of Saskatoon HOME Magazine, please click here.

<3

Emory

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tlb: our tongue and groove tale

Tongue And Groove Ceiling 4Eight months ago, when we were planning the design for The Little Barn, we apparently made the decision to have a tongue and groove pine ceiling installed. For some reason, this important detail somehow slipped my mind.

Tongue And Groove CeilingThe foundation went in, the walls went up, the installation and drywall were next, and finally it was time for the ceiling. Around the same time, I was at the house with our contractors trying to pick out flooring. I mentioned that I wanted dark flooring since the walls and the ceiling colour were going to be white. Our contractor proceeded to ask me if I was planning on staining the ceiling white? I asked him if he meant paint instead of stain? He replied that he meant stain, since we’re getting a pine ceiling. I was now very confused. I asked him since when were we putting wood instead of drywall up there? He reminded that it was always the plan, and that I had said that I wanted a ceiling similar to the one in my mum’s barn. At that point I knew that he was telling the truth, since it completely sounded like something that I would say. I just didn’t understand how I wouldn’t remember such a momentous detail. Is that not weird?

Tongue And Groove Ceiling 1This was not the only time that I had forgotten our house building plans while building our home. Some days I was just so tired from working, trying to cope with Holly’s health problems, and starting up my store, that I had no energy left for making decisions about our home. I would either just blurt out the first idea that came to my mind, or tell our contractor to surprise us. When I later asked how they were able to get the ceiling stained that particular colour, they said, “you don’t want to know.”

Tongue And Groove Ceiling 2I probably went about this home construction thing a lot more relaxed than most people would, but hey, to each their own.  

Tongue And Groove Ceiling 5In the end, everything turned out beautifully. Especially our ceiling.

<3

Emory

P.S. Only one more week until the final house tour of The Little Barn!

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make this: wood pallet dog bed

PalletDogBed5.jpgOne of my most popular DIY posts to date has to be a tutorial for a Burlap Dog Bed. Published almost eleven months ago to the day, this post continues to bring in dozens of visitors every week, from varying parts of the world. While I’m not sure if anyone has gone on to make a potato sack bed for their pet, I still consider the post a success based on stats alone.

I prefer not to talk incessantly about our animals, in fear that I will sound like a crazy lady who thinks that her fur babies are just the most special things to have ever walked the earth, but I do love them like mad. I also think that I love them the appropriate amount because I can definitely see their faults and know that they aren’t perfect. Far from it. However, if I have a few extra dollars or a few extra hours, my first thought is how can I spend it to make their lives better? See this Bicycle Trailer tutorial.

PalletDogBed12I have seen pallet dog beds on the internet before and I have always wanted one of my own. Well, for my dogs. I absolutely loved the look of them, and knew that they would fit in perfectly with our decor. About five months ago, I found someone online who claimed to make them for a ridiculously low price and who only lived about an hour away from us. After contacting her, we set up a future date and time to meet so that I could purchase one from her. Long story short, she completely fell off the face of the earth, deleting her photos, add, and even her email address. I think that it was a scam, since “her” photos were actually popular photos that can be found all over Pinterest. Thank goodness I didn’t pay her in advance!

Since that happened, I knew that our next pallet dog bed experience would be courtesy à la Kurysh. Do you what? The result was a success! I just know that yours will turn out perfectly as well. :-)))

PalletDogBed4Here is what you will need:

2 pallets
circular saw
drill
screws
tape measure
bar clamp

4 casters
stain
brushes
cushion

Steps:

PalletDogBed3The base.

1. Lay the first pallet down. Choose the one in the best shape. We’ll call it Pallet #1. Take its measurements, and decide what size you would like your bed to be. You may also do this before you start, either way will work!

2. Once you’ve decided on your measurements, you may need to cut Pallet #1. Try to salvage the excess wood if you decide to alter its size. 

PalletDogBed11The sides.

3. There are two ways that you can attach the sides to the bed. The first (a) is the easiest way. The second (b) is the way that we chose to make it.

(a) Measure the base length and width of Pallet #1. Using Pallet #2 and the saw, remove three of its boards. Now cut two of the boards to the width of the base, and one to the length of the base of Pallet #1. Once the sides are cut, using the drill and screws, attach them to Pallet #1 so that it looks as if the bed has a head board, side board, and foot board.  

PalletDogBed10(b) Measure the base length and width of Pallet #1. Using Pallet #2 and the saw, remove three of its boards. Now cut two of the boards to the width of the base, and one to the length of the base of Pallet #1. Remove also the four wood blocks that separate the top deckboard from the bottom deckboard on Pallet #2. You will need these to attach the sides to Pallet #1. Now screw the four blocks onto the four corners of Pallet #1. Once you have completed that, attach the sides by screwing them into the blocks.

PalletDogBed6The casters.

4. Turn the nearly completed Pallet #1 over. Mark a 2″ gap from the top and side of every corner. Screw one caster into each corner, just below the markings. Flip the pallet back over once they are secure.

PalletDogBed2Finishing touches.

5. Sanding the pallet is one of the most important steps in constructing a dog bed. There’s a good chance that these have been left outside to be at the mercy of all of the elements, bugs, dirt, and who knows what else? A light to moderate sanding will get rid of the pallet’s top layer of grime, while keeping the uniqueness of the stamps and other markings intact. 

PalletDogBed136. Once the bed has been sanded, stain it to your colour of choice. Or if you want to keep it natural looking, choose a clear coat of Varathane.

7. Depending on the size of the pallet, you may either be able to buy a fiber-filled dog bed that will fit the pallet dog bed perfectly, or you will have to buy a foam mattress and cut it to size. May I suggest covering the foam with burlap?

8. The last step is to grab your furry loved one and let them try out the bed for size! I already know that you will love it, so they are the last (and hardest) critics to please. Fingers and paws crossed!

<3

Emory

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in september.

Leaf.jpgIs anyone else on the same page with me when I say that each month just seems to fly by? As I predicted in August, September was a very hectic month for me. Let’s recap what exactly happened:

PTPI revealed to you guys that I was starting up my own vintage, handmade, and clothing store. With only a few days from the grand opening, I am still hurriedly trying to get last minute details together.

1.jpgThis month I introduced you to one new, one recycled, and one recipe from a lovely guest blogger. The theme this month was apparently sweet treats, but would you really expect anything else during the end of a long, hot summer?

11.jpgWe went on a small road trip where I visited my first antique mall. I bought many amazing vintage items, most of which are now available in my store. We also took Holly and Truman along with us, and made it a proper family vacation. :-)

DSC_0667I reviewed yet another dream cabin of mine, and showed you my inspiration for our mudroom and living room.

10.jpgI finally revealed the progress of The Little Barn, which admittedly was long overdue. It’s by far my favourite (and only) house we’ve ever built.

tom-hardy-with-pup-on-new-film-animal-rescue-1I reviewed a hit song and offered another version of it, an incredibly good movie starring Tom Hardy, and most recently, this film.

4.jpgI discussed what it was really like living on an acreage, and then scheduled a photo shoot with our pet family in the countryside.

9.jpgWe also had a flower-inspired shoot here.

5.jpgLast, but not least, this was my latest, and one of my cutest, DIY posts.

1.jpgSee you in October!

<3

Emory

  • Welcome, friends! My name is Emory. I am a wife and mother to three (two on earth and one in heaven). This is our life on the Canadian prairies.
    email: helloscarlettblog@outlook.com

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