Ronin Recycles? Heck YEAH!

20 Jul

Many of you  know that I’ve spent the last few weeks in the fields, chasing TV cameras away as we load trucks with hay headed for fire victims in Colorado.

While it’s a “good deed” in the traditional sense, like many other things we do here, it’s just “part of the cosmic balance”…

I suppose that I’m secretly hoping that when I get up there in front of the big guy… he actually mentions a few “good days” I had, before he starts on that litany of “bad days” I wandered into… 😉

So, while I’m grateful to my crew for helping out with posts, they’re really making a big deal about nothing. We HAVE to help. It’s what we do.

While  I (Yeah, like I’m doing this all alone… my entire CREW) was toiling and boiling (it goes from almost a hundred degrees here, to balmy thunderstorms, seemingly in the blink of an eye)…

I started getting barraged by requests for ideas about FINISHING the interiors of ISBU homes. On a budget. As in, “El Cheapo por favor”.

“Oh sure, Ronin, you can build a box for cheap. But, then it’s hard as heck to get it finished out inside. And, it’s because you have a CHEAP BOX! Are you nuts?”

Okay, you “wisenheimers”… Like any other Homebuilding task… Building your own ISBU home DOES take creativity. If you’re not up to the challenge, you should probably stick to trying to stay inside the lines when you color with your kids.

That said… I have to laugh, because first… I ain’t no decorator.

Second, I use stuff I find and then repurpose it, about 75% of the time.

Third, I build in as much furniture as I possibly can, for several reasons;

  1. Built in furniture means that the stuff doesn’t get dragged “hither and yon” scratching up the floor.
  2. Built in furniture doesn’t come with a “Honey, let’s rearrange the living room” requests when I’m trying to hide in my shop.
  3. Built in furniture doesn’t come with huge price tags. It’s BUILT IN. As in… “I BUILD IT”… usually from scraps and reclaimed “coolness”.

To change it up, all one needs do is change the foam padding and the pad covers.

And since  I don’t sew (after years of mending sails, I refuse to even ponder the prospect of that) I don’t have to do it! 🙂

However, my better half reminds me constantly that I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed… um wait… that’s not it… (Well, technically it IS, but I’m never going to admit it out loud… wait… um… DOH! I just did! ARGH!)…

It’s easy to find inspiration for cool furnishing projects that are possible using a little bit of thrift, common sense and ingenuity.

I went out on the web a few minutes ago and found several that I think have merit, just to get you started;

Build it out of scrap plywood. Set it on a cheap storage pedestal (we find them at Goodwill and a few thrift stores all the time) and you have a sturdy storage bed that will last for years. And since YOU built it, you can fix it.

The same technique can be used in living rooms or family rooms to build sectional seating. Just use foam pads instead of mattresses and cover them with fabric. The beauty here is that in a pinch, you have extra sleeping area on the cheap, for when you find yourself headed to the “Doghouse”… Am I right? 🙂

“Don’t hate me cuz’ I’m beautiful… Hate me because I’m easy to build and hence, in demand.”

If your better half finds out how easy this chair is to actually build, you’ll be slaving away in your shop for weeks.  You can build these in a weekend. And, you can do is using scraps of lumber left over from other jobs. Since they’re “straight”, they’ll peacefully co-exist with just about everything in your room. Don’t like wood? Paint ’em.

Bored with the fabrics and textures that you’re seeing at the local fabric shop? Cannibalize some old T-Shirts that you’ve been saving since the 70’s. I’m gonna do that, if only just to justify dragging them around for decades. MY wife says I’m a “Packrat”. ME! What the heck? 🙂

This is gonna be worth a whole bundle of “See? I told you so’s…” when I pull them out and then turn them into stylish furniture dresses… on the cheap. ‘Course, somebody’s gonna have to SEW them… Mumble, grumble, Snort…

You can find cool old T-shirts at thrift stores. Converting them to cushion covers is pretty simple. That means that you can change out the look of your rooms whenever your insane wife demands… um… whenever your lovely wife thinks it’s a good idea.  want. AND, it won’t hurt your wallet.

Me? When that topic comes up, I’m just gonna fling a whole pile of old t-shirts at her and run like the devil was chasing me…

Rooms need lighting. We all have lamps stuffed in the garage that we either hate, or that need repairs. So, why not wander out into the back 40 and find some “local coolness” to add character to our homes, on the cheap. This is REALLY easy, folks.

You don’t have to pay the kinds of prices listed in some of these high fashion catalogs or glamor sites… YOU can do this inexpensively. AND, it’ll add some local charm to your abode.

Let’s face it, once the roof is on, the biggest headache is getting your family to live there happily. Pay attention to the little details. They go a long way toward contributing to happiness. SIMPLE little “charm points” can brighten a day and make you smile.

Cool idea, but stone is a tad hard to work with. Use cool pieces of weathered wood to make wall plates. They’ll just reinforce that “This is MY home” vibe you’ve worked so hard to create. I know it sounds trivial, but trust me when I tell you that it’s those small details that people will talk about.

Use your creativity to bring the outdoors in…  I’ve actually built door hardware using rocks, bone and wood to add a “natural vibe” to the interior of ISBU homes. This guys doing the same thing, but he’s getting high dollars. You CAN do this affordably, trust me on this.


You just have to think it through and then sweat over it a while. I know it’s true, because some of my “betters” are constantly reminding me that I’m neglecting my garden. So… guess where I’m headed… as soon as I find those danged gloves… ?

(If any of you out there are recycling WEEDS, I gotta ton of them in my Winter beds you can have. All you gotta do is come pull… um… get em… LOL!)

 This post is brought to you by the letter “W” (as in Wall Street Journal) and the color ISBU BLUE!

Image credits included in posted images.

Blame ME for the rest of this.

I’ll be the one in the garden, cursing under my breath…:)

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2 Responses to “Ronin Recycles? Heck YEAH!”

  1. William Shepherd July 21, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

    Another option for those who do not want the built in method is to re-purpose free materials. I use shipping pallets for a free source of materials. I have built a modular sofa and patio bench so far. I am currently saving and finishing pallet wood to do all of my kitchen cabinets with. You can find all kinds of wood used in pallet making. I have mostly pine, but i have also come across oak, walnut and even cherry! All used in making pallets. It kills me that something that is considered disposable contains such nice and expensive wood. I hope that this helps others out there. Just do a Google search for “Pallet furniture”. You will be amazed.

    • Renaissance Ronin July 22, 2012 at 10:48 am #

      We talk about using pallets a lot here on RR. The real problem with the concept of using pallets is that most of the ones we find in the US are of really poor quality pine wood that isn’t fit for kindling, much less cabinet making…

      In Europe, it’s another matter entirely. I’ve seen pallets there that are made from furniture grade lumber, on a regular basis. 😦

      We preach the “Three R’s” – “reuse, recycling and repurposing” here, so if you’re lucky enough to find GOOD pallets to cannibalize, by all means, have at it. ANY wood you reclaim is wood you don’t have to buy. Plus, you’re doing your part to help keep things clean and efficient. I’m pretty sure that “Ma Nature” likes that! LOL!

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