Tag Archives: furniture

Build here… ship there. Live large.

11 Dec

People ask how we get all that stuff into ISBUs when we’re building cabins and homes destined for “places out and away”…

Here’s an example of HOW you can fill a box that rocks;

Pretty cool, huh?

Recycled Respites

13 May

Here on RR, we talk a LOT about using “found” materials.

This leads to an email folder full of hate mail from irate housing pros (who also whine that we’re “UnAmerican” for “stealing jobs from them”), who claim that we’re teaching you to use garbage to build structure.

Bull. We’ve NEVER advised anyone to use “junk” to build with. We don’t teach people to build “hovels”. We teach them to build, strong,  sustainable, AFFORDABLE homes.

What we HAVE advised you to do is to find innovative ways to use materials (within specification and purpose, of course) to lower your building or even (gasp!) furnishing costs.

These same guys will tell you that you can’t really build “anything” for under $150 a square foot.

We usually suggest that they double up on their meds and read more. Maybe they’ll learn something.

Do we collect and use materials like “scrap” rigid insulation in our builds? You bet.

“Rigid” performs extremely well. You can find it in dumpsters at commercial build sites all the time. Ask a contractor or “yard  boss” and they may just let you haul it off. It gets that bulky stuff out of their dumpster so that they have room for more garbage. We see it on Craigslist and Freecycle, all the time. Is using it “labor intensive”? YES. You take large, cast off scrap pieces of foam and then piece them together like a jigsaw puzzle. It takes some forethought to get it right.  But, it costs you SWEAT instead of cash. The benefit is that you get a high performance insulation package out of the deal.

But you can find gems in (actually UNDER) the stuff that gets delivered to your building site as well;

palletbedThis is a bed that you could build in a few hours, tops.

Some thoughts;

  1. Sand the pallets (edges) to make them less prone to snagging your sheets or shins.
  2. Nail pallets together to keep them from moving once you’ve established your “pattern”.
  3. Use recycled LED Christmas Tree lights to illuminate under the bed. Low power and low heat.
  4. Remember that beds aren’t just for “sleeping”. If you’re in a relationship (or you are building this for a child)  consider putting a box springs under the mattress, to help “fortify” the bed system.

And then, have fun with it. While your neighbors are spending boatloads on high priced furnishings, you’ll have cash left over for “family nights”. 🙂

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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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Officer, I swear, it’s not a body…

1 Oct

Has anybody else seen this?

Recently, I had a conversation with a guy I ‘m helping build a “tiny house” out of (1) 20′ High Cube ISBU.

And his dilemma was that he wanted to work from home, as a tech support guy, via the internet.

Let’s face it, when you’re living in a space measuring 8′ x 20’ with about 8’6″ of usable maximum ceiling, you have to be pretty careful about WHAT you use.

Okay, we did punch a hole in the ceiling and he has a bedroom “observation loft” (that is accessible by “wall ladder”) complete with a door that leads out to a small rooftop deck.

But even with the bed relocated, it’s still a pretty tight operation.

I’ve been featuring materials and products lately that lend themselves to inclusion in “small space” environments. So, I thought;

“What the heck! Reaady, set… GOOGLE!”

And lo and behold, I found this…

I give you:

Office in a metal trunk. In a m-e-t-a-l t-r-u-n-k. I’m not kidding.

It’s a complete office-desk-workstation. Seriously.

It reminds me of a bizarre “Transformer” that suddenly springs to life when the phone rings… 🙂

The “trunk” itself is fabricated out of sheet metal, and it’s basically a large steamer trunk kind of thing. Now, many of you aren’t old enough to remember “Steamer Trunks” but as a kid, we had a few around the house and later in life I actually used one or two to haul some of my gear around, when I got shipped “hither and yon to test my immortality”.

But this “metal monstrosity” opens up, and turns into a computer workstation. It’s a horror! Man, I WANT one! 🙂

Roll it out of storage and write your blog post, catch up on email, or play that on-line “hack and slash” until your fingers  cramp up…

Then…  close up your workspace by shutting the two halves together like a suit-case standing on end. Then you simply grab it by the handles and wheel it back to storage, using the casters built into the bottom.

Look! It even comes with a chair! (No TED… the girl is not included…)  😉 Okay, I admit that it’s a rather odd chair, but it is a chair and it does get housed in the trunk when you’re not using it. It even has some storage built into it’s base. Man, they thought of everything!

After looking at it long and hard, I can see how this could be used in a small home as a portable office. All you’d need to do is designate a space for it to be stored, when you weren’t using it… like inside a deep closet.

And the way it’s designed, you could wheel it right out onto a front porch, or even out into the backyard. Just watch out for the lawn sprinklers… 🙂

And the guys working with it have other ideas, like making them “rentals” for people traveling. You’d literally rent a small office, and the rental operator would just wheel it out and pop it open for you. When you were thru, you’d just close it up, and wheel it back the the front desk.

It would also be great for companies that hire telecommuters. It would allow them to give those workers temporary office space when they had to get out of their jammies and actually go into the office… They’d just wheel them out into the lobby and pop them open.

You can find out more about it on materialicious and at http://www.ergonomicofficefurnitures.com

Stay tuned.

Photo Credits go to Workalicious