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Charcoal beams + modern plant stands

deck 2:14 2

I’ve been tinkering around with the deck some more. Painted the beams, assembled a couple of industrial-modern plant stands. Nothing major, just another couple of changes made to the best spot in the house. It’s an important space for important things, you see, like drinking coffee, having people over for barbecues, and giving the cat tummy rubs on the floor. (I’ll have to get some photos of that soon! She’s taken a real liking to the outdoors, this little black bear-cat of ours.)

beams before


Part 1: the overhead beams

Just like with the decking boards that we cleaned and re-stained, the ‘treated pine on treated pine’ look wasn’t working for me. Older, CCA-treated boards turn a sickly green over time as the natural pine colour fades and the chemical residue remains. Appealing, right? So virtually any colour over the existing pine would be an improvement.

I love the sophisticated, urban feel of dark beams under a glass roof, like in an atrium or a conservatory, so that was my inspiration for going dark. I didn’t go black, though. I went for a less-intense charcoal grey.

beams charcoal stain

I used an Intergrain deck stain for these, in charcoal. We’d just finished staining the decking boards, and the oil-based stuff was so stinky and so messy that I decided to give the water-based stain a chance, especially since I’d be painting vertical surfaces above my head and all. It’s costlier than oil-based stain, but it goes on beautifully. I really like how the grain shows through, it’s why I chose a stain over paint.

deck beams BA

Before and after. Compare and contrast. Still have to paint (and eventually switch out) the railings, but there’s one annoying task taken care of.

Part 2: reinvented plant stands.

They started out as a couple of junky-looking old stools at the tip shop, sold as a pair. I think they’re from the 70s? Anyway, I immediately liked the geometric steel bases, and I knew I could use them for something.

stool base 1

One of the stools needed its leg re-welded to the base, so I brought it down to Jamie’s dad’s property to see if anyone wouldn’t mind giving me a hand with it. Jamie’s dad is a machinist, so there’s always a lot of tools and know-how to be found down there. Well, his uncle was there, and he offered to weld the leg back in place. It took all of five minutes. So cool! I was really grateful.

stool base 2

The bases needed a fresh coat of paint, badly. I gave them a good hard scrub with a wire brush before spray-painting them flat black.

stool base grinder

Jamie used our angle grinder to cut off the protruding feet and square off the bottom of the base.

macrocarpa top

As for the tops, I had some scrap pieces of macrocarpa – Monterey cypress – hanging around. Since the bases themselves weren’t fully square (hey, they’re old) I traced them onto the slabs and then set a 5mm margin on the circular saw so they’d overhang slightly, but evenly. After they were cut, I sanded them with 40, 120, and 240 pads, and then stained and varnished them.

finished deck stool

Ahh, that’s looking better! The stain is the same stuff I used on the beams, Intergrain charcoal decking stain. I thinned it out a little bit, and the yellow of the pine really came through. The end result is a greyish walnut glaze. I dig it. On top of that, I applied a coat of garden furniture oil, just for further protection and easier touchups in the future.

finished - modern plant stand

I like having these guys out on the deck, a lot. They’re plant stands! They’re stools! They’re side tables! Very handy to have multi-functional furniture, especially in a small-ish enclosed space like the deck. Forgive the photo quality, the weather turned on me.

deck 2:14

At the moment, two of my more reliable deck plants are hanging out on the plant stands: a baby Japanese maple and a purple Cordyline australis. Neither of them have the nicest pots, but they’ll get bigger and better ones next spring.

cactus bowl paint

easter cactus blue

My Easter cactus also got a fancy new home! Like a hermit crab. Bigger and better.

We inherited this adorable little potted plant with the house, and after seeing its pretty flowers this summer (despite giving it no attention whatsoever) I’d like to keep looking after it. Painted pot, gravel layer in the bottom, potting soil cut half-and-half with cactus soil, a saucer underneath and some more gravel on top… that should set it up nicely. I might have to call it something else, though – spring cactus? I’ll have to think on this.

8 thoughts on “Charcoal beams + modern plant stands”

  1. The Easter cactus looks like a Christmas cactus here in the States. It doesn’t really bloom, just the ends turn pretty colors. There’s ways to force it to bloom every year but you’ll have to look it up (if it doesn’t do so on its own.)

  2. I thought it was a Christmas cactus initially, but it’s an Easter cactus, which is a different species. They look crazy similar though! This one had really pretty pink flowers in early summer:

    We do have another one of those cactuses in a planter by the back door, but I’m pretty sure that one is a Thanksgiving/Christmas cactus because it bloomed in early winter. So far they seem to thrive on neglect, which I’m not gonna complain about.

  3. I found your page because I’m looking for inspiration for my treated pine deck boards. I am contemplating the Intergrain Charcoal stain. I have a sample pot and like the colour. We have just sanded/stripped our deck boards (which were painted a mission brown colour, yuk!) and want something to cover that yellow!
    We have already changed the vertical palings to stainless steel wire and posts in woodland grey, so I am liking how the charcoal has turned out on your treated pine beams and being able to still see the timber grain show through.We also inherited the deck with our home and is our fav spot 🙂 So thank you for sharing 🙂

    1. Hi Colleen! Stripping paint off deck boards would be a chore, wow!
      I’m still happy with the Intergrain charcoal on my deck — I don’t know how well the colour will hold up on an exposed deck, but with the laserlite above ours the colour still looks fresh.
      The updated deck rails aren’t shown in this post, but I painted them in Monument, a few shades darker than Woodland Grey.
      Good luck with your deck and enjoy the weather 🙂

  4. The plant stand are perfect, you did a good job with those. I also love the new home for the Easter cactus, that will be pretty when it blooms.

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