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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.)

Anyway.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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