These days, finding ideas for an at-home date night are running a little thin. Justin and I love games and puzzles and have no shortage of them, but every once in a while it’s nice to do something else.
As I was scrolling Instagram yesterday, I noticed Angela Rose Home and Vintage Revivals are hosting a little DIY Dare-a-thon to help inspire people to get creative while social distancing. Their first challenge was to build something with scraps in your garage. I immediately thought this would be a fun date night for Justin and I, and the DIY Dare-a-thon Date Night (say that 5x fast ha!) was born.
Deciding on a project was easy. We have a little nook under our stairs that we lovingly refer to as our Harry Potter closet. LJ loves to “hide” in there and now that we’re home so much, we’re spending a lot of time playing there. I eventually want to transform it into a magical little play space for our kids. One thing I’ve always envisioned doing is creating little ledges to store some books for our kids to read, and this seemed like the perfect little project for the dare-a-thon.
We put the kids down for bed, grabbed the baby monitor, and headed out to our garage/workshop. Since we couldn’t go anywhere to get supplies, we had to use what we had. Justin rounded up some scrap wood from past projects and we had two 1×3’s, a long 1×2, and a few 1×4’s.
We decided to make two shelves: each shelf would be 21 inches long and would be made of a 1×2, 1×3, and 1×4. The 1×3 would form the base, with the 1×2 as the front lip and the 1×4 as the back. Since we were working with scraps, it wasn’t all the same kind of wood, but I figured the only thing that would really be visible was the very front, and the 1×2 was long enough to be used for both shelves so they would end up looking the same.
Justin got to work measuring each board and cutting them to 21 inches long with his miter saw.
While he did that, I got to work sanding each piece with 80 grit sandpaper.
Once everything was cut to size and sanded, Justin used his kreg jig to create drill holes in each 1×4 and 1×3. Kreg jigs are easy to use and it kept us from visible nail/screw holes on the front of the finished project.
We used square clamps to line up the boards perfectly, and then attached them with pocket hole screws.
We first attached the 1×3 to the 1×2, then we attached the 1×4 to the 1×3.
Here’s a glimpse at how everything attached.
Once both shelves were assembled, Justin took some 120 grit sandpaper and a wood block to smooth over all the edges.
It only took us about 90 minutes to go from a few pieces of scrap wood to two book ledges!
Justin has a box of leftover stain from previous woodworking projects and after scrounging around, we found this lighter shade that was pretty close to my original vision.
We used a sponge brush to apply the stain and let it dry overnight.
We talked about multiple ways to hang the shelves. We could have attached hooks, but I wanted the shelves to lay flush with the wall. We talked about notches on the back, but we wanted them to be sturdily attached to the wall so kids didn’t pull them off. We ultimately decided to just screw the 1×4 directly into the wall, knowing that books would cover the screws up. Before leaving for work this morning, Justin attached the shelves to the wall.
I put some of our favorite books on the shelves, and the project was complete!
I am still dreaming of ways to transform this tiny space, but this was a great first step. I picture lots of cozy reading happening in here!
Overall, this was a great experience! Justin and I had a fun time planning what to do and working together to complete the shelves. It was nice quality time and we both feel really good about the finished project. The project itself was relatively easy, quick to execute, and didn’t cost us any money. Plus we took our first step towards improving this little nook and I’m really happy with it! I can definitely see more DIY Date Nights in our future 🙂