Not every upcycling plan comes together in a day. Sometimes it takes weeks or months, even years. But after all the anticipation, don’t you love it when a good plan comes together? One you can brag about on Pinterest? When a couple of things fall into your lap and everything comes together to make a dream come true? And even better – when the upcycling is finished, it didn’t break the bank?
Three years ago, Kayla Schwan and I stood outside between our two houses and talked about how much we wanted to make our carport an outdoor dining space. We would hang lights, curtains, and have a big long table to share meals together with our family and friends. But soon enough Kyle and Kayla became KKKS when they had Kayson; and they moved to San Jose and then to Arizona. So that dream was shelved. We continued to use the carport as a storage shed and a place to put our trash cans and other random junk.
Then one Friday morning a year later, I begged my man to buy an old outdoor iron furniture set at estate sale. As soon as my new neighbor Lindsey saw it, she wanted it too. We chatted for about 30 seconds and decided to make Kayla and I’s original idea of transforming the carport a reality! First, Lindsey begged me not to spray paint the set. She said “Rust is expensive!” and I trust her completely because she works at Anthropology.
We couldn’t believe our eyes when we washed the cushion covers that were covered in dust and cat hair. They came out looking brand new! I ran to World Market, bought a jute rope rug, and a number of outdoor pillows to spice up the furniture. With a gallon of Home Depot cement paint, I painted the carport floor a linen color.
After a long day (and night) of wine tasting on a Saturday, Lindsey and I got to work on Sunday morning. We put the rug and the furniture out in the middle – where a car used to park.
We worked to find a dining table on Craigslist to put under the carport ($40!). Instead of buying chairs, we brought up two old benches from our basement that hadn’t been used since the Los Gatos area was filled with orchards. Read the history of Los Gatos by clicking here.
We painted and then distressed all of it, and placed them under the carport. It looked nice. Our plan was beginning to take shape.
Next, we started going through our houses and garages, looking for items to complete the look. Our friend Molly had given us some shutters the year before that we hadn’t used for a project. We made a corner out of them and turned an old wine barrel over and placed a large plant on top of it. We moved the “new” grill, which we had purchased for $40 at another estate sale, and put the trash cans on the side of the house. We used a Mexican door we had to give it character.
The last part of the project was hanging the lights. My poor husband got the worst of Lindsey and I bossing him around with every light strung. “No, move it to the left!” “Don’t staple it there!” “Hang it straight!” “Nick LISTEN!”
But when it was all done – we couldn’t believe the transformation! First, we saw it during the day.
That night we ate dinner out there and we were in love.
But, what would we call it? After some more wine and some more conversation, we decided to call it “The In Between” because it was the area between our houses. Lindsey found some reclaimed wood, painted a sign, and we hung it with pride. Jon Wallace likes to call it the Go Between, but everyone else knows it as the “The In Between”.
We hosted a number of people who first month and they all raved about the job we had done. We have since hosted parties and friends and family from out-of-town.
We, The Neighbors, will hook up out there once in a while for dinner or for game night! Playing Battle of the Sexes last summer might have been one of the funniest game nights I’ve ever been a part of! Hearing Aaron and Nick debate pop culture was a riot!
This last summer I saw a filthy, old gardening table at an estate sale and snatched it up for $15. My husband thought I was crazy when I told him we were going to make a bar out of it! We cleaned it up and painted it. We added longer pieces of wood to hold the glasses and bottles. We bought a towel bar for it and a new plastic container to hold ice. For that pop of color, we added a yellow wood box underneath to hold placemats and dishes. It’s the perfect addition to The In Between.
From start to finish, we spent less than $400 and upcycled all kinds of furniture! It’s sunny 300 days a year so we can use it year round and when it rains, we just roll the rug up and put it under the carport. If it’s chilly out, we just pull out one of the fire pits ($20 each at estate sales) and throw on a log. A few years in the making, The In Between is truly a dream come true!
Why Travel, Cooking and DIY? A creative type, I have always loved painting and decorating as a hobby. Upcycling is a real passion. My mom was a Home Ec teacher when we were growing up. I learned a lot from her and because I love hosting get-togethers, I had to step up my game in the kitchen as well. And lastly, my love of travel comes from my Grandma Schmitt.
An Illinois native, I worked in the White House Communications Agency early in my career (President Reagan), prior to returning to Illinois State University to finish my undergraduate and Master's. After a couple of post-graduate internships (minor league baseball and Big Ten Conference), I then worked in college athletics full-time for more than 22 years -- first at the University of South Carolina for 15 years and then at Santa Clara University for the last seven years. We moved to Tampa, Florida in Dec., 2016 after spending 8.5 years in Northern California.