Category: Interior Design

Weekend Projects: 5 Timeless DIY Advent Calendars

If you’ve been buying advent calendars since the advent of time, start a new holiday tradition by constructing one of these bespoke advent calendars this weekend.

Every winter, children and adults from myriad cultures celebrate the Germanic tradition of the advent calendar—reveling in its myriad doors and pockets with eager anticipation of the surprises they will reveal on each of the 24 days before Christmas. But such a cherished symbol of the season can be personalized even more for the family or recipient by making it yourself with bargain materials. We’ve handpicked five homemade advent calendars that will give the gift of style again and again.



DIY Advent Calendar - Made from Toilet Paper Rolls


Come home for the holidays to this hospitable paper roll advent calendar! The thrifty blogger at Morning Creativity printed calendar dates on brown paper and glued the numerals onto 24 saved paper rolls. After filling each with unexpected treasures, she shaped the rows into a building-like structure and sealed them up with a cardboard backing. Half of a paper roll and a cut-up cardboard box create a fitting chimney and roof to house the season’s calendar.



DIY Advent Calendar - Mitten Garland


Perhaps the three little kittens in the famed nursery rhyme wouldn’t have lost their mittens if they had displayed them in this playful yet practical advent garland from the inspired DIYer at My House of Giggles. Create a similar festive finish to enjoy with your little ones by cutting out felt numerals freehand and hot-gluing them onto two dozen pairs of large mittens. Hung up with clothespins and twine in any hallway, the festive mitten garland makes for a hand- and heart-warming holiday.



DIY Advent Calendar - Pallet Tree with Gifts


Can’t wait until December 25 to get gifts under the tree? This DIY wooden advent tree from A Beautiful Mess solves that dilemma, with branches full of presents to be opened daily in December. While the upcycled evergreen requires a little more work upfront—some cutting, sanding, and sealing unused shipping pallets—the build is rather basic. “Branch” planks are arranged from largest at the bottom to the smallest at the top and nailed onto a spare pallet “trunk.” All that’s left is to hang a host of prizes, treats, and activity cards on each level!



DIY Advent Calendar - Framed Calendar


These fanciful, fabric advent pouches from the DIYer behind Brown-Eyed Fox are so photogenic that they’re worthy of framing—and so she did! After adhering iron-on numerals to muslin bags, the bags were filled with trinkets and treats galore and then drawn shut. Lastly, she arranged the bags in ascending order and pinned them to a brightly hued frame backed with cattle wire. Leaned against the wall, this cheery piece of holiday decor leaves no holes after the season ends.



DIY Advent Calendar - Tabletop Forest


These advent tree table-toppers from The Merry Thought can turn any surface into a tree-lined route filled with surprises. Cut from birch plywood using tree templates and a scroll saw, assembly is super simple—just add a notch to the center of each triangle! Flat, the pieces are easy to store; interlocked them, though, and the geometric shapes transform instantly into a jolly jungle. Brush one side of each tree with chalkboard paint, as seen here, and you can change out unique advent activities for each calendar date year after year.

Weekend Projects: 5 Ways to DIY a Folding Table

Don’t let a space-challenged room make you fold on your design dreams! Get the extra work or dining space without sacrificing a single square foot when you build one of these DIY folding tables.

Folding tables are an elegant, economical, and effortless way to switch between an extra work surface and freed-up floor space at a moment’s notice. And while they require few materials to build (or makeover), the design options for these collapsible counters are so endless that would-be woodworkers may not know where to begin on their DIY journeys. Fortunately for you, we’ve hand-picked five fantastic folding tables that can be completed in a weekend and then displayed year-round. Read on for space-smart inspiration.



DIY Folding Table - Card Table Makeover


Even hosts-with-the-most start their entertaining legacies with little more to wine and dine their guests than scrap metal and a dream. Take the enterprising entertainer at Addison Meadows Lane: She transformed a lackluster card table into an inviting, fabric-covered fold-away by first stripping the old batting and spraying the table with primer and paint. After stapling an attractive (and durable!) PVC fabric to the top, you’re left with a stylish surface for all occasions.



DIY Folding Table - Drop-Down Kids' Table


This high-art Murphy folding table from Sawdust & Embryos will make you long for a seat at the kiddie table. The mother and maker behind this craft cove for children started by cutting out a half circle of melamine, reinforcing it with plywood, and then adorning it with piano hinges. After affixing the slab to the wall with Scotch indoor fasteners, press it in place and pull down the table like a Murphy bed to initiate playtime, snack-time, and giggles galore.



DIY Folding Table - Wooden Folding Table


Leave guests at your next dinner party floored when you tell them the secret behind your latest DIY—that your farmhouse-style kitchen table started with salvaged floorboards. That’s how the crafty blogger at Man Made DIY achieved his own truly distressed look, anyway. The wood planks were glued together and cut to size, with a fashion-forward table skirt affixed along the edges using a pocket-hole jig. Skip a stationary base, though, and screw on spun legs with gate hinges so that you can fold them up after your function.



DIY Folding Table - Rustic Stikwood Folding Table


If planning fall festivities has left you with little headspace or floor space, don’t stress. You can marry the function of pop-up furniture to accommodate your extra guests with a style fit for your kitchen. The DIYer behind Sugar and Cloth made this reclaimed wooden wonder by screwing standard folding table legs to plywood, and spray painting everything white. A layer of Stikwood, a peel-and-stick wood planking, over the tabletop creates rustic-modern finish that can weather the whole holiday season without a table runner.



DIY Folding Table - Slim Kitchen Table


Just as you can’t fit a square peg into a round hole, you can’t squeeze a large dining table into a long, narrow kitchen—at least, not if you still need to reach the furthest pantry doors. So to make an eat-in out of an already tiny kitchen, the DIYer at LJDécor converted a slim standing table into one that folds down. Once legs were removed, the remaining tabletop was brightened and tiled guitar chips, then mounted to the wall with two wood planks and a piano hinge. During the day, the art installation hangs flat against the wall, but come dinnertime, a single angular-cut 2×4 plank slid underneath gives the table a leg up.

Weekend Projects: 5 Designs for an Easy DIY Storage Bench

Stylishly cure a lifetime of clutter by building one of these easy and inexpensive storage benches.

When you’re choosing functional furniture for your indoor or outdoor spaces, an ideal piece would feature three characteristics: comfort, style, and storage. Whether placed in a small entryway or on a back patio, a storage bench meets all these requirements, increasing seating, doubling organization opportunities, and adding a boost of pattern or style to any room. While some store-bought models don’t come cheap, you can still incorporate this multipurpose marvel into your home with a few materials and some ingenuity. Run through these five DIY storage benches for ideas and inspiration to help you build a version of your own this weekend.



DIY Storage Bench - Converted from Twin Bed


This dreamy storage bench from My Repurposed Life cleverly relocates the comforts and style of basic bedroom furniture to the great outdoors. The mastermind behind this innovative idea began by cutting the footboard of a bed into multiple pieces to fashion the frame and armrests. A $5 scrap drawer is the true hero of the piece, serving as both the seat and subtle storage for outdoor oddities. The no-sew cushion adds a cozy finishing touch, making this bench an ideal spot for porch lounging on fair-weather days.



DIY Storage Bench - Sliding Door


Sleek and hardworking, this storage bench was designed with kids in mind. Cunning half walls at either end mean that kids can stash toys behind closed doors without even having to slide them open. A resourceful DIYer from A Beautiful Mess challenged himself to make the frame of this bench from a single sheet of particle board; pocket holes secure the pieces. After attaching the top, verticals, and back, he positioned the sliding doors and held them in place with surrounding strips. Finger holes in the doors make them easier to slide for access to toys and knickknacks.



DIY Storage Bench - Cabinet Bench


If needless clutter has invaded your home, don’t flip your lid—flip an inexpensive particleboard cabinet instead. This elegant storage bench from My Love 2 Create is actually a tall laminate cabinet that’s been turned on its side, trimmed with scrap wood, and outfitted with a huddle of furring strips for the bench top. The weathered-wood stain gives the piece a winsome appeal, and screw-on casters make it easy to wheel away this homegrown storage solution at a moment’s notice.



DIY Storage Bench - Open-Top Bench


If loose stationery and folders have left a paper trail throughout your house, file them away in this open-top storage bench from Better When Built. The pieces—legs, front, back, and sides—were cut from plywood and assembled using pocket-hole screws, and then the bench was sanded and painted. The success of this space-smart bench literally hinges on the bench top—an eye-catching, foam-cushioned lid that’s fastened to the frame with lustrous nickel hinges.



DIY Storage Bench - Wooden Seat


This wooden bench is a double-duty solution for space-challenged backyards. While the standard wood design serves as the perfect perch for guests, it’s the storage area underneath that makes this build truly functional. Although Kim from The Kim Six Fix outfitted her version with thrift store crates she found for a steal, any bins you have lying around will do to house your pool toys, lawn games, or other outdoor extras that need corralling.

Weekend Projects: 5 Designs for a DIY Console Table

Get exactly the amount of counter space and storage you need when you DIY your own console table. This adaptable piece of furniture is the perfect accent piece for any room in your home.

Positioning a console table along a wall or sofa in the home can really reinvent the room, whether you use it as an accent piece in your entryway or additional storage for your TV and entertainment (the DVDs, the games, the cables, and more) in your living room. But finding one that suits your needs—and you’re your space’s dimensions—can be a challenge. You can’t get more custom (and affordable) than handmade, so we’ve rounded up five of our favorite plans to get you started. All you need is a weekend to put it together.



DIY Console Table - Skinny Entryway Table


You might not believe it at first glance, but this narrow console table design—perfect for an entryway—is made entirely out of wood pieces. A closer look shows that the DIYer from East Coast Creative mimicked the look of steel on the base using several coats of bronze spray paint. A dark wood stain on the tabletop achieves a rich finish that perfectly compliments the sheen of the table legs.



DIY Console Table - Unit with Sliding Doors


Equal parts décor and storage, this console table design from Ana White—with additional customization by interior designer Nikki Grandy—is a true workhorse for the home. After you build the wooden frame, pick up the sliding door hardware online or at your local hardware door; put in place, these will ensure that the doors on your console table seamlessly glide open and close whenever you need to reach your out-of-sight storage.



DIY Console Table - Narrow Wood Table


This clean wooden design from The Happier Homemaker lends itself to blending easily with almost any style, be it placed in an elegantly minimalist entryway or behind a brown leather sofa in a rustic living room. And as this blogger found out in the plan-as-you-go process of building it, its simplicity and length allows plenty of room for adaptation, depending on the space available.



DIY Cnsole Table - X Base Wood Table


Inspired by an pricey piece in a Restoration Hardware catalog, this cheap and chic copycat from The Chronicles of Home is easy to replicate with the right tools. The blogger worked out the hard math for us: The trick to creating the hallmark X-base is cutting one end of each board at a 25-degree angle and the other, which meets at the cross-section, at a 65-degree angle. Stain all of your wood before assembling, and you’ll have a rustic unit with extra shelf storage wherever you set it.



DIY Console Table - Table with Copper Legs


Probably the most defining feature to this industrial design from Décor and the Dog are the legs. No, this DIYer didn’t pick them up from a salvage yard; these come from a couple of 8-foot copper grounding rods, found in the electrical section at a hardware store. Talk about out-of-the-box thinking! Then, to instantly age a sturdy woodblock tabletop to match, she beat the boards with a hammer, crow bar, and screws before staining. Distress your own project in just a day, and you, too, can enjoy a one-of-a-kind entryway addition—and compliments from guests—for years to come.

Genius! The DIY Fire Pit You Can Bring Indoors

Many homeowners want to cozy up around a fireplace when temperatures drop—but no one misses hauling wood and cleaning out the chimney. This season, try a hassle-free alternative: a DIY (and flameless!) campfire.

Fake Campfire - Made with String Lights


Camping season is nearly over, but the cozy season is only just beginning. Along with the urge to stockpile blankets and keep the oven filled with pumpkin pie, you’re probably ready to curl up by a fire. But not everyone has a hearth at home—and even if you are so lucky, you probably know how its expenses (fuel, chimney cleanings, and so on) make it a bit of a mixed blessing anyway. If you want the glow of burning embers in your living room without installing an entire fireplace, consider this craftier alternative from BLDG 25 that gets its luminescence from a set of string lights.

Obviously, a fire pit that bridges the gap between authentic and appropriate for the indoors starts with a handful of supplies from outside, so the design team at Free People first collected a number of small branches and rocks. But each piece of wood—then wrapped in foil, Elmer’s glue, and overlapping strips of white lace—serves only a temporary cast in this project. After the glue dried completely overnight, the sticks were cut out with a sharp utility knife. Once you peel away the foil, all that’s left is a set of ghostly birch-like branches. The rest of the DIY lighting project was as picnic in comparison: They grouped the large rocks in a circle, bundled string lights inside, and arranged the faux branches like real firewood in a cone-like structure.

As the temperatures dip and rainy fall weather ensues, this creative reuse of twinkling Christmas lights has us scoping out the best outlet near which to situate a fake fire pit (not to mention pondering whether it’s too soon to pull out the holiday decorations). Sure, you’ll have to make the s’mores over the stove, but you’ll also have access to electricity and Netflix. So invite a few friends over, and gather ’round the glow!

FOR MORE: Free People 

Fake Campfire - Lace Logs


Weekend Projects: 5 Hardworking DIY Desks

Settle into your new routine (and organize all that homework) when you build one of these 5 easy computer desks this weekend.

It may not fall on the standard back-to-school supply checklist, but a simple and comfortable computer desk should definitely be a top priority once class is back in session. It’s the perfect spot for kids to get homework done and for parents to organize the various permission slips, flyers, and other papers that start to pile up come fall. While computer desks seen in stores and catalogs may come with a high price tag, many DIY alternatives are both easy to build and easy on the wallet. Check out these five achievable DIY desk ideas to get your inspiration flowing.



DIY computer desk - bookcase


If you’re looking for an option that’s equal parts cheap and sleek, look no further than this cleverly assembled design from Pretty Providence, constructed using a couple of Target bookcases and a tabletop from IKEA. The beauty of this arrangement lies in its simplicity: Just lay your tabletop on the floor and use a screwdriver to anchor the shelves into place. After that, all that’s left to do is flip the table over and fill it up. Easy!



DIY computer desk - wood build


This custom-made desk from We Lived Happily After is built for two, making it an easy side-by-side workstation—or simply an ideal spot to spread out with a big project. The success of this project relies on careful measurement (and patience!) when screwing the wooden 1x4s and 2x4s into place. But once you have the frame built, the rest of the assembly will be easier than any of the work you do on it.



DIY Computer Desk - lapdesk


If you’re on the hunt for an option that’s portable and boasts a secret storage compartment, then this DIY laptop desk from The House of Wood is the genius solution for you—and it takes only about two hours to re-create. Round up a couple of 1×12 wooden boards for the storage bottom and hinged top, plus wooden boards for the legs, aprons, and trim. Once you’re done assembling, apply a thin coat of Rust-Oleum Ultimate Wood Stain (shown here in Dark Walnut) to give the design a luxe finish.



DIY Computer Desk - cabinets


This DIY desk idea from Drab to Fab Design requires a bit of advance planning, but the end result is well worth the wait. The design team scoured Craigslist to find a matching set of filing cabinets that they could then turn into a custom-built desk for two. Once they found the perfect pair, the two got to work, attaching frames to the top and bottom of the cabinets to add a bit of height and hold the desktop together. After that, all that was left to do was add a tabletop, which can be created with a few 2x10s.



DIY Computer Desk - standing desk


If you want a space-saving option that’s still an actual anchored-down desk, this wall-mount design from A Beautiful Mess is the perfect choice. All you’ll need are a few slabs of pine board, some shelf brackets, screws, and polyurethane. Using a saw, cut the boards to suit the size of the space where you plan to set up the desk. Then, sand down each board (this will help the polyurethane go on smoothly), and use the wall brackets to mount your desk to the wall. The next step is simply to pull up a chair and get to work!

Genius! Bring Gutters Indoors for Simple Storage

With a cheap hardware store staple and a handful of screws, you can mount your own DIY bookshelf on any wall in the home.

DIY Book Shelf - From a Rain Gutter


As the first leaves begin to litter the lawn, we’re reminded that it’s once again time to dig out the ladder from the back of the garage. That’s right, homeowners: Gutter-cleaning season will soon be upon us! But gutters can be more than a source of unrelenting home maintenance guilt. As Liz, the DIY mind behind See-Saw, discovered, gutters can inspire some striking creativity. Just see how she brought this boring outdoor essential to new life as a unique wall-mounted organizer.

Looking for a way to add storage for her toddler, who had already amassed quite the collection of bedtime reads, Liz saw the potential in the gutter’s trough-like structure to serve as an attractive—and cheaper—alternative to shelving. Gutters are customizable in length, super affordable, and light enough to mount on the wall with just a few screws. Plus, the shallow channel that funnels water off your roof also tidily holds books face out, and the small lip keeps them from falling. This simple ledge is a perfect storage fix to mount on nearly any wall. It’s also wildly versatile, as useful for displaying framed artwork in the living room as it is keeping a cookbook open and safe from splatters in the kitchen.

Want to make your own? First, grab a tape measure. Once you know the length you’d like your shelf to be, head to your local hardware store to pick up the gutter of your choice. If what you find is a bit longer than you need, you can ask an employee to cut it down to size, or you can cut it at home with a hacksaw. Use sandpaper to smooth down any rough edges, then screw the gutter to the wall.

This DIY’s low cost is as big a draw as its practicality: One 10-foot vinyl rain gutter will cost you about $6. Even with a wall’s worth of shelving and a new pack of screws, that’s about as budget-friendly as it gets—so there’s no need to save this project for a rainy day!


DIY Book Shelf - Gutter Holding Children's Books


Weekend Projects: Reboot with 5 DIY Charging Stations

Finally, minimize chord chaos and get your phone's accessories under control when you make one of these 5 easy charging stations this weekend.

Smartphones have become an everyday necessity—as have their chargers. It’s easy for those cords to pile up (and tangle up!), especially when every member of the family leaves cords plugged into outlets scattered throughout the house. Banish those unsightly cables from view with one of these easy and inexpensive DIY organizers that corral cord clutter.



diy charging station - repurposed books

In a bedroom that features a vintage or eclectic style, this charging station crafted from an old book will make a seamless, decorative addition. Choose a volume that has an interesting or attractive spine, and then, following these instructions from Little Lovelies by Allison, use a drill and a utility knife to carve a spot to feed your charger through. The careful construction may take some patience, but the homey and functional result will be well worth it.



DIY charging station

If your nightstand is overrun with everyday clutter, look to this repurposed organizer from The DIY Playbook to fulfill all your bedside storage needs. Take a container with two or more drawers, remove one, and drill a hole in the back of that compartment. Feed your cords through the holes, and then plug in your electronics so they can rest on the open shelf. Your remaining drawer can store (read: hide) remotes, reading glasses, or other little accessories you’d like to keep close at hand.



diy charging station - family

As a family grows, so does its phone-cord clutter—and the confusion about where all those cords lead. Solve that problem with this family-size charging station. After easily converting a standard electrical outlet into a USB port, Kris from Driven by Decor cleared away the chaos by drilling a few holes in the bottom of an ordinary letter organizer and stringing the cords through. Not only does this unit keep charging equipment close by, but the various compartments can also house other electronics or items you need as you dash out the door.



diy charging station - bucket

This little, portable recycled wonder will cradle your charging phone wherever your day takes you. Cut from an old baby lotion bottle, it’s the just-right size for toting your phone—plus, the sculpted handle conveniently hangs from your cord’s plug while the phone is charging. Decorate it with fabric, decals, or whatever your imagination desires. See how Ashley at Make It & Love It put it all together.



diy charging station - living charger via theREALcybercat

Your decor can always benefit from a hit of nature’s beauty, and this faux-greenery DIY charging station brings in just the right touch. Requiring little more than some artificial turf and a vessel of your choosing—a shallow bowl, small dish, or even a ceramic pot that plays up the foliage—this simple, grassy home for your phone can be crafted in no time flat.

Meet the Man Behind Your Favorite New Home Accent

From the heart of the Catskill Mountains, one man is creating a sense of wonder in rustic, handcrafted home goods.

Photo: GrayWorks Design

Many homeowners turn felled landscaping trees into cheap firewood, piling up split logs by a backyard shed or in front of the living room hearth. But for Andrew Gray, these old trees are the beginning of something a little more magical. With a wood drying and milling operation out of Woodstock, New York, his company turns ordinary reclaimed lumber into stunning housewares and furniture. Distinguished by a meticulous yet rustic sense of craftsmanship, GrayWorks Design has become one of the Hudson Valley’s leading makers. Here’s what Andrew had to say about how he got started and the surprises he’s found along the way.


Photo: Grayworks Design

How did you get involved in this line of work? How long have you been at it?
I had a background as a carpenter and worked for general contractors. Around here we call it a hired gun carpenter. I’d jump from one crew to another. I struggled to reinvent myself a bit. And the reinvention was to go into sculptural furniture making. There’s this desire to take trees that landscapers and tree services people cart away and do something with it. That’s a big part of how I got involved with this type of woodworking.

It’s been about 10 years since I started making furniture, and the main product has been this footed platte that we sell on Etsy. Yesterday, I had this couple come into my shop and it was the only thing I had to show them but they walked out with 6 pieces, so it’s a good seller.


Photo: GrayWorks Design

You’ve been featured in a lot of places like Martha Stewart Living and O, The Oprah Magazine. How did that happen?
I had sold my product pretty successfully at crafts fairs but when I brought it to Etsy I had a friend who helped me with the photography and the copy. Etsy really responded to the effort and they gave us a featured seller position within 3 months of being on the site. After that they put publishers in touch with us. At first it was hard to tell what people were responding to. I think people were definitely responding to the good photography, but also the products that we’re making. They come from a place that I think resonates with a lot of people.


Photo: GrayWorks Design

These products are clearly very carefully made. What kind of place do you think handcrafted home goods have in today’s market?
One of the things I can’t do at this scale is offer a production line where I can make thousands of products at a time. I haven’t built that kind of a business. But what I can do is give a sense of luxury to the buyers. That luxury is really more about evoking a feeling; it’s more than just the primary function of the piece. These are products people can use daily that give them a feeling that they’re connected to nature.

I’m trying to offer these products at price points that are not exclusive. Handcrafted furniture can be much more expensive. But housewares are sort of this meeting ground that’s much more accessible. A lot of people can, at some point, comfortably afford to buy a $100 to $300 item for themselves or for others.

I like the idea of creating objects that can transform an entire room without the homeowner needing to redecorate everything. This is sort of how sculpture works. It augments everything else in the room but you don’t need 10 of them. One of them does the job.


Photo: GrayWorks Design

You show your work at craft shows in the Hudson Valley and the Berkshires. What kind of reaction does your work receive?
I do about six shows a year. What it does is it punctuates my year. I know a lot of these vendors, so I almost feel embarrassed if I show up with stuff I had the last time. I’m there to show people what I’m doing now, and I’m able to gauge the reactions I’m getting from people. A lot of times I make things that are sort of whimsical, but people get it right away.


hand carved bowl

Photo: GrayWorks Design

Have there been any surprises along the way?
The footed platte was a bit of a surprise. The first one I ever made was done on the fly for an art show to serve cheese and hors d’oeuvres. I actually gave the first ones to the couple that had put on the show. Then people kept asking me about them for the next year.

For a little while I was selling a 3-foot-long by 14-inch-wide footed platte. It got picked up by the Kitchn and they were calling it a polenta platter. I guess the idea is to pile a bunch of polenta on it, vegetables, meats off the grill—it’s an old Italian tradition to serve these meals on a wooden platter. There have been a few different things like that that have happened where I’ve worked on a design in isolation, brought it out into the world, and then people identify it for me.


Photo: GrayWorks Design

What’s ahead for GrayWorks Design?
For a while I was holding onto the idea of getting my architecture degree and trying to elevate myself in the design field. Over the last year some architects have reached out to me looking for accent pieces. Right now it feels like the architects in the design field are reaching down to me and lifting me up and bringing me into their world, which is really exciting. Every opportunity I get to collaborate with an architect is like going back to school. It’s a great way to pick up a lot of information quickly and learn about other possibilities.


Photo: GrayWorks Design

To see even more work from GrayWorks Design, check out their website and Etsy shop.

A Former Art Teacher Starts a New Life Building Furniture

A twist in fortune prompted this maker to create the quality furniture company of her dreams.

Urban Wood Goods - Erin and Jason


Erin True needed a job. She had recently moved from Detroit to Chicago with her husband, Jason, and was striking out on finding a position as an art teacher. Fortunately, this down-on-her-luck moment led Erin to discover her real passion and start an unlikely business: Urban Wood Goods. Though she was an inexperienced woodworker at the time (and didn’t even own a table saw), she was dedicated to learning about her newfound love for reclaimed wood and all its possibilities. Now, Erin’s hard work has paid off in spades—she’s a successful entrepreneur who’s managed to carve out her own niche in the custom furniture market.

Today, Urban Wood Goods employs a host of dedicated makers and fulfills orders throughout the country, for corporate clients and homeowners alike. We spoke with Erin to learn a bit more about her story.


Urban Wood Goods - Bench Hairpin


How did you make the transition from art teacher to full-time maker?
I moved from the Detroit area to the Chicago area. I was trying to find a teaching job, though in my heart I had hoped to start my own business—after all, I was already using my idea for a bench and Etsy shop as part of my portfolio in an attempt to land an art teaching job. When I didn’t get the job I thought I would get, I decided to pursue my reclaimed wood furniture experiment on Etsy.

After a few sales, I started to think I could maybe make a real business out of Urban Wood Goods. Thankfully, I had the support of my husband, who finally kicked me out of the garage and told me to find a new workshop—after I took a Shop-Vac to the sawdust-covered walls of our garage.


Rustic Dining Table - Urban Wood Goods


What was your background in woodworking when you got started?
Funny enough, I didn’t have a woodworking background. I took one class in high school, and that was it. The only thing I remember making was a CD rack. I didn’t even own a saw when I started selling benches online! I once had to take the slab of wood I purchased to a local home improvement store and convince them to cut it down from five feet to four feet long to fill an order.

Being new to woodworking, have you found any surprises along the way?
I have learned that reclaimed lumber has a mind of its own. Nails, warping, and movement common to dimensional lumber all make it a material that takes some adjustment when working with it. We have managed to figure it out and make beautiful furniture with the help of our kiln, state-of-the-art woodworking equipment, and a team of individuals who care about every table and desk they create.


Urban Wood Goods - Desk Hairpin


Do you have a favorite tool?
My favorite tools are our JLT clamp racks. They allow us to get better glue-ups on all our pieces. Our lumber kiln is also very important. Having perfectly dried lumber is a beautiful thing. We used to have some warping when the moisture content wasn’t exactly correct; with this kiln, it’s no longer a problem.

What is your favorite thing about reclaimed wood?
My favorite thing is its history and character. I love seeing the wood still in a structure that is standing and then again the next week in our shop being turned into furniture. It’s nice to give it a second life—or third life, you could say.


Urban Wood Goods - coffee table


What kind of response has your work received?
It was a surprise when large companies had us building furniture for them! A few notable ones include HGTV, Google, Kraft, Ralph Lauren, and Lululemon.

What is your favorite piece?
The first bench I made was my all-time favorite. I loved that bench, and it was also the first one I sold. It had amazing character. It was perfectly weathered; I hardly had to sand it. Part of me wishes I could get it back, but Urban Wood Goods wouldn’t exist today if I hadn’t sold it.


Urban Wood Goods - Dining Table Chairs


What is the most challenging part of what you do?
It changes from year to year. There are many challenges that come with operating a small business. We recently discovered there is a business selling plastic wood furniture on Craigslist using our trademarked logo and warehouse address. That was pretty shocking—we don’t sell on Craigslist and never have. But we tackle the obstacles one at a time. It’s much easier to approach things that way, and we don’t sweat the small stuff anymore.


Find out more and shop the online store at Urban Wood Goods.