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DIY Series: My AMLI DIY Grand Prize Winner Spotlight: Chris Webb

Jul 16th, 2015

When you live in an apartment, it can be a struggle to find enough space to have your own garden. So how can you maximize space and grow your own food and herbs?

One of our grand prize winners of the My AMLI DIY contest, Chris, came up with a great idea: Use containers and a pallet. His DIY project is functional, doesn’t take up a lot of space, and looks amazing.

We asked Chris to tell us more about his project and found out everything from his inspiration, design style, and advice he has for other DIYers.

What is your design style? 

I’ve never really thought about having a “design style,” but I suppose that my wife and I have a fairly contemporary European approach to decorating and furnishing (we love IKEA!). We keep things pretty simple and clean, although we like to make things feel homey and cozy. I am an engineer, so I tend to be drawn towards designs where form follows function. Then my wife comes along and adds the soft touches to keep things feeling more like a home than an industrial unit! We also are both fans of the trend in “up-cycling” or repurposing objects and furniture.

How does your project fit in with your design style?

It fits in well with the up-cycling and repurposing, that I mentioned. I enjoyed taking something that was ugly, unused, and discarded and turning it into something useful and attractive that we could get pleasure out of. Taking an object that is so industrial, like a shipping pallet, and putting it in our home was a little nerve-wracking, but I think it paid off really well.

What were your goals for the project?

Our balcony was a fairly stark, boring, and under-used space. I wanted to bring a little color and interest to it so we would be encouraged to use it more. I wanted to make a planter that didn’t take up a lot of space, and I also wanted it to be cheap and easy to make with minimal tools. We moved to the U.S. from the U.K. on a short-term contract, so a lot of my heavy-duty tools are back home in storage. By re-using a shipping pallet that I picked up from a skip behind work, the basic structure of the planter was already made for me and of course, as it was no longer wanted, it was free!

What materials did you use?

I used:

  • Scavenged shipping pallet
  • Sandpaper
  • Wood stain
  • Fabric weed liner
  • Staples
  • Topsoil

What was the total cost?

I think it was around 0 to 0.

How much time did you spend on the project?

About four days.

What is your favorite element of this project?

The final color of the stain that I used on the pallet, which my wife picked out. I was a little dubious at first, but I think it has worked out really well. It really complements the colors of the plants and it’s a nice, bright color without being too overbearing.

What do your friends say about the project?

Everyone has been really positive about it. I think people were a little puzzled when they saw me working on it, trying to figure out why I’d bring a big, dirty pallet into our home; but once I got it cleaned up and they saw the finished product, they realized I wasn’t completely nuts.

What was your biggest challenge when building/creating your project?

The biggest challenge was probably cleaning up the pallet and sanding it down to get the finish I wanted. The only space I had to do this was outside and it was the middle of summer in Texas, so it was hot work! It is possible to buy pallets pretty cheaply that have already been cleaned up – I think if I were to do this again, I’d look into that more.

What’s your best advice for other DIYers?

Be creative. There are huge resources and plenty of inspiration on the Internet. I did a load of research into this idea before I started work, and then I took a bunch of elements from different sources and created something that was unique and worked for us.

Stay tuned to the AMLI Blog as our DIY Series continues in August!

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