I’m so excited to be sharing this fun DIY project with you today! First of all, outdoor projects like this mean that summer days are near (yay!) and also this is the project that I’ll be sharing on the CIL Woodcare main stage at the Cottage Life Show in just a few days!
CIL challenged me to come up with a fun, cottagey, project to share with all the cottagers at the upcoming Spring Cottage Life Show in Mississauga April 1-3, and to help them spread the good word about their line up of Woodcare products (CIL Woodcare Distinction™, Fine Wood Finish and Canadian Wood Oil) exclusively available at The Home Depot that are perfect for all kinds of different outdoor projects where we want lasting beauty and protection. What’s more cottagey than relaxing and enjoying a few festive beverages out on the deck with friends and family?
I’m really proud of how well this project turned out. It’s both impressive-looking and super-functional and of course, it was pretty easy to pull together since we have an almost unlimited supply of barn wood out back! Here’s how we did it!
We started out with a barn.
I need to let you know right now, that we don’t actually own this barn. It’s behind our house, but all the land on the other side of the creek is owned by a big German company who leases it out to local farmers. No one uses this barn anymore and because of that, it’s fallen into a little bit of disrepair in the last few years. Word on the street is that this barn is probably actually about 100 years old, and was built by ship-builders, so it has a lot of really interesting and pretty construction inside.
We used a few different components of the barn in our beverage center, as well as some new pine boards from The Home Depot. The big chunky legs are just pieces of roof support that had blown off with a big section of the roof last year.
The counter top for the beverage center as well as the skirting around the top came from some of the siding that has been blown off. Actually, that siding has been used in quite a few projects around here, and also in the homes of a lot of the neighbors. It’s become kind of a community-use barn around here. 🙂
So we made our plan, gathered our barn wood, and then we got to building! We had to get this whole project completed in less than a weekend and I would say that, for the most part, a project like this would be considered a pretty reasonable thing to aim to accomplish in a weekend. We built some extra trays, which might be pushing it a bit time-wise for the beginner DIYer, and I would suggest leaving the wood staining part for a separate weekend if it’s not something that you do often, because you want to do a really good job of finishing your work of art. Overall though, definitely a great project that makes a big impact visually and functionally, with a pretty simple process.
Here’s what we did!
We started out by putting together a basic frame with four roof-support legs and some two-by-fours. We made the whole thing 36 inches tall (standard counter height), and about 5 feet wide. The counter top is about 22 inches deep, which is a bit less than a standard kitchen counter. I really had no reason for that other than the fact that it felt right. When you design your own DIY project, you get to make calls like that. 🙂
Next, we had to create our counter top out of barn wood, as well as the lower shelf, which is made from new pine.
The top is actually made from three barn wood siding pieces held together with wood glue and dowels. We held everything together with clamps in every direction to make sure things would dry to be straight and strong. After a couple of hours, we removed the clamps and we were good to go!
The lower shelf was created in much the same way, using a long piece of pine shelving and then adding strips of two-by-two all around the edges to give it a chunkier, more substantial look. We’ve created a few different counter tops this way around the house and they always turn out beautifully. This set up looks a bit like some kind of medieval torture device, but it’s really just a matter of adding a clamp (or a ratcheting strap) to each piece that needs to be held in place until the glue dries. It looks more complicated than it is. Obviously this was Chris’ creation!
When the lower shelf was dry, we attached it in place, and then added a bit more bracing to the top to give us something to attach the skirting and the barn wood counter top to.
Then it was time for the stain!
We used CIL Woodcare Ultra Premium in a semi-transparent color called “Traditional Walnut”. It features deep penetration for enhanced durability, mildew resistance on the stain film, and it protects against fading and UV damage as well as water damage. CIL has a whole line up of different Woodcare products for cleaning, beautifying, and protecting outdoor wood surfaces, so make sure you read the label so you pick up the one that best suits your project and your needs! Home Depot caries the largest selection of CIL Woodcare stains, including an exclusive range of super-premium stains: CIL Woodcare Distinction™, Canadian Wood Oil, and Fine Wood Finish all with distinct colours, features, and impressive warranties (satisfaction guaranteed for as long as you own your home!)
I started out by staining the smaller pieces, like the pieces for the storage trays we built first. Smaller projects can sometimes take longer to stain than bigger projects because of all the little corners to get into, so getting this out of the way made me feel like I just flew through the rest of the staining process!
I actually kept the inner dividers for the tray disassembled so that I could sort of speed through those parts too. One little tip that I love is to use inexpensive non-stick baking sheets to stain on instead of newspapers or cardboard. Keep them only for painting and staining obviously! 🙂 This really does help keep your stained and painted pieces from getting stuck down, like they sometimes do on newspapers and they really help keep the whole work area super tidy!
Next I stained the lower shelf, the legs, and the skirting.
If you were wondering what that floating red object is in the background, it’s the zip line tied up to the deck on the playhouse. We just put it up last year and it goes right across the creek! It definitely adds to the fun cottagey atmosphere in our back yard!
Anyway, after I was done with all that staining and zip line admiring, I stained some more! The last thing I did was that beautiful barn wood counter top!
Here’s how everything turned out when all was said and done!
It’s pretty great, if I do say so myself. I love how the semi-transparent stain gives it such a rich color, but still lets the character of the barn wood shine through. Let me give you a little tour of the features!
First of all, you can see we left one of the legs a bit longer and built it so that it sticks up as a post on one side of the counter top. It shows off some of the interesting cuts and joinery that the shipbuilders used in the barn and Chris really just could stand to cut it off. We added some hooks and now it’s the perfect spot to hang things like wine openers or bar towels!
We also cut out a hole in the center of the counter to hold a galvanized trough that we’re using for ice. It’s completely removable so it can be carried into the kitchen easily to refresh the ice supply and then be popped right back in!
We made those neat divided trays too, so glasses, bottles, and whatever other beverage accoutrements we might need can be easily carried back and forth from the kitchen.
A bar for your deck is a good thing, but an organized bar for your deck is just the bees knees! Speaking of which, I was happy to have a nice sunny day without any bees knees or any other bugs’ knees getting into our drinks the other day to enjoy our new Rustic Beverage Center before we pack it up this Friday and head off to the Cottage Life Show!
Don’t forget that I’ll be speaking there on Saturday and showing off my beverage center in person on the CIL Main Stage, so make sure you stop by and say hello if you’re going to be in the Toronto area!
Thanks so much to CIL for sponsoring this post, challenging me to create this project, and for inviting me to join them on stage this Saturday. I was compensated for my time in writing this post, however all thoughts, opinions, and over-zealous enthusiasm for the upcoming summer season are all my own!
Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.