IKEA-Hacked STOLMEN Cat Tower

When we first adopted Luna I went a little bit crazy trying to find as many ways as I could to catify our apartment. As renters, that really doesn’t leave a lot of options, since we aren’t permitted to fix anything to the walls or ceilings. Boo.

One thing I did see all over Pinterest, however, was the IKEA-hacked STOLMEN Cat Tower. So. Freaking. Cool.

The concept uses the IKEA STOLMEN post from their modular storage range, and then has cat-mad DIYers making platforms to attach to the post for their cats to climb all over. The post itself is designed to stand floor to ceiling, and can be screwed to the ceiling or – most crucially – just held in place by tension.

Woo! Renter-friendly!

A little prior planning occurred, but admittedly zero pricing of parts. The STOLMEN post alone is a less-than-modest $80, but having a happy, active cat would be worth it.

main-image-2

Construction

The hard part was the platforms. I’d seen some hand-cut ones around the internet that looked… well, hand cut. If this thing was going to stand in our lounge-area, I wanted it to look good. I had my heart set on certain shapes of platforms, painted white to match the pole and walls, and a nice grey matting on top for grip and comfort.

Enter Dave. In our relationship I am certainly both the bodger, and the perfectionist. I’ll rush into something without much prep, and then whinge about the mistakes I made on the final product.

Dave on the other hand, is the kind of guy that insists on doing it the right way, but is happy to tolerate dodgy results. I know – we’re arse about face.

Dave’s solution to my quality worries was to build himself a router table. I’m actually going to get him to blog about what/how that is all about, so for now, let’s just say we were ¼ through our budget, and it was weeks later, and we just about had the tools ready.

templates

To cut the platforms using a router required a template. I drew out the shapes I wanted on paper to check for sizing, transferred them to a thin, 6 mm MDF board, and roughly cut around them with the jigsaw. I love jigsaws.

But then things got fussy. Dave had this big orange rubber guide thing that you are supposed to attach to your template material, bend into the desired shape, and then push up against the router bit to ensure an accurate cut. We struggled with this bloody rubber thing to contort it into the right curves, but eventually I had two MDF templates – one for the small platforms and one for the large platforms.

routering

These templates then took over from the annoying rubber bendy thing, and allowed Dave to cut six beautiful platforms from 12 mm MDF.

Next I painted the bloody things. I used a semi-gloss, off-white paint which took far too many coats. I didn’t want brush strokes (perfectionist!) but instead of painting and sanding every coat, I just used a giant sponge and stippled the paint on (bodger!).

Then I had the wise idea that I wanted chamfered, unpainted edges. So out came the shaped router bits. Dave went around the edge of each platform – top and bottom – creating a smooth curved edge, and removing the paint. The result was really nice.

Installation

The platforms are attached to the post using the STOLMEN suspension fittings. We assembled the STOLMEN post as per the instructions, remembering to attach the platforms in the order we wanted them. Position wasn’t too important at this stage, as they are really easy to reposition once the post is upright.

Installing the post is a two-person job, especially with the added weight of the platforms. The idea is that you extend the post between the floor and ceiling, and then adjust at the bottom of the post using the tightening tool. It’s important to have someone taking the weight of the pole while you do this, and they will probably also need to keep an eye on the spirit level so you don’t have wonky cats.

This was the point where we decided that the design required a little modification. Without attaching the post to your ceiling, you are really relying on the tension in the post to hold it in place. Unfortunately the gap between sufficient tension to stop the post tilting, and sufficient tension to put a hole in your ceiling is very narrow. So we devised a modification which would limit the amount the post could tilt at all, using a ceiling plate.

“Plate” is very apt. I just drew around a dinner plate onto the remaining MDF, jigsaw cut it out (not a bad circle for a hand-cut!) and painted it white to match. When dry, we screwed the post to it as if it were the ceiling, added a layer of high-grip matting, and put the post back up between floor and ceiling. By widening the top the whole thing becomes more secure. Really, in hindsight, we could have done the same on the bottom too. But we didn’t think of that.

plate

The other things we added was a grub screw into the post at the join, and into the top fitting to prevent rotation, and a bowl of cat grass to entice the kitty. And then we waited.

And waited.

And put the cat on it, just to watch her jump off it.

And waited.

And put treats all over it which just got ignored.

And waited.

And used it as furniture.

And gave up.

Luna is not a tree cat. Luna is a ground cat, with an interest in vertical exploration only to couch-height. We did it all for nothing.

After a couple of months of denial we finally accepted that the cat tower was never going to get used, we took it down, and I listed it on eBay to see if anyone else wanted it. Thankfully they did. A lovely woman from not too far away bid enough to probably cover our materials, came and collected the kit, and even sent me a photo later that day of one of her cats near the top of the tower. She actually fosters cats, so many kitties will get to play on the tower in the future.

So a happy ending after all. Yay!

“Pokémon Go Get a Life” and other bullshit – a rant

Pokemon Go Have Fun

Funny isn’t it? We’re always told to carve our own paths; stay true to ourselves; do whatever it is that makes us happy. Yet when something like Pokémon Go comes along, suddenly everyone’s changed their tune.

The most common thing I’ve heard over the past couple of weeks has been “some people need to get a life”, and always said with such venom so that you know it’s not just a passing comment; it’s actually a strong feeling they have about something, despite the fact that it doesn’t affect them at all. “Get a life” they say, totally un-accepting that playing something like Pokémon Go could ever be anything other than a total waste of time.

I’ve heard some wonderful stories about Pokémon Go – vets with PTSD who couldn’t bring themselves to leave the house previously, kids with Autism finally being able to go out and socialise with other gamers. And for me, I’ve walked over 50,000 more steps more than normal each week since downloading the app, which is pretty awesome for my health. And I’ve been having fun doing it.

But it’s as if “carving your own path” is only okay as long as you choose one of the socially accepted ways of doing it, in which case it’s not really your own path at all, is it?

I know I’ve judged people for their choices before – I’m not at all innocent in all this. People who watch reality TV shows. People who spend hundreds of dollars supporting whatever sports team they are into. I’ve looked at them all thinking that perhaps there is a better use of their time and energy. But I think I’ve also kept in the back of my mind that if it makes them happy, then it’s OK (although I still don’t understand how sports can be a 30 minute News item!).

“Get a life” and “a waste of time” are such cruel things to say. It goes beyond just not “getting it”. It’s a total, unequivocal dismissal of worth, and it’s upsetting.

I know we should “ignore the haters”, but let’s be honest: that’s not always particularly easy. I think a much better phrase to insert into common use would be “don’t be a hater”.

#DontBeAHater

Cat hide-away for IKEA EXPEDIT/KALLAX

Whilst spending far too much time on Pinterest I saw a pin of a felted cat box designed to be used in IKEA’s hugely popular Expedit bookshelves (now replaced with Kallax). I thought it was a fantastic idea – I have an Expedit bookshelf myself – but the seller wanted over $100 including shipping. Goodness!

But it’s just a box with a hole in it. So I figured I’d try to make something similar using IKEA’s own boxes designed for Expedit, the DRÖNA. It worked swell!

EXPEDIT Cat Box IKEA Hack

It turned out to be SO simple to do. The only thing I did extra was to add a cushion for comfort, and put a little rubber foot at each corner of the base to stop the thing sliding as kitty gets in and out.

And since the DRÖNA boxes are just $5… what a saving!

 

Rental-friendly Kitty Window Perch

About six months ago I joined the ranks of crazy cat lady, and adopted a 2-year old kitty from a local vets. She’s the best – so cute! But I digress…

I’ve also fully bought in to the Catification movement. Catify to satisfy. Modifing/adding to your home to make sure that the environment is enriching your indoor cat’s life.

There’s a problem though. Many common catifications involve – naturally – fixing things to your walls or ceiling. Unfortunately I do not own my own home. I am a renter; I am at the mercy of a contract that states I shall not fix anything to the walls of my home without written permission from the owner. Not an easy thing, some of you will already know.

So I’ve been looking for ways to catify in rental-friendly ways. I’ve had all sorts of crack-pot plans in my mind. Here is one of them.

window-perch-2

There are a lot of these window perches around, but they are always screwed to the wall. I’ve worked out a way to get the same result without needing to make a mark on the property. Here’s what I used:

blueprintfullb

Here’s how I did it:

  1. After painting the tray white to match my brackets, I first worked out the final position of my shelf, and measured the depth of the window ledge. This told me how far back the L-brackets needed to be fixed. While not being screwed to the wall, the brackets are still necessary to give support.
  2. Then I fixed the L-brackets to the bottom of the tray with the screws. I had to do one up and one down, due to the shape of my brackets.
  3. I cut two strips from the non-slip mat, and fixed to the front face of the brackets with double-sided tape.
  4. Then I stuck the Command strips to the tray where it sits on the window-sill.
  5. Then I removed the sticky packing from the other side of the Command strips, and very carefully put into place at the window, making sure all three strips were pressed firmly against the window-sill.
  6. Finally I whipped up a fleecy cushion to sit in the tray.

So the idea here is that the brackets take the downwards force of kitty’s weight, translating it sideways into the wall, and the Command strips stop the whole thing sliding backwards and slipping off the ledge.

Admittedly it’s not as strong as it would be if fixed to the wall – I can’t sit on it myself. But it’s secure enough to take kitty’s weight, so that’s fine.

In the end I actually positioned my perch in the corner of a bay window, giving it an extra side of ledge support. But if you don’t have that arrangement, but have a wide enough ledge, the method above should suffice.

I have so many nutty ideas still to come. I might be back here again soon!

UPDATE:

After several weeks she finally sat on the damn thing! I can now confirm that it works🙂

yay

 

Space Shoes! Unloved Vans Makeover

Back in 2014 I inherited some unwanted Vans – unwanted because they were originally white, but one of them had become stained a watery brown colour. I’ve kept them for months with the intention of decorating them and making them beautiful.

Now, I know I’m about a year late to this craft party, so I won’t bother with a How-to – there are already several great ones if you do a quick google. So I hope you won’t mind me just posting a couple of pictures in order to show off. I’m so chuffed with the outcome!

DIY Galaxy Shoes - decorated Vans sneakers

I used FabricArt Dimensional fabric paints by Derivan in black, blue, pink, and white. This stuff is cold curing, so I just need to leave them out for 72 hours and they will be rub and wash-fast. To be sure though I think I’ll give them a waterproofing spray before I wear them out and about.

Forgot to do a before shot, so here’s a just-after-starting shot:

Ruined Vans: before

Aaaand another after:

Ruined Vans: after

So pleased🙂

Church Rose Graphic Prints

 

I was inspired a little while ago, whilst trying to work out what to do with an awkward bare wall in my new apartment, by seeing a bunch of window rose designs on a random Google image search.

Church windows are absolutely stunning things. I used to sing in our local church choir, and was lucky enough to sing at Peterborough Cathedral in the UK as a teenager (achieving my DeansChorister Award, no less), and must admit to having spent most of the time just staring around at the beauty inside the cathedral.

Notre Dame
A rather famous rose on Notre Dame in Paris

While the colours and refraction of light surely give the biggest wow factor, there are also some pretty complex shapes involved, and window roses are, I think, the best example of this. How on Earth, before 3D printers and computer aided design, did people ever manage to create such perfect symmetry, by hand? That’s some skillz, yo.

So anyway, I decided to recreate some window rose shapes in the artwork for my wall, and I’m really pleased with how they turned out. I chose a muted navy blue to match my couch, and copied the mossy green colour from a feature wall in the same area. Then spent AGES trying to find square frames.

finished

If you like what I’ve done please feel free to download the shapes for personal use by clicking here. You can change the colour layer to anything you like using this .psd file.

Click to download .psd

DIY Painted stick necklace holder

Jewelry boxes are great and everything, but like earphone cables, my long necklaces conspire in the dark, tangling themselves into an almost inseparable mess. So I devised a solution which is actually so simple I’m kind of annoyed I didn’t think of it sooner.

You can spend ages collecting beautiful necklaces, why hide them away in a box while they aren’t in use?

How to:

  1. Find a stick
  2. Clean the stick
  3. Add some colour to the stick (I went for a slightly aboriginal style using some paint I had leftover from another project)
  4. Hammer nails into the stick at intervals. Top tip: If you’re fussy like me it pays to put a little effort in here. I used a gridded mat to make sure that my vertically hanging necklaces ended up at equal distances apart. With a bendy stick, if you just measure along its length, your items may not be evenly spaced.
  5. Attach string at both ends. Mine just looks tied, but it’s also PVAed into place so nice and secure.
  6. Hang from wall.
  7. To prevent the stick from swinging every time you touch it, attach a couple of blobs of white-tak where it makes contact with the wall. This will also protect your paintwork from scratches.
  8. Hang jewelry!