Because extra money is few and far between here, it's been a goal of mine to come up with some creative ideas (read: free) to make improvements to our home. Pinterest is also an extremely helpful resource for finding ideas as well as step by step instruction on how to upcycle items. So when I see a cool idea, I pin it, and add them to my list of potential projects. And let me tell you, the list is bloody LOOOOOOOOOOOOONG!
In addition to Pinterest being a wealth of upcycle information, there are a lot of websites out there where you can find all sorts of things for free! Kijiji and Craigslist both have free sections, and there is also Freecycle (there should be one in a city near you - just google it!) but it's a job in itself to continually check them out (they're constantly being updated and you've gotta be quick to get what you want). What I've discovered, is it's not a matter of priority when it comes to crossing things off my freebie home improvement list - it's really more of a "what comes up first" type of deal. And that's how Free Project #1 happened!
One Saturday morning I received my daily list of Freecycle items and saw that there was a local woman giving away some red bricks! I've been wanting to redo the pathway along the side of our house for a while now, and while redoing our entire patio is high on my wish list, it's not going to happen anytime soon. Best to start small, right? When we moved in, we had a plain ol' concrete patio with a concrete slab pathway running along the side. Not exactly beautiful!!! I had come across the pin below a while back, and decided that doing something similar would be a great way to update the area, while reusing what we already had. All I needed was some brick to finish it off....LIGHTBULB!
My husband THANKFULLY took the kids away (if you've ever tried doing anything with kids around - whether it be a large renovation or a pee in the bathroom - you realize nothing can be accomplished with kids around) and gave me the weekend to get to work. First I flipped my original slabs lengthwise to create a little bit more space on the pathway for the bricks (which were standard size, not small interlock like the above picture). The person who laid the original patio slabs did it properly using screening underneath, so I didn't need to purchase (or beg) for that - I just replunked them back down, one against the other. Next I had to start laying out the brick (again, having to lay them lengthwise to conserve space)...and trust me, after loading and unloading brick in and out of the trunk of a car, and then lifting and replacing concrete patio slabs, picking up bricks (even if it's one by one) is a task....Momma's not as strong as she thought... But eventually I got it down, malleting (is that a word? Hammering is, so I assume malleting is too?) each one in order to get them as level as any regular lazy person can...lol. The difficult thing was trying to get everything to line up nicely. I had to relay several slabs and bricks so that they ended where they needed to end, but eventually it turned out nicely. AND, only one finger casualty (yes, I pulled a full blown Fred Flintstone - malleting my finger instead of the brick ...and yes, it ballooned to the size of a Fred Flintstone finger after it's been hammered...AND, I screamed profanities just like Fred Flintstone ...frack'em, rack'em, rock'em...you get the picture, right?)
Finally, I swept in some polymeric sand that my mom had left over from a previous interlock patio project into the cracks of the brick work. I was able to get the sand in all the cracks, but really you're supposed to put one layer in, water it, let it settle, then do another layer. I couldn't squeeze out another layer, so I'll have to keep checking my free sites in case some extra polymeric sand comes up. That being said, the end product turned out quite well! And it gives the pathway a nice little punch of decoration.
Here's the after. (I promise I will get better at taking pictures of the before....)