Karla Ritchey knows a thing or two about putting together repurposed elements. And she’s got a gorgeous outdoor room to prove it.
Behind the garage, a junked-out patio reflects Karla’s and husband Steve Ritchey’s prowess at repurposing.
The hand-carved mantel is topped with zinc-covered plywood with a crimped-copper edge.
A rusting Italian pendant light is electrified and on a timer, as are other lights throughout the garden.
Framed by the timeworn top of a chicken coop a rusted deer head overlooks an assortment of annuals.
Drought-resistant million bells make a perfect addition to this eclectic Texas garden.
Karla says it was a love of salvage that cemented her romance with Steve. Shortly after they got involved, Karla and Steve unearthed about 1,700 solid-core bricks in the backyard of her home in historic downtown McKinney, Texas—the remnants of an outdoor kitchen from the 1880s. “We repurposed about 1,400 of them in a patio behind the garage,” she recalls. “That was one of our first projects as a couple.”
Today that patio is Karla’s favorite garden feature. But she’s also proud of a custom-designed door wall. The three blue-painted 15-pane doors came from the original 1880 house for the property she now owns.
The repurposed doors—which swivel when pushed—are connected to white columns that line the patio perpendicular to the rear of the garage.
The columns are topped with zinc finials rediscovered in Karla’s massive junk collection.
Steve designed and built the dining table from plywood, gingerbread trim, and old corbels from Karla’s stash. Karla added the two new zinc finials that ‘have weathered nicely,” she says. “When I find something, I put it in a pile. Once I start a project, I pull from the pile to make things work.”
Fabricated locally, the table’s zinc sheet-metal surface adds a durable old-timey texture to the plywood slab beneath.
The patio table’s legs are decorated with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, a decorative paint whose matte finish suits vintage-look decor.
Pink gerberas and zinnias pop against glossy foliage in a circa 1950 green pressed-glass pitcher.
Want to make your own version of Karla’s and Steve’s patio table? Here’s how they did it:
Gather Your Materials
- 4×8-foot sheet of ¾-inch plywood
- 4 wood corbels
- Heavy wood screws
- Nail gun and nails
- 2×4 pressure-treated lumber
- Tongue-and-groove beaded board
- Wood gingerbread trim
- Annie Sloan Chalk Paint ™ in Old White and Duck Egg Blue
- For the zinc top:
- 4×10-foot sheet of zinc
- Snips and clamps
- Slapper hammer
- Soldering gun, flux, and Zinc solder
- File, 100 grit sandpaper
- Cupric sulfate (optional)
Cut plywood to desired size. Trim corbels so height of table reaches 30 inches.
Using photo as a guide for corbel placement, predrill holes in both plywood and corbels before inserting screws through the plywood top into each corbel. Use 6 to 8 screws per corbel.
Nail 2×4 boards between each corbel—on all four sides—to create inner frame for supporting plywood top. The frame will be covered on the short sides by gingerbread and on the long sides by beaded board or wood of your choosing.
Cut 2 lengths of gingerbread trim to fit short side of table. Attach to each short side of table with nail gun.
Cut 2 lengths of beaded board to fit long side of table. Attach to each long side of table with nail gun.
Cover plywood top with sheet metal.
Steve hired a local metal shop to fabric the tabletop from a piece of zinc sheet metal cut 31/8-inch larger than the plywood table top. This allowed a 11/2-inch lip to be turned down on all sides. No adhesive was necessary; the top fits snugly. Contract a fabricator at a local metal shop to create a table top, or follow steps below.
Paint beaded board and corbels with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint ™; no sanding or priming needed. Karla used Old White for the beaded board, and a combination of Old White and Duck Egg Blue for the corbels.
Make the zinc top:
Measure length, width, and depth of table top. Cut zinc sheet metal with snips to size that accommodates a lip on all four sides.
Leaving protective plastic in place except for corners, center sheet metal on table top. Clamp on all four sides to keep it stable. You may want to weigh it down with books or other heavy objects.
Trim a square from each corner of the sheet metal to help form corners.
Using a slapper hammer, turn down sheet metal on all four sides.
Solder the edges of the corners together using soldering iron, flux, and zinc solder.
File soldered corners until relatively smooth. Fill in any gaps with more solder, and then repeat filing process until edge is solid and ready to sand.
Sand with 100-grit sandpaper. Remove rest of protective plastic.
For an almost-instant weathered finish for zinc, paint on solution of water and cupric sulfate following product manufacturer directions.
Styled by Carla Sayklay, Vintage Chic Trading Co.
© Caruth Studio