Before and After Makeover: Raw-Material Apartment

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See how to create an extraordinary home from ordinary, inexpensive building materials.

Simply Divine

Barry Spindler used piles of wood, bags of concrete, and stacks of metal to create flooring, countertops, and furniture for his apartment. Choosing simple materials and doing the work himself helped Barry keep costs low.

Looks Like Leather

An unexpected feature in Barry's apartment is the wood-tile floor that runs throughout the living room and bedroom. It's constructed of oriented strand board available at home improvement stores for about $10 a sheet. He cut the OSB into 40-inch-square tiles, rabbeting each side so the 3/16-x-2-inch flat-bar steel would fit flush. He finished the floor -- both wood and metal -- with three coats of polyurethane.

Perfect Strike

Reclaimed wood from a bowling alley was the impetus for the bench. Barry bought a big slab of wood and cut it into usable pieces, perfectly sized for benches that double as side tables.

Great Divide

Barry made this partition unit on wheels from raw plywood. The unit serves many functions throughout the apartment. One side serves as his office. The wheels allow Barry to move the unit when he needs to open up more space to spread out projects. A skylight brightens the work space by day. At night Barry uses a spotlight clamped to a wood grid attached to the wall and the top of the partition. The spaces at the top are open to both sides of the room. The front side creates a partial wall that divides the living room from his office.

Behind Closed Doors

Most prominent in the kitchen space are the sleek cabinets. The cabinets are raw plywood with a pine surface. He added a grid of pine strips for architectural detailing. Besides being inexpensive, these cabinets are also very functional. Slide one cabinet door to reveal a slide-out cooktop. A ventilation fan is positioned behind a wood panel.

Clever Cooktop

Barry hid his cooktop behind sliding cabinet doors. He bought an inexpensive cooktop and built the frame that holds the stove. Barry then hired someone to cut and bend the stainless steel to fit the unit at a cost of about $70. The ventilation fan is positioned behind the wood panel above the cooktop.

Steel Rack

Working with welder Tim Ingbretson, Barry constructed this steel kitchen rack. The commercial-style rack is designed for storage and food preparation. He used wood from a bowling lane for the surface. The surface slips out so Barry can change it later.

On the Move

The kitchen table on wheels provides a flexible work surface. It is also constructed from steel welded together.

Sleep Chic

In the bedroom, Barry used wood and metal. The bed platform is constructed from sheets of plywood. Barry added casters to the bed for it to move easily. Shelves under the platform provide more storage.

Closet Case

Barry used translucent P95 acrylic sheeting for the panels of his shoji-style closet wall. The panels diffuse light into his closet while screening views of his belongings.

Great Wall

A sitting area occupies one side of the bedroom. A sliding door and shelving unit made of the same P95 acrylic sheeting fastened to a metal frame separate the bedroom from the living room.

Stone Faced

In the bathroom, leftover scrap steel and three bags of $3 concrete form the sink. Barry splurged on the wall-mount faucets. One faucet is mounted high above the basin, perfect for washing hair.

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