2 simple and stylish outdoor hacks to try this weekend

DIY queen Tara Dennis shares how to make an outdoor chalkboard and pretty shelf
Chris Warnes

TV personality and style-savvy renovator Tara Dennis is a dab hand at creating chic and clever pieces from ordinary bits and pieces. Here she demonstrates how to create a cool chalkboard and an on-trend shelf – either or both will give your outdoor area a lift!

(Credit: Chris Warnes)

Project 1: Outdoor chalkboard


You will need:

• Chalkboard paint (water-based)

• 7mm plywood (ask hardware store to cut to size, as required)

• Fence posts (we found ours at the tip shop; alternatively try Gumtree)

• Handsaw

• PVA wood glue

• Countersunk screws (see note, below)

• Drill

• Masking tape

• Wire, for hanging


1. Apply two coats of paint to plywood, allowing time to dry between applications.
2. Measure and cut fence palings to size in order to frame the chalkboard. Place the chalkboard painted side up, arrange palings on top, then attach using glue.
3. When glue is dry, turn the framed chalkboard over so you’re now working from the back. Using a drill bit slightly smaller than the gauge (or diameter) of the screws, drill four clearance holes at each corner about 2.5cm from the edge (this helps prevent the timbers from splitting). Be sure not to go through the front of the frame.
Tip: Before drilling, hold the drill bit against the depth of the ply and frame, and mark the bit at the appropriate place to stop with masking tape. Keep the tape on when drilling and stop when you reach it.
4. Drill screws through frame and chalkboard.
5. Add two extra screws to back of chalkboard and wire for hanging.
Note: The length of screws will depend on the depth of the fence palings, as the screws will need to be less than the combined depth of the ply and palings.

(Credit: Chris Warnes)

“This chalkboard, hung near my door, is so handy for friendly messages. It gets used all the time!” – Tara

(Credit: Chris Warnes)

Project 2: Outdoor shelf


You will need:

• Saw

• Pine boards

• Drill

• Exterior paint

• Paintbrush

• Copper pipe with a diameter that will slip over rope

• Pipe cutter (available from hardware stores)

• Sisal rope

* Hook, for hanging


1. Using saw, cut pine into three equal lengths (or ask your hardware store to do this) and drill two holes at each end, sized according to the rope’s diameter.
2. Paint the pine in any colour you like: we used Dulux Weathershield in Black to match my house.

3. Using pipe cutter, cut copper into eight equal parts in the length you’d like your shelves to be separated. Cut two additional pieces of copper to fit between the holes at the short ends, underneath the bottom of the shelves.
Tip: Pipe cutters are easy to use – just wind around pipe, tightening a little as you go until it cuts all the way through.

4. Thread rope through one shelf, then thread through one copper length. Thread rope through a second shelf. Thread rope through another length of copper, then
through third shelf leaving a length above top shelf. Thread opposite end of rope through one copper base piece, then up through hole in opposite side of bottom shelf. Repeat threading process up through shelves, leaving a length of rope above top shelf. Trim rope ends so they are equal lengths.

5. Repeat Step 4 for opposite side of shelves. 

6. Tie all four rope lengths together. Drill hole in wall where desired, add hook, then hang shelf unit on hook.

(Credit: Chris Warnes)

Tara shows you how to create pretty pots out of plain, and shares more stylish outdoor projects here.

For more style tips from Tara, listen to The Daily Home Edit podcast below:

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