Something From (Almost) Nothing

This post is my entry for June’s IndieWeb Carnival being hosted by Andrei.

First of all, what a great theme for the IndieWeb Carnival. I can’t wait to see what others share, because there is something truly inspiring about seeing what others have made or repurposed.

Part of me wishes that my NO SOLICITING sign build had wrapped a couple of weeks later, because it’s likely the purest form of Andrei’s theme. My latest project falls into repurpose and customization, but the (Almost) addendum to the writing theme highlights how making customizations yourself is the best way to achieve what you want from a product. This pushes against the buy/return (or throw out) cycle that many consumers follow as a default, wasteful consumption pattern today. The project is in its final stage and will be wrapped up within a week.

We’ve lived in our current home for 7 years this July. When we moved in, we bought a Hunter Cranbrook ceiling fan in the mint color. I fell in love with the mid-century modern design the moment I saw it. The fan has served as a conversation piece in our family room. Whether walking in from the garage (our primary point of entry), or walking in from the front hallway, the design grabs the eye. Recently, we’ve refreshed our kitchen/family room with new light fixtures and furniture. It was time for a change (mostly due to our English Mastiff being past the chewing/puppy phase) and we’ve been happy with the changes made. The mint/walnut combo was no longer in harmony with the new palette, but we couldn’t part with this gorgeous fan. Rather than repurchase the fan in the dove gray” option, I told my wife we could do a better job of customizing it. The blades would have still been light pine or walnut, and that wasn’t quite right.

I’d installed the fan 7 years ago, so I had some memory of how it came apart. I took the fan down and disassembled all the parts that would allow me to paint the metal mint components. Luckily, all the mint parts could be completely removed from other non-mint parts, so no masking was necessary. This considerably sped things up for the paint process. I took each component outside and completed 3–4 coats on each item, being careful to make sure every visible surface got coverage. I placed the items in used shoeboxes to keep any dust or insects from landing in the paint as it was drying. The parts look amazing, and I’ve reassembled what I can up to this point. Next came the blades.

Hunter Cranbrook hood painted grayHunter Cranbrook hood painted gray

We needed to do some touch-ups on our kitchen cabinets as part of the rejuvenation of the space, so I decided we’d stain the fan blades to match the semi-gloss, dark espresso color and finish of the cabinets and paint the mint portions of the fan a similar gray to the variant Hunter sells, but even more perfect for our palette. My first attempt at getting the stain resulted in a color way too close to black, vs. the deep raisin and plum tones in the cabinet finish. A much more artistic paint store employee and I spent 35 minutes tweaking and reviewing a custom mix of black stain with magenta and purple tinting until it was just right. I’ve completed one blade as the test, and the remaining three are all that’s left to complete the customizations, so I can re-assemble.

Fan blade & kitchen cabinet comparisonFan blade & kitchen cabinet comparison

The best thing about a project like this is that the fan I already loved looking at and enjoying will now be something I can appreciate no only the designer that created it, but the adaptations made to it with my own hands. Next time you think you have to buy something new, evaluate if there’s something that you can repurpose or enhance instead. The result is so much more fulfilling.

Update: Here’s the final product.

Customized Hunter CranbrookCustomized Hunter Cranbrook

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design   carnival  
2024 Jun·01

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