As a young freshman, I looked forward to moving into my dorm and assembling an impromptu shelving unit via the cinder-block-and-plank method. Unfortunately, I have yet to see another one at my school (maybe it’s not a West Coast thing) or any other dorm or apartment I’ve visited.


Image courtesy of “Ms Bunburyist” of Reed College located in Portland, Oregon (via Flickr)


Today, as I built one in our new rec room in Chicago, it occurred to me that this 60s and 70s college tradition must be resurrected. This weekend, I was at Miami University of Ohio hanging out with some friends and many were still scrounging for decent furniture. This thing can be your stylish, sturdy and sometimes free, alternative to Goodwill.

The basic idea is very simple. Universities are always building stuff. People are always building stuff. One late night, discretely “liberate” a few cinder blocks and planks from the construction site. The next day, bring the wooden board back, and the workers will probably be happy to cut “the board you bought at Home Depot” to the appropriate size for your living space. But then again, with less than $10 to spare, you could actually buy the materials at Home Depot and have them sliced for you there. Craig’s List is also an excellent source for legitimately free construction remains.

Now, stack the stuff however you choose. With the right eye on the design and contents, it can be very stylish in a sort of industrial way. You might also make it a bit more sophisticated by painting the cinder blocks and staining some nicer, clean wood. You could also use something besides cinder blocks: crates, bricks, pipes, etc.


Image courtesy of Sarah Marriage of Brooklyn, NY (via Flickr)



This is mine from today. It isn’t finished, and with 3 days until departure for Germany, don’t expect anything.