Revamping Thrift Store Finds into Garden Art

Today I’m sharing a simple upcycle project that took over a year to get just right.  It started when I spotted this decorative finial at the thrift store the winter before last.  It was only a couple bucks and super heavy.  I’d seen similar shaped pieces sell for much more like this one and thought I could create a knock off version with this piece.  Here’s the quick before picture I remembered to snap just before the makeover began.

I used some grey spray paint I had on hand to give it a new look.  It was definitely an improvement, but I thought it still needed more texture.  I put it out on the deck to see if any ideas came to mind, but then got busy with other projects and never did more to it last summer.

This spring, as I prepped items for the yard I decided to give it another makeover while I was white washing some terracotta pots.  I gave it a quick dry brush with the same white paint and instantly fell in love with the look it created.

Now it looks like it’s made of concrete, just like the inspiration example!  It adds just the right amount of style to this corner of the deck where it compliments the potted plants.

And because it’s so heavy it can stand up to the dogs, so it’s placement here is also strategic.  It keeps them from jumping off the deck onto my plants in the flower bed below.  Pretty and functional all for a few dollars and a little paint. That’s my kind of makeover!

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A Serving Cart for the Deck

As I was changing up things on the deck this year I decided to add a serving station.  Last year this spot was occupied by the chippy bench we brought back from Portland, but that moved to the new deck this season leaving room for this cute cart I upcycled.

I picked it up on the local buy/sell page for $50 back in the spring.  Since it was still too cold outside to work on the yard at that time, I focused my attention on upcycling items for the deck, including this and the milk can planter I shared recently.  It was in good shape but I knew the red color wouldn’t work with the other elements we had planned for the deck.  I gave it a good cleaning and several coats of spray paint.  I went with black because it ties into my modern farmhouse look and it was the one thing I could count on to cover the red.  Here’s the before and after in my makeshift paint booth in the garage.

It’s always amazing what a coat – or several in this case – of spray paint can do!  It’s the perfect height to fit under the windows and is still narrow enough to not impede the walkway to the chicken coop.

I styled the top with a couple items I had on hand including the outdoor glasses I picked up on our trip this spring and the pottery barn glass pitcher we got as a wedding present.  I borrowed the faux plant from the laundry room.  Lastly, I added the table top tiki torch for a bit of bug protection.

The lower shelf stayed pretty simple with the metal bird house I found during our spring trip and a little succulent planter I made from an old candle container.

The handle is a perfect spot to drape a dish towel, so I used this IKEA one I had in my stash for projects.  And just like that we’re ready for a party on the deck!  I plan to put it to use when we have friends over this evening.

I do wish it filled the space here a bit more so next season I may use it elsewhere and build a narrow console table to go here.  But for now I’ll enjoy my little upcycle design. 🙂

Freebie Doggie Toybox

Today’s post is another DIY container, but this time instead of holding flowers it’s purpose is to corral the numerous dog toys that are always around our yard.  It started with this free crate I picked up at a work event.  The vendor said they had a huge stash of them and wanted to eliminate some so I could keep it.

I first thought about putting cedar boards around it but I couldn’t find a quick and easy way to keep them attached so I moved on to a free covering option I already had in my fabric stash – burlap.  I dug out a large scrap piece left over from previous projects and cut did a quick dry ‘test’ fit.  Then I trimmed it down and grabbed some twine to secure it to the crate.  I pulled apart some of the fibers and threaded the twine through so I could tie it.

The cats decided now was a good time to ‘help’ even though this project wasn’t for them.  Apparently burlap is a good spot for a kitty nap…

I conferred with the Hubs about the best way to wrap the box and secure the liner inside.  He made a few suggestions and then just told me to hand it over so he could work on it while he watched a movie and I edited client images.  Knowing his vast knowledge of knot tying and securing loads from almost 20 years in the Coast Guard I happily accepted the offer.  About an hour later he presented me with this.

He wove the twine through the top edge of the fabric and the holes on the crate pulling it taunt as he went so everything stayed smooth on the outside.  This will keep the fabric from pulling up every time the dogs pull out a toy.

Meanwhile, Stella was still hard at work on that nap…

I took a break from editing photos and placed the box in the backyard.  I was able to fit the toys we had in two smaller baskets into this one container so I went with the spot next to the firewood storage where it’s more out of sight and helps cover the electrical conduit.

It sits under the eave of the house so it’s mostly protected from rain, but because we didn’t cover the bottom any water that does get in it will be able to drain out easily.

Seeing it in place, I’m glad I went with the burlap instead of the cedar.  It blends in more, even when it’s filled with the dog’s brightly colored toys.  I showed the dogs where their new toys and they didn’t waste any time rooting through the pile to find their favorites and head off into the yard with them.  Now if only I could train them to pick up the toys and put them back in the box!

It’s a pretty nice upgrade for spending nada and it keeps the yard a little cleaner. 🙂

Repurposed Bin Planters

Today I’m sharing another couple of planters I mentioned in my recap post.  These cuties were made from old conveyor belt scoops that I got from Alaska Picker.  The first I snagged at the AK Picker Day sale – right after finding the garage sale milk can.  I hunted high and low for more of them but someone else had beat me to them.  So when I spotted another at the Alaska Chicks Vintage sale I immediately claimed one.

The first still had a section of conveyor belt attached, but the second was mounted to a piece of old barn wood.  I wanted them both to match so I had the Hubs remove both the belt and board so I could mount them on new boards.

The Hubs cut me two pieces of wood from some scrap we had from another project and I dug out my outdoor teal paint to give them a couple coats.  A little distressing around the edges gave them the perfect rustic look.  The Hubs attached the bins to the new boards and I had this cuteness!

I wasn’t sure where I was going to use them at first but when I came out and saw the big open area on the chicken coop expansion I knew they’d look great there.  After I painted the coop the Hubs drilled some drainage holes in the bottom of the bins and put them up with a couple of screws. I filled them with purple alyssum to finish them off.

I absolutely adore how they turned out.  The combo of teal, rusty metal and purple flowers makes my heart do a happy dance.  And it’s perfect for decorating a chicken coop – not to fussy but not to messy either.

I still have a little painting to do on the lower part of coop and the Hubs plans to finish off the storage area door with siding to match the rest of the coop.  I’ll share more about the expansion and new set up once it’s all done.  We also plan to fill the area in front of the coop with pavers and pea gravel to finish everything off.

Of course neither the chickens nor the dogs – or the cats for that matter – care about any of that.  They just like having a window where they can see each other face to face.  But this doggie/chicken/kitty momma is happy to have a pretty space for them all.

Upcycled Milk Can Planter

One of the projects I mentioned in my recap was an upcycled milk can planter.  This was a fairly simple project that came together quickly.  I spotted this old milk can at a garage sale on my way to Alaska Picker day back in the spring.  When I heard it was just $20 I claimed it right away.  It was pretty rough, but I knew I could at least do something with the shape since it was pretty sturdy and solid.

I tried scrubbing the discoloration off thinking it was dirt, but while I got lots of dirt off the piece the lines remained, so I had to decide the best option to cover them.  After a quick Pinterest search I went with basic black because it would hide all of the flaws and cover the odd pattern.

A couple coats later it was looking pretty good.  I picked up a black pot to match it and shoved it into the opening as far as I could fit it.  And when summer finally arrived it found a spot out on the deck and got a couple of plants to brighten it up.

It’s a perfect fit next to the hot tub stairs and helps hide the plumbing a bit when looking out from the bedroom.  Plus it coordinates well with the lounge chairs nearby.

I filled it with marigolds to help ward off bugs near the hot tub, purple alyssum and some creeping Jenny that trails over the front of the can.  A little birdhouse tucked up next to it brings in the teal I’ve used elsewhere in the yard.

Not bad for a $20 garage sale find and a can of spray paint!  I look forward to using it for many years to come with other trailing plants in a variety of colors.

My New Garden Bell

With all the other yard projects we’ve been working on the Hubs finally got my upcycled propane tank garden bell installed!  This was my first purchase at the Junk Bonanza show in Portland 2 years ago and it had to stay at my Mother-In-Law’s house until we made a trip with the trailer because it was so heavy.

I wasn’t sure exactly where I’d hang it but when we ended up with an ‘extra’ footer while constructing the new deck the Hubs suggested we make it into an arbor for the bell.  I was totally game and knew it would look great there.

He worked out the footings for the other side and put in a cross bar at the top last season before winter arrived.  We picked up from there this season, hanging the bell with the chain it came with and building a box around the base to act as a planter for a clematis I needed a trellis for.

Once the planter box was constructed I filled it with dirt and transplanted the clematis, then covered the dirt with wood chip mulch to reduce weeds.  I’ve been slowly training the clematis branches up the two posts.  Eventually it will cover the entire structure and frame the bell beautifully.

I also had the Hubs install the coordinating bird bath on a hook off to the side.  That way I can fill it when I water on dry days.  Now I just have to let it grow and enjoy the pretty rusty patina as I  wait for the blooms to show!  And work on incorporating the planter box into the rock landscape I have planned for around the deck. 😉

Antiquing in Camas

During my last visit to Portland I made a point to stop in and see an antique mall I’ve been following on Facebook for a while now.  Camas Antiques is located in the heart of the historic downtown Camas, WA and is just as charming in person as it is online. Just look at this sweet storefront!  It just begs you to come in – although I certainly didn’t need any convincing!  Inside there were numerous vendor booths, each with a unique style.  Since it was early summer during my visit many of the booths featured garden themes.

I spotted this simple window upcycle in one of the booths and showed it to the Hubs so he’d know what the heck I was talking about when I create something similar with the ones I still have stashed away in the shed.  I’m thinking they would be great done up for hanging stockings at for my holiday show in November.

This chalkboard message made both myself and my mother-in-law, who is also a novice gardener giggle.  At least we know we’re stretching our gardening muscles! LOL

The European vibe in this booth near the back of the store drew me right in and I lingered for quite a while, although I didn’t find anything that came home with me this trip.

I was amazed to realize there was a basement full of even more vendors!  It was like getting a second scoop on your ice cream cone.

I loved the lace tied to the light strands above this booth and might appropriate the idea for my booth at the bazaar if I have room.

I also pointed out this display to the Hubs since he always teases me for collecting driftwood!  I loved the wreath made out of the larger pieces.  I have a whole bucket full of pieces similar to this that I could use to make something similar.

This farmstyle area had me at first glance and I spent a good amount of time checking out all of the items.  That goat pillow gave me an instant smile and almost came home with me.  Those little faces were just so adorable.  I just couldn’t bear to think of putting them away after the summer season so I left them for someone else to find.

I finished touring the rest of the upstairs, ending at this fun booth in the front of the store, just behind the checkout counter.  It was full of great inspirations for little touches.  I may have to recreate those hanging lights somewhere in our home.

After I’d seen all of the booths, I paid for my rather large pile of finds that had been collecting at the front counter as I shopped and we headed out to find some food since we’d been there a few hours.

We ended up at a delicious Mexican restaurant, Nuestra Mesa, just a block away where I enjoyed a sangria with very yummy tacos.  It was the perfect way to wrap up a sunny vacation day in the Portland area!  If you’re ever in the area I definitely recommend planning a stop at both of these great spots.