Thrift Store Side-Table Re-purposed Into a Planter + Storage

10 Materials
2 Hours

I bought a strange little side-table(?) at a thrift store for $1, to practice the ombre painting technique.

$1 thrift store find

The ombre paint job was a fail (and sadly not the first). And afterwards I wasn’t sure what to do with this large clunky thing. So I banished it to the corner of our porch, where it sat for a couple of months. I considered putting it on the curb, but being an avid DIYer I just couldn’t bring myself to do it!  


One day while sitting on the porch a light-bulb went off! Maybe I could flip it over and use it as a planter? I saw that it had two blocks that were attached to the top insides. I thought this might work well as a ledge if I were to insert a smaller planter. This would allow me to easily remove the plant at the end of the season.

I looked around the garage for a planter to try it out – and the very first one I tried was a perfect fit!!! But if it hadn’t been, I would have just measured the diameter and went and bought one that fit. These plastic planters are very inexpensive.

A perfect fit!

Next I decided to remove the table top (which was now at the bottom) so the planter would have good drainage and not rot the wood. One of the four screws was stripped so I used a pry bar and a mallet to pry/smack the top off.

Removing the top

Even though the insert planter seemed sturdy enough – I decided to reinforce it just in case. I cut two blocks of wood and screwed them to the other two inner sides.

Added supports

The next step was to deal with the paint job. I wanted neutral tones so it wouldn’t compete with the beautiful colours of nature! After a light sanding, I dry brushed it with an ash coloured paint. 

Dry brushed

Then I dry brushed it again with a light grey colour. I kept dry brushing until just a hint of the colours underneath peeked through. Once it was fully dry I applied a matte wipe-on poly to help protect it.

Dry brushed again

The top edge looked unfinished, so I hot glued a dollar store nautical style rope. When I cut the black tips off, the rope started to unravel. So I attached a little zip tie to the end and trimmed off the excess.   

Nautical rope before and after

Then I planted my new hot pepper plant in the insert, placed the insert into the new planter, and placed it on our lawn.

Charlie boy's cameo appearance

As I was cleaning up after my project I had another idea! The top was still in good shape…and I thought maybe I could move the planter to our porch over the winter months, place the top back on, and store some of our seasonal stuff inside!

So I sealed the screw holes and painted the top with the same dry brush technique/colours as the planter. Then I remembered I had picked up a large flower stencil on clearance awhile back and thought that might look cool! I used dollar store paint in African Violet and dabbed the paint over the stencil using a sea sponge. I had zero experience with stenciling or sea sponges, but I just love the textured way it turned out!!

Flower stencil

Once it was dry I couldn’t wait until winter to see how it looked! So I popped out the pepper plant and placed it in the corner of our porch along with the items that were already there. I can visualize swapping out the flowers for birch trees and Christmas décor over the winter!  

I’m delighted that this clunky eye-sore has transformed into a pretty functional piece! The maximum cost was $5, including the cost of the table! I’m so glad I didn’t place it on the curb before this idea had a chance to incubate! :)

I think those big wooden spools could be used in a similar way. Now I just need to find one of those for our backyard...

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 7 questions
  • Laurie Sturm
    on Sep 13, 2019

    Very innovative and I love your enthusiasm! 😁💕

  • Ellen
    on Sep 14, 2019

    Love the rope addition! Has it gotten dirty since you need to water?

    • Valerie Burge
      on Sep 14, 2019

      Thanks Ellen! It hasn't gotten dirty, but I did notice a small spot that has worked loose. I think before winter I'll remove it and reapply it using outdoor silicone. I did two outdoor projects this summer using hot glue and both came loose after a week or so. Lesson learned - don't use hot glue for outside projects!

  • User
    on Sep 14, 2019

    What is dry brushing?

    • Valerie Burge
      on Sep 14, 2019

      It's when you have barely any paint on the brush. You can dab excess paint off the brush onto a paper towel so that when you paint you don't get full coverage and can still still some of what's underneath.

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