Potting Bench From Recycled Furniture for $100, Cottage Core Style

5 Materials
8 Hours

We made a cottage-style potting bench from a junky futon and discarded baby gates. It has a steel top and dry sink with lots of storage. Check out the longer video for many more tips … the link is here.

Furniture recycling is both fun and money-saving, especially when you can make something as useful as this potting bench.

This work space will soon be wet and dirty … but the steel top will be easy to clean …

… and look great with vintage collectables.

Here's what the baby gates and futon looked like before their transformation.

The steel sheets used for the work top came from HomeDepot for $23 each. This was our biggest expense for this project. They needed a good cleaning when we brought then home from the store. We used Bar Keepers Friend™, Brillo™, and Windex™… and elbow grease.

By removing two slats in the futon, we could fit a steel hotel pan in the top to work as a dry sink. Pans like this come in many sizes at a reasonable price. This was $16 from WebRestaurantStore. We've seen them for even less on Amazon.

Once the hutch top is attached to the back of the work top, these steel pieces will slide underneath the and can be removed for cleaning. This works because the outside frame of the futon is slightly raised and the hutch is light weight.

Plain boards were used for six legs fastened to the inner frame of the futon. We used the roughest grade of lumber, leaving all holes, flaws, and knots adding to the rustic effect.

Taking apart the baby gates was the hardest step of this project. We used a bolt cutter and reciprocating saw to cut through the fasteners, and a jigsaw to make the outside profile square.

The plan was to make "L-shaped" legs in each corner, but since the baby gates fit perfectly, we tacked those to each end.

This worked out very well since we can hang tools on the gates with recycled curtain hooks.

We made side shelves and a back brace to stabilize the legs, and also glued rubber to the leg ends to make the table non-skid. Stripes were added to make the lumber look less chunky. The longer video explains how to paint stripes with no mess or touchups. It's an easy how-to.

We designed the hutch top in a drawing program called Affinity Design (about $50), but you can also do this on ordinary graph paper or other drawing program with a grid to help you calculate the measurements. Or … you can use a second-hand hutch top if it is light weight and can be safely attached on the back of the table — a must, especially if you have kids or cats.

Our carpentry skills leave something to be desired, but this rustic style was a good way to practice. It helped to have a detailed plan.

The recycled pieces, like the hook rack at the top, gave the finished bench a very homespun quality.

More recycling … we made finials from curtain rods and children's wooden blocks to glue to the top.

Now we have a great place for drying herbs and flowers …

… room for garden tools and buckets …

… and a steel top for dirty work like planting seeds and trimming leaves.

This potting bench will not look clean for long icon . This post will help us remember it while it's tidy. The longer video link is at the top and  more photos and tips, here.

Resources for this project:
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Stephie McCarthy
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
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  • Robyn Robyn on Feb 19, 2022

    I am in love with this project! For so long I have been wanting to make my own potting bench but I am always worried about outside elements ruining it. I like the idea of upcycling baby gates and using things around the house to personalize it to your own liking... One question, did you poly it to keep from the paint from peeling?

    Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful idea with us! 🌸🌼🌺

  • Benjamin Benjamin on Feb 20, 2022

    It's cute but what is it called? Potting bench/patio desk/ knick-knack paddy-whack collection display shelf? Definitely a bold direction to take from an old baby gate.

  • Leslie Leslie on Feb 20, 2022

    Hi Stephanie, this came out beautifully and when I read that you PAINTED the faux brick wall there was such an audible gasp from me that my cats, and even the fish looked at me lol. The wall is gorgeous. Thank you for sharing such a lovely outcome for your projects. I hate doing this especially on a great outcome as your bench but do you think another shelf below the table space where the tin watering can and the other small metal cans sit would give you more space to store things?

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  • Julie Julie on Feb 12, 2024

    Amazingly clever and so pretty too!!!!!

  • Vicki Vicki on Feb 14, 2024

    Amazing and so useful!!! I don't know when I can do this, but I have all the ingredients on hand!!! Lucky me...thank you!!!!