Asked on Jan 16, 2015

What should I do with this cool old barrel?

Susan Mortimer
by Susan Mortimer
Hey you wonderful creative Hometalkers. I need your inspiration. I inherited this cool, very old wooden barrel. I don't need another side table which is the obvious so I'm looking for your uniquely wonderful ideas. Can't wait to hear your spin!
Here it is- old but still very sturdy.
Ruler for perspective!
  36 answers
  • Belinda Todd Belinda Todd on Jan 16, 2015
    I thought of a few ideas. How about a planter? an ottoman? Cut it in half and make lampshades? You could paint something on it or use a decal to freshen it up
  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Jan 16, 2015
    I'd condition it with an oil first. Looks less than 2 feet high. My daughter uses something similar on her front landing. Changes it out by occasion/season. Uses pussy willows, large artificial flowers, or whatever takes her fancy. Could also use it to store mags you don't want to throw out.
  • Nancey Gorecki Nancey Gorecki on Jan 16, 2015
    I wish I had a picture but I have an old one as well. I put a planter in it with draping vines, its gorgeous. I keep it outside, the wires are rusty but it makes it look very rustic!
  • Michelle Michelle on Jan 16, 2015
    I have two like this that were barrels my grandfather kept his horseshoes in. I made them into little seats by turning them over and making pretty cushions for them.
  • Swan Road Designs Swan Road Designs on Jan 16, 2015
    Either have a round piece of frosted glass cut slightly bigger than the opening or use a clear piece and frost it yourself. Put an "up" light in the bottom of the barrel, put the glass on top and set it in a dark area of your home with some decor pieces that will allow the light to dance off them. If you do that, you should drill some 1-inch vent holes near the bottom of what would be the backside to allow for heat to escape, plus one of the holes will make it possible to run the light plug through to plug into an outlet.. A low-watt bulb is usually used in these types of lights, but allowing for heat to get out is an added safety measure. Yes, I read that you said you weren't interested in any more tables, but this is what came to my mind. Thought I'd share anyway.
  • Suzanne Phillips Suzanne Phillips on Jan 16, 2015
    I have seen some very cool dog beds and dog furniture made out of wine barrels, just Google wine barel dog bed, and you may find a good idea there
  • Donna Shaner Donna Shaner on Jan 16, 2015
    Used mine as a base for a rustic bubbling fountain on my patio. Large tin wash tub on top for the water (filled with rocks).
    • See 1 previous
    • Donna Shaner Donna Shaner on Jan 17, 2015
      @ @Suzanne Phillips Would love to post a picture, but it has been "dis-assembled" for the winter. I have put it together for 2 years. The first year, I used the tin wash tub thingy on the top of the barrel and last year, I believe, I switched to a large bright blue, lighter weight flower pot. We built a pergola over the patio and I decorated the space in a tropical theme. I was wanting lots of color, so switched to the blue pot, plus it was a tad smaller and seemed more sturdy for the size of my barrel. I added a bunch of shells to the rocks and added some fake greenery around the pump cord to disguise it. Also, propped up a chippy blue oar behind it for added height. I can post a picture, but won't be till spring. We are buried in the snow and cold here! Might be why I like the tropical look, come summer! LOL
  • Carol Carol on Jan 17, 2015
    Your barrel brought back memories of furniture my dad made 60 years ago. He painted the nail kegs (which is what yours is I believe) and made padded seats and then made a table out of a big wine barrel. We had it in our basement for parties. I would use it for a planter or on the porch to hold umbrellas. I have our old croquet set in a tall basket and something like that would look cute in your barrel too. Have fun!!
  • K. K. on Jan 17, 2015
    Choices, choices lucky you. Do you have a cat? If so you can make this into a Kitty nest. Paint or stain. Create a fabric hammock for the top (or cut a lid & cover it with carpet) then cut out a kitty sized hole, sand it well & once you've added some bedding inside your done. Or you could paint/stain it, add a lid and create a top with plenty of filling and use as a foot rest for a chair or sofa. :)
  • Karen Kay Babineaux Karen Kay Babineaux on Jan 17, 2015
    When my husband and I first married this is what we used for end tabkes and a wire spool for our dinning table. Just stain them and seal and had matching round marbal tops for them all.
  • LES LES on Jan 17, 2015
    use it for support a table. Side or coffee table could use glass or wood for top.
  • Karen Kay Babineaux Karen Kay Babineaux on Jan 17, 2015
    You can also rap them with rope and hot glue and stain that too. I used the barrel end tables for needed storage also.
  • Sherry Fram Sherry Fram on Jan 17, 2015
    It would make a great planter or plant stand.
  • Bobbie B Bobbie B on Jan 17, 2015
    I have a few and have turned mine upside down and placed next to my bed. I have a small lamp on it. It's just perfect size for they'll space I have
  • Kathy Ware-O'connor Kathy Ware-O'connor on Jan 17, 2015
    Use as end table
  • Ilona Elliott Ilona Elliott on Jan 17, 2015
    You could sew a fabric liner and use it as a hamper, or just buy a laundry bag and line it with that then it's a grab and go for laundry day. Might be able to add casters so you could move it easily as I know they are heavy--got a couple broken toes from one once! Or find a rubber or galvanized can that would fit in it to make it an outdoor ice bucket, with casters of course. You might need to attach it to a plywood base with casters or just be able to screw three casters through the bottom. Post pics when you figure it out! Have fun.
  • Pamela Golden Pamela Golden on Jan 18, 2015
    Outside lay it on its side and fill it partially with dirt and plant flowers so that when they are blooming they will look like they are falling out of the barrel. Makes a really pretty display for your lawn.
    • Susan Mortimer Susan Mortimer on Jan 18, 2015
      Cool idea. I have two old milk cans I want to do that with for sure. I've seen people do that with Alyssum or Snow in Summer to look like spilled milk.
  • Seanne Gillen Saunders Seanne Gillen Saunders on Jan 18, 2015
    However you decide to finish it, I think it would be such a cool place to put umbrellas, walking sticks and canes near your entry
  • Barbara Weatherly Barbara Weatherly on Jan 18, 2015
    Maybe a floor lamp?
  • White Oak Studio Designs White Oak Studio Designs on Jan 18, 2015
    I use my old nail barrel as a seasonal accent piece. Here is a picture of it filled with juniper greenery, MI. holly and red oshier dogwood branches etc. in front of our garden playhouse. Do you have a front porch where you might do the same? I've used it also in our unheated three-seasons porch filled with fall grasses, drying flowers and various branches-lots of natural materials. Place some pumpkins in front of it, a few vintage accent and you have a lovely welcoming focal point for your porch, entryway or wherever you have the space.
  • Nelda Nelda on Jan 18, 2015
    Make an outdoor sink!!! I saw it on kewl.
  • Sharon Lough Sharon Lough on Jan 18, 2015
    A small table would be fab.
  • Sue Sue on Jan 18, 2015
    I use mine as a dog food holder, It holds a 30 lb bag, I also purchased a large universal pot cover, and it fits perfect. I put it in a corner in the kitchen. I also stained it.
  • Deborah Jackson Deborah Jackson on Jan 18, 2015
    If you have a porch, I would paint it and paint something relaxing on it, they sell round woodtops cheap at Home Depot for a top. Keep it loose so you can store items in it and use it as a table between two rockers or other outdoor chairs.
  • Susan Mortimer Susan Mortimer on Jan 18, 2015
    So many awesome ideas!!
  • Maryfrancessandyplavidal Maryfrancessandyplavidal on Jan 18, 2015
    fill it with your favorite books or games, and put a glass top and use as end table, if not too tall... put a round wood top on it and use beside bed,,, or to store towels in,, lots of places that beauty can be used.
  • Vicki Vicki on Jan 18, 2015
    I sprayed painted black & use in my sunroom for umbrella, yard stick.....
  • Myrna Engle Myrna Engle on Jan 18, 2015
    Consider the wood. Barrels are made of quality, because they hold each other in place. If you try to use it outside it will be gone in a few years. They need to be moistened evenly or not at all. I would sand this lovely wood, the bails, and rims to a fine degree of luster. Paint on a durable clear varnish. Set it in a highly visible spot and possibly use seasonal dried twigs, stems and flowers. It would be a show stopper.
  • Opps Thereitis Opps Thereitis on Jan 18, 2015
    i have one that i use for umbrellas i keep it next to the door
  • Carole Carole on Jan 18, 2015
    Someone on Hometalk had a kitchen island/butchers block made from an old barrel. Don't know if you have space or a need for one? Maybe this one is a little too short for that. Umbrella holder as someone suggested already but line the inside to protect from moisture from wet brollies being placed in there. Depending on your décor it could hold bamboo, twisted willow or some other kind of natural or dried floral piece. Put a round tray in the top and make a display - shells for ocean theme, photos or object that appeal to you. Put a round piece of glass over the top. A Japanese Zen garden or something similar in the top with glass over it or left as it so you can rake the sand once in a while. You could use a pot inside the barrel so you don't fill the whole barrel. A large, funky lamp shade suspended on rope from a ceiling in a room with a high ceiling?? Upended and used with a cushion on top as a stool?
  • Sandra Barrows Sandra Barrows on Jan 21, 2015
    it would be nice for rolled-up blankets, bath towels or yoga mats.
  • Lynda Willborn Lynda Willborn on Jan 23, 2015
    I just saw an awesome idea, looks like this person drilled holes into the barrel, in various designs, inserted some lights (perhaps strings of Christmas lights?) stained it and placed it on the porch as a luminary.
  • Sue Peet Sue Peet on Feb 13, 2015
    Susan so many wonderful ideas have already been mentioned here are a couple more. Good for holding rolls of wrapping paper, loose or in a bag of birdseed, put an upside down flowerpot then place a potted plant on top of other pot. But I'm with Myma Engle to protecting this barrel by not putting it outside. If you like the rustic look then don't paint or stain it.
  • Molly Lamp Molly Lamp on Feb 25, 2015
    I set mine by door for canes and walking sticks.
  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Feb 03, 2023

    Use as Water garden, Tall Planter. cut it in half (after making sure where you cut will give you lower planter Plus top planter without a base. Make a base or add a top and make a table or stand with it. Use to Water Butt to collect water from house using plastic pipes.