Trash to Treasures

We LOVE turning trash into treasures.  We're not  pack rats or hoarders, but if it's old and rustic or vintage, we will find a way to turn it into something useful and beautiful.  Of course, they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  My Dad looks at something we transformed and says, "That's ugly! You're going to paint that, aren't you?"  Here are some of our transformations. Some are big, and some are small. Some are complicated; others are quite simple.  We hope it sparks some ideas for you.

The Small of It


 Let's start with something really easy.  My sister-in-law gave me this old dresser she was getting rid of.  I put it in my kitchen for extra storage in place of a base cabinet. I found the slab of marble at a second-hand store and placed it on top of the dresser. It provides extra counter space and makes a good work station for rolling out cookie dough or pie crusts.

I took my Grandma's aged muffin tin, poured some potpourri into the cups, and added a few primitive-style tea lights for an instant display element in the kitchen!

Rocking Chairs

A friend was tossing two weathered and rickety rocking chairs.  They did look ready for the trash. Some of the joints needed tightened up with a little wood glue.  A light power-washing and a coat of paint made them look like new. When the yard work is done and tools are put away, this is a welcoming spot to sit and relax.

Vintage Cabinet

This metal cabinet belonged to my great-aunt.  I remember it being in her kitchen when I was a little girl.  It sat in my mom's basement for decades and accumulated quite a bit of rust.  This project took some time and effort, but the skill level needed is not too high. We sanded it down and sprayed it with appliance paint inside and out. It looks like brand new and adds vintage style to our laundry room.

End Table

This project takes a little bit of practice to develop technique, but it is not too difficult for anyone to do.  My great-aunt had a leather-top round end table in her living room, very much like this one pictured.  I remember she had it in her front window.  The ultra-violet rays of the sun badly damaged the table's finish. The leather top (very popular in those days) was dried out and crackling.  It would have been very expensive to replace and impossible to repair.  (This is not the table I refinished, but it is very similar, only in much better condition.)

My dad was going to throw the table out, but I told him that I wanted it.  He couldn't believe that I would want such a damaged piece of furniture.  I painted the table and gave it a distressed finish. It looks beautiful to me.  My dad thinks it's ugly.  It's actually quite in style with the shabby chic crowd!

How to:  To get this distressed paint look, start out with a clean dry surface.  Lightly sand and then wipe the surface with tacky cloth. I then gave this piece a coat of primer.  I wasn't sure how the crackled leather would cover, but it worked out fine.  Next I painted the whole table with a dark brown flat latex paint.  After it was dry, I rubbed a little bit of paste wax on the edges where it would naturally wear from use. Then I gave it a coat of off-white semi-gloss latex paint.  After it had dried for several hours, I lightly sanded the whole piece again. The white paint easily came off where the wax had been applied.  I have found that if you wait too long (like overnight or 24 hours), the top coat of paint doesn't come off as easily.  That's it!



Our 70's bathroom had a long, unframed mirror on the wall behind the vanity.  As part of a renovation to give the room a farm house style, we removed the mirror and used a glass cutter to cut it into smaller pieces. We bought a couple of small frames at the dollar store and made the larger frame and medicine cabinet from scraps of wood.  We gave the new collection of framed mirrors a distressed paint finish. We bought the decorative scrolled piece on the top of the large frame at a home supply store and glued it onto the frame before painting.

Picture Frames and Wall Art

Recycled wood is, surprisingly, expensive to buy.  All you have to do, however, is leave wood outside in the weather for a while, and it will look as old as the old stuff!

We recycled the pickets from an old fence into an American flag wall hanging.

We converted half of an antique door into a picture frame for one of our own photos that we had enlarged to a 20x30 print.

Canning Jar Lids

Turn canning jar lids into a rustic pumpkin centerpiece.


Decorative Signs 

Take weathered wood and turn it into beautiful primitive wall signs. This pumpkin sign was made using acrylic craft paints.

This house sign was made using an electric wood burning tool to burn in the letters.

Antique Doors and Windows 

These doors and windows were given to us by a friend who deals in antiques for building our hen house, Cluckingham Palace.

Dresser Turned Vanity

We turned this antique dresser into a bathroom vanity.

Field Stone

We collected the field stone we found on our property and turned those piles into


Thanks for coming by for a visit.  Come back again to see more.

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  1. Wow! Great ideas... Makes for a warm and special home, too.

    1. Thank you Charlotte! It does make home more special. So many nostalgic pieces turned into usable treasures!