Garage Sale Rusty Metal Tray Upcycle

This photo was actually taken two summers ago after an amazing garage sale score! I had stumbled upon this sale along a main road on my way home from getting groceries. It was already late afternoon, so they were beginning to clean-up, but I spotted the wrought iron plant holders and thought it was worth pulling over. You know what they say, timing is everything! By this point, they really just wanted the stuff gone…I got the entire table full of stuff, plus the two plant stands for $20. Unbelievable! Anyway, it took me some time to get to it, but I finally have this ugly old rusty metal tray in usable condition. When you calculate the cost for this, I’m guessing it was almost free as it was probably one of the least valuable items in this spree.

Can you say “UGLY?!”

I gave the tray a bit of a sanding to remove the rusty spots and then simply spray painted it white. I did plan to distress it slightly, but didn’t actually realize that the floral decoration had a bit more dimension to it than I originally accounted for. When I finished painting it, you could kind of see the floral design showing through. I really had no choice but to sand over the design and see what I could do with it. So, although I had planned to hide the flowers with paint….I ended up highlighting them by sanding, and surprising love this finished look! I can’t actually believe the ugly flowers are what make this tray so amazing….this is now my favourite serving tray!!

Upcycled Ugly Garage Sale Metal Serving Tray

The moral of this story….when garage selling and thrifting, always look for well made items made of wood, metal and glass. It is amazing what you can do with paint and sand paper! This upcycle even surprised me!

Curb Appeal of a Different Sort

A few summers ago, (back when my kids still wanted to go on bike rides with their mom) I spotted this old dilapidate chair on the curb just waiting to be claimed. To the embarrassment of my kids, I went and knocked on the door of the home it sat in front of and inquired about the chair. Sure enough, it was up for grabs…yay!! I asked if they would mind tucking it in their garage, so I could come back with the van and pick it up. They agreed and I was excited beyond words!

I picked it up and planted it in our garage. Unfortunately, when I had a closer look I realized that the new upholstery would entail more skill than any of my previous projects. There was no way to hide all of the tacks, as I had in the other simple projects I had done. As a result, I let fear get the better of me and avoided it for almost two years. It was only when Tim threatened to toss it that I knew I had to at least give it a try. I took apart the seat and back and used the very old and stinky upholstery pieces as a pattern for the new fabric. The chair frame required sanding just to rough up the surface in preparation for paint. I decided to paint it white (Surprise!  Surprise!) and then got to work reinforcing the seat and adding additional padding (salvaged from our old leather chair).

Once the seat was re-built, it was time to try my hand at covering the seat, back and arms.  I did my best to tack the pieces in place as inconspicuously as possible and then hot glued a simple lace rope around the edges to hide the staples/tacks. On close inspection, it’s certainly not perfect, but to the casual observer it looks pretty good for my first crack at real upholstering. If you asked an expert, I’m sure I did everything wrong, but when you consider this was picked up off the curb and the fabric was on clearance for $7…it’s quite the steal! Love these trash to treasure deals!

*As an after thought, I decided to paint and re-upholster the arm chair that we had kept from the original set we bought with our old antique dining room table. It was an easy job as the seat lifts off and all of the staples are hidden below. (This is the kind of project I like!!)

Trash to Treasure: Simple Folding Chair Upcycle

I can’t believe how long it has been since I sat down to write a post. It’s not for lack of content as I have a list of “to post” ideas, but quite honestly just haven’t had the time or stamina to juggle all that life has been throwing at as. Family life has been super busy, especially since Eden began playing club volleyball this winter. I thought Shay’s hockey was demanding until I became a volleyball mom ~ hockey seems like a cake walk now!  It has been really great for her, but it’s a huge commitment for the whole family. Unlike hockey with a few practises and a game on the weekend, Eden has 4 practises per week. The short practise is 2 hours, but the others are 3 hours in length. Her team is scheduled to play in 7 tournaments and if last weekend is any indication….that means lots of time. I spent 17 hours at the gym watching Eden and waiting between games.  As much as I personally love the game and watching her play, it was a long two days. Needless to say, my tank was pretty much empty by the time I get home and thus we had to start the week with full laundry baskets and my huge list of things that never got done over the weekend. I know this is yet another “season” in life and parenting and as I watching the kids growing-up so fast, we will put aside some of our own desires and enjoy the time we have while they are still at home. Like the last 14 years, I now the next 4 will fly by like there is no tomorrow. Deep sigh….

I am so thankful for my committed followers and the new traffic that still seems to be checking out the blog even though it has sat stagnant for long stretches between posts. With spring in the air, I am hoping to re-charge my batteries and want to attempt to write a post per. I had no intension of letting my blog slide, but I have learned – life happens and sometimes you just have to assess your priorities and go with the flow.

Trash To Treasure:

before and afterOne weekend in January, I had a few hours to burn and decided to finally get to a project that had been on my list for what seemed like forever. Quite some time ago, I managed to snag a vintage card table and chair set – you know the old folding kind. They were offered on WpgFreeShare, so the price was definitely right at free! I knew it would be a super easy upcycle, but despite this, they sat untouched in my garage. I had disposed of the table right away as I knew I wouldn’t use it, but the chairs were very appealing. I find that with family gatherings, we are constantly in need of extra chairs. The folding chairs are obviously easy to store and get a “pass” for comfort. These chairs are a great solution for the problem of limited seating. I love that the chairs cost me nothing and the fabric was on sale and cost me around $10. I don’t remember what I paid for the spray paint, but I picked it up in the USA (much cheaper) before our dollar became so bad.  I’m guessing the whole project was about $20.  I can’t say I’d want the chairs to be a permanent fixture at my dining room table, but they certainly offer a good option for when there are extra people to seat.

If there were a prize for ugliest set ever, this was a slam dunk. The metal legs were painted gold and the plastic seat covers were a hideous golden floral print. UGLY!! I had done a previous folding chair make-over, so I knew it would be easy to make these into something more charming. Spray paint and a bit of fabric was all it took!

It’s funny…I would never describe myself as a lover of yellow, but over the past few years, I’ve noticed it creeping into my colour pallet. Our walls our a strange yellowy-green colour that can look very different withCastleton Mist changes in lighting. Although I love the colour, it is not the easiest to work with. I originally chose it because we have lots of oak in our home and the orangey tone can be hard to coordinate with. The wall colour (Benjamin Moore Castleton Mist) really does complement the wood work, but when I went to choose spray paint for the chairs, the choices were very limited. I guess I could have went with black, but I really wanted a bit of colour. In the end, I chose yellow paint and a black and white print. I love the contrast and the chairs certainly look much better.

The back panel and seat were screwed on and easily removed. I added some extra padding and simply used the staple gun to reupholster the pieces.

Upcycled Folding Chair

With fresh paint and new fabric the chairs are now company worthy! 

PS It’s good to be back…I have some fabulous new recipes to share, so stay tuned!


DIY ~ “Upcycled” End Tables

Yesterday was a great day!  I got my post written early and had enough time to finish up a little “upcycling” project that I had on the go.  Repurposing and upcycling are two of my deepest passions, but unfortunately those projects can be time-consuming and as a working mom I don’t have the time or energy to do much of it during the school year.  When summer arrives, creative projects are always at the top of my list.  I absolutely thrive on thinking outside of the box and love trying to create something great out of a piece that might otherwise be deemed trash.  In fact, if you were to walk through our home you would find that very few pieces were purchased new, directly from a retail store.  Many were bought on Kijiji, at garage sales and few were even picked up from back lane “dumpster diving”.  No, I am not too proud to say that…” trash to treasure projects” generally give me the greatest satisfaction.  Such is the case with today’s project.

Upcycled End Tables: Step 1 ~ Spray Paint

Okay, first off, I can’t believe I didn’t take a before picture.  I always do and in fact, was sure I had until I sat down to write this post.  So sorry, but I will try to explain without the visual.  I bought two metal end tables off of Kijiji.  The lady was advertizing them @ two for $10, but when I got there she confessed that she had broken the glass top of one and in the end reduced the price down to $8 for both tables.  (I actually was not going to use the glass for the project so it really didn’t matter to me except for the fact that it had a nice bevelled edge that could have been used for another project.)  All in all it was a great purchase.  In this photo, you can see the structure of the table (minus the glass top).  At this point, I had already sprayed the metal legs with one coat flat black spray paint.
end table

spray paint


Now imagine the structure above, with speckled paint on it.  The original colour was a little bit more greenish grey, but had speckles similar to the cap in the picture.





Upcycled End Tables: Step 2 ~ Sanding

Last summer, my neighbour spotted an old pallet by the BFI bin in the back lane.  She helped me drag it home and it has been awaiting repurposing ever since.  Finally, a use for it!  I got out the belt sander and began to remove the layers of grime and graffiti.

free pallet

As you can see, the pallet was in pretty rough shape.  I decided to sand it while it was still nailed together.  It seemed like a good idea, as the boards were stable and easier to sand.  Once sanded, I took the circular saw and ran the saw along the edges of the top boards, just inside the rows of nails (and the 2 X 4’s below that were holding the top planks).  Removing pallet nails is not an easy task, so I just basically cut off the rows of nails along both ends and down the middle, being careful not to cut into the plank below that they were nailed into.  For the purpose of this project, the resulting planks would still be long enough to meet my needs.

Upcycled End Tables: Step 3 ~ Final Cuts of the Table Top Boards 

The next thing I did was take my planks and stack them into two piles of 4.  I would need 4 planks for each table top and wanted them to be cut to the same size.  I placed each pile on the mitre saw, one at a time and made a fresh-cut along one end of the planks to ensure it was nice and straight. I then turned the stack and measured 20 1/2 inches from the fresh-cut end, ensuring that all of the planks were lined up perfectly.  I cut them at the 20 1/2 inch mark, and with the 4 planks stacked firmly together, all 4 pieces were cut completely “square” and to the exact same length.  I repeated this process with the other stack of 4 boards.  Following that, I used the mouse sander to ensure that all of the boards had a smooth finish on the tops and all of the edges.  I was not concerned with chips or gouges in the wood because I was going for a worn rustic look anyway.

Upcycled End Tables: Step 4 ~ Building the Frame and Top

I found some old 1 X 2’s int he basement from a previous project and used them to make a frame that would sit around the square top of the metal table.  Think picture frame.  I measured the outside edge of the black metal top at 17″ per side.  The 17″ would become my inside cut on my mitred corners of my frame.  I measured out 20″ lengths of 1 X 2’s and then proceeded to cut my boards with a 17″ inside frame length.  Basically, my plan was to build a frame around the existing top and then nail my planks to the wooded frame that would sit snuggly along the outside of the square metal table base.

Once the frames were made, I nailed my planks to the tops. I set some really large bolts between each plank to ensure the spaces between the planks would be a consistent size.

bottom of table top

You can see from the picture, that the frame was made out of scrap wood as well.  This is the under side of the table tops.  The frame on the bottom simply sits on top of the metal tables with the metal square on top of the base fitting snuggly inside the frame I built.

both table tops

Upcycled End Tables: Step 5 ~ Staining the Table Tops

I found an old tin of stain that I have used for many previous projects and generously applied it to the tops, sides and between the planks of the table top.  I love the way it looks so old and rustic.  We gave it a quick coat of spray urethane and VOILA!  Two new end tables for our front porch.

stained table top


What I Love About Upcycling

In all honesty, it’s a bit of a rush for me.  I picked up these tables for $8 ($4 each) and had all of the other materials on hand.  The pallet was a dumpster dive treasure and so of course it was free.  This project was no more than a few hours work and I would rate it as very easy.  The best part is the finished product provides us with little tables that are literally one of a kind.  When something turns out well, it gives me a true sense of accomplishment.  One of my favourite bloggers is Becky from Beyond the Picket Fence.  She is a mom and teacher like me, and best of all she has awesome ideas for DIY and upcycling projects.  Check-out her blog and be inspired!

I come from very humble beginnings and learned at a young age how to stretch a dollar. I think that my ability to find a good deal, coupled with my knack for seeing potential in what others might deem trash, makes upcycling both fun and rewarding.  Even when a project doesn’t quite go as well as I had hoped, my biggest loss is usually time not money, but because I enjoy the process, I take each failure in stride and try to learn something that can help me become more successful in future projects.

Check-out the mini slide show of the finished project!

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