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Window Boxes from Upcycled Fruit Boxes

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I have been busily brandishing a paintbrush for the first time in many months, returning to an idea that I blogged about on Curiously Creatively last year. You might recall that I wrote about picking up discarded wooden fruit boxes from Lidl in the spring, with various ideas for transforming them into something useful. Well, the months went by and nothing happened to the boxes, which meanwhile, were getting dustier and dustier out in the shed. Recently on a shopping trip to Lidl I noticed an abandoned orange box left in the bagging area by the checkouts and I had to force myself not to pick it up, aware that I had four at home already. It was time to take action and get painting! Only then, I told myself, I could allow myself to go collecting more…

My plan is to paint and decorate a couple of the boxes ready to contain some herbs or salad leaves for the summer. I will probably locate them on the windowsills at either the front or the back of the house. The house is roughly east west oriented so there are advantages to either side for sunlight. We were toying with the idea of building some window boxes anyway, so up-cycling these boxes should be a good alternative. They are slightly wider than the outside sill, but I don’t think the overhang will be enough to cause a problem (they won’t be either heavy or high enough to land on an unwary head). The dream of being able to open the kitchen window and snip some basil leaves as I cook is carrying me away! Let us see whether my fantasy can be made to meet reality.

The box painting process has had a somewhat piecemeal quality to it (not only because of it having taken so long to get started) because I have been using up left over match pots to clear out a cupboard. I began with two boxes and covered the outsides with a basic coat of some stone coloured matt emulsion paint. Amongst the odds and ends of mini paint pots, I found two green ones (left over from Verity’s pallets and from my kitchen shelf project) and a sunny yellow shade that was once used on a dolls’ shop front. Not all of the paints are robust enough for outdoor use, but a) I am in a using up and de-cluttering mood, b) I will coat the boxes in yacht varnish anyway and c) the paint would end up being thrown away if I didn’t use it up on a small project of some sort.

So, to report on the painting stages:

I have done at least two base coats of paints on the outside and two coats on the inner sides. I did not have enough paint to cover the inside of the base, but that doesn’t really matter. My plan is to use a lining cut from an old compost bag for the base and sides, so that will help to protect the wood on the base. As you can see from my photographs, I have used up the green paint on the shorter sides and corners, while the rest is covered in the ‘Sunshine Yellow’. I decided to have a bash at stencilling some garden themed shapes on the sides after discovering some leftover red paint, which I also used to edge and top the corner pieces. The final stage was to give the boxes a couple of coats of yacht varnish to make them more weather proofed. Ideally, I will have more than merely one season of use from them.

My stencilling efforts were not wholly satisfactory; the thickened paint and my lack of experience of using stencils with anything other than felt pens on paper both contributed to a less than perfect finish. However, I am pleased with the general effect and I think the decorated boxes will look well on the windowsills. I am looking forward to getting them planted up soon, I just need some more of our seeds to sprout so I have something to plant!

Now, all I need to do is to decide what to do with my remaining orange boxes! Any suggestions from the floor?

Painting my Pallets

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I’ve almost finished painting my two pallets and they should be ready to set up soon. I’ve chosen pots that fit in and planted them up with sweet peas, Italian Borlotti beans, dwarf beans and spinach. When the beans and sweet peas flower it should look very colourful.

Painted pallet

The small pallet in Wild Willow, Purple Pansy and Pure Duck Egg.

The pallets both needed scrubbing and sanding, the smaller one turned much lighter after that. I gave them a white undercoat first with some household paint, left over from doing a ceiling I think. I bought five match-pots, optimistically thinking that would be enough paint. I have two Home of Colour, Garden Colour paints, from Homebase and three Cuprinol, Garden Shades. The Home of Colour ones are in Wild Willow and Pure Duck Egg, the others are Purple Pansy, Barleywood and Sunny Lime. The Home of Colour paints have more in them and are better value but there is not a very large range of match-pots.

Painted pallet

The large pallet in Pure Duck Egg, Sunny Lime and Barleywood

I tried to do a couple of coats on most of the surfaces and to paint all the inside bits that won’t be visible but as some of the wood is splintered or gouged, there are a few white patches still. Everything went well until it came to painting the back of the larger pallet and I realised I didn’t have enough paint left. I painted a few stripes in the last of the Wild Willow and Sunny Lime. However, the rest is some leftover Dulux, My Space, Amazon Blue that I bought for painting a dolls’ house a few years ago. As you can see from the picture, the front of the larger pallet is still white. I have about half a pot of Dulux, Vinyl Matt, Summer Sun left over from the same dolls’ house project and I might finish that off on the front, although I’m not sure if there is enough. The Amazon Blue is indoor paint so I’ll have to varnish that part at least, although I might do the whole thing to make the pallets last a bit longer.

Painted pallet

Back of the larger pallet in Sunny Lime, Wild Willow and Amazon Blue

Are you doing any painting in the warm weather? Let us know what projects you have on the go!

Pallets with potential

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Another project has commenced, after two lucky finds. I was very taken with the idea of having a pallet when I saw them used as furniture, in gardens and in window displays. Unfortunately, it has proved a bit tricky to bet hold of any. He Who Put The Shelves Up sourced the first one, in the local river. It was half a mini-pallet which had obviously been in the river for some time. Then, a week or so ago, we had another breakthrough when Chris found a whole mini-pallet at work. This one was brand new and homeless! We carried it home and installed it in the garden.


Pallets with potential

I had been so focused on getting my pallets that I hadn’t thought much about what to do when I got them. He Who Put The Shelves Up suggested fitting a tray of plants behind each bar (you’ll know what I mean when you look at the pictures) and setting them up in the garden. I think this will work nicely so that is now the Official Pallet Plan.

A pallet

My brand new mini-pallet

However, the wood needs treating first. The new pallet needs sanding, the older one is so worn away that I don’t think sanding would achieve anything. Then I will either paint or varnish both of them. I could paint them and then pick plants that match the colour scheme!

My pallet

Salvaged pallet

This could take quite a while, it’ll be a good up-cycling summer project. For now, I’m just glad to have got my hands on two pallets, for keeps!

Brightening up some kitchen shelves

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A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about one of our renovations projects, a bedside chest of drawers that we repainted in three pastel shades. This time the renovation project is a set of kitchen shelves that look rather tired and worn. The shelves were made up several years ago from one of those self assembly kits from B&Q. I always meant to either paint or varnish them but never quite got around to it. The shelves have moved house a few times as well as acquiring various marks, so I thought it was finally time to apply a little attention with a paintbrush.

kitchen shelves

The raw material…

We browsed the paint selection in Homebase once more, having again decided to play around with a multi-colour finish.  The idea was to choose three colours with a warm, Mediterranean feel that we could later pick up in other pieces in the kitchen. We have another larger shelf unit of similar vintage and a table and chairs that might benefit from an overhaul in the future. Without being too ‘matchy matchy’ about it, I think it would be possible to link these items together in a coherent way. Well, that’s our design theory anyway, let’s see what we can come up with over the next few months. After much humming and hawing we plumped for the shades shown here (match pot sizes) in a matt emulsion. We chose Moroccan Red, Zest and Village Green. The names alone sounded quite evocative, but that’s us falling for cynical marketing ploys I suppose.

This project was slated to be started right at the beginning of the school holidays but somehow it got pushed further and further back until it was no longer really even summer. Thus, one fine morning last week I cleared the pots and pans off the unit in a determined fashion and took it into the back garden for a scrub and sand down. The wood has never been painted or varnished and the surface is quite smooth so I didn’t really need to do too much preparation on the shelves. Fortunately I didn’t have any filling to do either, only a certain amount of residue from some stickers to remove.


Yet more match pots…

As before, I decided to give a base or undercoat to the wood before I started applying the colours. I haven’t used a specific primer, just a white matt emulsion to give a good surface to work on later. So far, I’ve only put one coat of white paint on, but I might do one more before starting on the colours. I’m undecided about how much grain I want showing through on the finished surface. As I don’t want a surface that looks too ‘finished’ I may end up leaving it at one base coat. Fortunately the weather held long enough for the scrubbing, sanding and painting process in the garden and I returned the shelves to the kitchen in the short-term.

For now, the saucepans are back in place until I earmark another day in the weekly routine to complete the next stage. If the dry weather holds, the Curiously, Creatively team may be in paint-a-thon mode at the weekend in a bid to get the task completed. That is, unless we get distracted by another activity. There are lots of jobs that need doing in the garden at the moment! But, for now here’s the stage I’m at: one partly finished piece of kitchen furniture which already looks brighter and fresher than it did before.

white painted shelves

The half-way stage

As I’ve said before, any painting tips are more than welcome as we’re working in an experimental, see what works, see what effects we can obtain, sort of way.

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