I came up with this when I was working on restoring the exterior of a home in Newton, more specifically the front door and the garage door. The sconces around the doors were original to the home, which was built in the 1940’s, so they were a bit worn out and on the smaller side. I held onto them for quite some time before I knew what I wanted to do. It wasn’t until I was dismantling the actual light socket and the fixture was standing upright that I thought this could make a unique planter for an indoor house plant or succulent.
The reason I decided to share this idea with you is because the sconces and flush-mount seen here are quite common, and almost always thrown out when replaced. There really isn’t much need for old fixtures that are somewhat blah, but when turned into planters, boring outdated fixtures are now a conversation piece.
This project is simple, your materials are inexpensive and you just need a few things besides some elbow grease.
Match the grade of the steel wool with how much you’d like the fixture to look worn – the higher the grade, the more course it is. I went with grade 0 to lightly buff off some of the paint and reveal the metal underneath.
For any areas that are extremely rusty.
Find the right size for your fixture, preferably one WITHOUT drainage – assume your fixture is not waterproof. Water plants sparingly that do not have a drainage hole. I recommend a succulent, they do not need a great amount of water.
PAINT REMOVER (OPTIONAL)
The copper fixture needed remover, once I started scrubbing with the steel wool and realized there was copper under the black paint I wanted to reveal more of the copper finish.
Use these for the base of the fixture, since you’ve flipped the fixture upside down, most likely it will now have sharp edges.
Only one pane of glass was put back into the planter on the left because the succulent chosen will eventually grow and wrap around the sides.
I chose to fill the copper planter with rocks for a nice contrast with the copper and to cover the terracotta pots inside.
This dining room set was passed along to me from my aunt; it had been sitting in her basement for about 15 years and previously belonged to my grandmother. I was up for the challenge to modernize the set and experiment with it, mainly because I remember sitting around the table in Fort Lauderdale in my grandparents sunroom and I didn’t want it to be trashed. Unfortunately all the before pictures were gone for good after my outdated iPhone 4s leapt out of my hands and plummeted to its death onto my hardwood floors.
Besides the maple tinted stain being outdated (in a bad way) and the table itself looking like it belonged somewhere tropical, it was covered in dirt and a lot of the bamboo was damaged around the feet of the chairs. There was no way I was going to sand and stain the set again, that would have taken quite some time so I decided to use a bonding agent (an oil based paint designed specifically for smooth surfaces and hiding stains) and went with a charcoal gray to match the slightly black tinted glass. Since there are many grooves in the set a paint sprayer was necessary to ensure even coverage and durability as the sprayer can create a thicker coat than both a roller or brush.
Once that was finished it was time to tackle the hideous floral print seat covers (sorry Bubbie). Originally I envisioned a black and white chevron print, but when the fabric seen below was on sale from $35.00 a yard to $5.00 a yard, I made the decision to go with that. The previous covering technique was simple, a standard diaper fold which I recreated with the new material. I kept the diaper fold because the print is intricate and speaks for itself, no need for piping or any fabric nails.
I was on the fence about painting bamboo, but overall was satisfied with the results. The unique lines of the bamboo, combined with the black tinted glass and new seat covers created a one of a kind look that was rather easy to accomplish. It’s also nice to say I saved something that had sentimental value, it doesn’t hurt that I created a dining room set for under $300.00 either.
Since it’s been a little over two years after I found this piece, I think its okay that I tell the truth about this dresser. After a nice lunch at the now closed Channel Café in Fort Point (still not happy about that) with my friend and co-worker Allie Hyde, we drove back to the styleboston office in Southie and parked on M Street behind the building.
It was trash day in late August so I had been keeping my eyes peeled for furniture, as this is the time of year when lots of people toss their belongings they can’t move and find a new rental. It was pouring outside but that didn’t stop me from trying to shove this dresser in my little Toyota which of course, did not fit. I had been gone for over an hour now and the boss lady was not happy, but I decided this dresser was worth getting ripped a new one. I called my sister and told her how much I wanted it and since she is so great, came and picked it up for me in her SUV.
Allie and I walked in soaking wet looking not so stylish….Terri just looked at us like WTF and said “really guys, an hour and a half lunch break?” We also had coffee in our hands so that didn’t help, but that’s not the point – the point is I got my new dresser! So yes sitting in a cold office with a pissed off boss and wet pants was totally worth it, sorry Terri.
The dresser was simple and country, with brown shellac and white porcelain knobs. I decided to add a little flair and make it standout with a bold color scheme and oversized knobs. The four small drawers across the top we’re really what caught my eye. A great piece for a guy – the perfect amount of space for socks, underwear and toiletries. I kept the faces of the drawers clear to expose the Pine wood grain while using a slightly tinted polyurethane to enhance the pattern of the grain. To make the drawer faces standout I chose a deep gray-blue for the frame that I felt complimented the small brushed nickel knobs. Ceramic knobs with a cracked emerald glass overlay from Anthropologie were added to the top drawers. Again adding contrast in size, shape and color. The bold colors and fixtures make this formerly quaint, country and feminine dresser a unique statement piece.
Items from trash: brushed nickel knobs, mirror (refinished), plant tray (made from scrap wood), terracotta pot.
Items purchased: ceramic knobs, paint.
View more of my creations HERE
When possible I generally stop for any piece of furniture I see on the side of the road. The only time I really force myself to keep driving is if I don’t have time, or the piece won’t fit in my car. My rule of thumb has nothing to do with illegal driving methods because rules behind the wheel don’t apply to Bostonians. With that being said, this piece actually came from inside the dumpster at my apartment – so there was no “flipping a bitch” on Dorchester Ave into oncoming traffic or considerately double parking on Boylston during morning rush hour, for a piece of furniture.
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I found this in the filthy basement of my 100 plus year old apartment. It was lying on the ground next to the foundation where water often seeped through the cracks in a pile of dirt. The size and weight of the “shelf” intrigued me, it was quite thick and on the heavier side which led me to believe it was older. After perusing the Anthropologie website and coming across brackets I loved but would never pay for, this was the inspiration to replicate a similar bracket for less than half the cost.
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Hi I’m Harry, I like old things – especially old things people throw out. Dressers, shelving, cabinets, lamps, tables, chairs – basically anything that can be refinished or reused in one way or another. I’ll be sharing different pieces I’ve made in the past and some DIY tips, that with a little elbow grease and creativity can help save money and recycle at the same time.
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Take a look into his workshop and think hoarder. Door knobs, broken windows, dressers missing drawers, table tops, pieces of old wood that clearly belong in the trash. Or do they? Because dumpster diving is the original source of all that makes up this heaping mess. Now take a look into the next room; pieces reminiscent of West Elm, Anthropologie and Restoration Hardware. You guessed it, they’re not actually from those stores – they’re from the trash. Harry Koffman has an eye for what others consider to be trash; he sees the potential where others don’t. He’s designed rooms using 100% recycled furniture and accessories, turning bland, boring spaces into works of art that range from historic, to modern to chic. Why does he do it? There’s enough trash in the world today as it is, Harry is a firm believer in recycling and sustainability. His work can be summed up in three words: revamp. restore. re-love.
You can check out his work here at harrykoffman.com or by searching #handymo via Instagram.
EDITOR AT LARGE
CHIEF FASHION CORRESPONDENT
Anna Paula Goncalves
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