There are lots of ways to turn trash into treasure from refinishing and repurposing old, unused furniture to turning wood pallets into useful items around your house. Projects in this video include.
DIY Reuse and Refinish Projects:
- Refinish Furniture: Find out how to apply homemade chalk paint to an old desk to give it a cool antique look.
- Pallet Wine Rack: Learn how to turn an old wooden pallet into a beautiful wall mounted wine rack for your home.
- Pallet Garden Planter: See how to make a fence or wall mounted planter from a wooden pallet.
- Chair Pet Bed: Find out how to convert two unused chairs into a comfortable pet bed for your dog or cat.
Read the episode article to find out more.
- Trash to Treasure: Reuse Projects for Your Home (article/video)
- Something for Almost Nothing (article/video)
- Repurpose or Reuse to Give Existing Products New Life (video)
- How to Recycle and Reuse Old Building Materials (video)
Danny Lipford: This week on Today’s Homeowner, we’re turning trash into treasure with some simple projects that are both easy and cheap.
Amy Hughes: Well, somebody didn’t really know what they were doing.
Allen Lyle: Well, this is the most ridiculous…
Amy Hughes: Well, we’re not all home improvement geniuses like you.
Danny Lipford: One thing that Chelsea and I love to do together is to take something that a lot of people would consider trash and turn it into treasure. Chelsea and I are on our way to look at an old desk to see if it might work for her home office.
Chelsea Lipford: So where did this desk come from?
Danny Lipford: I don’t even know. We’ve just had it. I’ve had it for probably 10 years or so in this shed over here. When’s the last time you’ve been over in this shed?
Chelsea Lipford: Probably 11 years ago. Wow! It is pretty sturdy.
Danny Lipford: You think you’d want it?
Chelsea Lipford: Sure! Let’s load her up. Cobwebs are grossing me out! Are we clear?
Danny Lipford: All right. You see anything else you want?
Chelsea Lipford: No.
Danny Lipford: Back at Chelsea’s house, we unload the desk so that we can go to work.
Chelsea Lipford: You need to keep your junk in better shape, this is really dirty.
Danny Lipford: Man, it’s been in there. I’m surprised it’s even this good. Look at all this. Look at the detail on all that.
Chelsea Lipford: Oh, wow, that’s cool.
Danny Lipford: Can you read it?
Chelsea Lipford: “Finch Fine Furniture.”
Danny Lipford: Finch Fine Furniture.
Chelsea Lipford: Yeah.
Danny Lipford: This could be worth thousands of dollars.
Chelsea Lipford: Ooh! I figured you’re working, while you’re working, I’ll look it up.
Danny Lipford: Okay.
Chelsea Lipford: Ooh! Let’s see. “Antique dining room set” for $5,500.
Danny Lipford: Whoa! Maybe I need to reconsider giving up this old desk. So, what do you think now? What do you think as far as the finish? You had something in mind?
Chelsea Lipford: Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of, like stained wood tops and painted bottoms.
Danny Lipford: But first, we need to check with the current tenant about a color selection. Turn it upside down.
Chelsea Lipford: Giant spiders! Oh! Right in that corner! Right in the corner!
Danny Lipford: Look up in here.
Chelsea Lipford: Dad, no! Gross, gross, gross! Take care of it and I’ll be over here
Danny Lipford: We’ll suck him up in the vac.
Chelsea Lipford: Giant heebie-jeebies!
Danny Lipford: Now that he’s evicted, it’s back to work. Come on, help me clean this thing. I just want to paint it, Dad. Well, help, we got to clean it. Come on.
Chelsea Lipford: I don’t want to touch the bugs.
Danny Lipford: I’ve already got all the bugs. They’re all gone now.
Chelsea Lipford: Yeah, that’s what you thought last time!
Danny Lipford: All gone.
Chelsea Lipford: Let’s just cover the blocks.
Danny Lipford: Oh! Oh!
Chelsea Lipford: Stop!
Danny Lipford: I was just kidding.
Chelsea Lipford: I’m going to quit.
Danny Lipford: I was just kidding.
Chelsea Lipford: I’ll leave you out here by yourself.
Danny Lipford: Eventually, the crisis passes and we can complete the minor repairs to the trim around the base of the desk with some wood glue and a few finishing nails.
We’re going to be painting the lower side of this, so we’ll easily be able to caulk and fill these little cracks. But if you were staining, you wouldn’t be able to use caulk. You’d really need to replace that piece of trim before you re-stained it. So, we’re lucky that we’re going to be able to paint it and that’s our next step is to go ahead and get ready for the painting with a little bit of sanding after the glue dries.
We’re using a 120-grit sandpaper and double aught steel wool to prep the paint areas. On top of the desk, we’ll be re-staining the surface, so we’re taking it all the way down to bare wood. This is a little more of the pay off, all the prepping puts me in a bad mood. So, this’ll lighten things up a little bit. So let’s try it out.
Chelsea Lipford: Or darken it because it’s such a dark stain.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, darken it. That’s a perfect color.
Chelsea Lipford: Yeah, I like it.
Danny Lipford: While Chelsea works on that, I’m soaking the hardware in a brass cleaner to remove the tarnish.
I’ll get down here and do the things that require a little skill.
Chelsea Lipford: Oh, my gosh, please!
Danny Lipford: While the stain and caulk dry, we check on the hardware that’s been soaking in brass cleaner. Now, that’s pretty amazing with putting the brass cleaner in there for a just a little while and then a little bit of rubbing with this dry cloth. This really does look good. But it won’t look good like this for very long unless we apply a clear coat, like a lacquer finish on it.
So, after this dries well, we’ll spray a little bit of lacquer on it, let it dry and then when it goes back on, it’ll look like this for a long time. Next, it’s time to mix up Chelsea’s recipe for chalk paint.
Chelsea Lipford: Just a little Plaster of Paris, water and paint.
Danny Lipford: My daughter doesn’t think much of my painting skills, so I’m painting the drawers while she paints the desk. With the chalk paint complete, we can call it a day. Now even though it’s dry to the touch, you’ll still need to let this stain dry for a few more hours before you put the first coat of varnish on it.
Chelsea Lipford: Okay.
Danny Lipford: So, if you could sneak out here and do that tonight, put the second coat of chalk paint on, then we can put hardware on tomorrow and put this thing right in place.
Chelsea Lipford: Awesome, I’m excited. It looks great already.
Danny Lipford: It looks good, huh? Yeah, a lot better than it did this morning.
Chelsea Lipford: Yeah.
Danny Lipford: The chalk paint dries so quickly, it’s ready for a second coat even before Chelsea applies the first coat of semi-gloss sealer. After drying overnight, she lightly sands it, and applies the second coat and then installs the hardware.
Chelsea Lipford: So, Dad, what do you think about it?
Danny Lipford: Man. I think that looks great. I can’t believe the hardware turned out that nice.
Chelsea Lipford: I like it a lot.
Danny Lipford: So, it’s all nice and dry, huh?
Chelsea Lipford: Yep, let’s move it in.
Danny Lipford: All right, let’s get it inside there.
Joe Truini: Here at Simple Solutions, we’re always looking for creative ways to increase kitchen storage. In this case we’re going to be storing foil and plastic wrap and plastic bags—things that you use all the time but are typically buried in a drawer.
I took a plastic storage bin, and I used a jigsaw with a metal cutting blade and I cut off one end. Now I’m going to mount it to the inside of this door, and then we’ll able to use it for storing the foil and other items.
I made these marks earlier, and I’m just going to attach it with a couple of half-inch screws. I’m going to put two on each side.
You want to make sure the screws aren’t too long, because you don’t want them poking through the other side of the door. Put two on this side. I’ll put two more on this side. There you go.
And now you can just slip the boxes right in there. It’s perfect for any tall, narrow box. So they’re easily accessible and you just store them out of the way.
Danny Lipford: This week, we’re turning trash to treasure. My daughter Chelsea and I have just given new life to an old cobweb-covered desk. And now Allen and I are about to explore the fascinating world of pallets.
I don’t know, Allen about these pallets and building projects, out of it. It seems like everybody’s doing it.
Allen Lyle: Well, I’ve seen a couple of projects and they’re not impressive to me, because it still looks like a pallet on a cinder block.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, I know they can be a little bit rough and that type of thing. But I see so much stuff online that you can build. Why don’t we give it a try? Give it a shot.
Allen Lyle: Ok.
Danny Lipford: You grab a pallet, I grab a pallet, we’ll go online, find something that’ll work.
Allen Lyle: Works for me.
Danny Lipford: So we began our online search for worthy pallet projects. After a few misfires, “Click here for full resolution”, I think I’ve seen enough.
Allen Lyle: I’ve seen all I need to. Oh, you’re kidding. Do you see that?
Danny Lipford: What, that?
Allen Lyle: A rickshaw out of a pallet.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, put the kids on there.
Allen Lyle: Yeah. Oh yeah.
Danny Lipford: Strap down the car seat and let’s go. We find some interesting possibilities. Well, they actually stained that, didn’t they?
Allen Lyle: Yeah. You know, I actually kind of like that. I like this one though, I’m going to have to say that’s a possibility.
Danny Lipford: How about something like a garden like that?
Allen Lyle: I like that.
Danny Lipford: So Allen will use his pallet to build a wine rack, and mine will become an herb garden. The big challenge with pallet projects is figuring out what to keep and what to get rid of.
I would cut that and then I would leave that piece in there.
Allen Lyle: Yeah, except I’m using this end, not that end.
Danny Lipford: I know, but I’m saying cut this, throw this away.
Allen Lyle: Well, I’m cutting here actually, because this is what I’m going to use here. This part.
Danny Lipford: With it, cut in like that?
Allen Lyle: Mmm-hmm, yeah. See on the picture you’ve got that little indentation.
Danny Lipford: Oh!
Allen Lyle: So that’s actually the back side of the pallet.
Danny Lipford: Fine then. Fine. I’ll just be over here. I’ll be over here.
Allen Lyle: You go over there.
Danny Lipford: Even though you have two wider boards, with the spacing here, if I take these out, right here.
Allen Lyle: Right.
Danny Lipford: Then, that’s fine so I’ve got that.
Allen Lyle: So you’re going to use this much on here, and then come up here and do it to here.
Danny Lipford: Shift it over here, right.
Allen Lyle: Oh yeah.
Danny Lipford: Cutting can also be tricky because you’re not working with raw lumber, you’re working with a structure that’s already nailed together.
Allen Lyle: I’m done with my project. How’s yours coming?
Danny Lipford: In most cases, very well nailed together. Watch the lid.
Allen Lyle: Now don’t crack it.
Danny Lipford: There’s certainly more where this came from.
Allen Lyle: It took me that long to get that piece!
Danny Lipford: There you go. Allen’s marking that piece to the width he needs for the bottom of his wine rack.
Allen Lyle: You’re lucky I’m cutting this down a bit.
Danny Lipford: I have to remove a lot more boards than I need, so I can be a little more ruthless with removal.
Allen Lyle: Now you see I broke out the planer. Normally, you probably wouldn’t do this on a pallet project, but since I have wine bottles sitting on this, I want a really flat, level surface for them.
Danny Lipford: Once that piece is planed, Allen tacks it in position and then adds screws to help hold the weight of the bottles. Then he uses a belt sander to shape those vertical pieces.
Pallet lumber is rough-sewn and that’s part of the charm, but you don’t want people getting splinters from your project either. So Allen is also lightly sanding the rest of the surfaces to remove the burrs. I’m ripping narrow pieces from the scraps I removed, so that I can nail them under each planting tray to create a bottom.
So you can see, we’ve got a place here for plants on the top, we’ll have a place here for plants here and plants here. But the thing I started thinking about is, with all of these cracks that’s in this particular pallet, there’s cracks here, but not quite as wide. I think I’ll take some more of my little pieces here, rip them up, fill all of that in. That’ll look a lot better I think, than having all those big gaps in there.
While I’m filling in those voids, Allen is busy applying a coat of stain to his wine rack. I’d go with the darker.
Allen Lyle: Like that?
Danny Lipford: I like that. Which is a little tricky with all the cracks and crevices he has to cover. So, it’s still a little rustic looking, but after I paint it with this color, and all of the greenery that we would have with the plants and then install it on a nice weathered fence, it should look pretty nice.
I’m using spray paint to avoid that same problem Allen had in getting into the nooks and crannies of the pallet. In fact, he’s using a spray-on polyurethane for the final steps of sealing his wine rack.
Since Chelsea’s an avid gardener, we’re hanging my new creation in her backyard. Now, while we get the herbs planted, check out this week’s Best New Product with Jodi.
Jodi Marks: Now, if you’re working on a project where you need light and heavy duty staples while you’re doing it, and then you also might need to attach some cable staples. And then of course you might have some brads in there that you might be needing to drive in.
Chances are you probably have to go and get a different kind of tacker or staple gun to do all of those applications. But take a look at this. This is the DeWALT 4-in-1 multi tacker. So, whether you’re going to be using light duty, heavy duty, also brad, or even your cable staples, this could do it all with just this one tool.
Now, you don’t necessarily have to get just DeWALT because you could also use Stanley, DeWALT, or Arrow staples if you happen to have those on hand. So you can do that.
Also, take a little look at this switch right here. If you have it on low, that’s the perfect setting for low power when you’re attaching cable wire. But if you’ve got to drive a brad, you can pop it up there into high power.
So if you’re in the market to upgrade your stapler or you’re in the market for a new one, this is a pretty good option.
Danny Lipford: We’ve been busy converting trash to treasure this week. And so far we’ve revived a tired old desk, created a cool herb garden from one discarded pallet, and built a rustic wine rack from another.
Right now, Allen’s busy installing his creation at the home of our co-worker Amy Hughes. Amy co-hosts the Today’s Homeowner radio show with us each week, and when she’s not keeping us out of trouble, she hangs out with her pet pug Lilo, who only seems moderately impressed with Allen’s project.
Allen Lyle: Next project’s up to you, Amy.
Amy Hughes: All right. Well, I have this idea, but I have this crazy piece of furniture that I found and I need your opinion.
Allen Lyle: Okay, let’s look at it.
Amy Hughes: All right, so here it is.
Allen Lyle: Okay.
Amy Hughes: It looks like somebody already tried to do something.
Allen Lyle: Yeah, yeah. Before I say anything, did you make this?
Amy Hughes: No.
Allen Lyle: Well, thank goodness.
Amy Hughes: No, I found this at a thrift store.
Allen Lyle: Wow! I don’t think I have ever seen anything
Amy Hughes: It’s a bench!
Allen Lyle: Its two chairs tied together. Did you see this?
Amy Hughes: I know.
Allen Lyle: It’s tied with twine.
Amy Hughes: I know.
Allen Lyle: Oh, wow!
Amy Hughes: Someone tried but I think we could do better.
Allen Lyle: What was your idea?
Amy Hughes: Okay, well, have you ever seen those chairs that are made into, like a pet bed?
Allen Lyle: Okay, with the legs cut off of it? Yeah.
Amy Hughes: Yeah, they cut off the legs and they make it in, well, you know, Lilo she’s really long and she’s a little wide, so I thought the double chair would be perfect.
Allen Lyle: I think we can do that. I don’t think we can use these though.
Amy Hughes: No, I don’t think so either. That will not work for her.
Allen Lyle: Okay, so you can take care of these.
Amy Hughes: But we can do some other kind of cushion, and paint it and make it look cool.
Allen Lyle: Okay. Well, let’s see what we can do with it.
Amy Hughes: Okay.
Danny Lipford: The first step, deconstruction.
Allen Lyle: Oh, my gosh. Look at this. Will you look at this? There’s a safety issue.
Amy Hughes: Well, somebody didn’t really know what they were doing.
Allen Lyle: Well, that’s an understatement of the year!
Amy Hughes: Well, we’re not all home improvement geniuses like you. Okay, I’m going to stick a nail in and attach this to the chair. Seems to work.
Danny Lipford: So the nails holding down the plywood were overkill, but the twine holding the chairs together is definitely minimalist. Now Allen has to figure out how to put this back together in a way that makes sense and accommodates a pug.
Amy Hughes: We just tie them together with some twine.
Allen Lyle: Since Lilo is…
Amy Hughes: She’s got short little legs, so…
Allen Lyle: …vertically challenged. Yes, we want her to be able to get up into it.
Amy Hughes: Perfect. Perfect.
Allen Lyle: All right.
Danny Lipford: That means marking and cutting the legs considerably shorter but still level.
Allen Lyle: Try cutting that.
Amy Hughes: I’ll try. I’m a little nervous about.
Allen Lyle: All right.
Amy Hughes: I feel like my cut will be completely cockeyed, but I’ll try. Let’s give it a shot.
Allen Lyle: All right. Awesome! Man.
Amy Hughes: That was way easier than I thought.
Allen Lyle: All right.
Amy Hughes: Wait. Now what can we do with this?
Allen Lyle: I’m actually going to use those legs.
Amy Hughes: Are you, really?
Allen Lyle: Uh-huh.
Amy Hughes: Wait, what are you going to use them for?
Allen Lyle: We’re going to make a four-poster bed out of this.
Amy Hughes: Really?
Allen Lyle: Well, we got these on the back, so I’m going to put two in the corner out here. You like that?
Amy Hughes: That’s hilarious. Okay.
Danny Lipford: Once Amy makes the same cuts on the other chair…
Amy Hughes: That was scary.
Allen Lyle: All right, so it’ll be at a bit of a lean.
Amy Hughes: Hey! I warned you that I shouldn’t be the one with power tools.
Danny Lipford: They can begin laying out the new design.
Amy Hughes: I love the cute squatty little chair.
Allen Lyle: Look at it.
Danny Lipford: The scrap turned legs will become the footboard post.
Allen Lyle: Perfect.
Danny Lipford: They’ll use some 1×4 to make a skirt around the bed.
Amy Hughes: All right.
Allen Lyle: So, see how easy that was?
Amy Hughes: No.
Allen Lyle: You didn’t see how easy that was?
Amy Hughes: It was scary.
Allen Lyle: Because you’re about to do it.
Amy Hughes: Power tools scare me.
Allen Lyle: You’re turn.
Amy Hughes: Now?
Allen Lyle: Yep. Yes.
Amy Hughes: Oh, that freaked me out, okay. You can do the rest.
Danny Lipford: Then they’ll add some spacers to keep the skirts square and attach it to the frame. The old plywood seat is being reused as the bottom for the dog bed and once it’s in place, those repurposed chair legs can be installed on the outer corners.
After some putty for the nail holes and prep for the smooth surfaces, Allen and Amy’s creation is ready for paint. While the paint dries, they start working on the bedding.
Amy Hughes: So, I like this. So, we’re going to have this cushion and then a pillowcase on top, so I can throw it in the wash when the dog messes it up. Which she inevitably will.
Allen Lyle: You know she will.
Amy Hughes: Yeah.
Allen Lyle: This is really soft stuff.
Amy Hughes: Lilo, you’re going to be so spoiled.
Allen Lyle: I can make my own pillow out of this. Let’s close it up for now.
Amy Hughes: I feel like it needs more.
Allen Lyle: You do?
Amy Hughes: Yeah. I don’t think it’ll stay poofy. Maybe it will, we’ll see. Here we go.
Allen Lyle: Nice!
Amy Hughes: Wow, that’s going to be perfect. I think that’ll fit well. And then when she gets her little doggy dirt all over it, I’ll just pull it off, throw it in the washer and we’re good to go.
Allen Lyle: All right.
Danny Lipford: So once the paint is dry and the bedding is in place, Allen tries to use his doggy charm to entice Lilo onto her new throne.
Allen Lyle: Hey, Lilo. Come here. Yeah, what do you think of your bed? What, you want me in it with you?
Amy Hughes: She’s more excited about licking you. Come here. Here, let me lift you. Ready? Ta-da! Oh, yeah! What do you think?
Allen Lyle: Oh! The throne!
Amy Hughes: You like it?
Allen Lyle: Yes, the throne of glory.
Amy Hughes: She’s like, “As long as you pet me, I will love it”.
Danny Lipford: Sarah wants to know, “How can I add a little pizzazz to our boring concrete porch?”
No, Sarah, you don’t have to put up with that boring concrete front porch. You can have one that looks as nice as this. All this homeowner did is to clean the front porch concrete thoroughly and then applied a coat of concrete paint.
There’s so many different colors that you can find one that’ll compliment the colors of your house very easily. Another option—staining the concrete. Again, clean it well, use a stain. It has a slightly different end result but still very, very attractive.
Now, if you really want to raise the level in terms of the design of your concrete front porch or any concrete surface, you can use a circular saw with an abrasive blade and then just score it in any kind of design that you would like.
A simple pattern works very, very well. And you’d be surprised how much it can change the look of the concrete.
Danny Lipford: This week, we’ve created some cool trash to treasure conversions. Allen and Amy transformed a bizarre thrift store find into a fun and functional bed for Lilo.
A pallet bound for the landfill has a new life as a conversation-starting wine rack. And that old desk collecting dust in my storage shed has a new life at Chelsea’s house, as does the pallet I converted to an herb garden.
Chelsea, I would have never thought taking an old wood pallet, nailing it to a wooden fence would look this good. This looks pretty darn good!
Chelsea Lipford: Yeah, and I’m happy to have fresh herbs in the backyard, too.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, that makes it pretty convenient. Hey, this was a fun show and something that we love to do, to take things that maybe would have ended up in the landfill and turn them into something that’s useful, fun and maybe even a bit whimsical.
Hey, thanks so much for being with us, I’m Danny Lipford. We’ll see you next week. Okay, what’s for dinner? Fastest crate builder, pallet builder in town! The best?
Allen Lyle: Not so much.
Danny Lipford: Ehhh, not so much.