Looking for an easy project for fall? Here are instructions for a DIY Paper Bag Leaf Garland that you can make from recycled supplies.

Piece of furniture to display DIY Paper Bag Leaf Garland

The other day I was sitting at my house minding my own business along with The Real Housewives of Dubai’s and I got a text.

My favorite kind of text that read something like this:

“My friend has a piece of furniture that needs a home. She’s giving it away to the first person that can pick it up by the end of the day. Are you interested?”

Am I interested?


Is the sky blue?

Is the grass green?

Are stirrup pants here to stay?

I was on my way over to the house to pick it up before The Real Housewives were done with Caroline’s wedding celebration. Just between us–I wasn’t sure what to expect. It’s hard to tell from pictures what a piece of furniture really looks like. How big it is. How wide it is. What the wood tones look like in person.

But it was FREE.

And free always looks amazing to me.

So I picked it up and brought it home and wait until you see what it looks like now.

Just like this.

DIY Paper Bag Leaf Garland

Isn’t it beautiful?

It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but it’s about six feet tall and four feet wide and it’s the REAL DEAL. It’s an antique piece that’s SO HEAVY and made of this wood that looks like it personally made the trip with the pilgrims on the Mayflower.

I’m not sure what it was used for before. Maybe storage in a hardware store or grocery store?

It’s made up of 32 individual cubbies.

wicker pumpkin

There are a zillion uses for cubbies like this.

Here are some of the ideas I came up with if you have a piece like this:

  • Storage: you could add family photos to the outside of the shelves and give each person a row to store their stuff
  • Throw blankets: Keep stacks in the cubbies for those times when you need an extra layer of warmth
  • File folders: organize your files in the different cubbies
  • Craft supplies: great for craft supply storage with ribbons and paint brushes
  • Paint supplies: such a great way to display all those individual paint containers and faux finish supplies
  • Magazines: these cubbies are the perfect size to store collections of magazines
  • Dishes: Use the cubbies to store dishes and platters and serving pieces
  • Linens: Fold up vintage linens and store them in the individual cubbies
  • Fabric: If you have a fabric collection, this is the perfect piece to store yards of fabric

Now those are all amazing ideas (some of which I’m going to use for the future).

But for now?

DIY Paper Bag Leaf Garland on bookcase

I filled it with books.

There was the most amazing set of vintage books that I bought downtown at an antique shop and I’d been looking for the perfect place to store them.

This piece was made for them.

I filled the shelves with the books and then added pumpkins for fall.

DIY Paper Bag Leaf Garland project

Then I added this vintage metal sign I bought years ago in Kentucky (it used to hang in our bedroom there).

And made paper bag leaves for the side of the piece.

They are such an easy DIY for fall.

book page garland

Remember when I made book page leaves for the hutch in the hallway?

This project was just like that except I used paper bags.

You can recycle paper bags from the grocery store or even use craft paper for the project.

DIY Paper Bag Leaf Garland how to make

DIY Paper Bag Leaf Garland

Making paper leaves is a fun and easy way to add fall to a hutch or bookcase like this. And best of all, it’s a great way to recycle old newspapers or scrap paper.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Gather your materials. You’ll need some paper, scissors, double-sided tape, and a bit of imagination.

2. Cut out your leaves. You can use any shape or size you like. Just make sure all the leaves are roughly the same size to create the garland. Lightly crinkle the leaves to give them an aged and dried effect.

3. Tape the leaves to the piece of furniture. Start by applying a piece of double-stick tape to the end of one leaf, then attach it to the corner of the bookcase. Keep adding leaves until you create a garland effect on one side.

4. Stand back as the garland is taking shape to check on the garland’s progress.

5. I used about 40 leaves to create a garland of this size.

That’s it.

It’s decorated and ready to go.

The text my friend sent me was fortuitous because the twins shopped the house for their apartments and we had a few empty spaces that needed to be filled.

My new vintage bookcase is all set up in the office and ready for fall. It’s keeping me company as I write this post. And as I glance over at it—one thought keeps running through my mind.

Have you ever seen FREE look so pretty? 🙂

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Laurie Laurie

    This is an absolutely amazing find. It’s actually a very old shipping pallet. Shipping pallets, and I mean the type that are used on large ships, are longer, wider, and much stronger than what you would see in a Home Depot. This is an absolutely incredible find since the shipping pallets today are not made with the same wonderful wood they were made from years ago. Enjoy it as you will probably never see one again.

  2. Image for Beth Beth

    Great job styling this - never have I ever gotten a call from a friend saying - come get this it's free! I obviously need new friends!!!! It's beautiful and has a wonderful back story😉

  3. Image for Clennie Clennie

    That looks like the old chicken coops from my childhood. We had a large building and the chickens nested in something that looked just like that. I love it. What a great piece.

  4. Image for JC JC

    W H A T......F R E E ???? What a catch! What a friend! The leaf garland looks amazing. I've not seen regular grocery bags that light creamy color. Did you bleach them? Or is these from paper? So fun and FREE...that puts a smile on my face too!

  5. Image for Va in NC Va in NC

    What a find! I love what you have done with it and especially the leaf garland. Enjoy your posts very much. Blessings.

  6. Image for Patricia Patricia

    This is exactly right up your lane! So happy you have it. I'm sure we'll see it restyled in future posts. I just got lucky myself. I live in a condo building and someone left a large bin of wonderful textiles (primarily SE Asia, maybe South and Central America as well) in the business office up for grabs. My sis (weaver, spinner) and I plan to sort through them. Looks like we'll all have some fun with our finds.

  7. Image for Lee Stearns Lee Stearns

    I’d love to see some of your pretty orange sprigs in there too for a little fall color- and maybe a few pine ones in that clever and beautiful paper garland! You’re such an amazing woman- humble, creative, supportive, positive, humorous, energetic, encouraging…I’m inspired by you every day, to live more, share more and love more! God bless you and all your followers! A sisterhood of goodness!

  8. Image for Marlene Marlene

    Love your free piece of furniture, it will be so fun to change out and play with. Those leaves are so pretty, thanks and have a great day.

  9. Image for Laura Laura

    Oh, my stars Samantha! What a fabulous find for any house. There is quite a bit of jealousy here right now. I wish I could find good stuff like that here in Palm Springs. A great, versatile piece that can be used in so many places. The garland is perfect, too.

  10. Image for Liz Shivel Liz Shivel

    This is quite the find! I don’t see FREE things like this in Huntington Beach, California. Although you say it’s 6’ tall, it looks like it’s about 8’ tall to me! Very cool! I’m SO wanting to start fall 🍁decorating right now! I really enjoy fall. I might have to make an old book page leaf garland like you showed here again! 📖 I buy old books, and in bad shape are the best, so you don’t feel bad about cutting them up! Thanks for sharing this wonderful FREE find!

  11. Image for Dee Dee

    Aaak!!! Is that not just an amazing, gorgeous piece? What a great friend to mention it, and it's perfect in your space, as if it was just meant to be there! It's so huge and gorgeous, just fills that wall beautifully! And also thanks for sharing your paper bag garland, that's a great idea to use the double-sided tape!

  12. Image for June June

    This is such a unique piece. You should take your pictures to an antique dealer and see if they can tell you it’s origin. My dad was a railroad mail clerk back in the 50’s. He had this really cool sorting box that had a latch to close. Because back then they would sort mail while riding in the train it was kept at home so he could constantly practice with small zip code cards. My brother now has it with all his matchbox cars from growing up. I think it had 100 mini cubbies in each side.

  13. Image for Pamela Pamela

    I'm so jealous!! I love this piece!! I'm going to have my husband look at it and see if he can build something similar. i'm sure he will be so excited. LOL

  14. Image for Debbie from SC Debbie from SC

    That is amazing and meant to be that you received that little (BIG) treasure! How perfect it looks against that wall with your vintage books. And your leaf garland finishes it off perfectly! I’m going to send your leaf garland project to my niece for her girls to make. What a fun project. Just love your ideas and your sweet blogs❣️

  15. Image for Sandi Sandi

    Your new old free piece is absolutely amazing!! I love the way you have it decorated!! I love free pieces that I can use at home too. Hugs,


    You are one lucky girl! Hope you bought that friend a Coffee! 😊 I so wish I had a pattern for leaves..

  17. Image for Donna Marie Donna Marie

    My husband would say NO and I would be out of luck!!! But, you are so lucky to have a husband that probably helped you load and unload it!!! Lol

  18. Image for Betsy Betsy

    What an incredible friend as well as an incredible piece. Now my question is how did a tiny little sweetie like you manage to wrangle that delightful piece of history back to your home ???


    What a great piece, KariAnne! I love how you have designed each little space -- and how neat that you can change each one! That paper bag leaf garland is so cute! I have to make one of these! Thanks for all the great ideas you give us! Enjoy your week!

  20. Image for Lynn Mosher Lynn Mosher

    Oh, wow! How awesome is that!!! And you've made it fit in and look wonderful! Congrats on your new freebie! 😍

  21. Image for Jan Kinman Jan Kinman

    Amazing! I would take that in a minute too! Perfect place for it! Definitely making the leaves! Thank you for sharing

  22. Image for Rosalie Rosalie

    Absolutely a wonderful, one-of-a-kind, very unique piece of furniture. Fits your space perfectly. I know how excited you must feel about your new acquisition. My neighbor is downsizing and is giving away items she will no longer have room for in her new home. To my delight, she has come to my door several times gifting me a few items she thinks would compliment my interiors. Her discards have become my treasures.

  23. Image for Agathe Cardinal Agathe Cardinal

    What a great give away for u. It's now to a good use. Great 👍 job and beautiful. How did u get it home. On flat bed trailer? Did u have to secure to your wall?

    1. Image for Agathe Cardinal Agathe Cardinal

      What a great give away for u. It's now to a good use. Great 👍 job and beautiful. How did u get it home. On flat bed trailer? Did u have to secure to your wall?

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