Need some decorating ideas for things you were about to throw away? Before you toss it—take a second look and decorate.

Sharing some of my favorite finds I discovered in the trash pile or by the side of the road and how I repurposed them and gave them a second chance.

A friend of mine sent me a TikTok yesterday that made me laugh out loud. It’s about a woman talking her husband into stopping to pick up something by the side of the road. And it doesn’t fit. But she’s determined. She’s going to make it work. All because she fell in love with a piece of trash.

I know that conversation.

It has my name all over it.

I’ve had it a zillion times.

Mine usually involves sighing wistfully and pointing and exclaiming as if I just witnessed the royal coronation. I’ve even hopped out before and just stood holding onto whatever someone left by the side of the road until appropriate transportation could be arranged for my treasure.

Just between us? I’m not sure how I ended up with the gene.

You know.

The one that makes you look longingly at trash.

There’s just a little piece of my heart that goes out to something that’s broken and sad or a little neglected.  I want to encourage it.  I want to lift it up.  I want to clean it up and dust it off.

I want to tell it that there is life beyond that dumpster.

I know there are new stores out there full of bright and shiny things.  Why have old…people say?  Why waste your time with all that dust and chippiness and dings?  When you could just have new?

Truth? I like new, too. I share tons of new finds on this blog and things I’ve discovered like candles and boxes and pillows and rugs.

But the old?  The pieces that everyone else overlooks?  They have the challenge.  They have the realness.  They have the history and the character and the authenticity and the lifetime of a life well lived that something new will never understand.

Here are their stories.

You’ll want to read every one.

And just between us?

Don’t take out the trash….

…until you’ve read this post.

New Decorating Ideas For Things You Were About to Throw Away shutters

New Decorating Ideas For Things You Were About to Throw Away edge of shutter

New Decorating Ideas For Things You Were About to Throw Away

1. Vintage shutters

Remember these shutters that I found by the side of the road?

See what I mean about trash calling my name?

It even had a sign telling me it was FREE.

You can see what I did with them here.

New Decorating Ideas For Things You Were About to Throw Away vintage ladder

New Decorating Ideas For Things You Were About to Throw Away living room

2. An attic ladder

This is the ladder from our upstairs pull-down attic stairs.

It broke and my husband took it outside to toss it.

I came home and pulled into the driveway and brought it in from the trash pile.

Then I dusted it off, leaned it up against the wall and added a blanket.

You can read the rest of its story here.

New Decorating Ideas For Things You Were About to Throw Away office

Piece of Molding

2. Architectural pieces

See those architectural pieces on the wall?

The first picture is from my current office and the second picture is from the entryway at the farmhouse.

They were renovating an old house and these were sitting out by the curb in a trash pile.  I just brushed them off and sealed them and they’ve been with me ever since.

Never underestimate the power of a piece of trash.

New Decorating Ideas For Things You Were About to Throw Away shelf

3. Parts of built-ins

The shelf on the back wall of this bathroom?

It was part of an old built-in that was about to be thrown away.  You can still see the little chips at the edge of the corners.  We cut it down slightly and created a shelf for the back of the bathroom at the farmhouse.

We added the corbels to make it look more purposeful.

Oh, and the signs?

I made them from pieces of wood that someone tossed in the trash.

New Decorating Ideas For Things You Were About to Throw Away chalkboard

4. Vintage windows

This calendar was made from a forty-pane broken window that I found by the side of the road.

The panes were broken.

The edges were broken.

But all I could think when I saw it was how amazing of a calendar it would be.

You can read its story here.

5. Book pages

So many people toss books.

WHY? Oh why oh why.

They are perfect to decorate with and if they are too damaged to read anymore, you can always use the pages to decorate.

You can see tons of book page projects here.

New Decorating Ideas For Things You Were About to Throw Away windows

6. Door frames

These are the doors from a thrift store hutch.

The hutch was used for storage and the doors weren’t needed anymore. So they were tossed. I think at one time they had glass or chicken wire or some insert that’s long gone now.

I hung them on the wall with fall wreaths.

7. Random pieces that you aren’t sure what they are

I’m not really sure what these were before I met them.

Maybe cabinet door fronts?

I found them and never let them go.

I’ve added them to the built-ins at the farmhouse and hung them on the wall in the kitchen and tied snowflakes on them and hung them in the bathroom with dried eucalyptus tied on with twine.

8. Cabinet Doors

Nothing says wall art than abandoned cabinet doors.

These two doors still fit together.

When we first moved into this house—before we added the built-ins from kitchen cabinets, I thumbtacked book pages on them and hung them in the upstairs landing and added wreaths to them and hung them downstairs in the living room and placed them in the downstairs bathroom and hung ornaments from them.

9. Vintage Maps

But my favorite piece of almost trash?

The one that was lining the drawers of a yard sale dresser?

The one that was overlooked and forgotten about and almost discarded?

These maps of the streets where I live.

You can read its story here.

You know what is the most interesting thing I discovered when I was researching decorating ideas for things you were about to throw away

The trash that came to visit?

It never left.

It just got repurposed and reused and moved from room to room.

So the moral of this trash story?

When you meet a good piece of trash—you’ll have a friend for life.

After all.

It’s really hard…

…to keep a good piece of trash down. 🙂

PS Sharing even more finds on Instagram today—I’d love it if you’d follow me there!

PPS Have you ever brought home trash to turn it into something amazing?

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

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Comments

  1. Image for va in NC va in NC

    You are so creative...have got rid of so many things I now know I could have used with some of your ideas. Will rethink in the future. Thank you for sharing your projects. Blessings to you and yours.

  2. Image for Cindy Cindy

    Your father’s desk is so warm with it’s original color. It pulls the office together. So happy you decided not to paint it. It is the center of attention.

  3. Image for Jodena Beale Jodena Beale

    I have always loved the two random pieces hung on the bathroom wall. My favorite. And they all work in your beautiful home. Lovely

  4. Image for Claudia A Claudia A

    Girl, I tell you it must be in our genes somewhere. They had recently cut branches off trees near us. I saw piles of Sycamore branches just there for the taking. God and the electric company must have known I have a great niece getting married this year, she’s on a really tight budget. I knew these would be perfect for centerpieces. I circled the pile of wood for days trying to figure out if I could get to them. Finally I loaded the Hubs up in the car and we took off to go get them. He grumbled with every piece but the Hubs picked up each pice and put them in the trunk. Love that man of mine. ❤️

  5. Image for Deborah Garrison Deborah Garrison

    I love your office! It looks great so glad you did not paint that desk, it looks amazing in this room 😀

  6. Image for Darlene Darlene

    I love everything that you do! I have always recycled items. I found a huge old dresser on the side of the road near me and brought it home. My son was getting an apartment and gave it to him. His friend redid it and added to it and made him a beautiful television and components and storage cabinet. It is lovely and will never wear out. Keep up the recycling.

  7. Image for Beth Beth

    All of my siblings and I have inherited the "collector gene" and we know exactly where it all started. My dad once rescued trash from a curb in our small town. In the 70's this was considered "illegal" home owners ratted him out to the police who instructed him that he could not collect items from the curb! Who knew all these years later it would just be considered recycling. My community holds an annual Spring Cleanup week it's a party with people with trailers cruising the neighborhood looking for treasures - I know my dad would have loved it!

  8. Image for Rizae Rizae

    One mans trash is my favorite treasure!! I have been upcycling for years and I love repurposing peoples throw aways. I'm glad you got the same gene I have....lol Keep Making 👍⚘

  9. Image for Michele M. Michele M.

    Amen!!!! Just yesterday I visited my daughter and she showed me her trash find - a perfect condition comfy faux rattan chair with matching ottoman. It needed a bit of cleaning up - and it was a very bright orange - she painted it light grey and it looks and feels and is like new now. it's sooooo comfy too. I cannot understand some people's trash - but she had the perfect place for that set and it is awesome. I love these kinds of success stories!!!! Landfills do NOT need so much stuff for you clever peeps repurposing things and making them your own. Whoo hoo.

  10. Image for Nancy Hanselman Nancy Hanselman

    On of my favorites was a piano bench someone threw out by my mother- in- law’s work. We needed a small coffee table and she thought it would be perfect. She was right! My husband stripped it and it was beautiful, then he fixed the loose hinges. I still have it 25 years later and still love it! Love finding old things and repurposing!

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