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.

New Decorating Ideas For Things You Were About to Throw Away

We moved the twins out of their dorm at Baylor yesterday.

You should have seen the dumpster outside.

It was FULL TO THE BRIM and spilling out into the street and full of the most amazing things. There were rugs and furniture and baskets and bookcases and odds and ends of hundreds of dorm rooms all packed into one place.

I almost went pickin’.

You see—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?

And I like new, too.

I get it.

I understand.

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.

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 any more, 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.

My mother-in-law built-in the hutch for storage and they took off the doors.

I hung them on the wall with fall wreaths.

You can read their story here.

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, 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!

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


  1. Image for Robin Plummer Robin Plummer

    KariAnne you are an extra special soul. I wish we were neighbors and could work on projects together. But we are technology neighbors! I see that lovely attic ladder and instantly think of how many times your Daddy went up in the attic to get down the Christmas decorations. Your Mother may have gone up in the attic to look for that special vase or picture that belonged to your grandmother. I think you could write a book how recycled trash can tell the very best stories!

  2. Image for Cara Cara

    How did you stop yourself from going through that trash? LOL! I think I may have had to get right in there and see... repurposing is my favorite decor! I am not a fan of new, no history... no character... and usually pretty flimsy these days. I love a piece where I can even create a story in my mind of who had it before me. Such a romantic at heart! Thanks for sharing these ideas!

  3. Image for patricia patricia

    You are good to the earth, keeping all that used-to-be junk and encouraging us to do the same! Back when I was thrifting, one favorite game was to hunt for something I could turn into a lamp. That's how I wound up with a glass seltzer bottle lamp. I did ask a pro to drill it for me but wired it myself. I love it. I'd still be thrifting except we downsized into a small two-bedroom condo, and it is FULL. Alas.

  4. Image for Donna Marie Donna Marie

    It would be smart for college freshman-to-be to go to those dumpsters and get what they need!!! Of course, most live too far, but it is a shame what is thrown out!!! Someone would make an easy buck selling these items. I am a thrift store findin', roadside collecting, yard sale brakin' and dusty junk lovin' girl. I also accept hand-me downs!!! Lol I am so glad you have your girls home for the summer!!!

  5. Image for Va in NC Va in NC

    You are a special person...I have even asked people at the local trash dump to put things on my truck instead of putting them in the landfill. If I don't know anyone who can use I take to local habitat store to resale to raise funds to help people. It is truly unbelievable what people toss. My concern is we only have so much land and our children and grandchildren will need it. Have downsized and have almost no storage but I do try to pass on everything I can. Blessing to you for all your ideas. Love them all.

  6. Image for Jodena Beale Jodena Beale

    All those reused items are beautiful. I love the two in your bathroom. They are spectacular. My k8nd of decor. Have a great weekend. And thank you for being such a beautiful soul.

  7. Image for Renae Renae

    Such a great post. I’m with you. Now you’ve got me dreaming about that dumpster and what treasures were inside. My heart is breaking a little. Hugs to you. I can’t believe that the girls are already done with their freshman year. It seems like you just dropped them off. Enjoy your summer.

  8. Image for Teresa Teresa

    We own apartments in Auburn, AL near the University. Our sons both lived in them when in college. Well, I get you completely seeing the dumpsters overflowing at the end of the school year. We called it DUMPSTER DIVING. Don't miss another opportunity. There are treasures to be found. :)

  9. Image for donna lukish donna lukish

    What types of plants are on your front step planters? Not sure if they will thrive here but they look pretty hardy. And they are vibrant and beautiful. . I live outside Baltimore Thanks! Big follower of yours!

  10. Image for Marlene Marlene

    People throw away lots of great things and I'm so glad they do. Thanks for the inspiration of what to do. Have a great weekend with the your children.

  11. Image for Misty Misty

    I love your blogs! You are very creative and inspiring. I would've driven around or gone to eat and gone back for pickin' the dumpster @ BU. Anyway, I know how embarrassing that can be for young people. Have Fun!!!

  12. Image for Teresa Gonzales Teresa Gonzales

    I so agree with you. Those pieces add character to the room and connect the past and the future. Beautiful examples.

  13. Image for Rosita Rosita

    So, enjoy your blog & how you speak from the heart! I would have loved the dumpster, however, wouldn't have claimed me! They are learning that junk is good...we now own a used furniture store in our area & prices everywhere are getting higher. ~Blessings to you & yours!

Comments are closed.