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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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?
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