Yesterday I was driving down the road completely and utterly minding my own business.

When all of a sudden?

I saw this.

Well actually, I saw two of them, but this little corner is what touched my heart.

It was waiting for me.

It knew I would drive by and we would become friends.

And then?

It and the rest of what I found by the side of the road was in the back of the car before you could say snap crackle pop.


What it lived another life as before isn’t even really that important.

Because now?

This little corner and the rest of these two amazing pieces look like this.

Well actually they first looked like this.

Two abandoned shuttters each missing one of their horizontal pieces.

They were stacked back to back.

With a sign that said this.

FREE shutters (and a table top).

I didn’t need the table top (well actually I didn’t even really need the shutters) so I left it behind.

These shutters are SO HEAVY.

They are made from real wood with the prettiest gray patina.

We lugged them home and went to work.

First they had to be cleaned.

There was a lifetime of dirt and cobwebs down in between those boards.

Then I needed to decide what to create with them. Here are all my ideas (just in case you find free shutters and need some inspiration):

  • a table top to an existing base I had
  • cabinet doors in the laundry room
  • sliding doors in the built-ins upstairs
  • two signs with painted arrows
  • two cornice boards in Westleigh’s room
  • add cork and make them into bulletin boards

But in the end?

I did this.

I made them into wall art in the middle room upstairs.

I looked at them and knew that they would be perfect on either side of the door leading into the landing.

This is actually my favorite kind of project because it just invents itself as you go along.

So we hung them onto the wall.

They are SUPER heavy, so we just screwed them directly into the shiplap for support. The shiplap in this room is original to the house so the walls are hard, sturdy 100-year-old wood.

But when we got them up? The gray was waaaaaay too gray. It looks like softer gray in some of these pictures, but in reality? It was really, really gray and looked a little out of place with the rest of the room.

No worries, I said.

Self, you got this.

So I pulled out leftover SW Sandbar (the color the hallway is painted) and added a little to the gray. Then I added some more and more and another layer of dry brushing until it looked like this.

But I didn’t like it.

It was too rough looking and too tan with still too much of the gray showing through (which by this time looked like blue).

So I added a layer of white paint with a little of the original gray still showing.

But now?

It was too white.

So I went back (while the white paint was still wet) and added a little bit of the SW Sandbar to warm it up.

(quick tip: it’s easy to add depth to paint while the first coat is still wet. Just make sure to keep your brush strokes in one direction and don’t add too much paint to your brush.)

And when I was done?

It looked like this.

If you look closely, you can see streaks of the light khaki and hints of the gray/blue hat give it so much more depth and personality.

So now I had two shutters painted exactly like I liked them on either side of the door.

Then brilliant idea number two popped into my brain.

What if I took these hinges?

And this khaki and white striped ribbon?

And this wreath that I made from a piece of garland?

And attached the hinge to the top of the shutter and threaded the ribbon through the hinge and tied a ribbon through it?

Let’s go.

I already had the paint and the hinge and I made the wreath.

So the FREE project was getting even FREER.

I added a wreath to each shutter after the paint dried. We also added two wooden shelves that we already had underneath the shutters.

And now?

This free shutter?

Looks like this.

Here are a few life lessons I learned along the way:

  1. If see something amazing by the side of the road with a giant FREE sign on it, please come sit by me. I’ll help you figure out what to do with it.
  2. If a project doesn’t turn out like you want at first? Don’t stop until you turn it into what you want.
  3. Paint (or layers of paint) are your best friend when you are transforming something.
  4. Think outside the box and challenge yourself to use what you already have (like the hinge) to make your project extra special).
  5. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure (or beautiful handpainted wall art).

Here’s to shopping that’s free and projects that make walls happy.

Isn’t life amazing? 🙂

PS Have you ever found something by the side of the road? My shutters and I would love to hear the tale.

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


  1. Image for MJ Venesco MJ Venesco

    I can honestly say this is one of the best things I've ever seen! I love them! You were truly inspired on this project. I love finding treasures on the side of the road...that's how I found my gorgeous wicker chair!

  2. Image for Lisa Barron Lisa Barron

    those are adorable! this gave me inspiration, I have two old shutters sitting in the basement collecting dust, and now I know just where to put them, and of course I have tons of left over paint hanging around. Now I have a project for the weekend!!! Thanks! I always love your ideas 💡

  3. Image for Rena' Rena'

    Oh this is just ridiculously awesome! Score for you girl! As soon as this rain stops I'm going to drive around and see what is on the side of the road. 😊 I don't comment a lot Karianne but I always read/watch you and love your infectious energy and attitude. You make my day on the regular! XO

  4. Image for Cora Cora

    Wow - they look terrific! It is soo rewarding to upcycle someone else's trash. Recently, my sister picked up a huge black square coffee table from the side of the road for me. It has beautiful thick turned legs, is solid wood with nothing broken or loose and has an adorable little drawer that is perfect for remotes. I cleaned it, sanded off 2 coats of paint on the top - one black and one white, and discovered a lovely butcher block underneath, which I gave a translucent white wash to tone down the yellowness and sealed. The bottom I kept black but sanded and painted on an all-in-one black primer/paint. It looks amazing and is going into my daughter's new house. I have seen an identical table in Pottery Barn for over $600. What a find!

  5. Image for Lyn Lyn

    When we had to dismantle an old wooden picket fence I couldn't get rid of the gate part. We hung it in our garage and put several different hooks on it - I have a welcome sign on one, and several baseball caps, etc. My granddaughters asked me why was that hanging on the wall - I said because I love it. I have put a few items out by the road for our big trash pickup and almost without an hour they have been picked up by some inventive person to reuse. I really don't like the idea of items ending up in a landfill.

  6. Image for Wendy Wendy

    I am truly inspired by what you do with these items on the side of the road! This is, by far, one of the very best ideas yet. Those shutters look totally awesome with the wreaths tied on them, and your idea of using the hinges was the perfect touch. The only thing I can't understand is why you left the table top behind! I'm sure you would have figured out something wonderful to create with it! haha

  7. Image for Lanita Anderson Lanita Anderson

    Wow!! What a great find…..and an even greater transformation! So much character and creativity…..they turned out beautiful!

  8. Image for Ange Ange

    What a gorgeous room! I love the balance that the shelves and shutters bring to the room. I also love the two chair. Link, please? Also, I really think that we need a tour of your stash place! I can't believe those darling shelves were just waiting around for you to bring their new friends home. I love what you did with this room!

  9. Image for Barb E Barb E

    What a lucky find FOR you…what a beautiful work of art created BY you! I love how you threaded your ribbon through the hinge! Gorgeous!

  10. Image for Cassie Adolphson Cassie Adolphson

    They look amazing! I am so impressed by how you see past the current state and make something so much better.

  11. Image for Alice Hanson Alice Hanson

    Oh my goodness KariAnne! You are the rock star of all rock stars! That freebie turned into a million well maybe a hundred dollar art piece! You are genius! My humble abode in Benbrook NEEDS YOU 😉. Smiles, Alice

  12. Image for Myra Freshwater Myra Freshwater

    There’s something special about REAL WOOD these days! The shutters are just lovely! I would’ve grabbed them too. You’re such an inspiration to us all. Carry on, Karianne! 😘🌸💗 Myra

  13. Image for Jo Jo

    I will be smiling over this for days!!! "Found objects"... with your imagination and know-how is simply delightful!!!

  14. Image for Kris Kris

    Wow, judging from the number of comments already this morning, you hit a home run with this one. I absolutely love it. I don't know why shutters appeal to me so much (the texture? The old colors?) but they do. Many moons ago I bought a shutter table that someone (not me!) had repurposed and yes, it's still in my living room today.

  15. Image for Cindy Cindy

    I'm loving these and I would have grabbed these too. Paint is magical and adding layers is the best. Sigh, NJ is a sad state for these pieces of gold. Adding the hinge is perfect.

  16. Image for Joanne Vest Joanne Vest

    Sitting here on our couch with coffee in hand and just love this story! The shutters turned out amazing! I have been trying to figure out what to do above our couch and you just gave me several ideas! Love them!

  17. Image for Be Be

    I do mean that brain if yours is in creative overtime. This project is adorable. Only you could have thought if this idea. Thanks for sharing with the world.

  18. Image for Rachel Burch Rachel Burch

    I’ve found various pieces of furniture and “project” material on the road but my favorite is the metal suit of armor my kids loaded on their little red wagon and brought home. It was almost as tall as they were at the time. After playing pranks on each other with it for months- leaving it in the shower, in a closet, in the middle of the hallway at night- it found a permanent home at church. It’s been used for VBS, Sunday school, and as decor in the teen room for years now.

  19. Image for Jodena Beale Jodena Beale

    I read all the comments from others and we all feel the same way. Amazing, helpful, beautiful, awesome ...the list goes on and on about you and the wonderful ideas and projects you bring us. Im doing the "not worthy" bow right now. Thank you again and have a blessed day

  20. Image for Judy Young Judy Young

    My husband and I and our young family were on holiday in Arkansas and we found a beautiful shabby chic wood porch swing in disrepair. It was obvious that someone was throwing it out because it was laid by the trash. We squealed and got it into the car! My husband restored it and it still hangs on my covered patio twenty years later. We painted it Cabinet Makers Blue and now it’s soft and aged looking. Cost us $2 for parts only. I still love it!

  21. Image for Kim Kim

    Perfect as always. I love it. Dont send a picture to the people who left them on the side of the road, they will probably try and buy them back from you. I cant believe you did all that in 1 day. Your blog is the first I read every day. Kim

  22. Image for Kathie Kathie

    Great find! Great inspiration followed to completion! Makes we wonder again why my sister and I recently left a set of five free good looking chairs by the side of the road.

  23. Image for Michelle Crowley Michelle Crowley

    I love what you chose to do with these great shutters!!! They look perfect in your room! 💛 I have found things on the side of the road several times! When we were first married and broke there was sofa on the side of the road, the fabric was horrendously ugly, but the shape was fabulous! I had it reupholstered and it was gorgeous! Cheap and gorgeous! 🤗 I recently picked up this awesome, super tall vintage floor lamp and a cute little ottoman - both free on the side of the road! Major score!

  24. Image for Carol Carol

    Hi KariAnne, Did they leave 2 pairs of shutters????? You just kill me sometimes!!! And not only that, I could be driving forever(and right now our gasoline isn't cheap) and come up with nothing!!! I sure love them AND the shelves underneath them! Carol

  25. Image for Linda Linda

    I found an old sewing machine cabinet in my apartment dumpster! It lived with me for years❤️ I haven’t found anything else but always stay on the lookout!

  26. Image for Debbie Debbie

    Does your brain ever hurt? I mean how can you come up with all these decorating ideas that are so unique and beautiful? I would have seen trash but you see beauty. Love your blog!

  27. Image for Suzi Suzi

    I happened on your website—don't ask me how—and fell head over heels in love. I love your projects, your ideas, your diy's, too. But most of all, I love your stories! I'm a professional writer with a blog, but I so wish I could write like you do!

  28. Image for LORRI LORRI

    You have Eagle eyes Karianne!!! I sometimes see things on the roadside and I have to think if it will fit in my I have picked up dressers, pieces of wood and windows... and yes I have done things with them but I still have stuff that I need to fix up. Yikes!!!

  29. Image for Debbie Debbie

    Kari Ann I love your posts and stories you keep me laughing, you are so right keep going till you get it right! I love them, they are beautiful the wreaths made them! As always great ideals, I read you first everytime Your the best, always happy, positive and full of joy and life, thankyou thankyou ❤

  30. Image for Va in NC Va in NC

    LOVE IT!!! You are amazing....your ideas are terrific Thank you for sharing. I am inspired, will be looking at the side of the road a little more carefully from now on.

  31. Image for Tammy Tammy

    KarAnne, I am loving your free project. I was like "WHAT?" I need to get a Uhaul travel to Texas and just ride around looking for some free stuff. You and Do are always finding some great treasures.. Just love how they look in your space. Perfect!

  32. Image for Marlene S. Marlene S.

    Oh, I love these and you did a perfect job of making them so pretty. Who in the world would want to get rid of these wonderful pieces, thank goodness they did!!!

  33. Image for Sandi Sandi

    An absolutely beautiful finish!! I love finding things on the side of the road. Your shutters look wonderful up on the wall. Hugs

  34. Image for Linda Scott Linda Scott

    That's how I found my birdhouse on a pole. Almost gave myself a head injury when I slammed on the brakes to snatch that up!! lol!! It's so fun! Your shutters look great and so well made. You did a great job transforming them and loved your story!! Cracked me up!!

  35. Image for Sharon Sharon

    Wow! Those look great! You are so clever! Love, love love!! Can you please share where you found the ribbon? Thank you and have a great weekend!

  36. Image for Debbie Debbie

    You are so, so creative. I look at those shutters and think of nothing. Nothing comes to mind. I am more likely to be the person who would leave them out front. I always leave my discards (old couches, chairs, tables, etc.) out front at least a day before bulk trash pick up (depending on weather) and they are always gone before they can be picked up. I call them my offerings.

  37. Image for Mike c Mike c

    That was uplifting and cool to see. Nice that the shutters didn't go to waste. All you have to do is imagine!

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