Thrifting for outdoor decor - With or Without Paint

Thrifting for outdoor decor - With or Without Paint

I’m a lover of summer.  I like it HOT - I’d call it a perfect summer day if I didn’t have to put a sweatshirt on when the sun sets.  However, if the sun isn’t shining, no matter the temperature, I usually have a sweatshirt on. 

During the summer most of my time is spent outside.  I love to garden which includes decorating my outdoor spaces.  Thrift shopping helps me out with my outside décor, it’s not often that I buy something “new”, unless it’s on an end of season sale.  Some items are intended for outdoor use and some are not. 

Planted Urn

Let’s show you some of the items I can just place outside with no painting required.  This metal pail had the perfect patina for my liking and a bonus was the drain holes in the bottom that someone else had done.  It has a rusted/copper blend look to it but was in overall great shape.  I had just gotten a pot of flowers from my daughter who owns Life Root Farm so I added a bit of dirt and dropped the entire pot into the bucket.  DONE and pretty. 

Metal bucket of flowers

Sometimes you come across a birdhouse that obviously wouldn’t make a good home for raising babies.  They are usually pretty cheap at the thrift stores as they think “who would buy this” when it’s not fit for a home.  Me, that’s who. 


The tomato soup can on the right of the birdhouse is new this year, it’s shiny and not very Connie like.  The soup can on the left was from a few years of being outside.  It’s now perfect Connie décor.  Sometimes you have to let nature paint for you.  I wouldn’t use these rusty cans in the house but on the patio with a bit of sedum planted in them they make a great statement with little maintenance.  Think about them this winter when you're making chili and need the large can of tomato juice.  If you’re interested in purchasing an already rusty can with sedum and sparkplug dragon fly they are available at Hidden Treasures on Main in Gilman, WI. 

Rusty Soup Can

Next up is this bench.  I found this a few years ago at a garage sale.  The bench has a home taking up a space under my crabapple tree that I haven’t decided what to plant there yet.  After looking at this bench for a bit I think it might stay this way.  The bench didn’t need any paint and it folded flat for winter storage, perfect find.  

Thrifted bench in garden

The orange hanger and pot in the tree was also a thrifted find many years ago.  That I did spray paint in orange, so it shows up in the green tree.  The pot is a metal can that I used a saltwash mixture to add a raised stencil to it and painted it with Haint Blue DIY Cottage Color.  That paint is not labeled for outdoor use but it’s my new go to for painting stuff for outside.  Find all 8 colors on my website. Cottage Colors

Cottage Colors 

Everything you see in this next photo has been found while thrift shopping.  I painted the blue bench and the coffee table top is a cupboard door.  I spray painted the the two metal side tables and the two tall lamps.  The farmhouse white bench was painted white but needed a refresh so I sanded it and added watered down Dark and Decrepit.  Easy update.  The two doors were already those colors with bonus of chippy goodness.  I didn’t even get them at the same time or the same place but their minty green color almost matches each other and my lamps.  We don’t sit here often but it’s a pretty space to look at on the one side of our front deck. 

blue bench

The other side is our functioning side.  This table I found at a garage sale and didn’t buy it on my first trip there.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it so I went back the next day and thank goodness it was still there.  I usually don’t pay much for my thrifted items but this was $150 and worth every penny.  I’m so glad I bought it, I've recovered the chairs multiple times and this last time instead of recovering them I painted them using DIY Paint.  This is the 3rd year with the painted seats and they still look good. 

patio table

The table came from the doctor’s house that delivered me and all my siblings. The planter was thrifted also and the angel came from the thrift store needing a makeover.  She now looks like concrete.

I had another angel statue that the wind knocked off a small table and she broke her lower body into a million little pieces, it was a shame, she was the prettiest little thing painted to look like a lighter version of concrete.  For this concrete look I find my Saltwash and DIY Paint mixture works perfectly and dries rock hard, find those products on my website.  Any-who I felt bad throwing away this perfect little face so I placed her into a flower pot hiding the jagged break of ceramic in the dirt.  Doesn't she look like she belongs in that pot?

Angel Broken 

There are a few more thrifted statues I've collected for my outdoor spaces.  I don't like that kinda of stuff in my house but outside it's a different story.  I think it's the no dusting that I like.  :)  

metal cart

As you can see I love to thrift rusty things and if they aren't rusty I paint them.  

Garden Chair

Garden sign

My fairy broke her wing but she's not flying anymore so it's okay.


My first experience with chalk paint was Annie Sloan.  I've used plenty of brands since those days and DIY has stolen my heart and won't let go.  Annie Sloan made some really fun gardening containers though.  Her paint is the reason I am where I am so for that I am thankful and will keep these cans until the bottoms rust out.  

Rusty Chair

I also love to collect terrecotta pots from the thrift store.  The more white limestone they have on them the better and if there's green moss that's a true bonus.  I'll tell you about this cabinet in a minute but for now this is where I show off my terrecotta pot collection.  I hope it to continue to grow but now if I see a clay pot at the thrift store it has to have natural patina and have a low price tag on it.  Once your collection has grown you can start to get picky on what you pick.  Angel and lanterns were also thrifted and let as is but the suitcase I painted with DIY Queen Bee/Liquid Sunshine and used a WallCutz Stencil on it.

Painted Suitcase

Now to end this lengthy blog post we'll talk about the potting table.  Last year I went to visit my aunt and uncles house where my cousin was getting rid of their table.  My daughter wanted the table for her new house.  When we pulled in I seen this cabinet sitting up against the garage.  I swooned over it in my head and didn't say a word.  While loading the table my cousin asked if I wanted the cabinet.... Me "YES" before he finished his sentence.  My husband said "No, you have enough stuff"  I quietly agreed and wondered how much work it would be to fix it up.  There is no bottom for it, the glass is broken on the right side, it's so so dirty with garage grease, which is what my uncle used it for... storage in his garage.  We finished loading the table and my husband got out his tape measure and measured it and the room we had left on the trailer and said "if it fits you can have it"  Let me tell you I made sure it fit.  I never thought of using it outside as a potting bench until cleaning it up and liking the grudge patina of it... why paint and ruin that look, let's put it under the porch for protection from the weather and use it to store my terracotta collection.  So last year I had it sitting on a farmhouse bench that I knew wasn't very sturdy but I didn't get it until fall so I knew this summer I would have to have a better plan.  I did have a plan..... my husband to build something.... he didn't like that plan.  Well it came time to dig out the garden decor from the garden shed and this cabinet couldn't be set up unless I had something study for it to sit on.  My garden shed has to be replaced this year so I worked hard to clean it out.... in the back was this table I salvaged from a house that was getting torn down many many years ago.  Perfect potting bench set up. 

potting bench

And it has become my new favorite place to photograph items.  I can't keep everything I thrift so I started about 2 years ago to put thrifted items up on my website to sell.  It's worked out well for me and for those wanting something no one else has.  My thrift store has really great prices and I try to keep them great deals for you also.  Check out my website click here for the thrifted decor and see if you can find yourself a new treasure or start visiting your thrift stores.  The thrill is in what I can find every time I go there. 

Someone trash is someone else's treasure.  Until next time Happy Painting!! 

Back to blog

Leave a comment