Unless you’re building brand new, or have a big enough budget to buy a house that has been remodeled, chances are you’ll end up buying a house that’s straight out of the 70s. Or, at least parts of it. When we bought our house the place screamed of the mid-70s. Our kitchen still does, but that’s a more expensive reno that we just can’t seem to agree on. I mean, who doesn’t want beautiful white cabinets and butcher block counters?!
While we got rid of all of the pastels in the house (save for the kitchen) and have added a few updates to take our home from 1975 to the present, there’s one part of the house that I absolutely loved and didn’t want to change. Much. That was my built-in planter. Built-in planters were all the rage in the 60s and 70s and mine acts as a nice separator from the front door and the dining room. I’ve planted a dieffenbacia there that is growing nice and bushy and tall and is a plant the cats seem to ignore…except this asshole. Who loves to sit in it…
Not the best spot for him as this plant can be extremely toxic to both pets and humans. Luckily, he only eats the palms, ferns, or aloe and steers clear of pretty much every other plant in the house.
The only problem with the built-in is the colour of the wood. Not my favourite and definitely not my husband’s favourite. He wants to rip it right out and get rid of it, while I’ve decided that a simple staining project can change his mind.
What you will need:
– dropcloths (e.g. old sheets or old blankets)
– old rags you don’t mind throwing away
– dusting rag
– brush (optional)
– rubber gloves
– plastic or waterproof container
– rocks (optional)
First things first: put on some clothes you don’t mind getting stain on. It doesn’t matter how careful you are, stain gets EVERYWHERE. And, it’s sticky to boot. Plus, it’s stain…so it literally stains everything it touches. My skin often has blotches of stain on it for a week after when I’m doing a bunch of projects.
Step 1. Remove plant if you’ve added one already. Clean out planter inside, as well.
Step 2. Wash the planter as it probably has a bunch of dust and, for me, it held onto some cat hair and a few cobwebs in the back I couldn’t see.
Step 3. Tape up the area around your planter. Don’t be afraid to use a whole whack of tape. My planter is surrounded by white…absolutely terrifying to stain near.
Pro Tip: Stain can be very forgiving. If you drop some on your floor or the walls (anywhere that isn’t clothing or cloth), grab a damp cloth and wipe it up right away. If you catch the droplet as soon as it falls, it usually will not stain the medium onto which it fell.
Step 4. Add drop-cloths and the like. Drop cloths can be anything you don’t mind getting a little stain or paint on. Mine are usually the flat sheet from our sheet sets because only a psycho uses one. I also have a couple of blankets leftover from our wedding (okay, like, 30 blankets) and have used those.
Step 5. Sand! Do a proper sanding of your planter. This is the annoying part, but so so important. We aren’t stripping the planter to get an even stain like you would on clean wood so you want to make sure that the colour you chose will shine through. I love furniture that has nicks in it and looks weathered and old and beautiful. If you want that type of look you will need to sand certain areas down a little more, like the corners.
Chances are if the thing you are sanding is actually old, it’ll have some hidden nicks that your stain will find, anyway.
If you want that beautiful old weathered wood look, that takes layer after layer of different coloured stains and/or paint. Then, a sanding to let the colours bleed through.
Step 6. Wipe down to get any sanding bits off of your planter.
Step 7. Stain! Put on those rubber gloves and start staining. There are a couple of different ways to get that beautiful stain onto the wood.
You could wipe on with a cloth, rubbing it in nicely.
You could brush it on and then wipe off any excess after.
The second is what I do more often than the first. The first gets a really nice stain going and gets it into the grooves and looking oh-so-beautiful. But, it’s a fucking pain in the ass. Brushing on the stain and then rubbing it in a good 10 – 20 minutes later is my favourite option and works really well for me. I find that I get a darker colour by doing it this way and when I’m staining red-hued woods, this covers it better than the above without making me strip the piece of furniture.
You don’t have to buy a fancy paint brush, either. The brush I often use is just a simple crafts brush from a cheap set. It’s mostly just a vehicle for your stain to get to the wood and if there are a streaks, it’s okay. You’ll be wiping them up and into the wood after. While a nicer brush comes in handy when you’re doing corners and don’t want a bristle sticking out from the side, if you don’t have one, don’t feel bad. You can still stain and end up with a good-looking piece of furniture!
It doesn’t matter which you choose as long as you wear gloves! Especially if you are wiping it on. Stain.Gets.Everywhere. And, make sure that you are staining in a well-ventilated area. If it’s too hot to open the windows while you’re staining and you can’t bring the piece of furniture outside, then wait until it’s cool enough to open the windows.
Step 8. Allow to dry for around 4 – 5 hours in between coats. I always do 2 coats with a third wiped on via the cloth to get any areas that I may have missed or that didn’t sink in as nicely.
Step 9. Once you’ve reached the colour you like (be sure to wait and let it dry as the true colour will show once dry), spray with a protective coat! Because this is a planter and will hold a lot of moisture, I used one that works for indoor/outdoor use. It is weather resistant, not proof, so don’t go plopping your soil and plant right into the planter after.
This is what I use for nearly all of my projects and love it.
Step 10. Add a water-proof barrier to make sure that no moisture sinks into your planter and causes the wood to mold and decay. I sprayed the inside of the planter a good couple of times with the weather resistant spray and then added tar paper as a barrier, plus thick PVC plastic wrap we had lying around stapled inside to act as my container.
You can also simply add pots inside of your planter, keeping the moisture contained, and fill with rocks!
Finally, we are done! Now, your built-in planter is a little less 70s and a lot more chic.