Amazing Things You Can Find in a Dumpster

Dumpster Diving Diaries, Furniture and Cabinetry Redouxs, Le Junque

Amazing things you can find in a Dumpster….

In honor of Earth Day, I thought I would share with you my favorite Dumpster Finds!

Over the years, I have perfected (ahem, whatever) the art of Dumpster Diving for furniture that can be “redone”.   Everyone’s definition of what is salvageable is different.  Mine, for the most part:  Does it smell so bad that I can’t go near it?  Does it fall apart when I pick it up?  Does it have bugs?  HINT:  NEVER take home anything with live bugs on it!  If my junk has a trace of anything salvageable, then often it ends up in the back of my minivan.

Here is a round up of some of my MOST favorite and rewarding Dumpster Makeovers.

I have found countless dressers missing drawers.  Most of them, I have dragged home to be made over! A dresser without drawers is simply a shelving unit waiting to happen.  

This dresser turned shelving is a viewer favorite. I used a combination of my fave CeCe Caldwell’s Paints and used all the innards of the dresser to create the framework for the shelving.  Now that is some upcycling!

This dresser comes to you via a million little pieces in the middle of the road.  In fact when I was done transforming it, I had pulled more furniture staples out of it than the number of pieces it came it was in the beginning.  Those boxes were pulled from a dumpster and made over too. I did several layers of CeCe Caldwell’s Paints and some Glaze.  

This dresser was one of those pulled from the stink of bad stuff around it.  It was unscathed, just missing a bottom drawer.  That’s CeCe Caldwell’s Vintage White it’s wearing too.

This table had zero potential when I first brought it home.  I overlaid it with upcycled fence boards that I cleaned up and stained with CeCe Caldwell’s all natural, yep, ALL NATURAL Stain + Finish.

I have spent so much time in and around Dumpsters, I have made a study of it. Here are favorites I found in or around the trash can.

There are books galore that are as trashy as the trash that they were dumped in.  I had NO problem whatsoever giving them new life as Antiqued Books.  That look was easily created with CeCe Caldwell’s Paints and their 100% Natural Metallic wax in El Dorado Gold and all natural Aging Cream.


This Dumpster Desk  had a completely warped top, but it was solid wood, and just huge and gorgeous. I couldn’t let it die.  It got a transformation with CeCe Caldwell’s Paints and 100% Natural Glaze. 

Dumpster Desk #2 came to me in almost perfect condition, it was just….ugly.  CeCe Caldwell’s Vintage White, Pittsburg Grey and Vermont Slate took care of that ugly.

Problem with shoes decorating your floor?  Here’s an easy solution, put a large drawer on wheels and slide it under a bench you made from junk.  This drawer has served us well for several years and it provides a quick solution for cleaning up.

Oh and that bench?  100% Upcycled junk!  A headboard is the back, the arms are garage door panels chopped in two, the legs came from a Coffee Table headed to the dump, the front is railing from a twin bed, and the seat is a slipcover stuffed with the filling from an old comforter of my daughter’s.  

How about a drawer for your next party?  I used these old drawers pulled from a broken vanity to make a silverware caddie.  These are painted in CeCe Caldwell’s Santa Fe Turquoise.  

It is definitely Spring Here and I have 2 gorgeous planting ideas for you.  Use a broken, or just old and ugly nightstand.  (Mine had both traits going for it).  Line the drawers with plastic and fill with dirt and flowers.  It is helpful to put a brick in the back of the drawers to keep them in the position you want.  The water and soil can make it heavy and tip forward. 

I LOVE these drawers.  They were the only pieces to survive from a Pie Safe I pulled from a Dumpster Cage.  It was so sad I almost cried.  A beautiful Pie Safe with Tin punched panels, metal drawers, the works, was left out to die in the rain.

It literally fell apart when I looked at it with any kind of power tool in hand.  I finally had a funeral for the rest of it and the drawers and I went on to become good friends, (sans power tools).  Drawers from the dearly departed Pie Safe are painted in CeCe Caldwell’s Santa Fe Turquoise, (now retired Kailua Coral) and Vintage White.  

I love to be surrounded by my junk.  This outdoor room I created on the side of my home was made from 100% Upcycled Junk.  That outdoor wall was created with Garage Door Panels hinged together, the serving buffet was a changing table, that table was a free to me, topped with wood I pulled from the side of the road that literally fell off a truck.  

I hope I inspired you on Earth Day and beyond to take a 2nd look at the broken, unloved piece of furniture you might happen upon in or around a Dumpster.

Remember, you can find AMAZING things in Dumpsters, you just have to be brave and get in there and look!  If you want my best tips on how to Dumpster Dive and where to find FREE furniture. Check out my 3 part Dumpster Diving series.  

Happy Dumpster Diving friends and Happy Earth Day!  Let me know if you have a favorite item your “redid” from the Dumpster.


PS!!  If you want a sneak peek of my newest project?  Check me out on my Facebook page or on Instagram @Redouxinteriors.  Hint:  It’s bright blue, there is a video coming and it involves nail biting messy painting right in range of my white slip covered furniture. I like to live on the edge my friends.



  1. Patty Soriano

    I miss your blog, Karen. Hope you have time again soon to show us some new projects. Looking forward to seeing what other goodies you’ve found.

    • GTC

      Hey there Patty! I have a new project I should be ready to share next week, plus an interview with a rreally interesting artist in the works. Thank you so much for being such a faithful reader 🙂

      • Patty Soriano

        Yippee! Can’t wait ! Blogs have come and gone in my email, but yours will always be numero uno!

  2. Christy@Confessions of a Serial Do-it-Yourselfer

    This was a fun look back! I’m with Patty…I sure miss you in my inbox. One of the very few I actually open every time. I know good things are happening for you working with your favorite paint line, though. 🙂



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