Top Ten Junk Makeovers
The Top Ten Junk Makeovers of

I can’t believe a year of junking in 2018 is behind me and it is almost the end of January 2019, where does the Junk (time) go? Answer: much of it is in my garage….

If you are new around here, to catch you up. I started painting furniture when I was a Young Married, a million years ago. Fast forward a few years, friends started asking me to paint their pieces. That turned into a full blown painting contract business, kitchen cabinets, built ins, you name it, I painted it.

While I was so grateful for all the work, I longed to stretch my creative wings and sell my pieces. I started small and it caught on fast. When I realized I needed to keep my profit margins as high as possible, it dawned on me to start looking for free things. I began with Craigs List Free, back before EVERYONE was in on the game.

Eventually I realized I might have better luck at Apartment Dumpsters. Lo and behold, and entire new world of junking and furniture makeovers opened up.

Apartment Dumpster Diving Haul

I will never forget my first day of Dumpster Diving at a local apartment complex. God was definitely opening doors for me and setting me on a life long path for the love of free and thrown away.

The first major Junk Makeover I did was this Wood Pallet Vertical Planter

I seriously had beginners luck with my humble Junking Beginnings. This Wood Pallet Planter went on to become featured in Country Living Magazine, and sparked an entire outdoor room and more features from various online publications.

I quickly realized if I wanted to broaden my junk horizon, I needed to get comfortable with power tools. DIY blogs such as Addicted to Decorating  , Pneumatic Addict and a good friend and his wife gave me the confidence to wield a table saw, jigsaw, chop saw and power drill with ease. I even created this work table from an Old Pallet Box!

Make a workbench from an old pallet box

While I have had some HILARIOUS adventures over the years, and found the most UNBELIEVABLE things in the trash, the best story was the day I was junking and a woman thought I was homeless and starting giving me her kid’s hand me downs…..When she learned what I did for a living, she started handing me furniture she was getting rid of!

Yes, I have had Junking Stars over my head for sure. Like Ask and Ye Shall Receive

How to find Free Solid Wood Doors

There have been so many Junk Makeovers I have completed, but for today’s post, I narrowed it down to the my Top Ten Best Junk Makeovers.

Number 10 – Fire Burned Bookshelf to Rolling Cart

Turn a burned out Bookshelf into a Rolling Industrial Vintage Cart.

Old Bookshelf turned Industrial Rolling Cart
How to turn a Cheap Bookshelf into a Rolling Cart

Friends of ours had a terrible fire in their loft above their detached garage. We had gone over to help in the clean up, and of course, I salvaged whatever was not burned to a crisp. This Solid Wood Bookshelf actually was not burned, just covered with soot. After a thorough clean up, I painted it in Debi’s Design Diary DIY Paint and added those cool Fence Boards I picked up from THIS junk dig. See the entire makeover HERE.

Number 9 – Master Bath Makeover

Master Bath Makeover with no budget
How to Makeover a Master Bathroom on zero budget

We had builder grade, tract home blah Master Bathroom. The builder had put carpet, CARPET (if you can actually call it that, more like fuzz loosely glued to a mat of mesh) over the subfloor. Technically speaking, I did not find my bathroom in a Dumpster…But I did make it over with 100% Free, found, Dumpster items and painted the sub floor. I am proud to say it turned out GORGEOUS. And I did not spend 1 dime…except for the Lamp I bought from Home Goods, which was my splurge. Yes, you heard that right. I painted the sub floor and it looks like Old Wood Planks. You can see all the details HERE on the blog, complete with a video HERE on how to do those floors.

Number 8 – Decorate an Outdoor Space with Junk

Outdoor Patio Room on a Budget
How to Create an Outdoor Room with Found Items

When we moved into our current home almost 16 years ago, we had zero, actually less than zero dollars to go towards the backyard of our dreams. Did we let that stop us? No! Growing up in Northern California, with parents who loved to garden and enjoy the beautiful weather outside as much as we could, I longed to create the same experiences for my family. I surveyed what I had on hand, a Free Table, some free hand me down chairs, old wood Garage Door Panels I had picked up on the side of the dumpster from a Garage Door Company (They cut them in half so I could get them in my van), and misc other free items. Not only was I able to create a beautiful backyard room where we could eat outside, but it provided me with a little sanctuary away from the rest of the yard. This backyard space was featured in countless magazines, online posts and DIY round ups. WOW. You just never know where a pile of junk will get you.

To see how I did created this outdoor space on no budget, check out my post on it HERE and HERE.

Number7 – Dumpster Bookshelf to Rolling Kitchen Island

Dumpster Bookshelf to Rolling Kitchen Island
How to turn an old Bookshelf into a Rolling Kitchen Island

I love to turn any piece of furniture into something more functional with wheels. You can read more about what a difference wheels make HERE and HERE

I found this bookshelf, where else, in a Dumpster! It was SUPER UGLY, but I brought it home anyhow, knowing it would turn into….something. A few weeks later inspiration struck. I used a circular saw, cut the bookshelf in half, added a new top, wheels and my favorite paint. Those wood boxes were made from old fence boards too! Check out the post, and watch the video for how to make one of these Bookshelf Junk Makeovers yourself.

NUMBER 6! How to Make a Lampshade with Old Book Page

Make a lampshade from old Book Pages

I know, at first glance it seems not the brightest idea for a Junk Makeover….but trust me, it was SO popular. And SO EASY. It seemed for a while, the number 1 thing I was finding in Dumpsters was books! Maybe it was the take off of the IPAD, who knows! Anyhow, grab some old books that are truly not worth reading, a glue gun and an ugly old Lamp Shade. Check out how to make this Junk Makeover HERE.

Number 5 – Target Discarded Cabinet to WOW Cabinet

Junk Cabinet Makeover
Turn a Discarded Cabinet into a Beautiful Storage Cabinet

I found this sad cabinet behind my local Target. It was dumped because it had a big ol whole through the side of it. Seriously? That’s it? I painted it, put panels in the back, then for the side, used the bottoms of old dresser drawers to make…chalk board panels and cover up the hole! It has been happily put to good use in my daughter’s bedroom for many years.

Number 4 – Show me a Sign of your Love

Love Sign from Cabinet Door
How to make a LOVE sign from an Old Cabinet Door

Super easy, super quick, super fun. Valentine’s Day Sign made from one of MANY free cabinet doors I had found during my Dumpster Diving adventures. Technically, the Card Board letters did not come from a Dumpster. You can pick some up for yourself and get them shipped right to your house HERE.

A few coats of paint, some wood glue. Oh! And those hearts were made with a heart stencil in various sizes and what else, those old book pages!

Number 3 – Dumpster Nightstand Makeover

Ugly Nightstand makeover
Turn your ugly Nightstand into a Luxury Nightstand

One of my recent faves. Ugly, I mean UHGLYYY Nightstand found for free. I used several layers of my go to Debi’s Design Diary DIY Paint, blending with a water bottle as I went. The middle of the drawer needed something extra. I used IOD Paper Clay to create those beautiful locks. Super easy, you can make them in just a few seconds, glue them on and paint while they are still drying.

If you are a local friend, you can pick up all the IOD Furniture embellishments your heart desires at Beyond The Terrace in Brentwood, CA.

The best part of this Junk Makeover, I sold it to my son’s former Math Tutor, and they didn’t even know I was the one selling it! Super happy bonus it went to someone we love.

Number 2 – Dumpster Drawer Turned Rolling Shoe Storage

Shoe storage from old drawer
Old Drawer uses make it into Shoe Storage

This was one of my easiest Junk Makeovers, but has had one of the biggest impacts on my life. If you consider a happy home, one that stays somewhat neat and orderly, and you are not constantly living in fear of tripping over your kid’s shoes, then this project is for you!

This drawer was found in an Industrial Dumpster, I think it was used for a machine shop? Anyhow….I painted it, added wheels, lined the bottom with Newspaper I decoupaged onto it. GET Your Mod Podge HERE. Years later, it still functions perfectly as a shoe hider. And best of all? It slides right under my Bench Made Entirely of Junk, which was a runner up for my Top Ten 🙂

Number 1 – Dumpster Dresser Makeover with Decoupaged Fabric

How to Makeover an old Dresser with DIY Paint and Decoupaging Fabric

It was hard to choose a Number One. With years of finding Junk and Making it over, I have so many favorites. I chose this dresser because when I found it, it was in near perfect condition. Dove Tail Drawer construction, minor scratches, and it didn’t smell! I found it at my Apartment Dumpsters, the maintenance guy told me the guy who dumped it got a job across the country and just couldn’t afford to move the dresser. HOW LUCKY WAS I??!!

I used Debi’s Design Diary DIY Paint in Weather Wood, just 2 coats. Then I Decoupaged the drawer fronts with IKEA Upholstery fabric I had had for years. I used DIY Paint’s Crystal Clear Patina as the Decoupage medium. It works amazingly well for both Decoupage and as a top coat. Best part, no smell and it is all natural.

Check out the HOW to video right here:

Do you have some favorite Junk Makeovers? I would love to hear about them! Please leave me a comment below and let me know what favorite Junk Makeover projects you have done.


  1. Patty Soriano

    I love reading about your finds. I especially like posts where you’re showing us the junk in it’s natural habitat….beside the road, dead end, apartment dumpster. I have to live vicariously through you! I was watching a you tube video the other day of a couple who were going through the dumpsters late at night behind shopping centers. LOVED it! I felt like I was there. Never knew there was a you tube of this sort of thing. Hugs to you, hope you’re doing well !

  2. Kirsten

    You never cease to amaze me! Thanks for the inspiration!!!


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