a peek inside the fishbowl

16 Jun, 2017

Transformation of a curb-side find

Posted by andrea tomkins in: - Found objects|- Thrifty is nifty|Oh! Things!

I’ve been wanting a plant stand for some time now, mostly because I wanted to move a few houseplants to the back porch for the summer and get them off of the teetering window ledge in our family room. Also, plant stands, which may be considered a holdover from our parents’ and grandparents’ homes, can actually be pretty cool, and dare I say, EDGY.

That being said, a new plant stand was not at the top of our “We Need This Right Now” list. In fact, it was very very far down the list in terms of Household Priorities.

Here’s where I have to confess that I have the best of intentions as it pertains to DIY home decor projects but seldom have enough energy to follow through with them. So when I spotted a brass and glass plant stand at the side of the road the other day, I swore up and down that THIS TIME WAS GOING TO BE DIFFERENT.

The plant stand was dusty, rusty, and wet. Amazingly, I managed to haul it to the car without breaking anything. And then it sat outside for a few days, getting wetter and dirtier. Ugh. Sorry, plant stand! I was still determined to make this work. This was not going to be one of those forgotten projects; started with the best of intentions only to be shuffled off to a lonely place in the basement.

I went to Canadian Tire to pick up some paint. Mark suggested spray paint, but I liked the look of the Tremclad water-based rust paint in flat black. So I bought a small can of it, along with a small sponge brush and set myself up in the backyard (the only area in my environs that can be considered “well-ventilated”) and got to work.

Step one: lightly sand off any loose dirt and rust. Check.

Step two: spread some newspapers on the ground.

Step three: go to town with the paint and brush.

I shook the can, opened it with a screwdriver, and dipped the tip of the brush into the paint. Hmm. It looked weird, like, not black. Maybe my eyes were playing tricks on me? I was in the shade, after all. I started painting on to the thickest parts of the stand. It was definitely not black, it was dark blue. I double- triple-checked the can to make sure I bought the right colour. Yes, it was definitely flat black. It wasn’t until a few minutes later that I realized this stuff goes on blue, but dries black. (Doh.)

Here’s what it looked like when I started:

Plant stand, the before shot

Because I was painting on brass (or a brassy-like surface) it was not like painting on a wall. There were very obvious streaks during the first application which I was only able to fill in over subsequent coats, but this wasn’t a big deal. It may also be worth noting that I took a page of out Tom Sawyer and convinced my eldest to paint a coat or two as well. (Parenting win!)

Painting is a remarkably meditative act, and it was surprisingly satisfying to watch the transformation as I worked away. After the scare of the first coat it went on so smoothly. The sponge brush was a good choice too: it wasn’t streaky and it was easy to catch and control any dripping.

Dry time was shorter than advertised on the can, but maybe it was expedited due to the fact the “well ventilated area” I had chosen outdoors was a bit breezy.

When it was done I cleaned the glass shelves and moved the stand into its place on the back porch. In the winter, it’ll be moved indoors.

Here’s the final result (as you can see, I’m tinkering with plant selection and positioning):

Painted plant stand

Painted plant stand!

Ok, maybe this is not an edgy plant stand, but I do love the retro look and feel of it. I am quite pleased with my old/new plant stand! It’s not perfect, by any stretch. I missed a few spots and wasn’t able to sand off all the rust on the bottom. It’s perfectly imperfect, and I’m totally ok with that.

2 Responses to "Transformation of a curb-side find"

1 | Tiana

June 19th, 2017 at 1:01 pm


That is a BEAUTIFUL plant stand! I’ve been trying to find a nice one for some time. What luck!

2 | andrea tomkins

June 21st, 2017 at 1:35 pm


Thank you! It was a very lucky find. I’m glad I pulled over and nabbed it!

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  • andrea tomkins: I hope you like it Anne! Do you batch cook soups for your soup-lovin' family? It'd be easy to freeze in single serving containers!
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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our two daughters Emma (18) and Sarah (16). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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