More than meets the eye: Transforming a tossed treasure into handy bathroom storage

I don’t carve or weld. I don’t even sew, for that matter, so please don’t mistake that I am about to declare myself some sort of craftsman.

I love pretty things. I’m a sucker for a bauble.

“Anne of Green Gables” author L.M. Montgomery wrote, “And you know one can dream so much better in a room where there are pretty things.”

Exactly, Lucy. Exactly.

Because I like pretty things and don’t have a lot of money, I enjoy Do-It-Yourself projects, which I’m sure is the attraction for many people.

I’m sharing all of this, because I’m going to begin writing a blog called “House of Gab” for the Altoona Mirror website. You’ll be able to follow my DIY projects and thrifty adventures at

I am extremely honored and excited to have the chance and hope you will check it out.

I find home DIY projects help clear my mind, and give me some pretty unique and fun adornments for my first home with my husband. We’re currently renters, but that doesn’t mean we can’t care for and make our right-now home somewhere we want to actually hang out.

I tend to fly by the seat of my pants when DIYing, to my husband’s great exasperation, and so I do stumble along the way. He’s a planner. I’m a dreamer.

And sure, I get frustrated when I realize: Duh, spray paint is surprisingly drippy if the wind is blowing. But I believe it is a matter of taking note, adjusting and enjoying the ride. If you run out of fun in a hobby, why do it? That’s my motto.

Lately, like many others, I’m into upcycling, taking an object someone is throwing out and re-purposing it.

I’ve never had a shyness about screeching to a halt, jumping out of my car and grabbing something off the side of the road.

Also, I married a farm boy, and if there’s anybody in the world who knows how to re-purpose, it’s him.

I scored the trash-to-treasure pick I’m sharing here when I was visiting my best friend in Pittsburgh. I spotted the wooden toy chest with a split lid on the curb across the street from her home.

I hauled it home in the back seat of my car, dreaming along the way how I could re-purpose it, which for me is part of the fun.

First, I thought why not make it a garden bench, filling it with wildflowers to spill out in a spray of color. Or with the addition of a couple pillows, it could hold sheets and blankets and sit at the end of a bed.

Or, and this is what I opted to do, I could make it into a storage bench for the bathroom. Bonus to that plan was that I could finally move my dresser back into the bedroom and get my T-shirts out of a storage bin hidden in the closet. Ah, newlywed apartment living.

The bench was in pretty decent shape except for the lid, which the hub fixed with a couple pieces of wood screwed to the inside. I could have sealed it up with some wood glue first, but I already knew I was going to put baskets on top of the lid and I like to weigh my efforts, time and cost when it comes to a project. Besides, the cracks and chips in tossed treasures just makes them that much cooler.

After lightly sanding the bench down using a wooden block with a piece of sandpaper stapled to it, I primed and then spray-painted the bench a bright blue color, romantically named “Lagoon.”

It took about three or four cans of spray paint, and I think probably a few brain cells, seeing as how my nose hairs matched the bench when I finished. Looking back, I would probably just hand-paint it if I had to do it again. I let the bench dry overnight.

The next day, I picked up a couple baskets on sale, and, ta-da, a brand new storage bench for my bathroom. Let’s call this piece “Pittsburgh Lagoon.” Romantic, huh?

Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030. Follow Amanda Gabeletto on Twitter (@AmandaGabeletto) or on Facebook (Amanda Gabeletto Altoona Mirror).