I LOVE decorating with… antique tool totes

On the weekend, I went to stage a friend’s living room and was on the hunt for a table centerpiece. They know me well and allow me to walk their property and junk shed for my kinda ‘loot’. πŸ™‚

I came across a lovely old wooden tool tote that was long forgotten, full of old nails and such. After I removed the content, I hosed down the little cuteness and requested some jars of all sizes.

And was VERY delighted when I was handed some old bottles as well!

And then my friend handed me two jars of buttons! With old galvanized lids no less. Well… now THIS would be my kinda cool indeed. The buttons did not get dumped. πŸ™‚

So I continued to walk through the garden and found pretty this’s and that’s for each jar.

Happy with my gatherings,Β  I tweaked the arrangement until it all looked great from all angles.

The centerpiece looked adorable on the woodsy table, which I didn’t get a shot of. Whoops!

Why tool totes make great centerpieces

The handle makes it so easy to lift the works when it’s time to dine.

This one is shallow, allowing for conversation over top.

It can be changed on a whim, and even used for cutlery in the center sections if desired.

Β At Christmas I also did up another wooden tote for a centerpiece for the same friends. Gosh I love these things!

If you’re fortunate to come across one of these wonders, just be smarter than me and ensure you convince the owners it’s JUNK and you should bring it to the dump FOR them. Lesson learned. πŸ™‚

I melt with these things. Anyone with me?Β 

What cool thing have you done with these tool totes?

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Categories: Seasonal, Spring, Staging / decorating, Tool boxes
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31 thoughts on “I LOVE decorating with… antique tool totes

  1. Love them as centerpieces!
    That’s so funny. My large vintage tool carrier is one of the things I brought out of storage and is on my blog. I love using them! I have a few since I can never pass them up.

    I have one that my mother-in-law gave me that my husband made her in school. Aren’t they the coolest things? One of them also holds my cooking oils and sits on the counter.

    So many uses!

  2. You do realize that you have a gift, right? If I put something like that on my table, my husband would be shouting, “who left their crap on the table?!”

    Love your blog, in case I haven’t mentioned this before!! πŸ™‚

  3. oh yeah, I’m with you. and on another note… I recommended a drift wood mirror i say on bellacore.com to a client for her dining room, and completely freaked her out! lol I’ll keep you posted. -denise

  4. I’m so with you on these totes, bins and buckets! I’m a container freak actually – I’ll admit it! Just last night I started a homework tool box that will house cans of pencils and markers and paper that I can tote to the kitchen table for homework time and whisk away when they are done! Love your winter display especially with that skate – yum!

  5. I have one I use in my school room. It sits in the center of the table and holds index cards for memorization, pencils, erasers, etc. All the important things my children might need for school. It also adds some nice texture on a boring IKEA table.
    Love what you did with the flowers and buttons!

  6. I love those two. I have three and use them all the time! Well, actually one of them is one my son made for me. But that makes it extra special. I wrote about two of the toolboxes this summer.


    I love the one you pictured today. Love reading your blog each day too. I have a very similar “junk” addiction as well. It is wonderful to know there are kindred spirits out there! Lori L

  7. You mean they weren’t using that in the house? It was like in a shed or something?? LOVE those. Love them. Love anything that looks older than me. Thanks for the info on my blog design. I sure wish I knew how to fix it! I’ll keep trying.

  8. You are a girl after my own heart, Donna! I LOVE these old tool totes, too. I LOVE the pretty floral display you came up with for your friend… gorgeous! I use mine in the same way… for pretty displays. πŸ™‚
    Take care my friend,
    Hugs ~ Jo

  9. I love those tool tray things…just dry brushed some oops blue-gey paint on a very old one to hold my plethora of paint chips. Have a big one for my coffee table that holds current magazines and inspiration decor books. Have a smaller one that holds my current Netflix….LOVE them almost as much as old baskets. πŸ™‚

  10. Yes Donna, If it’s a wooden tote, box or whatever, I want it! The older and more beaten up the better.

    Yours looks wonderful. Love all the flowers in the glass bottles.


  11. I have two really long ones and a mess of others and I scored one just this weekend. I love containers, since they can hold all my junk and she who has the most junk wins, right?
    I have a question about those types of objects, you know, rough wood that has seen a hard life. After cleaning, I have been wanting to put some kind of finish that will protect the wood but not alter it. What would you suggest? Should I use a paste wax to just give it a finish or an oil? Or should I leave well enough alone. I have a dynamite box ( I know, isn’t that great!) that I would like to protect, plus a huge shipping box that I use as a coffee table. I has “rubbers” stenciled on it, which got a lot of funny looks when my kids were teens.

  12. SuzieQ, how I refinish to retain the original look is generally a matt finish, either liquid or spray, or… nothing. I have alot of unfinished things so I keep the original look and am just ultra careful with them.

    I also happen to like the look of something well used and worn, so sometimes leaving something unfinished, although risky in some cases, can be a bonus.

    With wax, you have to keep waxing. It’s not a bad thing if you don’t mind that part. πŸ™‚

    Do you know Miss Mustard Seed? She’s a pro furniture re finisher and it’s my bet she can answer this question for you!



  13. Donna, I have one on my coffee table right. It has a kooky stuff in and about it. I have another one that has my spray paints. Another one has postal supplies. I love them. I never pass them up if I help it! Love yours! The flowers are wonderful…ours have on away with all the heat.
    smiles, alice

  14. Oh the tote looks adorable. It must be so much fun to have the opportunity to go treasure hunting like that! I have used the end of an old garden rake hung on a wall as a display piece. Its rusted and looks great with items hung on the prongs!

  15. Every time I run across a tool caddy I take it home with me. I have many, one is actually for tools. I have a really long one that I paid way too much for probably 18 years ago…just after I saw Martha Stewart plant herbs in one. I did that with it, but now it is on my long porch table as a centerpiece made up of dried flowers and gourds. I have even displayed large pictures in it.
    Visit Laurel at Chipping with Charm. She has one displayed as a shelf…cool!

  16. You always take something and make it look so much better! You just wonder if the person that carried this around so many years ago would believe that it looks so good filled with flowers and buttons!!

  17. Donna, I love what you’ve done with the tool totes!

    Now after I’ve seen the Christmas one, I’m *really* kicking myself for not stopping to pick up a pair of ice skates from someone’s trash!

    (The ones that got away really eat me up! LOL!)

    But I was running late, exhausted from work, and wondering if I’d ever get to a project with the skates. Drat!

    Oh well, next time I’ll know better! LOL!

  18. Your tool totes ROCK! I don’t have a tool tote but I have a chippy white milk carrier that I decorate for the different seasons and it also looks beautiful in it’s simplicity with just old blue mason jars in it!

  19. I love it and it just so happens that I have one or two or more of those lovely tool totes! Sweet..I just have to find them.

    By the way do you know how easy it is to get distracted on your blog site…your little linked within squares at the bottom of each post really works as I clicked right over to your “What NOT to do when mounting stuff” post dated November 2009, finally remembered that I forgot to read the current post. πŸ™‚

  20. the more old wooden totes i have the better, i even made a few of my own recently! I love using them with old mason jars and flowers – or just filled with candles. I have one just like your last pic, and last christmas i filled it to the brim with chunky white candles and silver balls – so cute and shiny and sparkly….makes me so excited for christmas!!! πŸ™‚

  21. I thought about using mine to hold flowers, but this idea is cuter! And I like the centerpiece idea

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