How to turn worthless junk into home decorating must haves with a crate coffee table and tray

How to turn worthless junk into home decorating must haves! Plus a new crate table! via

How to turn worthless junk into home decorating must haves with a crate coffee table and tray 

If you’re here from Nesting Place, welcome!

How to Decorate

Today you’re in for a real treat! 25 bloggers are grouping together for How to Decorate, a series created by Beth of Home Stories from A to Z.

To visit Beth at #1, click HERE.

I’m Donna, and my passion is creating cool and unusual home decor items for my home out of junk! So I’m going to be sharing my secrets on how I do that today, along with a brand new project!

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 1.39.50 PM

Funky Junk Interiors newsletter
Now by junk, while I love a good vintage find, I’m actually referring to stuff that doesn’t really have any monetary value. It’s generally the stuff that people throw away. If you were to offer me a heaping pile of weathered wood bound for a burn pile sprinkled with rusty machine parts, vs valuable antiques, I’d speed to the first pile with an empty truck.

I think it’s because I was in struggle mode not all that long ago. When you go through hard times, you just develop a fascination for turning nothing into something with little $ needed. My full story is HERE.

How to turn worthless junk into home decorating must haves with a crate coffee table and tray


How to make a crate side table with tray via

Junk Rule #1 / Collect what strikes your fancy

I love crates because they are like little premade boxes I don’t have to build nor pay for. But I can make them into many different things.

Collect affordable things that speak to you. The beauty of this is, only you can determine what that is. If you are tight on space, collect small things. It’s just as valuable.

Ever try to draw without pen and paper? You can’t. You need stock. So… collect from the curb, thrift stores, garage sales, wherever. And tuck your stock away for a rainy day.

Empty crates / How to make a crate side table with tray via

Junk Rule #2 / Create out of need

I needed two small tables for the pallet sofas on the deck. Rather than building from scratch, my two finds just may work! 

Our houses are only so big. So walk through your home, and determine what you NEED. 

If you don’t need it, you may not push your creativity the furthest, and you may not even use it. Unless you sell stuff on a reg basis, do the need thing first.

Empty crates / How to make a crate side table with tray via

Junk Rule #3 / inspire YOURSELF

Turning a crate into a table of some sort requires a top. So a basic square frame was created first, that slips inside the crate.

Sanding table planks / How to make a crate side table with tray via
Reclaimed wood planks were cut to size, highlighting any prints or imperfections for added personality.

The wood was sanded down well, but not enough to remove the printing.

My preference is striking new ground. Even if it’s a great idea, I generally will not copycat another’s design, because in my mind, it’s already been figured out, which is 95% of the fun for me. So I strike out on my own.

I also have this hangup. If I can totally vision the finished result right away, I won’t want to build it. So as I build, I change my mind constantly to shake things up, so I don’t get bored. I attempt to surprise myself with every single project.

Attaching base frame to planked top / How to make a crate side table with tray via
The frame was centered within the wood planks, then screwed together from the inside of the frame, so the screws wouldn’t show on the top of the table.

I would have preferred a special jig to do this, but… you do what you can do. πŸ™‚

Crate side table on a porch / How to make a crate side table with tray via
( Push it girl… you visioned this so what else can it become that’s different? Think! )

I added handles so the crate table could become a tray as well. Bingo!

Adjustable heights / How to make a crate side table with tray via
And if I desire the top to be higher, say for a dinner plate, I can lift up the tray and slightly turn.

“You passed!”

“Thanks, me!”

It’s nice to go on Pinterest and other blogs for ideas. But there is nothing like being an inventor of new (to you) things!

Hydrangeas with a coffee / How to make a crate side table with tray via

How to make a crate side table with adjustable tray top via

How to make a crate side table with adjustable tray top via

How to make a crate side table with adjustable tray top via

Inspiring workshop filled with reclaimed wood and foldable workbench via
Junk Rule #4 / Create with inspiring surroundings

 I do my very best work when I have a mess of stuff laying all around me. But I don’t mean a bad mess. I mean junky kinda stock. Whether that’s reclaimed wood in my workshop or a bucket of rusty washers, the extras surrounding me fuel my current project.

Outdoor workbench from planks and saw horses via

I had to laugh when a friend asked how I was going to make something one time. The best answer I could give her was, “I have no idea yet!” If I know what I want, that’s good enough for me to start. Not everything needs a big plan. Just wing it and see what it becomes.

And that’s it! 

Here are a few of my other projects, all based on the same rules above….

sawhorse brackets

sawhorse pipe lamp via
Worthless sawhorse brackets = sawhorse pipe junk lamps for the kitchen

I needed lamps for the kitchen. ‘Nuff said

A two pallet wood chair ANYONE can make in a couple hours via FunkyJunkInteriors.net2 pallets = outdoor sofa

Desiring something unique to sit on outdoors, 2 full pallets did it. It was easy too!

Rustic garden shed from fence boards via
Junk styled shed from old fencing

signed up toolbox sidetable via
Vintage toolbox side table all signed up

ladder side table via
Ladder side table for the bedroom

Horsegate headboard via

Horse gate headboard / Reclaimed wood pipe handled bed tray

And on it goes. πŸ™‚

Project Galleries - a complete collection of Funky Junk's most popular Projects to date

Thanks for visiting my crazy little junk world! It’s my hope that this encourages you to think twice about anything that catches your eye, even if it’s worth absolutely nothing. 

For you may end up with something priceless!

Next up… 

Visit The Inspired room 

Visit them ALL below… links will become active once posts are live.

Day 1:
1. Beth, Home Stories A to Z: How to Find Your Decorating Style
2. Courtney, A Thoughtful Place: 5 Gallery Wall Styles
3. Stacy, Not Just A Housewife: How to Decorate with Plants
4. Myquillyn, Nesting Place: Turning a House into a Home on a Thrift Store Budget
5. Donna, Funky Junk Interiors: How to Turn Worthless Junk into Home Decorating Must Haves

Day 2:
1. Melissa, The Inspired Room: The Secret Ingredient Every Room Needs
2. Jessica, Four Generations One Roof: How to Decorate with Container Plants
3. Traci, Beneath my Heart: How to Style a Coffee Table
4. Cyndy, The Creativity Exchange: Tricks for How to Zone in on the Perfect Paint Color
5. Laura, Finding Home: 5 Ways to Personalize Your Home

Day 4:
Facebook Pinterest Twitter Instagram RSS

Subscribe to projects!

Categories: Junk Drawer, Staging / decorating
Tags: , , ,

52 thoughts on “How to turn worthless junk into home decorating must haves with a crate coffee table and tray

  1. I good morning! I just started following this blog and I love it. Second, I went to try to subscribe to the blog The Nesting Place and the subscribe is not working. If you could let her know so that others can sign up as well. Have a beautifully blessed day, Hope

  2. LOVE LOVE LOVE your pallet sofa’s, and tables.
    And the drink coffee lamp!
    And the ladder!

    Very Nice!
    Seattle, Washington

  3. You always make junk decorating look fun and effortless–which speaks to your talent for redeeming the overlooked! I love how so many of your creations have multiple uses in your home. Thanks for sharing your tips and being a part of the How to Decorate series. πŸ™‚

  4. Donna, I love your latest little table with removable tray – you are truly brilliant!!! But I have a serious request. In the past, I’ve picked up and used power tools, often with disastrous results. In your picture, I couldn’t help but notice your rotary sander and shivers went up my spine remembering the joy at finding a corner cupboard for $5.00, and misery at the $50.00 I spent on rotary sand paper and the huge gouges/total reshaping of edges I made to my little prize. That tool took off 6 layers of paint but sent pieces of round sandpaper all over the garage and took it upon itself to give a new figure to the curved edges and doors. I really had no idea how to use it properly, couldn’t understand why the self stick sandpaper didn’t stick for more than a few minutes or why it liked to bump itself all around the wood. Couldn’t you do a few tutorials on using these bad boys of the tool world? You seem to have mastered them and life is so much easier if you know how….help, please….?

    • Ahhh Darlene, I had full intentions of doing a series on how to work with tools and dropped the ball. Totally forgot about it. Thanks! I’m going to put it back on my list!

      For what it’s worth, orbital sanders are not my favourites either, as I’ve had all the same issues you have. Keeping the sandpaper fresh is key.

      I’d suggest to pick up a clamp on styled palm sander, I have both and use them both for different things. The orbital is easier and quicker, but prefer the motion of the clamp on myself (but don’t like to change the paper in it!)

      There’s always something. πŸ™‚

  5. The other day I posted on my Facebook, and I know you understand:

    Whey do the words, “It’s junk, sound like a challenge?” Lol

    • A junk crown… I’m on it! πŸ˜€

      Thanks so much Stacy! It always feels a little risky coordinating with ‘real decorators’, so any kudos like yours brings me relief… LOL

  6. You are so amazing! I love the projects that you come up with. AWESOME!
    Thanx for sharing Jo, from Anne’s Attic – Design check out what’s going on there. I need you help to be a follower so I can make my goal of 25. Thanx

  7. Hi, Great post today. I really, really would like to know where you got your wood horses as shown for your work surface. I need two exactly like yours yesterday! Thanks in advance.

  8. I am now not positive where you are getting your info, but great topic.
    I must spend a while finding out more or figuring out more.
    Thanks for fantastic info I used to be looking for this information for my mission.

  9. Donna~ love your unique style & your ability to create such one-of-a kind home decor items! Love the little table at the first of the post & that view!! Amazing! Your hydrangeas are beautiful, as well, and while scrolling, the wood pallet bench caught my eye. I would love to try & make one of cool. Did you make your cushion for that? Enjoyed your decorating post this morning. Visiting from Blogtalk! Great idea to share and check other blogs out πŸ™‚ Thank you!

  10. You have the most incredible talent Donna! You can see past what something is and turn it into what you want. You’re always inspiring me. Love this post, thank you for sharing your tips!

  11. It was so incredible to hear how you create, exactly how I feel. I might have vague idea but with “stuff” around me I might change my mind at minutes notice, change idea when something sparks better. I seldom ever plan how I’ll make something. I just wing it and that seems to be when I get best results that satisfy my vision.
    Now this is a problem with hubs and I cause he has habit of changing what I had in mind completely. He does the cutting, etc and many a time we’ve had “words”causehe goes completely on what he thinks is “right” way to make something, not just go with it to see what happens. I’m not able physically to use tools due to problems with hands and eyes, my depth perception sucks. But trying to get something made my way has been a constant struggle with hubs. Bless his heart.
    I know in my heart exactly what I want in the end. it’s how to get it that way that’s hardest when I don’t have control of process. He’s very stubborn but only resource to help me. A knock on head with something heavy has occurred to me now and then but I really wouldn’t do that, he most likely has thoughts of same for me after 45 1/2 yrs.
    Enjoyed your post so much, love your ideas and style. Happy summer days Have subscribed to your blog.

  12. You have great looking JUNK!!! Where do you find wooden crates like that? I would love to recreate this, but I’ve never come across wooden trunks. TIA!

  13. Wow, Donna! Just found your site through HGTV… really wished you lived near me! I’m so wary of starting all of these projects that I want to do in fear of messing them up.

    One question is where did you find the crate for the table?

    And I have a few wine crates that I would love to make a kitchen cart out of, but not sure how to make the frame. I was thinking that the crates could be left loose to be slid out to be able to put things inside, vs screwing them to the frame and not having the room in between…. Any thoughts?

    Thanks, Amy

    • Hi Amy! Thanks for the kind words! πŸ™‚

      The crates were found at a firetruck manufacturer. Visit a place that sells BIG parts and you’ll probably find a ton.

      I love your kitchen cart idea! I’d take your idea to someone that knows how to build and get their advice… so many variables! I’ve done something sorda similar to what you’re talking about but it was VERY rustic….

      • Yeah, kind of like that. I was hoping for smaller pieces of wood or maybe using some sort of table leg/stairwell spindle to make something more interesting, but again need it to be sturdy of course.

        I’ve tried to take it to someone at Home Depot and they wanted to build it out of 2x4s… not quite the look I was hoping for.

        As far as the crates go that you got, I can’t think of anything in Atlanta that sells big parts, but maybe I’m just not thinking in the right direction…



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *