1. Coal / Log Boxes
I bought one of these decorative fireside boxes at a junk shop for a tenner. Many of these old boxes are wooden panelled and then just covered with embossed brass-plated sheets as decoration and protection from heat, but this was a solid steel box underneath and therefore very suitable for use as a planter. It's 400 x 300 x 300 mm in size, about 35 litres internal volume.
I drove out the hinge pin with a drift and removed the lid, and then drilled some large drainage holes in the bottom, before painting all the internal and external steel surfaces with a gold coloured metal paint (Triflow, similar to Hammerite). Three heavy coats to prevent corrosion.
Within a few days, and before the paint was even dry on the first one, I spotted an identical box on eBay, located just a few miles away, but this second one cost me £17.50 after a round of negotiations although it's actually in worse condition than the first, cheaper box.
|preparing the second box for painting....|
I haven't painted any of the decorative brass plated surfaces - as yet. The boxes have obviously been stood indoors for all their life because there was very little tarnishing, and the paint will not stick well to such a smooth electroplated surface. So I'll allow these brass panels to weather outdoors in the garden for their first year, and maybe paint these surfaces in the autumn after they've had a chance to roughen up a little.
Both boxes are now out in the garden after potting-on two of our young ornamental evergreen shrubs.
|one with the Choisya....|
|the other with the Escalonia...|
And of course we've still got the two decorative box lids with which to make something else in the future ...
2. Belfast Sink
This was an eBay auction and I bought this sink for £12.50, a great bargain when you consider that even really old and knackered sinks are routinely sold by reclamation yards for £40 plus.
And when I cleaned this one up and removed all the old silicone sealant etc, I found the sink was unmarked !
For a moment, I considered putting this cleaned sink back for sale immediately on eBay at a starting price of £50, because it could have went straight into someone's rustic kitchen or utility room refurbishment, but I didn't buy it just to turn a quick profit ...
Apart from cleaning, the sink didn't really need anything further doing to it, but I drilled the underside at the four corners and fitted studs and the last of my box of pool balls, to make feet and raise the base off the ground.
|ready for planting in the spring....|
3. Cast Iron Bath
Another eBay auction, this time a cast iron roll-top bath removed from a 1920s house and for only a tenner, although it was a sixty mile round trip to collect it.
It's a massive item, 1,800 x 720 x 550 mm overall and weighing in at well over 100 kg. The seller helped me load it into the back of the car, but when I got it home I decided to paint the outside of the shell when it was still in the car - the alternative would have been to lift it out into the greenhouse, paint it up and then carry it back out into the garden afterwards, but painting it in the car meant only one handling operation was necessary.
|ready for cleaning & painting in the car...|
I'd first removed the cast feet to paint them separately in the workshop.
|the feet in the workshop, before painting...|
I bought a bag of large round pebbles and spread them along the bottom of the bath, to make a sump to aid drainage via the existing drain plug hole.
To help prevent the sump from clogging with soil, I overlaid the pebbles with a piece of carpet before filling the bath with five 50 litre bags of tub & container compost from B&Q, on offer at three for £10 (I actually bought six bags, the last one will be used for the Belfast sink planter in the spring).
|pebbles in the bottom....|
|then the carpet....|
|and then filled with compost ready for planting...|
This is actually a huge planter and intended for summer flowers, but it will replace a dozen or so large plastic pots we've had standing in the same location for the last few years.
I'd originally refitted the old bottle taps to the bath, simply as decoration, but removed them again since they would have been half buried by the compost.