Before After The Beach Cottage Side of the Road Box Makeover

Tue 15th, Mar, 2011

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G’day sweeties.  How you going?

Well we are back from Northern NSW…for those of you who asked we stayed in Salt…we had a great time and particularly enjoyed the last couple of days on the beach…the water and temps up there were just right for me…I like the water pretty warm and spent hours in there with the kiddos…


Yesterday before heading to the airport we went over the border to Queensland and were on the beach for most of the morning and into the afternoon…Mr Teenage BC spent all of that time in the surf…when he came out he was exhausted and had a very long face…head down etc…we all asked him what on earth was wrong and in true teenage fashion he shrugged and said not much…so we left it.  We gathered up our stuff and started walking up the beach to the car where he lagged behind.  I asked him if he was ok?   Well not really he replied.  I asked if he had been dumped and had hurt himself in the surf.  No.   Well what then?

Oh you know I just *wished *wished we lived up here.  Why can’t the surf be like this where we live?

Ahhhh.  That was a funny moment for me…a girl from Blighty re-located to the sunnier climes of Australia…and here we have my Honeymoon baby be-moaning the waves on one of the most famous beaches in the world…I never thought I’d hear that ;-)

Anyhooo.  Let’s get back to BC coastal decorating business huh?

This is that box that I showed you the other week that I found on the side of the road (more on that here)…the one that I pleaded with my kids to jump out of the car and get for me while we were on the school run and not one of the little dahlings would do…this is how it looked before (and find more transformations at Gina’s here)


and now


This came out better than I had hoped…all along really it was going to be a veggie planter as I am right into growing my own salads and stuff and am having much success in the little patch that I have done, but the garden is very sandy and so I thought filling this with quality soil and planting it up would be great.

But then once it was cleaned up, repaired and painted with a wash of white I thought it would be nice on the deck or in the hall for shoes as many of you advised.

I did buy some castors for it too, taking the recommendation of a couple of the comments but to be quite honest, I didn’t like that look at all…so it has stayed wheel-less.

I wanted to put some kinda stencil/letters on it and initially I marked out the word ‘beach’.  Nup.

Then ‘beach days’.  Double nup.

That all looked a bit, you know, coochy-coo.


So I just went for random numbers and ‘bc’ ….I tried to do them unevenly, influenced by the lettering on the old sea trunk that came over from Hungary, that lives in my Sitting Room, that I found at a garage sale.

I didn’t want these to be really dark and thought about using some craft paint that I have in my stash that is a metallic silver…but when I traced the outline with the pencil the silvery muted grey of the lead grey was just what I was after anyway so I just coloured in the stencils with that…next I was going to rub over the stencilling with some sandpaper to scruff it up a bit….thankfully I tried this out first underneath on a test letter…and of course all it did was blur the pencil and look a complete mess…so I just left it as it is…


To get the white ‘wash’ on this rather than a full white paint job (I wanted the wood feel to still be there) I just simply sloshed some white water-based/emulsion paint into a paint tray and then added enough water until there was a milk-like consistency…then it is just a case of slapping it on until you get the ‘wash’ you like…


as you can see I wanted just a hint of paint here…I was trying to get it so that it seemed a driftwoody/sunbleached colour


and that I think, is it from me

stop by tomorrow for Good Life Wednesdays with your pics and posts…and there is a BC Giveaway coming up

I’d LOVE to hear what you think of my box if you’ve got time…I’m thinkin’ not bad for free huh? …collected on a mad dash from the side of the road, washed with paint I already had and stencilled with a pencil…can’t get much more beachy on a budget than that in my book….I was wondering how much this might cost me in one of those stores…you know the ones….whaddya think?

BC Good Life Wednesdays tomorrow …join the party ;-)

ladder  :  thrifted          lantern  :  made from jam jar       adirondacks  :  BC Store soon
wellies :  Hunter        box :  side of road                rug :  IKEA


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84 Responses to “Before After The Beach Cottage Side of the Road Box Makeover”

  1. Abbie says:

    I think you did a fabulous job! Looks like something right out of Pottery Barn.

  2. Vicki K says:

    Your mission looks perfectly executed! I love the Tom Sawyer of a paint job. And the random pencil numbers/bc are just right. I wouldn’t want to put dirt in it either – unless there was an insert. And I’d still want at least a tray in the bottom if you put dirty boots in it too. Now I’m wondering what I can white wash…

  3. Ashleigh says:

    This is unbelievably beautiful. The white was looks completely natural and that’s pretty hard to achieve sometimes! I’m totally jealous. But inspired. I need to grab a roadside find like this. Too bad I live in the city and all there are on the roadsides is people!

  4. Tammi says:

    That is not bad at all!! I actually love how it turned out and like that you added random numbers with the bc…pretty perfect really.

    Hmm wonder if I am game enough to whitewash some of my vintage wooden boxes.


  5. Vicki says:

    I love it! I didn’t think it could look any better, but it does!
    As for your son’s mood, understandable really, Qld is after all the best place to live ;)

  6. Annie Turner says:

    Ooooh, I love the box! And it was free…that makes it even better! I just know if I had come across it with my two boys there’s no way they would’ve grabbed it or even let me grab it! lol We passed an old wicker day bed on the side of the street the other night and I could not get them to even stop to let me check it out! Oh well, guess I’m gonna have to toughen up!

  7. Angie says:

    Looks perfect ! Love the stenciling ! Did you put a top on it so you can use it as a table?

    PS Looks like honeymoon baby will have memories of perfect surf for many years to come.

  8. Lindsay says:

    I love it! It looks like something that has spent its life on a wharf, or perhaps traveling on a sailing ship from port to port …excellent job! And I really do like the random letters much better than something “label-ish” like beach. :-)

  9. Alice says:

    Love that driftwood look. I’m trying to work out how to do it for my bedside tables to go with the whole nautical theme in our bedroom.

    I like how you are using the box (only because that is the exact way I would have used it). It looks fantastic.

    Lucky you going away, for us the closest thing to going away is to spend time over where you live for half a day. Walking along that so called famous beach! It took us 2 hours on train and ferry to get there one way! It was worth it though. It was my little girl and boys’ first ferry and train trip. If my husband could find a job out that way I wouldn’t hesitate moving….We both love it over there, nothing matches that atmosphere. If only….

  10. Kim says:

    I am Diggin the Box for sure! I would love to have one myself.I am so into crates these days, can’t get enough.I got a wine crate from france at an estate sale for .25 I was a happy Girl! ~Cheers Kim I need you to come for a visit and stay in my new to be soon Beach House and add Miss Sarah’s touch! xox

  11. Robyn says:

    Looks pretty darn good!

  12. Alex says:

    Wow!!! I think this is my favorite makeover project you’ve done yet! Thanks for explaining about the milky-ness of the paint mixture – can’t wait to find the perfectly imperfect wooden treasure of my own to try this with :)

  13. Lisa says:

    Such a great piece and you made it look even better! I love it!

  14. Jacqueline says:

    Not bad at all.

  15. kimberly says:

    It’s perfect! I love your style!

  16. Katherine says:


    I really like the washy colour. I think it does actually look better than when you started (& I was one who said don’t paint it!). The stencil works really well too, & I think it looks good out on your deck (glad you didn’t take notice of my idea either!!!).

    I reckon you would pay a reasonable amount for such a box if you had bought it. However no store bought replica could ever match your eye for detail & the LOVE that inspires you to re-cycle these goodies!

    You have excelled once more! Bravo!

  17. Susan says:

    Oh Sarah, it’s all completely gorgeous. That box is to die for. I would store folded up beach towels in it! We used a similar paint wash on the beds my husband made for our children….. Easy and soooo effective. Love it. Love it all. Xx

  18. Nancy says:

    Love it and what a find! I am a scavenger, too. We stop roadside often, LOL!!

  19. I love it and I think it is so great that you achieved it using simple measures as watered down paint and a pencil.

    Can’t help to love your teenagers quote too… isn’t that just the way of life – always wanting and dreaming of something different. ;-)

  20. Zosia says:

    Perfect! and even better with those Hunter wellies beside.

  21. Jem says:

    My cousin is an avid surfer and you should hear him complain about the waves in the UK! :-) I’m a novice though so they’re fine for me!

    Your box is gorgeous, it looked rather lovely to begin with but the wash has done wonders – love the stencilling too!

    Jem xXx

  22. Everything you touch looks great. Once again it is perfect now. You should write a magazine or open a shop cos you are just so talented. Maybe host a show like be our Aussie Martha. You deserve to reap rewards! Fiona

  23. Deb says:

    I love it but, would you stop teasing me with those boots please!

  24. You did it! You made it even better! I soooo love your photos, all of them.
    If you have a minute, I’d be so honored if you linked a post or two to All Things Inspired on Wednesday…
    I’m smitten by your blog-home :)
    All Things Heart and Home

  25. Jen says:

    Absolutely beautiful! I love it, and I love that you found it on the side of the road. I’m inspired. :)

  26. Laura says:

    Love this… I was reading a mag last night which had something similar and it cost a small fortune. I wish I could find one at the side of the road… I guess I will just keep on looking. I’m bound to get lucky one day! Lx

  27. You’ve got me to wishing for the old apple crates that we use to have as tables in our living room. This reminds me of them. Great job! I love the wash effect with the paint.

  28. Maureen says:

    It looks really good Sarah! Thanks for the tip with the pencil, Enjoy your day!

  29. abby jenkins says:

    I love rescuing stuff found on the side of the road….and what a lucky guy this box is. Fits in your home like family :^)

    Have been making some surfaces to use for cookbook shoots and have been playing around with finishes. Wanted to try my hand at making some of my own milk paint and tinting with beets, blueberries, etc… we’ll see how that pans out. You have inspired me to get to work though! Great post.


  30. Danyale Lewis says:

    I am in love with the whitewashed look of it with the template letters. Another pic to go into my “ream house” portfolio….sigh. Thanks for the great idea! :)

  31. Deanne says:

    told ya we have the best beaches on the north coast!!!!
    BTW – love the box!

  32. marylou says:

    You have become Mother Nature, you gave that box a lovely wash of weathered age as though the sea and surf had
    done the job**

    Gorgeous as always!!


  33. What a sweet and simple touch to make that lovely box a little more you!

    from the beach

  34. Julie Johnson says:

    I wish I could find things like that on the side of the road, but if I did, like you, I’d be the one to get out of the car to get it. My kids wouldn’t disgrace themselves for a find like that. Once again, a magnificent job. I think Anthropologie or Pottery Barn would charge over a hundred dollars for something like it.

  35. Sherry says:

    Love the whitewashed look. Goes so well with the whites you have around it. Whitewashing made it really stand out without being overpowering when it was darker. I have some pieces I need to try that on. Thanks for the tip. ~~Sherry~~

  36. lucy says:

    YES!! the finish and letters turned out PERFECT :)

  37. Heather says:

    Your box and photo are magazine worthy! Love it!

  38. Marcia says:

    You find the best junk! and I mean that in a good way….

  39. Shar Y says:

    I love that box! I could see it going for up to a couple hundred dollars. So, you have scored big time! I was wondering what you might call the font style on your stenciling? I need to order some stencils and love that font. Thanks!

    PS, sounds like there is something exciting in the future?????

  40. It’s great! I love the numbers and letters. The whitewash is perfection :-) {Now where can i find me one of these roadside boxes…..?}

  41. Marcia says:

    I’m thinking *wonderful* dear Sarah!!

  42. michelle says:

    You are brillant!!! so darling I love the box I love to thrift and I love you blog keep it up.

  43. bj says:

    Ahhhh…I see you went shopping at Pottery Barn …COOL…Oh, wait…let me read this again. You FOUND it? You PAINTED it?
    You STENCiLED it? With a PENCIL? WOW….this is amazing, girl. Looks fabulous.

    I am linked to you on my post but am going out of town soon and not sure if my laptop will work. Anyway, I won’t be here to link up with your Mr. Linky.:(

  44. It’s a win win!! Love it! And I love whitewash! So tempted to do the farmhouse floors here that way, but not sure I can convince my mom.

    Such a cute box though. And the lettering came out great too!

  45. Ruth says:

    It is all gorgeous. Your blog is beautiful!!! I love it.


  46. indiansummer says:

    It’s perfect, Sarah. I LOVE the sunbleached-driftwood look. Thank you for sharing this.

  47. Looks awesome! It was definatlley worth the trouble getting it off the side of the road!

  48. Rochelle Coote says:

    Love it, and love the veggie idea! Perhaps herbs would do well on the deck. Anyhoo, whatever it is for, just love it and that it didn’t cost a dime. Love your teenager’s comments too, oh life! So nice to hear you are only a normal family!

  49. FAB.U.LOUS!! I love the pencil usage and the light color is stunning Well done!

  50. What a great find! My son hates when I make a sudden stop for a treasure because he knows he’ll have to get out and use his muscles!

  51. colleen says:

    …Well that looks GREAT!…I like the random #!

  52. that looks perfect! you have such a knack for staging- the boots next to it… love that! my husband gets annoyed with me because i keep my blue and white star wellies out in my bedroom because i think thye look great and make me happy. he thinks they should go int he closet. silly boy! :)

  53. Gina F. says:

    Oh it is just gorgeous! Love how it turned out. Beautiful!

  54. I love the way it turned out. Look like the numbers were there all the time. Did you just water down the white paint and wash it on?

  55. Cottage Gal says:

    Hmmm, why don’t we have those amazing roadside finds in the states? You find amazing things on the side of the road! Love the makeover!

  56. catherine says:

    love it!

  57. HRH Sarah says:

    That truly is one expensive looking makeover!!! You were so lucky to find that fantastic box, and so clever to make it look so chic. Did you go over the pencil with anything to keep it from smudging or washing away? I am ever so slightly jealous of your fabulous deck with said fabulous box, BTW…

  58. Dream Mom says:

    I think it turned out great. Love the letters instead of the words. Like the BC too, glad you dropped the words…I don’t think it would have looked as great. The numbers (and wash) add a more vintage feel. Color and lettering are perfect. The only thing I would have done is for the numbers, I might have picked numbers that had some meaning for you and Mr. BC or the family. So let’s say you met on March 14, 1991, the numbers might be 31491 or something like that-only you would know the meaning but it would make it more personal. Looks great on the deck.

    I can also see a future post, with a glass pitcher of lemonade, staged with lemons, etc. on top of the chest, in true Sarah style, lol.

  59. Tonya says:

    Love it! Beautiful color. Might just have to make one for my beach house.

  60. Barb says:

    What a cute makeover! I love all things beach too! I’d love if you’d stop over for a visit.

  61. Tracie says:

    loving that embelished box you have & i love it that your threw in those rubber boots!

  62. Well done!! I love the random letters/numbers – looks really great. The photograph with the Wellies is adorable. ;o)

  63. Very cool…great job on the lettering!


  64. Kim says:

    Absolutely gorgeous!

  65. PercentBlog says:

    I love that you went with the random numbers. It definitely retains the vintage vibe more than actual words (unless those words had been original to the box. I have a quality milk crate with dairy’s name on it.)

  66. Aaron says:

    I found you through The Shabby Chic Cottage. I love your style and I’m your newest follower.

    -Aaron {the girl with the boys name}


  67. I was waiting to hear that Mr. Teenager was moody because he was leaving a girl. I guess that happens in the movies instead. Maybe that’s a hint you need to take another vacation there though.

    Hard to believe you got such a nice looking design with a pencil. I wouldn’t have thought to do that, but the designs on your box look great!

  68. Just found your site from My Repurposed Life. Beautiful. I love your design, your photos, everything is so fresh and pretty. Oh, and this post too! Great find, great transformation.
    Scissors & Spatulas

  69. gail says:

    Sarah! this is gorgeous! you did a great job, and I’m glad you left the casters off!
    “catching” you this week @ ccc (thursday night)

  70. Nicole says:

    I love how simple and darling this is! It was the perfect choice to give it a light white wash. Lovely job :)

  71. Fantastic!
    Elizabeth Ann

  72. Leasa says:

    Gorgeous. I need to find a trunk like this and white wash it.

  73. Anne says:

    Hi Sarah – I need your help! I just found a box like yours at a garage sale except mine has a hinged lid on it. I want to use it in the house but it’s filthy and full of moths right now. How do you clean your “treasures” up?? I love the whitewash treatment you gave yours, I want to do the same!!!



  74. Amanda says:

    Hi Sarah. Love this project, it’s just beautiful! I’ll be featuring it on Craft Gossip tomorrow morning. Thanks for inspiration!

    If you would like a “featured by” button, you can grab one here!

  75. Mary says:

    I also love the white-wash you did on this old crate, and it is such a nice addition to your deck. Congratulations on such a “find” by the wayside!

  76. Tina S. says:

    I love your box!!!! And I’m right there with you. If I see something on the side of the road, none of my kids will hop out and get it either. If I want it, I have to jump out myself! Grrrr!

  77. Mel says:

    Love it!….I have an old trunk myself and would love to see the one you said you had in your sitting room :)

  78. Wow, I just found your blog via kidspot and I LOVE it!! Great inspirations thank you! Simple items given a new life, and stenciling! Of course!