Holly & Maple + Twins, Rory and Marc = perfect planter match?

Waste bins upcycled with artificial turf

Holly and Maple needed to grow, whilst identical twins, Rory and Marc needed to smarten up. ReFresh RePurpose gave the twins a ReStyle and got the four together. See how these stylish grass covered garden planters were put together.

Feeling restricted

Holly, a 3/4 standard prickle-free tree, and Maple, a pot-bound Purple Acer, were both feeling restricted and needed to spread their roots. But not for them the tawdry and downright expensive planters available in the local DIY stores. Their chic style deserved a more elegantly proportioned container and right here, is the where, when and how they came to team up with Rory and Marc.


You could have been forgiven for thinking that Rory and Marc, both identical twins of the other, were pretty humdrum black plastic bins, bought for £3.98 each from Homebase, because that is exactly correct. Here they are if you don’t believe it http://www.homebase.co.uk/en/homebaseuk/57l-rubbish-bin-374418

However, you should not write them off as butt ugly or even has-beens. They were not destined to live out their lives alternately gorging upon and disgorging waste. They, had potential.

With some time, energy, and a disproportionately expensive stretch of artificial grass, they have been fully transformed into bright and stylish planters for Holly and Maple.

ReFresh – ReBirth

Rory was up first. His lid had to go, it was simply not needed.  Then his handles were cut off with a hand saw. This left Rory about as naked as he was the day he came out of the mould.  But he wasn’t to stay that way for long.

Noting that Rory and Marc were neither of them the tallest of bins, they needed a boost in height. This was achieved with some off-cuts of pallet, screwed to the bottom.  This served a dual purpose of increasing their height, making them less short and allowing excess water to drain away more easily. The mechanics of the draining away was simply achieved by drilling holes in the bottom of Rory and Marc. Neither minded. It was either this, or a life of rotting rubbish.

Get Taller

Rory’s platforms

Next action: a length of artificial grass was purchased from a specialist artificial grass supplier, an offcut, that was estimated to cost about £10, but in fact cost £40 (down from £55).  Not the cheap-planter cheap that had been hoped for, but it was potentially going to cover both the twins, so the show must go on.  [Since this purchase, similar artificial grass material has been spied at The Range for about £30 for a 4x1m piece, long enough to have easily done both bins.]


A tube of clear adhesive from Wicks, Ronseal Sticks Like, was purchased for £7.99, but the price may vary http://www.wickes.co.uk/Sticks-Like-Clear-Adhesive-290-ml/p/137680

Armed with a new blade for a Stanley-style generic non-branded craft knife handle, the simple tailoring for Rory’s new coat began in earnest. Ernest protested, but his partner Eric stepped up to the Marc, who convinced Rory to lay down. Laying Rory down on top of the flipped-over astrojacket-to-be, he was rolled about a bit and the ends of the roll flopped over to meet each other. There was about 4 inches, or 4 inches converted into metric if you prefer, of an overlap.


Generous blobs of adhesive were applied all over the bin, save the section where the two ends would meet.  Rory was then trussed-up like a giant beef-brisket, only made of a plastic bin and artificial turf.


He stayed like that for the whole of the afternoon and through the night, without so much as a murmur of discontent. An admirable quality in a bin.

By the next day, he was ready to be trimmed; overlap, top and bottom and glued down, leaving a barely perceptible join.


TOP TIP: Leave a longer edge than Rory here had; 4cm would be better.
The top edge was nicked every 3 to 4cm to create tabs that were then glued and weighted down and left overnight to set.

Having witnessed his brother’s less than gentle treatment, it was no surprise that Marc cared not one jot what happened to him. Same thing, basically.

By the time they were both ready for planting, Holly and Maple were more than ready too.


In went the girls to their respective planters, along with sufficient compost to achieve an appropriate level just below the rim.  A generous watering and the transformation was complete.

Twins, Rory and Marc are completely unrecognisable and totally energised by the bold use of colour. How will Holly and Maple feel?

Stepping out


Holly and Maple are suitably impressed with the boys. They are completeley made up and stepping out in style.

Carol-Anne’s beach photoshoot after her ReFresh makeover

Carol-Anne used to be shy, but her recent makeover has given her the confidence to get out there and flaunt it, as we see in this stunning photoshoot.

ReFresh RePurpose took Carol-Anne to the beach to show off her amazing new look, and she just loved it.

Here’s a reminder of Carol-Anne before the makeover.

You can see the step by step process here…

The Photoshoot

Carol-Anne was quite hesitant at first, but an energising work-out helped her shake off her worries about the photoshoot.

With every click of the camera, Carol-Anne visibly relaxed – and the pictures show it.

“With my work, I spend most of my days stuck inside, so it’s just wonderful to get out to the beach and feel free.”

As her confidence grew, she even felt okay to work on her tan lines!

Owning the boardwalk like it was the catwalk.

  1. Elegant proportions – Original
  2. Geometric Top – ReFresh RePurpose
  3. Toned legs and incredible chutzpah – model’s own.


A great shot of Carol-Anne feeling very pleased with herself after her exhilarating time in front of the lens.

See here, how the Makeover was achieved.

With her upcycle makeover done, this chest of drawers couldn’t believe how she looked.


“I have pretty decent legs…   as for the rest of me?”

Product of the Fifties

Carol-Anne admits to being a product of the Fifties and she felt she was getting a little tired and beginning to look her age.

“I’ve always felt like I have pretty decent legs, but as for the rest of me, especially around my middle, well, what can I say?

I’ve never used a personal re-imager before, so I was a little nervous and had some reservations. I needn’t have feared.

I found Toby online and he claimed he could get me into great shape, if I was ready to commit to change. I met up with Toby and immediately he assured me he could help me achieve the body I was hoping for.”

Radical departure

“I wasn’t sure what I wanted, but he just gave me loads of confidence to be bold. He asked if I was ready for a really radical departure from my normal look, which, let’s face it, hasn’t really changed for decades! So I said yes, let’s go for it! So exciting (and scary!).”

Toby agreed with Carol-Anne that her legs were a great feature and suggested just a simple rejuvenating coat of black satinwood, which would give her legs definition.

Increasingly adventurous – Carol-Anne: flat on her back with her legs in the air.

Toby showed her some sketches he’d done, quite literally and very much actually on the back of an envelope.

“How about something like this?”

“Wow! If you can get me looking like that, I’ll be amazed.”

Carol-Anne saw the mock-up Toby had done using some imaging software called Affinity (it’s a lot like the market-leader that rhymes with Motoshop, but is about a fifth the price).

“Maybe we could go mega bold?”

“Er, no.”

Carol-Anne said this was a step too far, so they agreed to tone down the front a little.  They looked at a mood-board of retro looks that were contradictorily bang up to date, with a palette of greys, coral-pink and turquoise, taken straight from obscure album covers of the sixties.  Carol-Anne was blown away, but luckily brought back without any damage.

The Make-Over

Toby set about sanding off the original top varnish, careful not to go through the veneer. Lacking genuine sentience, Carol-Anne was not particularly worried about the potentially damaging dermabrasion procedure. Using a palm-sander starting with P60 grit, he worked through P80 and P120 before finishing off by hand with P160 for a super smooth finish. Although he said “finishing off by hand”, you should leave that alone.

He then painstakingly followed the elegantly curved front-edge of Carol-Anne’s top with masking tape and applied the first sections of black satinwood.  Then on to the sides of the top, again involving lots of masking tape and a steady hand.

Peel off whilst wet.

Look at that.

No. Seriously. Look at that!

Toby’s Tip

“When possible, I try to lift the masking tape whilst the paint is still wet or at least, not dry, to reduce the chances of peeling the paint from the surface. I use a high-quality masking tape. I have used cheaper non-branded tapes before, but I find the paint can bleed under the tape.  Frog tape has worked well with this re-imaging. I may try to monetize this fact for money, once I have certaintated my growing blogledge. This will be a keystone tipping-point.”

Next up, he needed to mark out the triangle sections that would be light grey.  Fiddly, but essential work.

Then Toby mixed the grey chalk paint, using a sample pot of grey emulsion he’d picked up last year for 50p, added in some white primer, to get the colour right, then added in the chalking agent, premixed with a little water (see Toby’s home-made chalk-paint recipe further down).

Once the light grey was done, he peeled off the masking tape (no errors so far, phew!).

The next day, the light grey triangles were thoroughly dry and Carol-Anne was pleased with the progress.

It was time to mask out the contrasting dark grey triangles.

Toby’s chalk paint technique

“I had mixed emulsions and the ‘chalk’ until I got a dark grey I was happy with.  That was brushed on with a brush. I have also tried rolling in the deep colours with other methods, like mini-rollers, but today’s, like yesterday’s, was brushed. Having tried both, I think mini-rollers work better.”

“It is reminiscent of a backgammon board”, commented Carol-Anne. Pretty figurative thinking for a chest of drawers.

Once that was dry, the new paints were lightly sanded and wiped clean with a soft damp cloth. Once dry, four coats of clear satin varnish were applied, with a light sanding in between each coat.

“I happened to have some Ronseal Diamond Hard Satin floor varnish left over, so that’s what I used. It doesn’t seem to mind being on not-a-floor.”

DRAWER FRONTS and Home-made Chalk-Paint Recipe

Toby then tackled the drawer fronts.  Having no coral-pink available, he mixed together bits of tester pot red, some yellow, and white.  Not happy with the resulting colour, he added in some extra pure yellow acrylic from his painting box, gave it a good stir and added the watered chalking agent (food grade diatomaceous earth, google it), about two teaspoons for one drawer’s worth, diluted with just enough water to have the consistency of double cream. Stirred in thoroughly.

Carol-Anne loved the colour, but it needed two coats to really sing. Fortunately, there was just enough for that, with a little spare in case Toby needed to touch up any glitches afterwards. Gandalph was once suspected of the same, allegedly.

The turquoise drawer was done in the same way, only utilising colours that together rendered a turquoise hue, with a final coat of satin varnish over the top of both drawers. Imagine that. And now see it, below.


Carol-Anne and Toby agreed that the top edges of her drawers were a little limp and/or lacklustre, so they received the masking tape treatment and a coating of this year’s new black; black satinwood.

Then the two sides of the cabinet were painted in a mid-grey and once they were dry (yes it does go on a bit), Toby could finally finish the edges off with more of the black satinwood to bring the whole transformation together and frame Carol-Anne’s new image.



Even Tigger couldn’t resist being picked up and put on top for a shameless attempt to photograph Carol-Anne with a cute animal.




See MORE Pictures in the Photoshoot. 


Carole-Anne is delighted with her new look and is now considering getting work done with her handles, perhaps removing them completely and having plush new bespoke ones added.  She’s toying with the idea, which in and of itself is no small feat of brainpower for an inanimate box, of extending the theme and using triangular-shaped hardwood handles, half grey and half natural. However, that work is for another time.

The Photoshoot.

See here for more amazing shots of Carol-Anne’s new look, down at the beach!