Debra Prinzing

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What to do with salvaged shutters

November 18th, 2010

Read on to learn what I'm going to do with these amazing shutters!

I recently spent the morning at a cool local flea market in Seattle. I was up early and out the door by 7:15 a.m., ready to get my creative juices going.

My mission: to discover as many castoffs from others that could make their way home with me.

The destination: 2nd Saturdayz, a popular flea market where vendors, dealers and designers come together to do business with salvage-savvy shoppers.

The apt motto: A Saturday Market of Fine Tastes and Curious Treasures.

Once inside the doors of a huge hangar (yes, the flea market is held at a decommissioned Naval base), I met up with Jean and Gillian. But not too much socializing is encouraged at these events. That is, IF you want to get the best deals. First-come, first-serve is the motto. Or: Every woman for herself.

I shouldn’t limit this endeavor to the female salvager because there were many men in attendance at 2nd Saturdayz. But still, you know what I mean. It’s a gal’s paradise.

Galvanized chicken feeder. 30 sizeable oval openings. A succulent planter or a flower holder? Or both?

Lately, I’ve been collecting vintage flower frogs, which makes sense since I’m living and breathing floral design. But this time, instead of finding glass and metal frogs, cages and stem-holders to displace the dreaded florist’s Oasis, I picked up a galvanized metal chicken feeder.

Think of a loooong ice-cube tray with oval cutouts. In metal. Very cool. Now that I’m looking at it again, I may just use this nifty piece as a planter for hardy succulents. It’s probably leaky so that’s going to give the drainage I’ll need.

A nearly-pristine child's typewriter complements my grown-up Underwood.

I also picked up a vintage child’s typewriter. It can play nicely with my retro black Underwood typewriter that we bought back in 1985 at the Rotary Club Auction on Bainbridge Island. I think I paid $5 back in the day.

Those old typewriters, truly relics, are now priced at $50 on up. And to think so many of them have been dismantled to make jewelry from the letter keys. I’m guilty of buying one of those alphabet bracelets, too.

When I walked into one small “booth” with my friend Jean, an awesome Seattle landscape designer, I found myself absent-mindedly stroking the frame and spindles of a cast iron baby crib. The vendor had taken off one of the crib’s side-rails and piled pillows and cushions on the springs and against the three remaining railings.

Here's the end of the baby crib. Next time you see this, I'll be lounging against some cushy pillows, perhaps under a shade tree. This crib will become my garden bench.

What did it recall? Yes, a very fashionable garden daybed or bench. And for $100, I totally lucked out. My friend Gillian, who is a pro at this sort of buying-and-selling of antiques and vintage items at Ravenna Gardens, pulled me aside to share the secret that she’s seen other dealers selling cast iron baby cribs for $600. I don’t have a “garden” in which to place this bench right now, since I’m in a rental house and I’m not yet ready to invest energy on land I don’t own. But . . . I did decide to bring this crib home and store the pieces in the garage until the next garden comes along. Luck-ee me!!!

I couldn’t ignore the central element inside the warehouse – a little hamlet of potting sheds. Their perky corrugated metal roofs, topped with finials created from shiny bits and pieces, stood high above the flea market’s landscape.

While gazing at the rustic but stylish potting sheds, I met designer/builder Bob Bowling. Owner of Bob Bowling Rustics of Whidbey Island, this engaging shed artist greeted me and generously shared his story.

Turns out, like some of the talented folks we featured in Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways, Bob makes unique structures using reclaimed and recycled materials. Whimsical and playful, and finished off with salvaged windows, doors and other artifacts, the Rustics sheds are each a delight to see.

Bob's cool garden shed was hard to miss.

The "stripes" come from variously-stained boards.

The prices are reasonable, too. I should know. For $3200, you can get this “Rasta” shed. It measures about 7-by-7 feet in diameter (plus or minus) and features cool details, like the exterior of alternating stripes of differently-stained boards and the window boxes, door hardware and towering finial.

You could easily spend this much for a pre-fab storage or tool shed on the lot of your local big-box store. Which would add more art and style to your life, while also being quite functional?

All this thrifty flea-market shopping had energized me and made me feel quite artistic.

And then I met that shutter duo that called my name. Loudly. They appear to be half-circle crowns or eyebrow tops from a set of plantation shutters.

Wooden, with 2-inch deep slats, these pieces were displayed separately. Once I noticed both of them, I was not going to leave with just one! I don’t think I got a huge bargain, since I paid $28 apiece (but the seller insisted she had just cut the price in half). Whatever. When you spy something so uncommon, you have to act.

Other than changing the depressing buff-colored paint job to something more lively, what on earth do you suppose I will do with these crescent-shaped pieces?

Hello! You two are pretty darned cute. That Baylor Chapman is uber-talented!

Here's another small shutter-turned-wall garden, compliments of Baylor Chapman.

For inspiration, I hearkened swiftly to my visit to Baylor Chapman, a talented San Francisco floral and garden designer I recently profiled for A Fresh Bouquet. After my friends Susan and Rebecca took me to meet Baylor at her floral studio, the three of us accompanied her to her loft apartment in SF’s Mission District.

And there on the outside roof deck, were some pretty amazing succulent gardens – PLANTED IN SHUTTERS!!!

Naturally, I am going to draw from this incredibly clever idea and put those twin shutters to very good use with a vertical planting of hardy succulents. It may take until next spring, but stay tuned. And if you have any suggestions on what color I should use to upgrade the crappy paint color, please chime in.

The trick, according to Baylor, is to secure a layer of landscaping cloth like a little pocket or envelope behind each shutter opening. Then you can add potting soil and plant your sedums, succulents or whatever else seems fitting. You know, I really do love that chocolate brown finish on the shutters. Doesn’t it nicely offset the silver, gray, blue and green foliage of the succulents?

Well, all in day’s work. More to come as I execute these big plans.

10 Responses to “What to do with salvaged shutters”

  1. Pam Says:

    Hey Deb, Joe and I are going to go scrounge flea markets in Chattanooga on Sat. to find just this kind of stuff. Joe is making prayer benches and custom sized tables to sell, and I’m going to put together some of these kinds of garden/planter ideas to sell. And its fun! Thanks for sharing the ideas.

  2. Bob Bowling Says:

    It was great to meet you at 2nd Saturdayz! Appreciate the spot in your blog as well. Your book is very fun; it’s always nice to see what’s out there in the world of sheds.

  3. Thinking Outside The Pot: DIY Planters That Are Anything But Ordinary | Blossom Design Studio, llc. Says:

    […] clever!  Debra Prinzing used old shutters to make a vertical planter for this fresh […]

  4. Cynthia Says:

    So, I know this is an old post but I’m dying to see if you ever completed the shutter project? I am tackling a 6 foot tall by 4′ wide version of it this weekend (privacy screen). I’ll be grudingly donating the finished screen for the innaugural garden gala at the conservation-based botanical garden I work for. I’m going to modify the materials for the pockets as plain weed barrier fabric would be insufficient in my dryer climate. Let me know if you finished the project and have any tips- I’m a little nervous about it since my finished project will be donated and may or may not end up in the hands of a gardener!

    Hi Cynthia: I FINALLY finished my shutter project, motivated in part by your interest! Let me know how your project turns out, okay?

  5. Kathy Redd Says:

    I attended a Garden Gala at the Jordan Valley Water Conservation Garden in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was the lucky winner of a succulent garden that was planted in two French door size plantation shutters. It is beautiful! Do you have a photo of the shutter garden that you planted last year? Do you have any hints to pass on to guarantee success in growing mine? The artist/garden designer that put my prize together said that it was planted with over $500 worth of succulent plants.

  6. Debra Prinzing » Blog Archive » Shutters, stylish and succulent-filled Says:

    […] year I blogged about finding a set of half-circle shutters at a vintage sale. I said I wanted to emulate my friend Baylor Chapman’s succulent-planted shutters that grace […]

  7. 10 Easy Yet Spectacular DIY Planters | Outdoor Living Blog Says:

    […] 5. Shutter Garden. Is your patio or backyard limited on space? This hanging DIY planter is perfect for you. By using an old shutter you can create a stunning vertical garden that hardly takes up any space. See more amazing shutter uses at Debra Prinzing. […]

  8. Thinking Outside The Pot: DIY Planters That Are Anything But Ordinary | Joyful Roots Design - Graphic and Web Design, Branding, Art and More Says:

    […] clever!  Debra Prinzing used old shutters to make a vertical planter for this fresh […]

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  10. Unusual Plant Containers | A Storied Style | A design blog dedicated to sharing the stories behind the styles we create. Says:

    […] This shutter idea is so smart.  Old shutters are fairly easy to find at your local salvage store, and this is such a simple way to dress up a patio! […]

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