basic planters | acrylic paints | paint brushes | small paper plates | brush-on glaze
I love Pottery Barn. I really do. All that rustic-chic furniture, those adorable knit pillow covers, and those perfectly arranged and coordinated not-to-look-coordinated picture collages. Every time the catalog comes in the mail, it’s like Christmas. Until, that is, I look at the prices.
This time around I had my heart set on PB’s Tuscan Planters, which in true rustic-chic style are made to look worn, chipped, and broken in, yet come with a $229 per pot price tag.
I’m sorry Pottery Barn, you know I love you, but $229? For something I’m clearly going to need two of? Do you know what I’m going to do with those pots? I’m going to put them outside. Where it rains. And snows. And hails. And all other manner of other strange weather patterns that I do not understand. And do you know what I’m going to put in them? Dirt.
As I am not totally insane, I refuse to pay this much money. Instead, I decided I could make my own version of these pots for much, much less.
I started out by doing a bit of reconnaissance at Home Depot, Walmart, and our local hardware store looking for similarly shaped planters. Home Depot had the best selection by far. After much deliberation, I eventually settled on a basic set of limestone planters (pictured below). They cost $12.34 each, for a total of $24.68 (plus my 10% military discount!).
I then stopped by the craft store where I spent about 20 agonizing minutes in the paint aisle comparing paint colors to the picture I had ripped out of the PB magazine. In the end I went with Americana’s Mississippi Mud (a taupe-ish brown) and Snow White (white), which are both acrylic paints and run about $1.29 per bottle.
I also purchased a brush-on glaze to help the planters achieve that shiny baked-in-a-kiln look. Because I had selected Americana paints, I stuck with the brand and went with Americana’s “Triple Thick Brilliant Brush-on Gloss Glaze,” which cost $5.49 for an 8 oz. bottle (pre-40% off Michaels coupon, which took it down to $3.30).
Back at home, I laid newspaper down over my work surface and gave the planters a gentle wipe down to remove any excess dirt or debris. I then got started with a layer of Mississippi Mud on the bottom half of each pot. I painted from the base of the planters up and just eyeballed my stopping point. You don’t want your lines to be even, so it’s okay if one side is higher or lower than the other.
Tip: When painting large surfaces, use small paper plates to pour your paint onto. This makes for easier paint access (rather than dipping into the bottle every two seconds) and it also prevents paint build up on the handle of the brush from constant in-bottle use.
As my paint started to dry, I realized the Mississippi Mud was turning from a brownish taupe into more of a gray color. This was not the color I wanted, so I dug into my paint reserves and found a fresh bottle of FolkArt’s Coffee Bean (brown) and half a bottle of My Studio’s Bittersweet Chocolate (more brown). I squeezed them all out onto the same paper plate and mixed them with the Mississippi Mud for a second layer of paint at the base of the planters.
Mixed is actually a liberal use of the word. It was more like I painted them all on at the same time. And you know what? When it dried it looked pretty good! The different shades of brown made it look even more unfinished and rustic, which was kind of the whole point in the first place.
I would estimate that I ended up with about two and a half coats of paint for the brown base. I’m adding the extra half coat into my calculation because I was having so much fun blending the colors and painting one brown on top of the next that I just kept going until I finally had the look I wanted. The final color ended up being a bit darker that I had originally planned (and didn’t exactly match the picture of the original Tuscan Planters), but I ultimately decided I liked the darker browns better against the crisp white tops of the planters.
Once the bottom portion of the planters was fully dry, I painted the top half with Americana’s Snow White acrylic paint. I started with the inside rim of the planters and worked my way out, down towards the top of the brown section. I carefully painted just over the top of the brown with the side of my paint brush pressed flat, doing my best to make an uneven pattern that was supposed to look like the paint had been slowly chipped away over time.
While I ended up applying only two coats of white paint to the planters, I painted the edging between the colors a total of three times to make sure the white was thick enough and none of my Bittersweet-Mississippi-Chocolate-Mud-Coffee-Bean mixture was showing through underneath the white.
I waited 24 hours to ensure the paint was dry before I went ahead with the “Triple Thick Brilliant Brush-on Gloss Glaze.” The idea behind the Tuscan Planters is that they’re supposed to look like the upper portion has been baked in a kiln and glazed to perfection. Then, nature and time and Pottery Barn came along and chipped away at the bottom until the original pottery became exposed. In my best efforts to replicate this look, I brushed the glaze on over the white portions of the planters. I only used one coat of glaze because it was extremely potent. Warning: if you do this, open every single window in your house. One coat seemed to do the trick though. It gave me exactly the shiny glazed look I was going for.
Another 24 hours of drying and I was ready for the final touch. You probably don’t have to wait that long before and after using the glaze, but because I had never used it before I didn’t want to risk messing it up (see pumpkin shellacking debacle).
For the final step, I remixed my Bittersweet-Mississippi-Chocolate-Mud-Coffee-Bean mixture and painted on some “chips” to make the pots look rustic and worn. I painted these right over the glaze. I considered painting the chips onto the white first and then glazing around them, but that seemed like a lot of extra work. So over the glaze it was and you really could not tell the difference. The brown paint still dried with a matte, rather than a shiny finish.
Although the waiting periods between the layers of paint took a few days, the project itself was pretty quick. All in all, it probably took me less than 2 hours of painting and cost under $40 for the materials (for both pots).
The particular planters I purchased didn’t come with a drainage hole in the bottom for water, so I had to drill a hole before putting them to use. Many planters (especially less expensive ones) do not come with a pre-existing drainage hole, so be sure to check before filling your beautiful new pots with dirt.
Finally, I took a trip to my local nursery to pick out some lovely fall colored mums. I couldn’t decide between so many beautiful colors, so I ended up choosing orange, red, and magenta and planting them all together.
They look pretty good next to my painted pumpkins if I do say so myself!
It’s fun to see how a quick paint job and a little bit of glaze can make such a BIG difference. It saved me $229 (x2), provided me free entertainment, and managed to get me the fall look I was going for. Thank goodness for DIY!
P.S. I’m very excited to be including these DIY Planters as part of DIY Show Off’s “That DIY Party!”
Read more here!