DIY Modern Minimalist Planter Boxes

diy modern minimalist planter box

Last May, the Dude and I picked up the materials to build three planter boxes for our balcony. We finished building them in June, and I did the first two coats of paint shortly thereafter. I didn’t get around to painting the third coat until August. The plants were purchased and planted in September. And now it’s the end of October and I’m finally blogging about them.

These planters were supposed to be done in June but then life…

So anyway, I pretty much followed the instructions in this tutorial to build the planters except ours are much longer and they are not vertically stacked.

diy modern minimalist planter box

We have a super long balcony, and I’ve been wanting to plant some stuff to fill the space. When I looked up the price of modern fiberclay rectangular planters I choked and decided to DIY it using wood and a few coats of paint.

We picked up all our materials from Home Depot, and the cost of making the three planters came just under $200 (materials are listed below). I can’t even buy ONE fiberclay planter in the same size for $200!

I planted blue oat grass, an evergreen grass, which I got from Hunters Garden Centre in Kits. Blue oat grass doesn’t need much water, which is a good thing, because watering plants is a chore I prefer to do sporadically. For soil I combined container mix and landscape soil.

The plants look a bit wispy at the moment but perhaps by next year they will fill out. I just hope they don’t die during the winter because that’ll be $120 that just withers away.

diy modern minimalist planter box

1 – 2” x 8’ x 12’ pressure treated wood
1 – 2” x 8’ x 10’ pressure treated wood
18 – 1’ x 6’ x 4’ cedar
12 – 3” screws
72 – 1 ½” screws
1 – roll of landscape fabric
1 gallon – exterior white paint (I used untinted Behr exterior paint)

diy modern minimalist planter box

Tips for making rectangular planter boxes

  • Pre-drilling all the pilot holes is a must when constructing the boxes. It’ll make things go much faster and easier.
  • The tutorial says to use deck screws but we used regular ones for the 3” screws.
  • For the gaps between the boards on the long side of the planter, we just eyeballed it. To prevent soil from seeping out through the gaps, I stapled landscape fabric in the inside of the box.
  • For drainage, place empty milk jugs at the bottom of the box, put a sheet of landscape fabric on top of the milk jugs so the soil doesn’t fall through, and then plant your plants on top of the sheet. Another reason I created the false bottom was to avoid filling the entire box with soil.
  • If using white paint it’s worth doing 3 coats. I found that 2 coats wasn’t enough for an opaque finish.

The great thing about making these ourselves, besides the satisfaction of building something with our bare hands, is that it allowed us to make them the exact dimensions that worked for the space. When I was shopping around for planter boxes they were either too big, too small, or the wrong colour (and definitely the wrong price!).


I’m pretty happy with how these planters turned out, and I hope they’ll look better as they age and get weathered.

Shortly after planting the blue oat grass, I felt inspired to go get more plants. I had some leftover soil, so why not? Here’s a cheerful collection of potted greenery, mostly herbs.


Our balcony is finally coming together, and I look forward to spending more time out on it next summer to enjoy our new plants.

diy minimalistic modern planter box

Painting the New Apartment

Yes, we moved. Again. Since the Dude and I got married five years ago, we have moved five times. Anyway, I think this time we found a real winner, and we don’t want to move for a long, long time. We absolutely love our new place. It has everything we wanted: insuite laundry, dishwasher, open concept kitchen, a huge balcony, and a second bedroom. The only trade-off we had to make was the view. We have a lovely view of the alley.

The first thing I did was paint the bedrooms. The photos below were taken with my phone, hence the crappyness.

The master bedroom got a black accent wall. I absolutely love it (the Dude likes it too). The rest of the walls are a crisp, bright white. Originally, the bedroom had sad, beige walls. I found it really depressing. I’ve tried to live with beige before, and I absolutely hated it.

The second bedroom originally had light blue walls, and I painted them white (same paint used in the master bedroom). The white paint I used is called “Snowy Pine” by Behr. It’s a really nice white that has no blue or grey undertone, and it doesn’t feel sterile. Rather, it feels clean and serene.

We are still in the process of furnishing the apartment. As things come together, I will post photos. We feel really fortunate finally to live in a quality apartment after living in less-than-ideal ones for so long.

My Favourite Buffalo

Every time I look at the buffalo I’m so pleased it’s in our home. I first laid eyes on this buffalo a year ago, and it was love at first sight. I knew I had to have it. But I waited six months to make sure it wasn’t just a whim before I took the plunge and bought it from The Animal Print Shop. Once it arrived I had to wait a few months before I could get the perfect frame for it. And it finally went up in our dining nook a couple months ago.

It was worth the wait.

I don’t know why I’m so captivated by this buffalo but I am.

A couple years ago I read an interesting piece of advice on home decorating in The Perfectly Imperfect Home by Deborah Needham. She stated that in order to have a beautiful space it’s good to include something that is quirky, whimsical, or even ugly. It adds character to a space and shows that you don’t take decorating too seriously. I thought this was a really interesting piece of advice since my natural inclination has been to purge anything I consider ugly from our home. Anyway, I think the picture of the buffalo is the perfect quirky/ugly thing to display in our apartment. It’s definitely not “pretty.”

On another note, I know I’ve been totally delinquent in updating this blog. It’s been a busy season as I’ve been developing two client websites, and not much has been happening in the way of decorating our apartment. Also, I was finishing up my last design class at Emily Carr. I am so relieved not to have homework anymore!

I am currently working on a home decor DIY project and look forward to sharing it on the blog in January hopefully!


Once You Go Black…

So my obsession with black continues. For ages I’ve been wanting to paint these baskets some other colour so that they would contrast from the wooden floor and the wooden shelf. There was just too much wood going on in that part of our living room, and it was irking me to no end. Not surprisingly, I chose to paint them black because I’m still obsessed with black paint.



See? A simple paint job makes a world of a difference! I also like that the baskets match the black floor lamp.


I first tried using regular paint but it wasn’t going on to the basket evenly. So I switched to spray paint and it was much better. First I did a coat of primer spray paint as the photo above shows. Then I did a couple coats of chalkboard spray paint. Chalkboard paint gives a nice matte finish.


The baskets are from IKEA. I just discovered that these baskets now come in black, but when I purchased them a few years ago there was only one colour option. I have another small thing in our apartment that I’m planning to give a black paint makeover. Can’t wait!

Ace Hotel Palm Springs Memento

I’ve been wanting to frame the Ace Hotel key card for ages and finally got around to it recently. I haven’t added a new decorative item to our apartment in a while so it was exciting to toss in something new finally. Now I have a daily reminder of the good times we had at the Ace and to get my ass over there the first opportunity I get.

If you hang out with me long enough, you will quickly learn how much I love Palm Springs, especially the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. It’s actually quite ironic how much I love Palm Springs because as a kid I used to hate going there with my parents. I thought it was sooooooo boring. Now I sometimes seriously consider moving there! I doubt I’ll move there any time soon but I would seriously consider retiring there.

I think living in Vancouver has made me love Palm Springs. I always daydream about escaping the dreary Vancouver rain for the sun-infused, toasty climes of Palm Springs. I also wonder if a large part of the reason I adore Palm Springs has to do with staying at the Ace. If the Dude and I went to Palm Springs and didn’t stay at the Ace I think we would have a very different experience.

Speaking of the Ace, we visited the Ace Hotel in Portland recently. We didn’t stay there during our visit but next time hopefully we will. My goal is to stay at all the Ace Hotels. Photos from our Portland trip will be on the next blog post!

THE Black Wall 2.0

Two posts in one week! I’m on a roll.

Managed to get some painting done last week as you may have known if you follow me on Twitter. Surprise, surprise: I painted a black accent wall in the dining nook. I used the same paint that was left over from the first black wall paint job. Totally love it. I’m not sure if I’m capable of painting a wall any other colour now. I’ve been ruined. As the saying goes, “Once you go black, you never go back.”


Black is such a rich, warm colour. It is not gloomy at all as you can see in the photograph above. The only downside is that black tends to recede into background so you forget it’s there. I really have to look to be aware that the black wall is there. Who knew black would be such an unassuming, subtle colour like that? But that’s what I love it about it – it’s not a colour that looms over you, adamantly declaring, “I’m here! Look at me!”

A nice outcome of painting the wall black is that the white pendant lamp really pops out. However, I’m having doubts about the sunburst mirror. I feel like it’s competing with the lamp. Too much going on there. But I really don’t know where else to put the sunburst mirror.

Really, really, really wish I didn’t have to put the toaster oven and microwave on top of the sideboard but alas there’s not enough counter space in the kitchen.

I think this is the only paint job that I’ll do in this apartment. Famous last words?

New Apartment, New Beginnings

We moved! Again. That’s why the long blogging silence. As I mentioned before, I’ve been dealing with chronic headaches at the apartment we moved into at the end of January. Last month, we finally decided to bite the bullet, break our lease, and move. We had been agonizing over the decision for months, but after various futile treatments and medication, it became clear that the best option left was to move.

Nevertheless, there was the real possibility that moving might not help alleviate the headaches at all. I really felt demoralized and dejected because of this dilemma; I truly feared there was no real solution. But I seriously could not go on living in an apartment that was making me feel miserable. We decided to take a risk and move to see if that would help at all. We searched for a new place for two days and found something suitable.

We officially moved in this past weekend. I’m happy to report that my head does feel better. The headaches are not completely gone but they’re a lot less painful. I think living in a toxic apartment for five months made me more hypersensitive to artificial scents, which is the culprit for my headaches. Places I used to frequent that didn’t cause me headaches now do. I’m hoping that my hypersensitivity will gradually wane now that I’m living in a new place that doesn’t seemed to be plagued by artificial fragrances.
Initially I was a bit bummed out that our new apartment is not as nice as our last place and it’s a lot smaller. Nothing’s been updated and it looks worn down. But it has a lot of great features that make up for the shortcomings. I’m really coming to love our new space because:

  • It’s way brighter than our last place, which was dim and a bit gloomy
  • It’s got a balcony!
  • It faces the street and not the alley (don’t have to hear hobos and their noisy shopping carts and the constant rumbling of garbage trucks anymore)
  • Great layout
  • Lots of closets!
  • Crisp white walls

I’m really looking forward to decorating our new place. It was really depressing not to be able to decorate for the last five months. But it was more depressing to feel unwell for so long. Looking back, it seems like it was all a bad dream. Now that I’m living in a place where I feel better I’m looking forward to resuming a normal life again. I feel more energetic and it’ll be good to boost up my work productivity, which really suffered in the last few months.

I’m grateful that I feel better and that moving wasn’t a total bust. Feeling ill for so long caused me to do a lot of soul-searching and I realized that there are things about my life that need to change. So here’s to new beginnings!

Cheese Box Nightstands

We finally have matching nighstands! This is actually the first time I’ve had a proper nightstand on my side of the bed. For the last few years I’ve been either living without one or just had a basket to hold my reading materials. The Dude has had a series of salvaged nightstands we picked up from various places.

So a few weeks ago I bought a pair of vintage round cheese boxes from Stepback for the purpose of using them as nightstands. I really like that they’re round, which provides a nice contrast to the big rectangular bed and dresser. We just slapped some castors on them to make them a bit taller, and because I like putting castors on just about any piece of furniture! This was a simple, instant gratification DIY project, and I’m so pleased with the results!

I especially love the seams on the cheese boxes, particularly on the one right above with the numbers stamped along the side of it. Back in the old days these boxes were used to age cheese.

Here’s a play-by-play of how we attached the castors onto the cheese box.

Materials and Tools

  • 2 cheese boxes
  • 6 2 in. brass castors
  • 24 bolts (size will depend on your castor)
  • 24 nuts (size will depend on your bolt)
  • 24 washers (size will depend on your bolt)
  • Pencil
  • Power drill

Turn the cheese box upside down and position the three castors to where you want them to be.

Use a pencil to mark where you’ll drill the holes.

Use the right sized bit to drill the holes.

Fasten the castors to the cheese box with the bolts. Turn the box over carefully and place the washers over the bolts.

Fasten the nuts to each of the bolts and you’re done!

They look old and lovely. It pleases me to no end when we’re able to acquire a used piece of furniture (or in this case a used item repurposed as furniture) instead of buying something brand new. One of my decorating mantras is to use preloved furnishings as much as possible because it’s better for the environment and, to boot, they provide a lot more character than something that was manufactured recently.

Decorating with Vintage Wooden Crates

Decorating our new apartment has been very slow going. I’ve been preoccupied with finding rugs because it’s required by our building (and the deadline was yesterday!). But I managed to decorate a little corner of my office space with some vintage goodies.

I recently visited my most favourite vintage home decor shop Stepback and picked up a few gems – among them a pair of vintage wooden crates to repurpose as storage/display furniture. I love their whitewashed finish. So one of them now is sitting on top of the file cabinet holding my vintage toolbox collection.

Actually this whole little corner is a vintage haven. The horse bookend and the fan atop the crate and the flower frogs and wooden letterpress types resting at the bottom are all vintage finds. Some I scored while thrifting, others I bought from vintage sellers. It’s funny how they all got accidentally concentrated here, but now that I think about it it’s the only space where I can display some of my vintage stuff. The rest of it is still packed in a box because I don’t have wall shelves to display them on like at our old place.
Wooden crates offer so much versatility when it comes to home decor. The other wooden crate I have is temporarily serving as a side table. I’ve seen some other creative uses for them: as bookcases, a shadowbox, a nightstand, a catch-all box, etc. I especially like the ones to which castors have been attached.

The shoe storage/landing strip above is made out of milk crates. I love, love, love it. If only our entryway were that spacious!

This hodgepodge of wooden crates put together to make a modular bookcase is genius! Love the flea-market style look.

I hope to share soon here what I’m going to do with the other things I got from Stepback. Hint: it also involves repurposing an object for furniture/storage use.

New Apartment Tour

First, I have to say that we love, love, LOVE our new neighbourhood. We couldn’t have asked for a better location. It’s so central, and everything is a 15 minute walk away. Getting home from downtown last night was such a breeze: just one short bus ride away and lots of bus options.

Second, the pictures I’m sharing are the “Before” pictures. You can still see un-packed moving boxes in some of them. The place is all going to change over the course of the next year. The walls especially have to be re-painted.

The new place is slightly bigger than our previous apartment and has a way better floor plan. Unfortunately, it lacks a balcony, but we’re getting used to it. The thing I love best is the kitchen – so much bigger, so much more storage! You can actually have two people in there.

Our current building is much older than our last place, so I’m trying to be mindful of this when I think about decorating. I want to acknowledge the unit’s character in the choices I make. So who knows, the decor may end up looking a bit more conservative than I would like. Ideally, an all midcentury modern look would be best but no matter how much I love MCM I have to admit that it would be boring. Ultimately, I want the place to look and feel cozy. So expect to see more textiles!