before and after

before & after: deb’s potting station + leela’s futon bench

by Grace Bonney

i dream of having space for a potting station one day (and a cutting garden) so when i saw his makeover from deborah hanamura i was sold. deborah’s husband bruce has been experimenting with ways to re-purpose used shipping pallets and decided to start turning them into potting stations. deborah and bruce love the way each pallet seems to have its own story to tell and enjoys creating stations that showcase the character of the original pallets, whether it’s a knot, ink stamp, or wine stain. click here to see more of the potting stations that bruce has created. thanks, deborah!

[have a before & after you’d like to share? just shoot me an email with your images right here! (low res, under 500k per image, please)]

this next project makes great use of a dreaded piece of college dorm/first apartment furniture: the futon! leela in portland oregon wanted to turn an old ikea book shelf into a sunny reading area so she found a $10 futon on craigslist and broke it apart and re-upholstered (with striped ikea fabric) to create a window bench seat. her husband then raised the bookshelf with some extra wood so it would be the perfect height to read and look out the window. i love the way they thought outside of the box and saved some money along the way- well done, leela!

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  • I absolutely love the potting bench idea, we’re renovating our backyard, and have some old pallets lying around – might be the perfect re-use solution! :)

  • What Ari said… please, some pics of the bookshelf from the front, and explanation of how it was “raised”!!

  • I also would like to see more photos of the bookshelf/window seat. How did they get a bookshelf that was wide enough and strong enough to sit on? I want one!!!

  • I just LOVE the recycling being done here~

    So creative.

    I had to get rid of my dreaded futon just last year (it finally died, after 15 years of use) and there is NO RECYCLING of these types of materials available where I am (Vancouver BC). I was devastated! I had to take it to the dump, and felt terrible about it.

    This is a wonderful idea.


  • hi there,

    i added a few more photos for a better picture of the bench project on my blog: leelacyd.blogspot.com, if you’d like to see more angles/more details. Thanks!


  • I wouldn’t recommend sitting on a Lack bookshelf, unless you reinforce it somehow. They are not very strong.

  • they are a total condensation of the best graphic design from the 1960’s early 70’s and I am completely transported by them to my adolescence. Need. Want. Must have!

  • The books are gorgeous–as a voracious reader, I display some of my favorite books to encourage my friends (& family) to read!! I think the colors & graphics so now but also retro.Would love to have a set in my home to admire & read, some again!

  • I, too, love the potting station and I really would love to build one. But my confusion with all of this is that I don’t understand where all of you are getting these randomly discarded pallets. They’re expensive and most places I’ve approached expect you to pay for them, even if they don’t appear to be using them. Where is the best place to look for discarded ones that won’t cost me money?

  • hey anna, I am the builder of the potting bench. I get all my pallets FREE from craigslist in the free section in my city. If you are fortunate enough to have an active CL in your area this is by far the easiest way. Also if you find yourself in industrial/warehouse areas there is always a company sitting on pallets that just take up space…venture out in the world…..:)

  • Thanks, Bruce! I did just that, shortly after posting this, and found a place very close to my house that was desperately trying to get rid of them. I will turn to CL in the future. Thanks for the insight. Can’t wait to try and replicate your sweet handywork!!

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