WHERE TO FIND, HOW TO USE AND HOW TO PRESERVE YOUR WOODEN CRATES
Wooden crates are a fun and easy way to decorate your home. Use them to add beauty AND functionality to your decorating. Here are some tips how to find, use and take care of (vintage) wooden crates.
What is it about wooden crates that makes me love them so much. I own so many of them already and yet I still can’t resist looking for ‘new’ ones to add to my collection. Some of my crates are genuinely old and vintage. Others were brand new and in pristine condition until I gave them a special treatment. Like when I made new generic wine boxes look like French vintage heirlooms.
WHERE TO FIND WOODEN CRATES
It is not hard to find the perfect wooden box for your home decor needs. Since vintage crates were essentially the packaging materials from days gone by they were mass produced and distributed to every part of this big old world. Just like these days those packaging had the products details on them. Which of course makes them extra fun and adds vintage charm to our decor now.
Old wooden crates can be found in thrift stores, yard or estate sales, flea markets and antique shops. If thrifting is your thing than I am sure you have seen a whole lot of beautiful old crates already.
The charm and appeal of old wooden crates hasn’t gone unnoticed, especially since they have become so popular in home decor styles like farmhouse and rustic. Which is why they are also easy to find in lots of stores. I have found and bought crates at H&M Home, Anthropologie and Zara Home. I am sure that by now they can be found at Target, Michaels, CRATE & Barrel (pun intended) and the likes too.
You can even find some gorgeous fake and real vintage wooden crates on Amazon.
Of course if you are inclined to do so. Then building your own crate isn’t that hard to do either. Pinterest is overflowing with DIY tutorials for how to build a box or crate from scrap wood or pallet wood. And of course our own Funky Junk Donna has tons of ideas and tutorials on how to make any home built or brand new crate look vintage and fun with her stencils.
So now that we have found the perfect vintage wooden crate at the flea market. What are we going to do with it. How can we keep the wood safe and use it any which way we want?
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PRESERVING A VINTAGE CRATE AND MAKING IT FIT FOR ANY USE.
Dealing with Woodworm in Vintage Finds
First things first. When we are dealing with old, vintage wood, we might also dealing with creepy critters that you don’t want to have in your home. I am talking wood worms of course. Whenever you bring a thrifted wooden item home, check for the tell tale little holes that could indicate wood worms. And then always treat your piece. I have once or twice trusted the sales person that the item had been ‘treated’ and regretted it ever since.
Woodworm is not hard to treat though. Raw wood can be doused in anti-woodworm liquid but with varnished or painted wood, that doesn’t always work. I use my oven for smaller vintage wooden items that I want to preserve for the future and that I do not want to have destroyed by the little pests.
Okay now that we have that out of the way.
Related Reading: How to avoid bringing home pests from the thrift store
Using a Wooden Crate as Planter (things to consider)
What if we want to use our wooden crate as a planter box? What do you need to know about using a wood crate as planter?
Well, it isn’t that hard really. You have to protect the wood from the water that your plants will need. There is two ways to go about this. You either first plant your blooms in a water proof container and then place them in your planter box.
Or you line your crate with a layer of sturdy plastic and then plant right into the crate. You have to be a bit careful when watering your plants that live in a wood planter box, especially if you have repurposed an old crate that was not designed for wet use. But as you can see in this post I have used my old wooden crates as garden decoration many times with great success. I simply love the look of weathered and old wood with fresh greens and colorful flowers.
HOW TO DECORATE A WOODEN CRATE
Okay then! Let’s start talking decorating ideas for wooden crates.
A simple of arrangement of fresh blooming plants that are right in season, is a good choice to begin with. I already showed you a couple of crate decor ideas for the garden.
But how about indoors. How about decorating your table, window sill or buffet with a crate?
I LOVE that too.
I am a big fan of making sure your centerpieces are somewhat ‘contained’ – have boundaries – and are a deliberate grouping instead of a loose collection. Using a crate is perfect for that.
Also: decorating with crates makes it much easier to move your decorations out of the way when cleaning or when you have to use the surface for something else.
When you decorate with crates, you can follow the same rules you always use when building a centerpiece:
- Add height
- Add texture
- Coordinate your colors
- Leave some empty space
- Break the rules
Bottles, small vases, candle sticks or hurricane lights are all great ways to add height to your crate decor. Put some fresh flowers in the bottles or vases and you have added some additional height.
More crate ideas here: Summer centerpiece with shells in a vintage crate
Add texture and color
Use your decorating accessories to give a seasonal look to your crate decor. Shells, coral and sea stars for your summer decor; pumpkins, pinecones and gourds in fall, nests and eggs in spring and of course ornaments for Christmas.
Your crate will contain them all nicely so no need to make intricate designs or carefully place your little decorations. I usually just end up dumping a lot of my favorite seasonal decor in the crate and it always looks good.
Leave some space and break the rules
When you fill up your crate with all your beauties make sure that there is some room for them to shine. If I am using an old beer of soda crate (the ones with compartments) I never fill all the compartments. I like to keep some empty for breathing space.
I also always make sure that there is white space around my crate. Most of the time the crate is the focal point of the arrangement. Quite a busy focal point at that. So I like to make sure that there are margins around my crate that give it space and make it not too overcrowded.
And then I like to ‘break’ the rules. I love the use twinkling lights, garlands and leafy branches in my centerpieces. Usually I make sure that at least part of that spills out of the ‘container’, hangs over the sides and seems to escape.
I also sometimes throw in one piece of decor in a totally contrasting color (not always but sometimes). Adding a bit of ‘tension’ makes the rest look even more cohesive I think.
Decorating your home should be fun. And although I am a firm believer in knowing and following some of the ‘decorating rules’ to create a beautiful and relaxing home, I also think that every rule can and should be broken from time to time.
Adding a bit of the unexpected, the whimsey, the cheerful makes everything just so much more fun and beautiful. Decorating with crates is no exception to this ‘rule’.
Crate on a mantel: Botanical Fall mantel with a vintage crate focal point
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Marianne Songbird is the founder of Songbird, where she hopes to inspire everyone to create a home they love, one DIY project at a time. She shares anything from craft ideas to home decor inspiration and from DIY projects to decorating hacks. Originally from the Netherlands Marianne and her husband Lex are currently renovating a 250-year-old farmhouse in Germany.