Reduce, Reuse and Recycle: How I Got a Cupboard For My Gardening Tools and Supplies

by Wendy Diaz EMGV

We all know that we can help the environment by reducing, reusing and recycling all the stuff we need, use and buy. Last year our family upgraded to a larger screen TV that rendered our large oak entertainment center obsolete (Photo 1). I tried to donate it as a piece of furniture to reuse stores, however, they would not take it. A local consignment shop told me to just throw it away. Now I can’t throw things in a landfill if I feel they could be of use to somebody and when I couldn’t find a stranger to take it, it became clear that it was up to me to reuse and find another purpose for this well-made but outdated piece of furniture.

Photo 1 Before: Empty old oak entertainment center. Photo by Wendy Diaz, June 10, 2018

After a quick search on the Internet, it became obvious that I wasn’t the only one with this idea. There were abundant images of repurposed entertainment centers mostly transformed into wine racks or portable liquor bars and children’s play kitchens (think sink instead of TV). Nevertheless, there were a few enterprising gardeners who repurposed this large piece of dated furniture into a tool storage unit for their garage or back porch. And that is how our oak entertainment center became one garden cupboard (Photo 2) and a TV stand.

Photo 2 After: Repainted and retrofitted into a garden cupboard. Photo by Wendy Diaz, December 7, 2018

The top third of the entertainment center was a detachable unit and my husband attached rollers to the base and that became our new TV stand. The remainder two-thirds of the unit became my garden cupboard for tools and supplies. My husband was skeptical at first because he didn’t want to take up valuable real estate in the garage next to his work bench but after I discarded a damaged bookcase where we kept various tools and fuel etc. he became a believer and now stores these items in a more organized and easily retrievable fashion (Photo 3).

Photo 3. Interior of garden cupboard with hooks for tools and storage for garden supplies.  Photo by Wendy Diaz, December 7, 2018

My repurposing supplies included paint brushes, one gallon of discarded green paint from a recent kitchen renovation, left over wallpaper from an old bathroom remodel, a few hooks and a $3 piece of board (purchased from the Scrap Exchange in Durham). The board was used to block the large open back in the former TV section of the entertainment center. I left some former electrical chord holes in the back for ventilation and I repainted and reused most of the shelves. After two weeks of painting whenever I was free for a couple of hours (total of about 8 hours), I was able to store most of my garden items (with the exception of my long-handled tools) as well flower pots and the spreader on the wide top which freed up more floor space in the garage. The shelves were covered with burlap coffee bean bags to prevent scratching of the paint and I even have a small shelf for repotting small pots (Photo 4).

Now everything has a place and I have almost a place for everything! It also feels pretty good that I am helping nature, if just but a little, by not taking the old furniture to the dump.

Photo 4 Potting shelf in garden cupboard. Photo by Wendy Diaz, December 7, 2018