Carly Rubach

Pretty Garbage

By - May 29th, 2011 04:00 am
Get a daily rundown of the top stories on Urban Milwaukee

The sight of trash bins in our kitchen has been driving me rotten bananas. Unfortunately I can’t fit these unsightly receptacles under the sink or in a tidy nook, so they sit out along our galley kitchen wall.

Oh, garbage.

Not satisfied to live with these eyesores, I took a hint from the Oct/Nov 2010 issue of ReadyMade Magazine, and transformed my trash can into an artful refuse vessel.

In the magazine, the creators used lumber scraps and dumpster dive finds, so I set out to Lowe’s because I read that they had scrap bins filled with discarded lumber. When I arrived at the store, I was directed toward the large bin in the back corner and began gathering scrap pieces until I was disciplined by an older employee who instructed me to kindly step away. Sugar plums, I thought, returning my free scraps back to the pile.

In the end, the project turned out to cost more than I had hoped ($10 instead of free). I ended up getting an assortment of plywood and lumber between 6 and 8 ft. tall and then had an employee cut the pieces into 2-ft. sections. They’ll make something like five or six cuts for free and then they charge .25 cents for each additional cut. If you have any tips on finding lumber scraps for free or cheap, post your suggestions in the comments section below.


I used a bin about 15 inches tall and 38 inches around (you can also use a five-gallon plastic work bucket like they did in the magazine—I think I’m going to do that for my recycling bin)

20-30 strips of lumber or plywood (2-4 inches wide, less than ¾ inch thick; 16-20 inches long; just be sure the pieces extend a few inches above the bin); number of strips, width and height are dependent on size of the trash can

staple gun and 3/8-inch staple gun staples

two 50 x 2-inch pieces of canvas (make sure you have excess material so you can tie the pieces together)

Paint, brushes and a wood stain (if you would like to add a little color)


Gather your strips and lay them on a flat, “staple-proof” surface (I put an extra piece of wood underneath the areas I was stapling). Make sure the bottom edges line up and the strips measure the circumference of your bin, which in my case was 38 inches.

Lay the two canvas pieces across the length of the wood strips, making sure you leave equal amounts of excess fabric on either side.

Staple the canvas strips to each piece of wood. Keep one strip close to the bottom and the other about 12-15 inches above.

Lay the trash bin on your strips and tie the bottom strip together and either end.

Stand up your bin and tie the top strip.

Since my scraps were pretty plain, I decided to add a little color with a dark wood stain and a simple color palette.

Enjoy your pretty garbage!

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us