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As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of finding new uses for old things. I’m the person you see huddled in a corner at an estate sale turning an object this way and that, brow furrowed, envisioning what it could be used for. Take this old wooden toolbox. It was filthy – as all great estate sale finds are — filled with rusty, old screws and nails and only partially painted yellow. A thick layer of dust covered both the box and its contents so it definitely had some age and looked to be sturdily hand-constructed.

I knew it would make a great magazine rack and I knew I had to have it:chipped yellow paint on old toolbox repurposed as a magazine holder

Other uses I considered: Filling the 3 compartments with potted herbs in my kitchen; using it to hold rolled towels in a bathroom; or as a caddy for organizing craft or gift wrap supplies.

The $8 price tag seemed fair for its condition — dust, rusty nails and all. Once home, I dumped out the metal bits then gave it a good once-over with the vacuum. I then sanded all the surfaces to remove loose bits of peeling yellow paint and smooth the rough areas. Then, I stained it with an oil-based wood stain (Minwax Early American). BTW, I only use oil-based stains. I know some people swear by water-based because there are less fumes and the dry time is much quicker, but I’ve found that wood better accepts oil-based stains resulting in a richer, deeper color and less streaking.

Upon closer inspection, the toolbox is a mishmash of materials: the end pieces are pine, the sides are beadboard and the handle  –  I think — once belonged on a broom. You can see in the photo below how the mismatched woods took the stain differently, which for me,  just adds to its vintage charm:  old toolbox repurposed as a magazine holder

 So, tell us in the comments below, how have you repurposed items in your home?

16 Responses

  1. Jessica Bruno says:

    I need one of these! :)

  2. Mandy S. says:

    Love the toolbox. It looks great…I love anything vintage or antique.

  3. Christina says:

    Always love the blogs about antiques or vintage finds. That toolbox is fantastic!

  4. Laura says:

    That chair is fantastic Camille. Where did you find it?

  5. [...] Old Toolbox Turned Magazine Caddy HGTV Design Happens Wed, November 7, 2012 12:00 PM UTC HGTV Design Happens Rate Share (function(){var [...]

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  8. Cory says:

    Toolbox looks great!

  9. Leah P. says:

    The room, the setting with the chair and toolbox, and lamp…so inviting and cozy. Thanks for sharing.

  10. [...] you guys know, I love a good estate sale. One of my favorite places to search for treasures is the garage — but I’m not looking [...]

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H. Camille SmithCamille is a managing editor for HGTV.com, fine artist and antique furniture devotee. As a former interior designer and Nickelodeon animator, she has a real passion for balanced, beautiful interiors...

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