Wednesday, September 14, 2011

QUIRKY: Upcycled Milk Crate Project

Browsing a recent estate sale, I stumbled on three vintage milk crates. Not the old, industrial, perfect for home decor awesome kind like this one from hilltopcottage.

No, these crates were straight up ugly... and I had to have them! Two dollars for all three? Sold to the sucker in the corner! But I had BIG plans for these uggos. The first thing I had to do was wash them off. Years of dirt, grime and spiders from the garage had taken a toll on these crates. So I gathered up my 19 month old partner and told him to get to work spraying (his favorite activity) those crates!

After removing the dirt and spider eggs, yes spider eggs... eew

I then spent about another hour with a bottle of 409 and some Q-Tips cleaning out the crevices wondering what the heck I had been thinking? If you want to get into some kind of similar project, you can just get the little cheapo crates from Wal-Mart or where ever. However, personally I like to upcycle and whenever possible I like to avoid giving my money to Wal-Mart. Besides, you can't get the crates that will allow you to chalkboard the middle unless you use the real, vintage deal. 

After all my scrubbing and cleaning, I then taped around the middle box on all the crates, where the company logo was. This is the section of the box you will use the chalk board spray paint. Chalk board spray paint is the coolest. I want to chalk board everything with it! BUT Since I don't want to be referred to as "Crazy Chalk Board Lady" I try to refrain and use chalk board spray paint sparingly. 

After two coats of chalk spray paint and a passing inspection from my beagle Bam, I then waited 24 hours to let the chalk board paint dry (after all you don't want the fresh coats to chip) then taped up that part and went to work painting the rest of the crates. I went with three different colors. All Krylon satin colors: Periwinkle, Jade, and Pistachio. Each crate took an entire can of the selected color and if I had really wanted to be a perfectionist about it, I could have used more than an entire can. I just skipped painting the underside of each crate. After letting the new paint day, they were ready for stacking. 

Baby boy is so proud

A quirky stack

The best part is the erasable chalk board paint in the middle, great for labeling. I have a simple 1, 2, 3. I'll probably end up with them in the kids playroom marked something like "legos' "markers" and such. 

Overall, I'm pretty happy with this project. They look great and it's something me and my little guy did together!

How about you? Any other upcyclers out there?


  1. Your milk crates are great!! How creative!

    Thank you for featuring mine:)

  2. Those turned out AMAZING!! what a great idea. I can't wait to try this myself :)

  3. They look great! Love the chalkboard paint for labeling them.

  4. They do look great and I love the idea of the chalkboard paint. Perfect for the little guy.

  5. Great idea! Your little one is so cute!

  6. wow!!! what a great idea!
    I want & need some of those crates! They would make awesome extra storage!

  7. Love the finished product! Your son is very cute and looks like a good helper hehe!

  8. What a great project! And I love that you and your child did it together! They look fantastic! Thanks so much for all the great info about the crates and paint too. Really great post! =)


  9. I am now following you from the EBT thread. I absolutely love those crates. They would be perfect for storing things in my classroom!

  10. I can see that your partner is an expert with the sprayer :) Your creates came out great! They are probably way sturdier than ones produced now.

  11. As a poor benighted Englander, what is chalk board paint? We may speak the same language, but.....!

    Love the idea of creating something new from something old - which is one of the ideas behind my recent branching out into the Soft Toy Clinic (not dolls, but stuffed animals of any kind). Have so far rejuvenated bears who admit to being over 50, 60 and nearly 80 years old! My shop's mascot, Coldham Yogi (Cy Bear to his friends) is made from a bit of real Beaver Lamb which is nearly 98 year's old, so your crate project was fascinating to read about.

    If you'd like to know more about the toys, you can read about htem at my blog - and I've read this after seeing your post on the Etsy Success forum suggesting we read each other's blogs! Will be following you, you can rest assured: do hope you'll do the same for me, and then visit my shop at We'd love to see you there! Cheers. Isobel

  12. whew! you almost lost me at "spider eggs" but i battled on - cute!

  13. SO doggone cute and those crates are might nice too! :)
    thanks for sharing your vintage finds and " upcycled " organizers with us!

  14. Hi, Kristal - this is so cute and practical!!! I am popping over from the vestiesteam thread to visit - what a cool blog!

  15. Very creative! I'm a vestie, too, with 2 blogs:

  16. Hello Kristal,

    Love this project and your narrative! Your crate make-over is a brilliant idea. Can't wait to see more of your creative ideas!!!