branching out…

Just one look...that's all it took.

A while back, I was flipping through a Pottery Barn catalog (which I use more as a source of inspiration than for actual shopping—sorry, PB) and a sliver of decorative twigs caught my eye. (I say sliver, because they were trying to sell the couch, the mirror, and the rug in the photo…but, of course, what I honed in on was the one not-for-sale accessory peeking out from the edge of the page.) This hidden objet d’art was a vintage, Rococo-like garden urn filled with gray moss and bare Manzanita branches; the textural interest helped soften an otherwise edgy, contemporary black-and-white living room. It was love at first sight.

Before I knew it, I was scouring garden stores and antique malls in search of aged stone urns…which, indeed, I found. I found they cost about $500 and weigh 500 pounds.

So I abandoned the idea until one afternoon, when I was buying light bulbs at Home Depot, and two really ugly (I’m being kind here) black, fiberglass planting urns—remnants from summer and marked down to $19.99 each–caught my eye. Next thing you know, these babies were in my cart, along with white spray paint, texturizing spray, and a can of polyurethane foam sealant. Once home, I ordered Manzanita branches and Spanish moss from, and recreated the PB look in a single afternoon.

Start with a cheapie, fiberglass planter. (This one's nicer than mine!)


Give it a little faux texture...


Beat it up 'til it looks seriously old.

Here are the step-by-step instructions….

1)      Spread newspaper on driveway in preparation for painting, then realize wind causes overspray to get on driveway anyway.

2)      Spray urns, and keep touching them impatiently while waiting for paint to dry.

3)      Spray texturizer onto urns and squeal when they start to look like real stone.

4)      More drying.

5)      Drag and bang painted urns across driveway aggregate in attempt to distress them. End up distressing husband, who says paint is getting all over driveway.

6)      Stuff urns with oasis (foam-like floral bricks), and begin arranging the branches.

7)      Squirt poly foam into the urns to seal and stabilize the foliage. Learn that overzealous squirting causes foam to grow out of the urn like a sea monster and stick permanently to clothing.

8)      Cover foam with Spanish moss, then do a happy dance around driveway at the results, which look remarkably similar to PB catalog photo. 

My newly aged decor. Guess you could say I "urned" them! (Begin groaning.)

Granted, it was a fair amount of work…but nowhere near the effort it would have taken to get those 500-pound antique urns into my trunk. So that was my most recent Martha moment. What’s yours?

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