DIY Altered Wastebasket

Check out my new custom wastebasket! This project came about because I needed a wastebasket for my home office. It needed to have a swing lid.  If it had no lid my dogs would dig out the chocolate wrappers and if it had a foot operated lid I would have to get out of my chair to put stuff in it. What I didn’t realize was how hard it would be to find a small wastebasket with a swing lid. After a couple of months of looking, I finally found one at Lowes Hardware. It was cream colored, it was plastic, and it was shiny.  BUT, it was cheap. $6.99 cheap. So I bought it and decided to give it a makeover.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cheapo swing lid waste basket ($6.99)
  • 1 unloved hardback novel from the thrift store ($1)
  • scrabble tiles to spell OUTBOX or TRASH (I got mine at goodwill for $1, these were already black)
  • Liquid Nails Glue It
  • Mod Podge Matte
  • Spong brush
  • Spray Primer

Take the lid off the can and pop the little swingy bit off. If it is like mine, you just pull the side out a little and slip the hole off of the peg. It is held on by tension. Take the wastebasket  parts outside and spray them with primer. Do 2 thin coats, letting it dry in between. This will make everything stick better.

Here it is with it’s fresh coat of primer. It already looks better because it isn’t so shiny and screaming PLASTIC.

Tear a bunch of pages out of the book (this won’t hurt) and then tear the margins off so you don’t have so much blank space. Then tear the pages into trips about 1 1/2″ wide. You can tear several at once and they don’t have to be perfect or all the same size.

Using the sponge brush, apply Mod Podge to a small area of the wastebasket and apply a paper strip vertically. Brush a little more Mod Podge over the strip. If you put too much, it can cause bubbles to form under the paper but you can smooth those out with your fingers while it is still wet. Continue adding strips, applying the Mod Podge to just a small area at a time. Stagger the papers so you get a random look. Place some right side up and some upside down. Be sure to overlap them slightly. I worked on a piece of waxed paper to protect everything from the stickiness.

When you get to the opening of the can, fold the strips over to the inside so a couple of inches of the inside is also covered. For curvy areas on the lid, work with smaller pieces of paper and tear little notches at the edge to help you fold it neatly over the curves. I should have taken a photo of this but my fingers were covered in glue and there was no one here to help. Try not to let the paper or Mod Podge build up too thickly around the edges of the lid, because you want it to still be able to swing freely.

Let everything dry (overnight is best) and then add another coat of Mod Podge the next day.

Once that coat is dry, it is time for the letters. To make sure they were centered, and to keep them from sliding down as they dried, I clipped my metal ruler to the swing part of the lid. Take note of where the center of the lid is, according to the ruler, and work from there out. Apply some of the Glue It to the back of the middle letter and press it on, making sure you don’t put so much that it oozes out everywhere. That would look messy and might even glue the ruler to your lid! The letters will sit on top of the ruler so they won’t slide as they dry.

Once the letters are completely dry, just snap the swingy part back into the lid and you are done!

This is a static page. To visit the rest of the blog, please click here.

This project  and accompanying photos are ©2011 Melisa McCurley,

Follow me here:

31 thoughts on “DIY Altered Wastebasket

  1. Vicki

    Melisa, Absolutely love your ingenuity. Look out plain thing around here is getting a new face. Xoxoxo Vicki

  2. Kathy

    Oh My Word!!! That is awesome!!!
    You will have many copy this… I know I am going to.. : )
    Great Transformation!!
    (stopping by from Better/After )

  3. Terri

    Found your link from Better After…and this definitely is (better after)!! This would look darling in my black/white craftroom! TFS!

  4. Rebecca

    THIS IS AWESOME!!!! I making one for each of my kids rooms. I wonder if I could use printer paper so I could have color text.

    1. admin Post author

      Most home printouts will smear when you apply the mod podge. Laser printouts might work, I’m not sure. But you could use pages from children’s books and get lots of color that way, from the pictures. Or you could use the plain text like I did and put a colored glaze on top. A glaze should be transparent enough to let the text show through.

      1. Rebecca

        I’m having a real hard time with the Mod Podge anyways. I know you said it would bubble with too much but I cant figure out how to use any less. It maybe because I am using bigger sections right now since I’m using a recipe book I found at goodwill for 1.99 to use in the kitchen and I’m cutting out whole recipes. So I switched to spray adhesive and it is working awesome; it will probably work for the kids trash cans too!!!! Thanks so much for the cool idea!

        1. admin Post author

          Rebecca – It might be because of the bigger sections. Also, I kind of rubbed over each piece with my finger, after applying the mod modge to the top of the paper, to press out any bubbles and push off any excess mod podge. With the spray adhesive, be sure to apply a final coat of mod podge or any kind of brush on sealer to protect it from dirt and liquid. The spray adhesive won’t do that.

  5. Anonymous

    This is great! And it gives me more ideas, too. Using this method of decorating to ‘help’ family remember which laundry hamper is for darks, lights, whites, which recyclables go in which containers, even on the kids’ school binders…

  6. Marie Roedell

    I LOVE THIS!!!! I am a writer with two novels and one upcoming. I think taking my own novel and pasting it to a trash can would be IDEAL! We all know the cute little image of a writer with writers block stressing over the typewriter with a trash can full of waded up “ideas” scattered about! lol (Although now days its computers and virtual trash cans…but the point it there!)

  7. FunMomto2

    As a reading teacher I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS! Looks like my new project for summer to showcase in my classroom in fall!! 🙂

  8. Millie Colon

    I will like to use this technique to cover some carton boxes and use them to organize my closet. Do you think that it will work?

  9. Mindi

    I agree!!! Absolutely fantastic idea!!! I can’t wait to try it!!! Thanks so much for the awesome idea!!

  10. Elaine

    I am so happy to finally be finding this. Earlier this month I saw it on Pinterest, but failed to pin it. Later, when I tried to find it again, it was absolutely hopeless I decided. I spend hours on Pinterest and the internet but turned up everything but this. Then today I was going through my pictures on my computer and I had accidentally downloaded it to my own computer instead of Pinterest. I saw the OUTGOING, & decided to do a search for it that way. BINGO, I hit the jackpot. I knew I could try it with mod podge without your post, but I don’t think I would have thought of using primer first. I can hardly wait to try this, as soon as it stops raining and the humidity goes back down.

    1. admin Post author

      I’m so glad you found it! I really love mine and I think you will love yours, too. I do think using the spray primer first is crucial so that everything sticks well and you don’t end up with bubbles.

  11. Jana

    That is just the cutest, love it!! Just the other day I decided to do something with our outdoor trash can that is in our pavilion, it’s a large ugly Brute can. So far I’ve taken the before photos and still in the planning of what to do (paint or fabric, or maybe both).
    Seeing your little trash can, makes me want to go get one just like it to do for my office! What a great transformation. :0)

    1. admin Post author

      Thank you! I’ll be visiting your blog to see what you decide to do with your outdoor can. It would be a wonderfull big ole canvas for painting!

    1. admin Post author

      Yes, I used a spray primer. I got the Liquid Nails Glue It at either Lowes or Home Depot. You could probably use any thick heavy duty glue, but I already had this.

  12. Elaine

    Melissa, I saw this wastebasket a while back on Pinterest, but realized a couple of days later I had forgotten to save it. You would not believe how much time I actually wasted trying to locate it again – sure made a believer of me that if you see something you like, deal with it then – don’t assume you’ll find it later. Eventually I found the post on Before and After. Today, when I wasn’t even trying to find you, I stumbled across you again via Roadkill Rescue. Just wanted to let you know you inspired me to mod podge one of those black plastic shelves that people use in garages and storerooms. I’m leaving you a link to my pinterest board to show you what I’m talking about – hope it works., also

    1. admin Post author

      I’m so glad you found me, Elaine! I can’t tell you how many times I have done the same thing, and sometimes I never do find it again. Thanks for your Pinterest link. I love your shelf. I can see you were already well aquainted with the mod podge! I really like your clock, too. I recently bought an old clock to alter but haven’t decided just what I want to do with it yet.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *