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We all know I’m a terrible procrastinator, right? I’ve been meaning to make these wall planters for YEARS as a spinoff of an idea I had several years ago. Now finally, I’ve got the tutorial for ya, plus a cool new stain technique you might want to try on your next project!
Background: a few years ago, I was hired to build a booth for the first year of WorkbenchCon. I took a few square IKEA planters, cut them in half, and mounted them to a fake wood wall that I built. At the end of the conference, some miscommunication happened and attendees walked away with items from my booth that were literally screwed in. In some ways, that feels like a huge compliment to make things that others want that badly. But also: hey, where’d my stuff go?!?! 🤣
I always meant to remake them for a spot in the house, so I hung onto a stack of planters for later use. I’m back today to share the a new version and the instructions for how to make your own, along with a quick video.
Disclosure: This project was sponsored by Minwax. All words and opinions are 100% my own. Hope you enjoy!
Since these planters are wall-mounted, I wanted a way for them to stand out on the wall in the bedroom hallway as a group. I made a small wood backing so they can hang as one unit, but if you want a more minimalist look, you can choose to hang them straight on the wall (I mention below why I’m glad I didn’t, but you do you!).
Check out the video below:
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Materials & Tools
- IKEA VILDAPEL planters
- 3/4″ scrap plywood
- 5mm scrap sanded plywood
- pull saw or dovetail saw
- miter saw
- wood glue
- orbital sander
- measuring tape
- iron-on edge banding and iron
- painter’s tape
- safety gear (glasses, hearing protection, breathing mask)
- spray paint in Clamshell
- Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner
- Minwax Penetrating Stain in Rustic Beige
- Minwax Wood Finish Solid Color Stain (custom color)
- flush mount hardware
- drill bits
IKEA Hack: DIY Wall Planters with Colorblock Stain
1. Cut planters in half
This step is probably the trickiest. I managed to do it (mostly) on my miter saw (I don’t have a tall bandsaw, which may be the best-suited power tool for this task). To try to be as safe about it as possible, I cut some scrap 2×4 to a 10° bevel and 45° miter to help hold the planter steady across the diagonal and keep my fingers out of the way. Very slowly, I cut down through the planter. My saw depth wasn’t enough to cut all the way through, so I finished the cut using my dovetail saw (hand saw). I’m pretty confident with using my miter saw, so I felt like I could handle this cut, but for most folks I would recommend using only hand sawing to make the entire cut (for safety reasons). Since there are only two planters that need to be cut in half, this doesn’t take much time, so not worth the risk if you aren’t comfortable creating special jigs for cutting things.
2. Clean up edges
The planters have dovetail corners, which means some of the teeth holding the sides together may fall out once cut. To even things out, I sanded down these edges to make a flat surface for attaching a new back piece.
3. Cut and attach planter backing
Using some scrap underlayment (5mm plywood), I cut back pieces for each of the 4 planters and attached them with a little wood glue. The cut wound up being around 13.5° for the sides to match up to the planter angle.
4. Paint planters
I wound up spray painting the wood planters on a whim, since I knew I would also have a wood piece on the back, and I wanted the planters to stand out a little. The last time I made these, I actually caulked around the backing and edge of the planter to make the corner blend in better, but I skipped it this time.
5. Cut the wooden display piece
I wanted to mount my planters to a wooden backing to make them stand out on the wall, so I cut a 4-foot length of 3/4″ plywood. The width can be customized to fit the need, and I was mounting this piece in between two of the doors in my bedroom hallway. Around 14.5″ looked about right (I wanted some “negative space” and some wood exposed on the sides and around each planter, even after the plants were in). To finish off the edge of the plywood, I added iron-on edge banding (101 tutorial on this coming soon!)
6. Stain the wooden mount
I hadn’t tried the Minwax stain color Rustic Beige until this project, but it may be a new favorite! I mixed up the can only slightly knowing that some of the pigment had settled to the bottom of the can (common with any stain, that’s why you usually stir before using!). I left it less mixed on purpose this time because I knew I would get only a hint of color and keep the backing light in prep for my next step: color blocking! (P.S. For more even color distribution, be sure to pre-treat with wood conditioner.)
7. How to Color Block with Wood Stain
I taped off part of the back piece using painter’s tape and really pressed down on the edge to make sure it created a good barrier for the stain application. Then, I wiped on the additional stain color in one direction only (away from the tape, never pushing under the tape line). I think this may be possible only with a stain that’s extremely thick, like Minwax’s Solid Color Stain. I used some of the colors from previous projects (such as here and here) to make a custom color that nearly matched the top half of my project, just less transparent. I wanted the effect to be subtle, but still cool to see when the light hits it just right. For the sake of full disclosure, I’ve exaggerated the color in some of the photos, just FYI (it looks fantastic in person, but the camera just didn’t pick up the color difference as well, which you can see in the video too). Once I peeled the tape off, I had a nice line cutting across the piece. I like that there’s a little wood grain peeking through, which wouldn’t happen if it had been painted.
I chose to use hanging brackets on the back of each planter so that I could remove them from the wood piece and water my plants under the sink. Although you could potentially go without a back piece and mount the planters directly on the wall, I’m glad there’s a buffer; taking them on and off has already gotten a little dirt smudged, and I know that would be a nuisance to have to clean off the wall. I didn’t waterproof the interiors of the planters (yet), so for now, they hold smaller planters inside of them.
I think I’m going to experiment with this technique again in the future; there’s a lot of potential in how this could look in other projects!
Don’t forget to pin it!