Before and After: Curbside Garbage Gets an Artful and Stylish New Life for Just $12

published Jun 7, 2021
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Before: Rolled up bamboo fence in outside garbage area

Sure, the garbage is full of plenty of, well, garbage — but if you’re patient diligent in your checking, you can find some hidden gems on the curb. Take it from Bronwyn Tarboton (@nyctrashtotreasures), who makes it a point to scour local garbage pickups for home items with potential for a revamp.

Bronwyn’s rescued everything from stools to side tables, but one of her most recent projects involved an old, beat-up bamboo fence she spotted on the streets of New York City.

“Earlier that week I had been looking online at an Urban Outfitters painted bamboo wall hanging, so when I saw the fences were bamboo, it sparked an idea,” Bronwyn says. “The texture of the bamboo also reminded me of a macrame or woven wall hanging, I love texture so, wanted to see if I could make something work! They were quite heavy but, managed to get both home — about eight blocks — using a Citibike and an IKEA bag.”

Once Bronwyn got the bamboo fence home, she cut the wires joining the bamboo so that she had four pieces of fence (instead of the original two). Then, she scrubbed the pieces with bleach, towels, and toothbrushes until they were clean — a process that took hours, she says. “The only major surprise was how long they took to clean,” Bronwyn says. “I thought the fences were a darker color but they were just really dirty.”

After fence pieces were clean, Bronwyn taped off the designs she wanted to paint using painter’s tape. Then, she did a couple coats of white spray paint, peeled off the painter’s tape, and hung the fence pieces on the wall with wire. That’s it! With only a few steps and just $12 in materials, Bronwyn was able to create four pieces of art that rival the Urban Outfitters finds she’d been eyeing before.

“I love the texture of the bamboo,” Bronwyn says of her finished artistic creations. “But mostly I love that it was literal trash that will now be on display and admired.”

Inspired? Submit your own project here.