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An old rusty, dirty newspaper bin is now a useful, elegant entryway accessory.

Upcycled Newspaper Bin from Zestuous
Upcycled Newspaper Bin from Zestuous

I have been planning to upcycle a newspaper bin for more than a year. It all started with a Waverly ad in House Beautiful magazine.

I’m a journalist, so newspapers are in my blood. When I moved to Fort Hood and took over the post newspaper (the Department of Defense’s number one newspaper for two years), my love of the printed word grew even more.

I have a fabulous team ~ the Army’s best editor and a great leader; a news editor who knows senior generals by their first names and gets the story every time; a sports editor that is one of the best photographers I’ve ever seen; a new leisure editor who has the passion to excel; a design editor who can draw, design and shoot amazing photographs; and a graphic designer who embraces Army life and lays it out on the page. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

After seeing the ad in House Beautiful, I knew I had to make this designer bin happen, and I had to do it while we were stationed at Fort Hood. I contacted our publishing company to see if they had any old retired bins. After a couple of weeks, they found one for me.

I had no idea what it would look like or how much work it would take, but I was so excited. I finally picked it up in February, and moved it to the garage.

Upcycled Newspaper Bin from Zestuous

Its bones were solid, but it was pretty rough. The plexiglass was dirty beyond repair. There was visible rust inside and out, and it was crying for some TLC.

Traditionally, I upcycle wood, so I was apprehensive about how to paint this properly. That fear, mixed with no design concept and a lack of color ideas meant the bin would sit in the garage for three more months.

Finally, Memorial Day weekend came, and it was time to give this hunk of metal some love.

First, I wiped away the cobwebs and gave it a general scrub.

The quarter slot was dirtier than I realized, so that was step one. Glass cleaner didn’t do the trick. I had to use Goo Gone and a razor blade.

Upcycled Newspaper Bin from Zestuous

Next, I took off the advertising plate. Ugh! There, I discovered more rust. Nothing a little rust remover, a steel brush and some steel wool couldn’t solve.

Upcycled Newspaper Bin from Zestuous

Finally, this was ready for some love. I grabbed some Army 100 mile-an-hour tape and taped a big plastic sheet on the driveway. The first coat, Rust-oleum Universal paint and primer in gloss white. It took four cans, but with 2-3 coats inside and out, hopefully the rust won’t find its way back to the surface.

Upcycled Newspaper Bin from Zestuous

After the paint dried overnight, I grabbed some thick painter’s tape and covered every area I wanted to keep white. Surprisingly, it took me a while to figure out the measurements on this one. I wanted consistent stripes all the way around.

Upcycled Newspaper Bin from Zestuous

The first coat of yellow was Valspar Whipped Apricot (satin) spray paint. Next to the white, I knew it would be pretty bright, so I went over that color lightly with Valspar Hotel Ivory (gloss) spray paint.

Upcycled Newspaper Bin from Zestuous

Impatiently, I waited an hour to peel off the tape. Unfortunately, temps exceeded 90 degrees, and when I peeled off the tape, some of the white paint came off, too. That was a blessing in disguise though.

As I touched up the white paint, there was some overspray onto the yellow, and I liked how it softened the contrast. From a distance of about 14-18 inches, I sprayed a light spray of white over the whole bin. Then, I followed up with a light spray of Rust-oleum Universal Metallic Pearl Mist.

After a few hours, I used 150-grit sandpaper and very lightly sanded the bin. This removed any stray bugs or debris that blew into the paint. I finished it off with a coat of Rust-oleum polyurethane.

Upcycled Newspaper Bin from Zestuous

Next, I needed to find something to fill the ad holder. After a quick measurement, I turned to Photoshop, designed a quick ad and sent it via the Internet to Staples, so they could print it on gloss paper. They had it ready in about 2 hours.

Upcycled Newspaper Bin from Zestuous

The final obstacle was the plexiglass. The old glass was not cleanable, so I had to cut my own. Knowing that I make mistakes often, I bought two sheets. Home Depot has a plexi scorer near the glass with an instruction sheet. It claims that with a few scores, you can snap the glass and voila!

I guess I’m a wimp because my scoring skills didn’t work. Then, I tried a handsaw used for pipes. I ended up cracking the plexi. Ready to give up, I posted my lack of skill to my facebook page and Zestie Pat Busha recommended I try a Dremel.

Luckily, I have a Dremel. After a Google search and some advice from my brother and dad, I was ready to try this. It wasn’t very pretty (or safe). Shards of plexi flew everywhere, and my first test cut was wild. But in the end, it was a success.

Upcycled Newspaper Bin from Zestuous

I screwed the plexi into place, loaded the empty bin with my favorite magazines, and moved it into my foyer.

Upcycled Newspaper Bin from Zestuous

Now, I will forever have a memento from the Fort Hood Sentinel and my great experiences at Fort Hood.

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Christie Vanover

About Zestuous

Hi. I’m Christie, the head cook and award-winning competitive pitmaster for Team Girls Can Grill. I have won multiple grand championships and have dozens of top ten category finishes. People know me as the girl who is forever hovering over a grill, smoker or campfire with tongs in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.

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  1. That is awesome! I picked up a newspaper stand yesterday, but it still has the coin box on top, and I can’t get it open. Do you have any suggestions on how to remove this piece?

  2. Years ago when there was special news an extra edition of the paper would come out and the paper boy would stand on the corner calling XTRA XTRA.

    You created an XTRA for the newspaper bin.

    Great job!

    Love, The Gramps