#AtoZChallenge | Upcycling bed risers into planters to give my spring herbs a lift

When there are thousands of great ideas sometimes it’s hard to pick just one. This was one of the last crafts that I did as I prepared my A to Z challenge posts. I kept circling around from one upcycled craft to another. I was like a dog distracted by a squirrel my attention tenuous as I moved from one upcycled craft to the next all being brought to life with glorious possibility on Pinterest. As I veered from one craft to another, I took a step back and took a moment to breath.

I looked at my project list to identify specific things on my to-do list to see which ones actually worked with an upcycled project. Why make something that I really don’t have a use for?

When I found a pair of bed risers at Goodwill, I had my answer. I have been looking for four matching planters to use in the spring when I attempt yet another round of growing indoor herbs for the season. Last year I used various planters that I already had on hand. They worked but they were mismatched and they just didn’t have that personal vibe. Time to try and craft some new ones.

I recently completed a remodeling project on our downstairs bathroom. As part of that project, I tiled the backsplash to our new vanity using cork tiles. I loved how it came out although admit the actual project was extremely stressful as I was tiling around the faucets making it a tight space to work. But, like childbirth, you eventually forget the pain. I was up for another tiling project and I already had most of the supplies on hand.

What I had to brace myself for was the fact that there would be no way to get a perfect tile job on a curved surface that also tapered down as you got to the bottom. It would be a good test for the perfectionist deep inside myself to try something that I knew in advance would be perfectly imperfect.  I was up for giving it a try.

I picked up some sheets of white penny tile. I stuck with white. I liked the contrast with the black risers and thought it would be a nice look with the gray grout I had on hand. This project did not have a lot of steps but it takes time as you do have to wait as things dry between steps.


I spread out on my kitchen table which has essentially become my craft space for the last two months. I actually have a craft room / office but had so many creative things happening for this challenge that I needed a extra room. I’m sure my family will be excited to be able to actually eat at the kitchen table again soon.

Step 1)

My husband drilled the bottom of each riser with three holes so that there would be drainage for the plants. We used a 1/4″ drill bit and the holes seemed to be the right size.

Step 2)

I applied the tile adhesive with my hand. I made sure to wear a rubber glove for protection. This method allowed me to get an even layer of adhesive over the curved surface.

Step 3)

I used the grout trowel to add groves to the adhesive. Not sure if I needed this step, but it’s how I’ve always tiled so I figured, why not?

Step 4)

I cut my penny tile sheets in half which was the perfect width of my risers. From there I cut the tile into strips of about 3-4 penny tiles per row. I applied these smaller “sheets” one section at a time. As I suspected, there were gaps between my rows.

I had an epiphany while I was waiting for my adhesive to dry. I had some miscellaneous mosaic pieces. I went through and picked out all the red ones. I would use these to fill in the gaps.

Step 5)

I let my tile adhesive dry for a day and then added the mosaic glass pieces to the larger gaps in the penny tile. I did this by adding tile adhesive to the back and placing them one by one. They were thinner than the tile so I used extra tile adhesive to raise them more level with the penny tiles. This was a slow process but I liked how the red mosaic pieces contrasted with the penny tile. I had to bring out the tile nippers in order to resize some of the red glass pieces to fit in the spaces available.

Step 6)

I waited another day to let the adhesive dry fully. Once dry I cleaned up any adhesive that was on top of the tiles or completely covering the groves. It’s hardened at this point so it’s a bit like chiseling. You don’t want to overdue this step as you might pull up a tile or two. The goal is to remove any tile adhesive that would be visible after grouting. I did accidently pull up a few of the red mosaic pieces but I simply super glued them back into their spots.


Step 7)

I let the risers sit for another day to be sure the adhesive was fully dry and then it was time to grout. It was a small surface so didn’t take long to cover the tile in grout. After applying the grout, I used a tile float to clear off any excess grout and to make sure the grout was pushed into all the crevices.

I wiped it down with a sponge until I removed all the grout from tile surfaces. This takes some time. It seems like you’ll never get the grout off the tiles but eventually the white started peaking through the gray.

If you’re not careful to remove the grout fully from the tile surface, you can get a haze that adds a dullness to the tiles. I’ve had grout haze before. I don’t like it so now I’m always careful to wipe my tile surfaces fully after grouting.

I love that the red mosaic tile made what was an imperfection into a more intentional artistic choice. Damn – that perfectionist vibe is strong. I just couldn’t let it go.

I am excited to have four matching planters for my herbs this year. They’ll go well with the plant markers that I made earlier in the challenge: Name that plant by prepping some long overdue plant markers.

I’ve lined them up along my picture window where they wait for seedlings to be ready in Maine.

This project went surprisingly smoothly. The only mishap was when my husband made the mistake of asking, “Why don’t you just buy planters?” If he wasn’t helping me drill the holes, things might have gotten ugly.

Bring on the basil, I’m ready for you!

Have you ever done a mosaic project? 

I’m participating in a Blogging A-Z Challenge for April 2021. I will be posting new content every day this month except most Sundays. Each post is associated with a letter of the alphabet, starting with A and ending with Z. My theme for the challenge is Craft Projects for my Home. To read more of my A to Z posts from this year, click HERE.

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38 thoughts on “#AtoZChallenge | Upcycling bed risers into planters to give my spring herbs a lift

    • Weekends in Maine says:

      It did take a lot of time because you have to wait between every step but it was surprisingly easy once I got into the groove. I’m sure it helped that I’ve done tile projects before so I knew what to expect.


  1. Arti Jain says:

    Love the pots Karen. I can picture basil, coriander, rosemary and sage:) Oops–it’s your kitchen–what are your plans?
    Your husband’s remarks remind me of the kind of banter my husband indulges in–but they have their uses, so it’s good to keep the peace.
    Like you, I used mosaic tiles to create a back splash for my kitchen. We used to live in London then and we were ‘doing’ up our house. It turned out well.


    • Weekends in Maine says:

      I love how tile can really transform a space. I bet your backsplash was beautiful.

      I am excited for May to arrive so I can buy my seedlings. We still need to finalize our herb selection but I love your suggestions!


  2. Tamara says:

    Like childbirth, you eventually forget the pain, hahaha! I can tell you about tiling a curved surface 😉 A good ten years ago, my then toddler and I wanted to make our own Earth Day lamp by sticking square blue and green tiles onto a round lamp. The half-done project must still hide somewhere in the attic…

    So apart from basil what will you be planting in your pretty pots?



    • Weekends in Maine says:

      Curved surfaces are hard! Fortunately this one was a soft enough bend where I could make it work.

      I think we’re going to do some Rosemary, Mint, and Sage. There are so many great herbs to choose from so that may change.


  3. Crackerberries says:

    They came out great. That’s funny about your husband…. that sounds like mine whenever I ask him to help me do a project… “wouldn’t it just be easier…” My basil is coming along (in plastic cups right now).
    Have a great day!


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