Upcycling a dustbin into a toy caddy

upcycled dustbin

We’re fortunate enough to have a reasonably sized garden, which feels like a luxury in central London. It’s great for the children to be able to bounce around in, and there’s even a slide and picnic table, so the little ones can eat outdoors when the weather’s nice.

The only problem is, children’s outdoor fun is often accompanied by plastic. Balls for the pool; ride-on trikes; space-hoppers, buckets and spades for the sandpit are often strewn across the lawn. They look unsightly and – if left in the sun too long – fade into a miserable shade of grey.

I’ve grappled with the question of what to do with them. They are dirty, so indoor storage is no good. Our garden shed is bursting at the seams; anyway, I wanted the children to be able to get the toys out themselves, without the danger of a tin of wood varnish toppling onto their heads.

And then, I had the idea: how about upcycling the old dustbin, which had been used as a water butt under the shed’s guttering? I’d decided to get rid of it because the lid was missing, and I had waking nightmares about my two- or four-year old toppling into it one day, and drowning in the slimy water. It had to go.

The only problem was, it wasn’t an easy thing to dispose of. It was a shame to use it as landfill, but when we left it outside with a sign saying ‘take me’, it stayed there for days.

So, over the summer, I asked D to drill some drainage holes around the sides and in the base of the dustbin. I got the children to spend an afternoon scrubbing away all the cobwebs and dirt (I had to finish it off myself, of course, when they moved on to the ‘squirt each other with the hose’ game….)

upcycled dustbin

It languished in the corner of our garden for a while. We had summer holidays to take, and people to visit. Renovating our bin sadly fell down the list of priorities.

And then, one day I came back from a shopping trip to find that D had mixed some old blue paint with PVA glue, and coated the bin to brighten it up.

upcycled dustbin

The paint/glue mix wasn’t a permanent solution, though (it started flaking off pretty quickly). Inspired by the shortening evenings and the splendour of some of the night skies we saw on our summer holidays, I decided to glam up the bin with some old silver spray paint.

I cut out stars and stuck them to the side of the bin, making sure to lay lots of newspaper down on the ground. Then, I set to with the spray can.

upcycled dustbin

And hey presto! A caddy for the kids’ outdoor toys. It’s not the most glamourous piece of garden furniture in the world, but we had fun making it.



  • Becca @ Bare Feet on the Dashboard
    February 28, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    Thanks for linking up at the Fabulously Frugal link party! I love a good upcycle, especially when it helps to contain the toy madness. Pinning it now!

    • Nell
      March 1, 2015 at 5:29 pm

      Thank you! We really enjoyed this little mini-project.

  • Thomas Beckham
    April 7, 2016 at 6:43 am

    Wow!! @Nell!! What a lovely post. and a lovely conversion. I am glad to seen this post. You have explained well. I have enjoyed reading all of it. Great article and great efforts. Thanks for sharing..:)


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