Upcycle Your Old Vases with This DIY Faux “Terracotta” Hack
As a commuter living at home, I’m always looking for ways to update my bedroom to reflect my personality — especially as I grow into adulthood. But also, as a college student on a budget, I need these updates to be budget-friendly, which is why I love finding inexpensive crafts that double as decor.
Recently, I’ve been very into the idea of having a cute and stylish terracotta vase, but these vases can be expensive (even this small one from Target is $30), and it’s just not in my budget to buy one brand-new. However, during a recent scroll through my Pinterest feed, I found a DIY terracotta-style painted vase tutorial from creator Diane D. Waller that seemed affordable and looked easy to make, and I instantly knew I’d found my next project.
In her video, Waller first showed herself shopping for inexpensive vases of various sizes at a dollar store in her area. Then, she mixed a cream-colored paint with baking powder (which I later learned can be substituted with baking soda — more on that below) to create a textured, terracotta-esque look. Then she covered her vases with paint, let them dry, and voila! A spot-on dupe for the terracotta style I love.
I was instantly drawn to the idea of creating an elevated look for such a small amount of money, so I tried it out for myself. Here’s how it went.
- Vase: I got a 7-inch by 5-inch one at Goodwill for 99 cents!
- Water-based paint of choice: I used acrylic.
- Baking soda or baking powder: I used soda.
- Paintbrush: I used a large one to make the paint job faster.
- Bowl for mixing: I used a medium-sized bowl I already owned. You can use whatever bowl you have on-hand; just be sure to wash it soon after use so you’re not stuck scrubbing off dried-on paint.
- A cup of water to clean your paintbrush: I used room-temp tap water, but the temperature doesn’t really matter.
1. Prepare your workspace.
As any project involving paint is pretty much guaranteed to be messy, I like to lay down old newspapers or parchment paper before getting started, to protect whatever surface I’m working on from errant paint drips or spills. I also ran my vase through the dishwasher to make sure it was clean, and then dried it off with a dish towel to ensure it was totally dry and ready for paint.
2. Create the paint mixture.
In her video, Waller used paint and baking powder for her paint mixture; however, I did some research and learned you can also use baking soda for a similar effect, and that’s what I had on hand, so that’s what I used instead. The video didn’t specify what ratio to use for this mixture, so I eyeballed it, aiming for about two parts paint to one part baking soda. Then I mixed it up until combined; it looked like a slightly grainier version of normal paint. If the texture is not to your liking, I recommend adding more of either ingredient until you find your preferred ratio.
3. Paint the vase.
Using my paintbrush, I covered the vase with one coat of paint. Once it was dry, I touched up a few spots where the paint seemed a little thin, but I didn’t need to do a full second coat. It’s totally up to you how many coats you want to add to your vase.
4. Style your new decor piece.
Once fully dry, my upcycled vase was ready to put on display! I put some cute dried florals in it, then set it up on my TV stand in my room. I can’t wait to swap in seasonal florals, foliage, and other decor in the coming months.
This DIY project was really easy, with simple steps that allowed me to relax as I crafted. I also love that I saved so much money doing this project at home, rather than going out and finding a vase in a store. If you keep kitchen staples like baking soda or powder and art supplies like paint and paintbrushes on hand, you can likely pull this craft off for free — and even if you had to buy everything on the supply list, you’d likely only have to spend around $5 to $10, compared to the $30 if you bought a similar-sized version. Plus, this DIY brought me the satisfaction of creating my own decor piece that I can be proud of whenever I look at it!