Upcycled Zen Garden




About: Chef by day maker by night

Hi everyone! This is my first instructable so if I make a mistake please let me know in the comments. Thanks . I was sitting around bored staring at a door off of a old desk that I salvaged. I had planned on using it to etch a picture into. As I sat staring I entered a very calm zen like mindset and the idea was born from this feeling.

Step 1: Finding Your Base

All of my materials I either had laying around or got bought from the dollar store. The led, sand, and rocks all cost a dollar. I had the rest laying around. If you had to buy everything you would spend around 20 dollars. For me it only cost $3.
I took this door off of a old desk. it seemed perfect for turning into a piece of art with led back lighting. I could never find a good picture for it so I left it sitting around waiting for inspiration. You can use any for of door that has at least a 1/4 inch recess. The deeper the better. mine was right around a 1/4 inch. If your door was at all like mine it has holes in places used for mounting and other hardware. I had some elmers wood filler laying around and with my fingers and a putty scraper filled all of the holes. Try and get the holes as flush as possible. After about 15 minutes sand the patches flush and lightly sand the rest of the frame for painting. (sorry for the lack of sanding pictures)

Step 2: Paint

Take some masking tape and some newspaper and cover the glass. we want it to remain transparent. mask off both sides. I treated both sides like they were the face because I'm known to make last minute choices on which I like better. Sometimes the imperfections add character so I choose to keep that as the presentation side. Creative freedom! After masking off the glass I used chalkboard paint to give it a nice option for personalisation. who doesn't like to zone out while doodling. Also if your like me you need every surface you can find to jot down ideas for your next project. Follow the manufacturer directions for the paint you are using. As always paint outdoors if you are spray painting. Always use proper protection ;) Let your paint set and we're off to the races.

Step 3: Let There Be Light ( and Legs)

Once everything is dry remove the tape and newspaper. Now it's time to choose which side you want to look at. Once you have flip it over to the bottom and break out the staple gun. I got my led lights at the dollar tree for a dollar. They had butterflies on them just pull them off and your ready to go. They sell them in several other color options so use the one that best sets your relaxing mood. Staple the led lights to the bottom of the frame be careful not to pierce the wires. make sure that the led is hanging over the glass. Flip it over and presto LIGHT

Step 4: The Garden of Zen

This steps pretty simple just pour your sand into the recess and add rocks to your liking. I got both of them at the dollar tree for a buck a piece.

Step 5: Let It Shine

Turn it on and sit back. Let your inner zen flow. I love how the light shines through the patters you make and really adds great detail to everything. I will be posting how to make the rake and little decor for the garden soon so keep a eye out for it. Please if you like it vote for me. I am entering the on a budget contest. Thank you for reading.

Step 6:



    • Organization Contest

      Organization Contest
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      Warm and Fuzzy Contest
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      Paper Contest

    4 Discussions


    4 years ago

    very cool project I too made a Zen garden using recycled materials but the back lighting on yours is awesome!

    3 replies

    Reply 4 years ago

    absolutely love it. I have to build one for my dad who is a musician. is that a fountain made from bamboo?


    Reply 4 years ago

    it's actually made from pvc made to look like bamboo, someone made it on here called "faux bamboo" and I posted an instructable for the whole project as well if you want to use it as a guide:)


    Reply 4 years ago

    Most definitely will and will post a picture when it's done. I'm in the process of building a waterfall for my snake cage out of concrete foam and pvc pipe. that is my next instructable after the zen tools.