DIY Aged Stone Planter

February 24, 2020

Pair of stone planters on wicker coffee table
Learn the simple painting technique that I used to create a fake aged stone planter that has all the texture and charm of the pricey versions available in stores for almost no cost at all.

Aged stone vase with ferns

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Do you ever look around at your decor and wish you had something different to decorate with?  Or maybe browsing through your favorite stores or seeing something shared on a blog leaves you wanting something similar for your own home?

We've all been there, but buying new can be a drain to your budget, and then you're presented with the dilemma of what do you do with the things you've already bought.  I mean, you spend hard-earned money purchasing home accessories that at one point you evidently did like.  It is hard to part with those items even though they aren't "you" anymore.

Pair of stone planters on wicker coffee table

Today I'm starting a new series called Before + After Decor, where I'll be taking something I already have but that might not fit into my current style and I'll be transforming it into something stylish to love again.

I hope to inspire you to look at your own decor and furniture with an eye towards what a simple makeover can do.  All of my projects in this series will be a basic update with paint, a little sanding, or maybe adding/removing a some detail.

Gray stone planter filled with ferns

To start the series, I've chosen to makeover some orange terra cotta vases that were leftover from the estate sale of my grandma's a couple years ago.  Since I saw they were handmade in Mexico, I grabbed them from the pile headed for donation figuring I could do something with them.  The vases had a very southwestern dessert vibe which is obviously not my style at all, but paint is a magical thing my friends.

I really wish I could show you the before of these vases, but I recently was clearing old pictures off of my camera card and evidently the befores went out with the trash.  Aside from the shape, this picture is similar in how the originals were painted with bright orange, although one of mine had primitive black lines painted over the outside, too.  Great start to my before and after series, right?!?!


Gray urn with ferns

All over I'm seeing beautiful stoneware clay urns and vases in shades of gray and black with lots of weathering and wear.  Pottery Barn, McGee and Co, and other retailers are stocking them. They are incredibly pricey, though, and much more that I'd be willing to spend at the moment.

Given the shape of my orange pots, I knew that I could work to give them a very similar look with paint.  And they had a lot of nice handmade texture to them that would keep the finished pots from simply looking like they were painted.  One of the two vases even had a crack running down the side, which I think really just adds to the old, worn vibe I am going for with this project.

Gray stone vase with crack

Believe me when I say this is a project you can't mess up, regardless of your skill level or how comfortable you are with a paint brush.  If you don't like what you've painted or the colors haven't blended correctly, you just need to add a little more paint or water and try again.

I wish I could better show you exactly what I did, but it is difficult to do through pictures.  But I will do my best to verbally explain the exact steps I took and what I learned along the way.  Make sure you read through all the instructions before beginning, and you may want to practice the technique on a scrap board ahead of time.

Once you get the hang of it, the process goes quickly and I think you'll agree that the finished clay pots look very similar to the real thing.  You just need to have a little patience.

Coffee table with stone planters and pulley


The key to achieving the look of the mottled paint finish is through the technique of dry brushing.  Basically, you'll put a little paint on your brush, then brush most of it off onto a piece of paper towel before touching the brush to your surface.  This gives you a nice feathery, textured appearance to whatever you are painting.

It is a process you'll want to spend a little time getting just right and isn't something that you'll do in just a few minutes.  I'm not quite sure how long it took me to do each vase, but it will take a bit to really layer on the multiple colors of paint in a way to create a finish that looks natural.

When you're done, some of the light gray areas will still peek through, and you'll see spaces that are more charcoal or more tan than others.  But everything should gradually blend together.

Inside of a stone planter


The vases I had already had a nice handmade texture to the outside, and if you want something realistic I would search for something similar if you plan on making this project.  But another way to create texture is through your basecoat of paint on the vase.

Before you start the drybrushing, you'll want to paint your vessel in a light gray color.  While you can use a brush or sponge brush to do this, I found that pouncing the paint on gave a lot more texture and helped the paint to adhere very well to the surface.  I use foam pouncers and basically press the paint on to what ever I'm painting. It puts the paint on in a thicker coat and the foam sponge creates texture.  I use these a lot on projects, especially when I'm painting something with a very smooth surface like glass.


I know the tutorial for this can sound a little scary because there is a lot happening all at once.  But like I said, you can't mess it up and you'll quickly get the hang of what you need to do.  Just be sure when you are ready to begin, you have your tan and charcoal colored paints ready as well as a bowl of water and piece of paper towel because you'll be using them all at relatively the same time.

Once you start dry brushing the paint on, you'll need to be able to move around the entire vessel in one sitting so that the finish is cohesive.    The water is helpful for smoothing out the paint finish and the paper towel can be used to gently blot the wet areas to blend the colors together.

And a little tip that I learned, if you are doing multiple vessels and want them to match - Do them all one right after the other.  As I found out, if you come back and try to do it again later, your technique will end up giving you a different finish! Which is fine because no two stone pots will be exactly alike, but I ended up with one that was much more tan than the first because I obviously wasn't using as much charcoal paint!



  • Pot or vase that has a bit of rough, "handmade" texture to the outside
  • Light gray, tan/beige gray, and charcoal/black colored paints (I used Fusion Mineral Paint in Stirling, Algonquin, and Ash)
  • Foam Pouncers or a Sponge brush
  • 1-inch craft paint brush
  • Small bowl of water (I love keeping the small dip bowls from Pier1 on hand for these types of DIY projects)
  • Paper towel


STEP 1:  Clean your vessel well with soap and water and then allow it to dry thoroughly before starting your project.

STEP 2: Paint the entire pot or vase with whatever light gray paint you've chosen with a sponge brush.  I used a large foam pouncer made by Martha Stewart and pressed the paint onto the pot rather than brushing it.  This gives a great added texture and helps the paint to adhere when painting over ceramic or glass.  Doing it this way, I needed two coats of the gray paint, but you may need more if you brush the paint on.

Painting planter gray

STEP 3: For this step, you'll want to use a 1 inch craft paint brush that you don't mind throwing away when you're done because you're going to give it a lot of wear.  Have ready your two other colors of paint, a small bowl of water, and piece of paper towel.  You'll be using all four at the same time.  Add a little of the tan paint to your brush, and wipe most of it away by brushing onto the paper towel.  Then touch the brush to the surface of the vase and rub it back and forth.  The paint with transfer onto the vase in some areas but not others and that is what you want.  You're not trying to paint the surface just add visual texture.

STEP 4:  Once you've added the tan color in a small section, do the same technique with the charcoal paint, sometimes painting into where you added the tan and sometimes in the gray areas.  You are trying to blend the three different paint colors together to create the mottled finish.  You can really rub it in going back and forth with the brush.

Painting the outside of planter

STEP 5:  If you find that the paint is starting to pull off of the vase,  just allow that spot time to dry from the paint that you've applied.  If the paint is a little tacky, it may start to peel as you rub the finish with your brush.  But that can be touched up later.

STEP 6: Also, if you find that the colors are not blending, touch your brush into the water, blot it dry on the paper towel, and then brush it onto the painted vase to smooth everything out.  You don't want to add too much water, or you'll start to get more of a watercolor effect, but the water works nicely to achieve the finish.  You can blot areas on the vase with your paper towel when you've used the water to blend the colors.

Painted planter

STEP 7:  Work your way around the entire outside of the vessel you're painting using this technique of dry brushing and blending with water and a paper towel.

STEP 8:  Either complete the same technique inside the vase if you plan on leaving it empty or paint the inside with one single color if it will not be seen.

STEP 9:  The Fusion Mineral Paint that I used has a built in top coat, so I didn't do anything more to the outside of my vases.  But if you use craft paint, you may want to add a polyurethane sealer or paste wax finish to the outside to protect your paint job.

If you have any questions or get stuck with how to follow this tutorial, please feel free to shoot me a message.  I really love how these planters turned out and would love to help you recreate them for yourself if you're interested!


DO IT YOURSELF aged stone vase
Before and After DIY Stone Vase

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