T aking an apartment from an empty shell to home is a challenge I love. But sometimes it takes awhile…let me tell you a little story. Back in early-November, Bobby and I were in Home Depot for some necessary but mundane supplies. I sweet talked him into looking at the much more exciting gardening section after we picked up the items we had actually meant to buy.

We found these sweet succulents for under ten dollars. Maybe I’m out of touch with succulent prices, but this seemed like a steal to me.

I swooped them into my arms and knew we were meant to be. I had so many visions dancing through my head – I mean, have you SEEN Pinterest lately? Succulents are everywhere! We were about to be the cool kids.

Well, those pretty things sat on our coffee table for over two months in their factory-given plastic and nothing Pinterest worthy was done to them. I told myself that the beauty of the plants themselves balanced out the ugly plastic.

Every time I looked at them, though, I knew the room would look SO much more finished if I bit the bullet and figured out a proper planter for the little guys. There were plenty of expensive options (look! I could plant them in a vintage typewriter!) but, seeing as we won’t be taking these on the road with us back to Vermont this summer, we needed something under $20. After some quality time searching online, I finally found this tutorial. This was the photo that sealed the deal (pic by Brittni Mehlhoff):

I was IMMEDIATELY sold. Look at how many promises are wrapped up in that one photograph!

Promise Number One: You only need scissors, cardboard, and metallic contact paper. Read: this will definitely be under $20.

Promise Number Two: You can make these in 5 minutes! Read: in less time than it takes you to unload the dishwasher you can transform your living room.

Promise Number Three: Your plants can look edgy and modern and like they belong in a West Elm catalog but for way less money. Read: YES! I’m in! Let’s do this!

I’m pleased to report that the tutorial completely delivered on Promise Number One and Promise Number Three. The 5 minute part, though? No way. This took at least a couple hours. Maybe I’m just really slow and meticulous with my crafting but…if you undertake this project (and I think you should!), I just want to be upfront. These will NOT magically materialize for you in 5 minutes flat. Lesson learned? If a Pinterest project claims it can be completed in anything under 10 minutes, multiply by…at least 20? (Unless that project happens to be a 30 second gourmet dessert, ha!)

These planters are still worth it though, so let’s soldier onwards! (Fair warning: I got SUPER detailed on all of this. I think the downfall of some tutorials is they don’t go in depth enough – then you have to troubleshoot on the fly. If you don’t intend on making these, you can always scroll to the end and just see the glorious finished product!)

First things first, the supplies: I bought some of this brilliant, copper colored contact paper on Amazon (p.s. all of these are affiliate links). It really looks as good in person as it does in the photos. I never knew they made contact paper like that but I’m so glad it exists!

I also had to buy some individual plastic pots so I could separate my succulents. If your succulents are already separate, then you get to skip this step! Since my individual containers were slightly larger than the initial container slots, I also bought some potting soil to fill in the gaps.

Then I grabbed some cardboard from the recycling bin, my trusty scissors, and a ruler and string for help with measuring.

First, I transferred my succulents into their individual containers.

Ta da!

These were already looking better, but I started to get SO excited for how they would look wrapped in geometric, metallic-y goodness.

I measured the circumference of my pots with a string.

Then I cut out a rectangular slice of cardboard that was slightly longer than my string measurement…Well, the first time I cut out a piece that was exactly the same length and realized that it came up short once I bent the cardboard to make it into a hexagon:

See? This is why blogs are so great! The initial crafter can make all of the mistakes so you don’t have to!

I tried again. After some trial and error, I figured out that the cardboard needed to be 1 3/4” longer than the circumference of the pot in order to fully fit around easily but still be snug. It’s a fine line to walk, but this measurement worked. This meant that, for my particular pots, my rectangles of cardboard needed to be 14 1/2” long. I varied the heights because I wanted some visual interest – the pots were all the same height, of course, so I just cut out some small squares of cardboard to boost the pots up once they were inside the taller shapes, – makeshift pedestals, basically.

I wanted to make a mixture of hexagons and pentagons – so before I could wrap the strip of cardboard around the pot, the sections needed to be scored so they could bend easily. I did some math and drew the lines on my cardboard so I could then drag scissors down and create a good score. Here were the measurements:

For hexagons – 6 sections of about 2 3/8” (the last section was just a bit longer – these are precise but not to the point where you need to be like a nuclear physicist).

For pentagons – 5 sections of 2 7/8”.

Then I measure out my sections and pulled my scissors through the cardboard – you don’t want to cut through the cardboard all the way, but enough so you can easily bend it along those lines. Cardboard is pretty sturdy, don’t be shy with those scissors.

Then I was left with a cardboard structure that fit almost perfectly around each pot! (In the picture below, you’ll notice that I had some extra length at the end – I had cut this piece longer than 14 1/2” because I didn’t want to come up short again. But I actually shaved that off so that the ends perfectly lined up once the contact paper was there to hold it together.)

Next, I laid the cardboard flat and cut out a piece of contact paper that was about 1” bigger around all of the sides – this is the part that I folded over.

Next, I started to peel off the contact paper at one end – but I only pulled up just enough for one section of cardboard at a time. I laid the section in the middle of the sticky contact paper (leaving the 1” border on all sides) and pressed down. If you don’t go section by section, it’s way more likely to get weird bubbles.

Whenever I got to one of the scored creases, I cut on both sides of the border of the contact paper.

Then I folded the contact paper down around the cardboard. The ends required a couple more cuts so the contact paper could stick neatly. It looked like this:

Then I folded each side down, creating nice, smooth edges.

I continued in this same manner for all of the sections of the cardboard.

When I got to the final section, I cut out a small triangle so that it could connect in a tidy looking way. The photo shows this better than my words can describe:

Then came the exciting part – connected the two ends! I brought the two ends together, so they were kissing, and wrapped around the extra flap.

After that, I smoothed the flap down. Yes, there is one extra line running down one of the sides, but it is only noticeable if you’re really looking for it.

As I mentioned earlier, some of the planters were taller than others. I cut out some small squares of cardboard for the plants that needed to be boosted up. The squares popped right down into the metallic planter, the potted succulent sat on top, and the whole setup was surrounded by bronze brilliance.

I love how they turned out!

If you’re looking for concise directions, I’ve written them out here (sans measurements, since your pots may be different sizes – if you order the same pots as I did, then insert the measurements that I used and wrote throughout the post):

1. Cut out cardboard rectangles – you can cut some to the exact height of the pots, others slightly taller to add variation (I put those ones on little cardboard pedestals).

2. Measure out the 5 or 6 sections (depending on whether you are making a hexagon or pentagon) and draw lines from top to bottom with a ruler.

3. Score the lines with scissors so you can bend at each crease.

4. Cut out piece of contact paper that is about 1” bigger around all of the sides – this is the part that you will fold over.

5. Start to peel off the contact paper at one end – but only pull up just over enough for one of your sections of cardboard to lay in the middle (leaving the 1” border on all sides). This will steer you away from getting bubbles in your contact paper if you stick it section by section.

6. When you get to one of your scored creases, cut on both sides of the border of the contact paper – then fold it down around the cardboard.

7. Continue to peel up the contact paper backing and lay down each section. Each time you get to a scored line, cut the sides of the border and fold down.

8. When you get to the final section, leave a longer “tab” of contact paper. Cut out a small triangle to make the final folds look professional (refer to pictures above for what the type of cut to make). Bring the two ends together so that they are “kissing.” Smooth the flap of contact paper down to connect the sides and fold the edges over.

9. Pop your succulent inside!

Happy planting!