Terra Cotta pots have become one of my favorite DIY decor items since I moved from a small condo (with little personality) into the 50s-era ranch home we live in (and love) now. They're a fun and functional vessel for both indoor and outdoor plants, come in so many sizes that fit almost any space and they're the perfect blank canvas for easy DIY projects that can basically transform your pots to fit right in with any design style and color palette. And emphasis on the easy in that sentence - easily executable DIY projects are my favorite kind.
One of our most popular blog posts both here on the blog and on our Pinterest page are these black and white DIY Aztec-print terra cotta pots that I tackled last year, and it makes me so happy to know that people love them as much as we do. We still adore having these in our home, and I like to think that you know it's a great DIY project when you haven't had the urge to make them over a year later. Success!
And because we love them so much, I recently decided that a little corner of our back patio needed some sort of fun, black and white terra cotta pot and succulent/cactus situation to match the palette of the exterior of our house, but I wanted them to be a little bit more rustic, somewhat simple and of course durable enough to withstand the elements. The pots I painted last year only used a standard acrylic craft paint for the designs, so they probably wouldn't hold up outdoors. But as luck would have it, they make a more durable outdoor acrylic craft paint that not only looks just as good, but is just as easy to work with. I'd recently been whitewashing some wood furniture (that DIY tutorial coming so soon and we're so excited about it!) and really loved the final look, so I felt like I had to try the same whitewash on the terra cotta pots because it was just so perfect!
I also added the distressed Swiss crosses on a couple of them (attempting to make the crosses as equilateral as possible while still distressing them), and I loved the outcome. It was so simple to execute. Much simpler than the Aztec-patterned pots and so much less time consuming, with an equally fun payoff I think. So below is the step by step in case you're in need of some terra cotta pot inspiration for indoor or outdoor use!
Terra Cotta pots and saucers (I get mine at Home Depot)
Bowl with warm water
Old soft T-shirt (you'll get paint on this, so use one that you don't care about)
1. Sand your terra cotta pots and saucers with your sanding sponge and wipe clean with water and a rag. Let any wet spots dry completely.
2. Fill an old bowl with equal parts water and your Chalked paint. Stir until thoroughly mixed.
3. Dip your brush into your whitewash mixture, and when you pull it out of the mixture make sure to squeeze a little bit of the excess liquid off of your brush on the inside of your bowl.
4. Brush your whitewash mixture onto your terra cotta pot using your large chalk brush, brushing horizontally around the pot. You want the strokes to be as smooth and seamless as possible, so if you have to brush over the same spot twice that's ok. Imperfect coverage is what we're looking for here, so go wild!
5. Once you've brushed over the entire interior and exterior of your pot with your whitewash, allow to dry for no more than one minute.
6. Grab your old t-shirt and lay a flat stretch of t-shirt over your hand. Wipe your whitewash off of your pot with your t-shirt, wiping in the same direction as your brush strokes. Make sure your t-shirt doesn't wrinkle up on your hand. Keep it as smooth as possible.
7. Allow to dry and if you're happy with the pots as is, just repeat the process on your saucers!
8. To create the distresses Swiss cross pattern that I made on mine, squeeze a little bit of your outdoor acrylic black paint into a plastic cup.
9. Dab any size medium stiffness paintbrush that you prefer into your black paint, making sure to get as much excess paint off of the brush as possible. If you have too much paint on your brush, your Swiss crosses won't get that distressed look.
10. Brush your crosses onto your whitewashed pots lightly, creating an imperfectly distressed, but equilateral cross. The key here is not pressing down on the pot with your brush too hard.
11. For the geometric-patterned pot that you see below, I used painters tape to tape off my pattern and filled my triangles in with the same black paint. Once it dried, I distressed the triangles with my sanding sponge.