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DIY Standing Glass Terrarium: Thrifty Bar Stool Upcycle

Looking for a budget-friendly but creative way to display your plants and more? See how to transform a thrifted bar stool into a unique standing terrarium! This easy DIY terrarium project is perfect for plant lovers on a budget. Get creative by using Dollar Tree supplies and create a beautiful glass terrarium with plants for your home.

I love the look of a glass terrarium for displaying plants and other unique items. I recently saw one that captured my attention because it was a terrarium with a stand. I thought it would be perfect for our screened porch, but the price set me back. I recently found a tall wooden bar stool at a thrift store for $10.00 and decided it would make a great base. Then, off to the Dollar Tree I went to find more supplies.

Let’s take a look at what I found and how it easily came together.

Close up of DIY Terrarium with bird nest and fern plant inside a hobnail milk glass vase.  Dollar Tree Craft

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What Is A Glass Terrarium?

A glass terrarium is a mini greenhouse or glasshouse for plants or other garden decor. It helps maintain moisture and is excellent for plants that thrive in a humid environment, such as ferns and moss. This decorative standing glass DIY terrarium is designed to hold plants but is more decorative in nature than a closed terrarium would be. It’s not 100% enclosed in glass and, therefore, will not lock in moisture.

If you are looking for a greenhouse terrarium, you should consider purchasing one that is completely closed in glass. However, if you are like me and just like the aesthetic of a glass terrarium, this project is for you.

How Can I Use A Terrarium For Decor

Although terrariums are considered a garden essential, many people, like myself, enjoy their design aesthetic. So, if you would like a terrarium for more than just humidity-loving plants, here are a few ways to decorate with them.

  • Use a terrarium as a table centerpiece. Fill it with plants, flowers, or other decor, creating a themed tablescape.
  • Add to your kitchen countertops. Fill them with herbs or other plants for easy access.
  • Use them on your countertops to display unique kitchen decor, such as vintage salt and pepper shakers or other small vintage tableware.
  • Place them in a bathroom and include soaps, bath linens, etc., along with your plants.
  • I plan to add mine to my screen porch, and with my current birdhouse theme, adding a bird to the mix will probably happen. LOL

You can add items such as photos, bird nests, collectible items such as vintage thimbles, needlework, figurines, etc. They can display almost anything that will fit inside. Let your imagination soar.

Inspiration for DIY Terrarium

I was looking through H. Potter’s website’s collection of arbors and planters when I saw this adorable terrarium. Since I didn’t want to spend $256.50 on it, I thought I’d try to make one.

Inspiration standing terrarium

Supplies For Standing DIY Glass Terrarium

First, look for an inexpensive stand for the base of your standing glass terrarium. If you plan to use 8×10 picture frames, you will need a stand that is 11 or 12 inches square.

I had recently found this tall wooden stool at a thrift store for only $10.00. I distressed it by applying a dry brush of old white chalk paint. After seeing the inspiration piece, I felt the stool would make an excellent base for the standing terrarium. All I needed was the glass and the architectural design. Here’s what I purchased from Dollar Tree.

  • 2 Garden Fences
  • 6- 8×10 wooden picture frames

I also used these other items to complete the project.

How To Build A Glass Terrarium

Once you have your stand, do any necessary work to make it match your design concept. I had already painted my thrift store find, so all that was necessary was to coordinate the Dollar Store finds.

Deconstruct Dollar Tree Picture Frames and Garden Fence

First, deconstruct the picture frames. Remove the backs and set aside the glass from each frame. Then, use your wire snips and remove all the metal holding tabs from the frame.

Next, begin to deconstruct the garden fence. If you are using 8 x 10 frames, you will need to cut the center section, remove the curled side pieces, and cut the bottom of the centerpiece just above the bottom curls.

Place the fence over the frame to ensure that you are cutting at the appropriate spots. When finished, you should have two arches with a center connection.

Four arch pieces will look like these below. They should fit inside the picture frames. You will also want six of the decorative arrows cut from the fence. Try to remove them, leaving a point at the bottom of each arrow.

(Note: These have already been painted. I failed to get a good photo before painting.)

Paint Picture Frames and Fence Pieces

Place all picture frames and fence pieces in a well-ventilated area to paint. I used Chalky Finish Classic White to paint all the pieces. Once the paint is dry to the touch, turn over all the pieces and paint the backside as well. Since these are being attached to glass, the backside of the pieces will be visible.

Spray paint with chalky white finish.

Insider Tip

I used spray paint to cover all the pieces that needed painting quickly. However, you can paint each piece with a paintbrush. This is slightly more budget-friendly, as the spray paint is more expensive. I already had the paint, and it only took about half of the can to cover the pieces. I felt the extra cost was worth the savings in time.

Add Dark Wax To Distress

Once all the paint has dried, begin to add dark or brown wax to the painted pieces. I waited until the next day to ensure the paint was completely dry. A quick application is all that’s necessary to give them a distressed appearance. Buff away any excess wax.

Make Window Panes

To make the window panes for the DIY terrarium, begin by cleaning the glass with Windex. Clean both sides and set aside to dry.

Next, add a bead of hot glue to the inside rim of the picture frame. Then, replace the glass and press firmly until dry. Then, apply a bead of hot glue to the top of the glass at the edge of the wooden frame. This will ensure that the glass is secure inside the frame.

Add hot glue to hold window in picture frame to make a glass terrarium.

Once the hot glue is dry, turn the frame over with the front facing up. Add hot glue to the back of the arched fence piece and then place it in the center of the glass. Be sure the edges align with the edges of the frame.

Finally, add hot glue to the center of the arch and one of the fence arrows. You will apply the embellishments to four picture frames, leaving two for the roof.

Attach architectual arrows to arches for embellishment to the glass on the terrarium

How To Build The Terrarium With Picture Frames

Now, you are ready to attach the picture frames together. I used the 10-inch side as the base, making the terrarium 8 1/2 inches tall on the sides. Add a bead of permanent E6000 glue along the edge of the 8 1/2-inch side. Quickly apply another bead of hot glue along the same area for quick setting. Place a second frame on the glue and hold it at a 90-degree angle. Once the glue sets, add the next frame, being careful to keep everything intact. Finish with the last frame to form a box.

Attach four Dollar Tree Picture frames together to form a box with the embellishent facing outward.

Be sure that the glue has dried, and then place the box on your base.

Insider Tip

I find that hot glue alone will become brittle and doesn’t withstand heat and sunlight well. If you are moving your terrarium around, the frames will become stressed. Therefore, I feel it’s important to use a permanent bonding glue to ensure the glass frames hold tight together. The hot glue dries very quickly, allowing you to complete the project, and the E6000 glue ensures that it stays together. I only used hot glue to hold the glass within the frame because it’s not likely to be stressed like the structure’s frame. If you are concerned about the glass falling out, I recommend adding a layer of permanent glue to that area also.

Add DIY Terrariium box to the bar stool as a base.

Add Roof To Glass Terrarium

Now, let’s add the roof. Quickly apply a bead of E6000 glue to the top edge of one picture frame. The to the top of the frame directly across from it. Go over the top of the E6000 glue with hot glue. Apply as quickly as possible. Then, add E6000 glue to the 10-inch edge of one picture frame, and then add a bead of hot glue on top. Place the two frames on the edges with the glue. This will be the 10-inch sides without any glue on them. Then, bring the tops of the frames together to form a peak. Be sure that they overlap where the glue was applied. Hold everything in place until it feels secure.

Use two picture frames to make the roof of the Glass terrarium with plants

Insider Tip

This next part can be tricky, and you might want an extra set of hands. However, if you make sure everything is within reach and work quickly, you should be fine.

Be sure you have your two remaining picture frames (without the embellishments), your hot glue gun, and E6000 glue all within reach and ready to apply.

Finally, to complete the roof line, let’s add a decorative arrow here as well. Just add hot glue to the edge of the frames where they join and press the fence arrow in place. Hold until dry.

Attach an arrow finial to the peak of the DIY Terrarium

Decorate Glass Terrarium with Plants

Now, it’s time to decorate the glass terrarium with plants. The top of the DIY terrarium has a large opening that you can use to place items inside. The opening will also allow the plants to be watered as needed.

Since I didn’t add a door or hinge, I did not attach the terrarium to the base.

DIY Glass Terrarium with plants made from Thrifted Stool and Dollar Tree Picture Frames and Garden Fence.

When adding large plants to your terrarium, you can easily remove it from the base, add your decor, and then replace it. If you plan to move your glass terrarium frequently, I strongly recommend that you use strong bonding glue to ensure a permanent bond.

DIY Terrarium with fern plant in blue and white container with bird and vase of yarrow flowers.

The wooden bar stool is sturdy and can safely hold the glass terrarium with plants without worry of tipping over.

DIY Glass Terrarium with plants made from Thrifted Stool and Dollar Tree Picture Frames and Garden Fence

All the plants and decor look amazing inside the mini glass structure and add a stylish decorative touch to the screen porch.

Glass Terrarium made with Dollar Tree Supplies filled with plants and a bird.

However, if you don’t want to use the DIY terrarium on a porch, it also looks great inside. I decided to try it in the bathroom and love it here as well. I tucked a few bath towels in with the fern and a bird nest.

The total cost of the DIY terrarium was only $25.00, much better than the $256 inspiration piece. Due to drying time, the project took two days to complete, but the total work time was only 2 1/2 hours. That’s not bad considering the savings, and I think I like my version better than the original. What do you think?


Video of DIY Glass Terrarium with Dollar Tree and thrift store supplies.


Click the image below for craft supplies used for this project.

Pin It To Remember It

Did you find some great ideas you’d like to save for future reference? To save, hover over the images and pin to your favorite Pinterest Boards when you see the PIN button in the upper left-hand corner.

Bird in a nest with hobnail vase and fern under mini glass greenhouse.


Friday 24th of May 2024

This is brillant! Love it!


Saturday 25th of May 2024

Sherry, I'm so glad you like it. Thanks for your sweet comment.


Thursday 16th of May 2024

This looks like something straight out of Pottery Barn. Actually, it's way cuter! Thank you for sharing it with us on Farmhouse Friday. Featuring it tomorrow. Love it! pinned


Friday 17th of May 2024

Cindy, You are so generous with your features. Thank you so much.


Friday 10th of May 2024

Rachel, this is gorgeous!!! Pinned


Saturday 11th of May 2024

Cindy, I'm so glad you like it.

MarJo Materazo

Friday 10th of May 2024

I love this! I've been wanting to do something like this for awhile & this is inspirational. Pinning! Have a great day. XO- MaryJo


Saturday 11th of May 2024

MarJo, Oh thank you so much. I'm so glad you like it.


Friday 10th of May 2024

Rachel what a cool idea!


Saturday 11th of May 2024

Stacy, I'm glad you like it.