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Woman Transforms Old TV Into a Unique Terrarium for Her Cacti Collection

Television Terrarium With Cacti In It

One of the biggest challenges that plant parents face is where to put all of their beloved botanicals. If that's you, then a growing plant population might mean extra shelving or holders. But what happens when you have pets and also want cacti? A wet nose and exposed needles don’t mix, so you’ve got to get creative about how to display a prickly pear. Dog owner and artist Tarrah Schiller did just that with her quirky DIY project. She found a vintage TV and transformed it into a giant terrarium for her collection of cacti.

In Schiller’s unique terrarium, the plants are the star of the show. She set up a landscape of rocks, crystals, and tiny turtle figurines that are among various potted cacti and a hanging succulent. The protective casing of the television keeps the prickly plants away from her curious pups while the picture window allows for anyone to admire the cacti.

Aside from being a clever way to keep cacti, the TV terrarium is a natural extension of Schiller’s love of retro decor. “Antiques have been a long-time hobby for me that started in my childhood,” she tells My Modern Met, “[when I'd get] in trouble for trying to crank my great grandfather’s 1902 Victrola phonograph.”

Woman Posing With Plants and Unique Terrarium in Television

Schiller has always looked for contemporary ways to incorporate antiques into her decor. “I have upcycled multiple antiques in the past for plant stands and displays for my house plants, but I was struggling with ways to have more antiques, and plants of course, without it looking like a flea market in our house. I also wanted continuity, somewhat, in the different time periods that I have pieces from in the house. The retro television seemed like the perfect canvas to improvise.”

If you’d like to create your own television terrarium, Schiller offers some advice. “Really the most challenging part to doing the television project was finding the right size TV to turn into a terrarium, (I had a very specific space in my home I wanted to fill), and finding a TV from the 50s that would work in that space,” she explains. If you choose to work with a CRT TV, make sure that the cathode ray tubes are removed or have someone remove them for you; they are dangerous and contain toxins.

You’ll also want to be conscious of how you set up your terrarium. “There is definitely a learning curve on how to handle and work with all of those super sharp spines,” Schiller explains. “I built the terrarium from front to back, so every time I had my arms inside of it if I accidentally touched one plant, you would reflexively jump and have an arm full of spines to dig out. I actually built the terrarium and finished it only working on it three times, but I would have to wait a few weeks to get all the spines out for me to be motivated to mess with it again.”

In addition to the plants and natural decor, Schiller added grow lights and a fan to help circulate air. Now, she has a zen desert retreat to enjoy from the comfort of her own home.

Tarah Schiller created a unique terrarium that allows her to cultivate cacti and keep the prickly plants away from her pups.

Interior With 3 Dogs and Vintage Decor

She placed the cacti in a hollowed-out CRT TV!

Television Terrarium With Cacti In It

Hollowed Out CRT TV

Collection of Cacti

Television Terrarium With Cacti In It

Television Terrarium With Cacti In It

Television Terrarium With Cacti In It

Television Terrarium With Cacti In It

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Tarrah Schiller.

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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