5 DIY lampshades tutorials for vintage lovers


You can have the most beautiful vintage lamp in the world, but if the lampshade isn’t right no one is going to notice. A shade needs to fit right. And it’s form should follow it’s function. You wouldn’t choose the same shade for task lighting as you would for an accent light. And it should be such a good partner with the lamp that you can’t imagine one without the other.

Store bought shades don’t always hit those marks. Target, Home Goods and Ikea offer great basic and novelty shades that are inexpensive enough so you can change when you fall out of love. But a great lamp deserves a great shade, and sometimes that means taking matters into your own hands, heating up the glue gun or threading the needle. We know, we’ve been there. So we’re rounded up some DIY tutorials to inspire you and get you started.

1 Hand sewn sweet floral shade

floral lampshade
Lampshade by Honestly WTF.

A lampshade hand sewn in pretty Liberty of London florals from the Honestly WTF blog takes patience but oh my, the finished product is worth it. The small-scale floral is torn into strips and sewn to a metal frame. The good news, hand sewing is easy to tear out if you need to redo something. The bad news, this DIY makes the process look like so much fun you probably won’t be satisfied doing only once. 

There is something particularly charming in the use of a traditional British floral to make a shade for a modern lamp base as styled for the blog. But this shade would also be amazing on a milk glass base. And think of the fabrics you could try–a small scale plaid, a tiny star print, an ombre.

2 Rustic stained stir sticks shade

HGTV lampshade
Rustic stained paint sticks lampshade by Clara MacLellen for HGTV.

HGTV offers up a pretty cool rustic paint stick shade. It’s straight forward DIY:  pre-made shade, stain, paint sticks and glue. Mix them together and get rustic shade with interesting details purely from the shape of the sticks. This is one of those DIY projects that is on a tightrope between too crafty projecty and clever. I think with a with a dark metal base, I would probably love it unequivocally.

Imagine how adorable this would be with white stained paint sticks partially dipped in a rainbow of colors. Or if instead of stir sticks, colored plastic rulers or lengths of yard stick were substituted.

3 Cozy sweater lamp shade

sweater lampshade
Thrift store sweater lamp shade by Unskinny Boppy.

Some days are magic. Get an idea, have a perfect thrift score and cook up a DIY that’s so simple it seems like cheating. That about sums up Beth Bryan’s sweater lampshade. Anytime you cut a sweater, you’ve got to stay on top of the raveling edges. But happily there’s an app for that, a generous application of glue, that is. Using the sweater’s ribbed waistband as the base of the shade is perfect.

Not every sweater is going to work for this. You need the pattern on the front and the back. You need to be able to cut it. It needs to fit snugly over the shade, so it shouldn’t have a lot of shaping. If I were going down this road, you can be sure I would be wandering the thrift store with my drum shade trying sweaters on for size. And I wouldn’t even attempt this with a bell shade. Also, Ms. Bryan truly nailed the styling–on that floor lamp, the sweater shade looks epic.

4 Ribbon wrapped shade

ribbon lampshade
Jane Means design for a ribbon shade using Jane Means designed ribbon.

While some DIY ideas work best on shades for big lamps, ribbon shades are at their best topping off small vanity lamps or candlestick lamps. Ribbon designer Jane Mears’s ribbon shade tutorial features two flavors of shade: a sweet confection in pastels and pompoms and a more prim navy blue and cream shade with lovely crimping at the bottom.

A nice tightly woven ribbon over the additional layer of a paper shade is not going to let a lot of light through, so in practicality this is best for accent lighting. Doing some test wrapping before you whip out the glue and commit makes some sense–not every ribbon style is going to make an awesome shade. Imagine using a satin ribbon and finishing the hem by gluing on bits of broken clip earrings…with a thin glass lamp base.

5 Paper lantern jamboree

The Ikea Regolit paper lantern + Hemma cord set is the $14.99 investment that has launched at least a million DIY lampshade projects. An enterprising DIY blogger could easily post a new Regolit design a day. But here are three faves, and one project that will be my own future contribution to the Regolit oevre. Bonjour Quilts sews a tiny bunting for her lantern. Crafty Nest turned a marked-down poinsettia garland into a magical flower ball with bonus pompom companion lantern. iSuat posted an sakura flower lantern made with black gouche and tissue paper. And the final blurry photo is a bit of inspiration for my own DIY project in the making. The Caracas Arepa Bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn has incredible pendant lamps made from plastic baskets and plastic flowers. I have been collecting vintage plastic flowers for months because I need to make one of these lamps, but mine will be on a Regolit and not a plastic basket for sure!














Last minute gifts: knit a dress, crochet a poodle


Everything old is cool again and to prove it, two vintage last minute gift projects that will make the recipient’s heart skip a beat and will definitely look way too cool to be last minute. Get your giant needles or your crochet hook and some awesome yarn, find a nice movie, get cozy on your couch and make some handmade magic.

The 6 hour knit mini dress

knit mini dress

Super mod in the 1960s, super cute today. The suggested yarn, Lion Brand Orlon Sayelle is an aran weight according to Ravelry.com. Though long discontinued, it’s still available through vintage sellers online. However, substituting a modern yarn is always a good plan.

 Since this is a 1960s pattern, bear in mind that a size small then is medium now. And a medium then is a large now. The pattern doesn’t give measurements and it’s a big knit so it should have some give, but when in doubt size up not down.

knit dress pattern

The Posh Crochet Powder Room Poodle

poodle crochet front

One skein of knitting worsted, endless smiles in the in your powder room. It’s posh! It’s crochet! It’s a poodle! Add a roll of loo paper and you’ll give a gift that will make the recipient think of you every time they…umm…every time they…recalculating…and we’re back. You’ll give a gift they’ll appreciate daily.

crochet poodle instructions








5 ways to make beauty with broken china

china pieces

bavarian china plates

The world is full of china that still has beauty that either can’t be used for serving anymore or is past it’s prime, usually because of condition flaws like:

Crazing: China with crazing in the top clear coat glaze should not be used for eating. Crazing looks like a series of fine cracks–sometimes you need to tip the plate in the light to see it. The clear coat is what makes the surface of the plate safe to eat on, it seals in the colors and decoration underneath it. Once that layer has cracks, it’s time to retire the china.

Cracks: A hairline crack can cause a plate to fail quite unexpectedly. No one wants to wind up with a lap full of meatloaf and smashed potatoes.

Chips: As someone once told me, the hostess uses the chipped plate. Which is true. Chipped plates with no sharp edges are fine to use, but sometimes they are voted off the island for their lack of eye appeal.

Cutlery marks: Favorite china often has a lot of knife marks and wear in the center. But the edges are usually just fine.

Calamity: Wet hands, slippery plate. Get the dust pan and brush, but save those bits.

Luckily, creative souls have found interesting things to do with china that’s shabby but not chic anymore. Here are 5 ideas that make china into art:

China Mosaics

Kitty and Jennifer, the sisters behind the blog Running with Sisters have a wonderfully detailed tutorial for how to turn china into small pieces that can be made into colorful mosaic flower pots. The same techniques could certainly work on other surfaces like tabletops.

china flower pot mosaics

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China Necklaces and Pendants

Decorative china often has an elements that then cropped and framed make beautiful jewelry. Interweave has a detailed tutorial by Laura Beth Love for turning an part of a plate rim into a statement necklace.

china necklace

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China Chalkboards

Take advantage of a plate with a pretty border by turning it into a pretty memo board with this tutorial from Women’s Day magazine.

china chalkboard

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China Stack Lamp

This pretty has been on my personal to-do list for years. Vintage Revivals spunky/fierce instructions for turning stray bits of crockery into a funky family heirloom make me want to run for my drill to start creating.

china lamp

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China Spells

Words have power and so do Sharpies. That go everywhere, do everything marker is up to the task once again, transforming plates into art with something to say. Tutorial by Angel in the North.

lettered china plates

Last china bits

A badly damaged piece of china is also a perfect candidate for experimenting with drilling techniques. If you’re considering creating a tiered organizer, for example, best to experiment on an expendable piece of china so you don’t inadvertently turn a pretty plate into a pretty sad pile of shards.

Look for china at thrift stores and flea markets. And, because it never hurts to ask, check in with local vintage and consignment shops that sell china. China pieces that are damaged are often discarded rather than reduce the quality of a set. They might be happy to set those pieces aside for you.












10 Awesome Ideas for Flavored Ice Cubes

Ice cubes seem pretty straight forward, right? You put water in your ice tray, place in freezer, wait, remove from tray and serve. However, just like timeless vintage pieces, ice cubes now have a unique twist. Adding edible flowers, glitter and herbs can make a drink go from ordinary to “fine as wine”!

Whether you are throwing a soiree, enjoying a nice summer day at home or entertaining your kids, taking the extra time to prepare can make a huge difference!

Tips for the perfect flavored ice cubes

Making unique flavored ice cubes is simple. Here are a few things to keep in mind when prepping.

  1. Use filtered water: Aside from this making the ice cube “safer” to eat, filtered water also gives a clearer cube. Tap water can sometimes cloud the ice making it difficult to see what is inside of it. If you want your cubes to freeze quickly, use boiled water.
  2. Don’t keep checking on them: Once you’ve prepared the ice, let it sit for at least 3 hours. Checking it and taking it out of the ice tray will only stall the process and can ruin the creation you are trying to achieve.
  3. Use coconut milk: If you want to achieve a bright white, coconut milk is your best friend. Regular milk is too watery and almond milk gives a brown tint. For best results, use full fat coconut milk or creamer.
  4. Tilt your tray: In order to achieve pretty layered cubes (such as the smoothie cube), you’ll need to pour the first layer first and freeze for about an hour. Repeat as necessary.
  5. Don’t expect things to stay in place: Whether it is a fruit or piece of candy, ingredients can often float and move from their original place. Make sure you place ingredients differently in each cube to achieve a good variety.
  6. Make sure everything is edible: Remember, these cubes will go into your drinks, so don’t add anything to your ice that you wouldn’t want to eat. You can find edible flowers at a variety of health food stores and you can even make your own glitter you can eat.

Whether for a party or a refreshing day at home, a flavored ice cube will always add that extra sweetness (and style!) to your favorite drinks. 

Thanks to our Guest Author: Sherry Chen from Personal Creations



Recycle Craft: Magazine Rods Make Unique Art!

Recycle vintage magazines and turn them into works of art!

This project shows you how to create unique paper “rods” using colorful pages from magazines, and then how to use these rods to decorate storage boxes, tin cans (to be used as vases or pencil holders), or plastic bottles (to be used as vases). You can even use the rods to make trivets and coasters!

This project is easy to do and is a great way to recycle and reuse those vintage magazines you have stored in your basement (hint, hint).

What You Need:

  • Magazines to Recycle
  • Small Bamboo Skewer
  • Glue Stick
  • Scissors
  • Small Boxes, Cardboard, Tin Cans, or Glass Vases
  • Mod Podge
  • Paint Brush

What You Do To Make The Rods:

  1. Carefully remove a page from a magazine that has the colors you like. You may want to choose pages that don’t have a lot of text on them, so you will have more colors.
  2. Fold the magazine page in half lengthwise, as shown in Figure 2.
  3. Cut the folded page in half along the fold line, as shown in Figure 3.
  4. Place the cut page on a table with the side you want to see facing down.
  5. Position the skewer on one of the corners of the page that you want rolled first. Make sure to position the skewer at slightly more than a 45 degree angle, as shown in Figure 4.
  6. Roll the corner of the magazine page around the skewer, then continue rolling tightly until the last inch of the page remains unrolled.
  7. Use a glue stick to apply glue all along the top edge of the page, as shown in Figure 4, then continue rolling the page around the skewer, pressing the glued edge down as you roll.
  8. Carefully remove the skewer from the rolled rod. You might have to wiggle the skewer slightly to remove it from the roll.
  9. Set the rod aside, and repeat these steps until you have an assortment of rods completed.

What You Do To Finish The Project:

  1. Once you have the number of rods you need for your project, you can begin laying them out to form the color pattern you like.
  2. Use a glue stick or tacky glue to apply a layer of glue onto the object that you want to attach the rods to. For example, if you are covering a tin can, apply a layer of glue in a strip from the top of the can to the bottom of the can, then place the first rod into position. Continue adding glue as necessary and add one rod at a time to form your pattern.
  3. When all the rods are in place, allow the glue to dry before trimming the rods to fit the object.
  4. If desired, apply a coat of Mod Podge over your complete project to seal the rods in place.


  • Use your magazine rods to cover old picture frames – a fun way to make the frames more colorful!
  • Cover a square of recycled cardboard to form a coaster, placemat, or trivet.
  • The rods can easily be bent to form unique patterns when covering boxes, coasters, or vases. Be creative!
  • Make paper rods of various sizes by rolling paper around a pencil or large knitting needle.

9 Ideas To Help Organize Your Life With Recyclables

Well, maybe not organize your entire life but your desk, a couple of drawers and a start on your craft room organization would help, right?

  1. Recycle your egg carton into a sorter for your beads when making necklaces, or to sort and store your embroidery threads, bobbins and little bits and pieces of crafting goodness.
  2. Egg cartons are also the perfect size to use in a desk drawer to sort your paper clips, stamps, erasers, push pins and rubber bands.
  3. Similar to the above idea (but sturdier and better for messy things like sequins and glitter) re-purpose an old worn out muffin pan to store your bits and baubles of craft wares.
  4. Use a paper towel holder as storage for your many rolls of ribbon. If you use a counter model the ribbon won’t unroll. If you prefer the hanging model – use rubber bands or quilting pins to secure the ribbon from becoming untidy.
  5. Wait! Don’t let him toss his old boots! Put holes in the bottom (if they aren’t already there!) and use as a planter. Tossing an old hat? Those work well as planters too!
  6. What to do with your old multi-pack DVD/CD holders? Cord storage!
  7. Have an old typesetting tray lying around? Hang it on the wall and screw in tiny gold hooks to hang necklaces, earrings and rings.
  8. Don’t get rid of the old window shutters so fast! Sand, paint and use to display Christmas cards or to sort your mail.
  9. About those plastic bag tags on the bread bags. They are the perfect size to tag and organize computer, stereo, TV cords and headphones.

It’s all about using your imagination and your desire to help preserve the planet we live on.

re*pur*pose – adapt for use in a different purpose.

re*use – use again or more than once.

re*cy*cle – return (material) to a previous stage in a cyclic process. Use again.

It’s Real Easy! 😉


Plugging in to vintage lamp electrical safety

lamp still life
Vintage lamps add function and design to your decor.

When it comes to vintage that involves electricity, it’s never a bad plan to temper your love of your find with a detailed  assessment of the wiring before you plug it in. I learned this the hard way.

An acquaintance was staging her home for sale. We changed her functional bedside lamp for a much more photogenic antique Asian vase lamp that had been rewired by her father. She’d never used it, we found it hiding in the back of a closet. The socket looked newish. The cord was nice and flexible. The plug was polarized. Check, check and check mate.

After a long sweaty day, she crawled in bed to read and turned on the light…and she got a fireworks show. Shooting sparks burning her beautiful, pristine mid century bedside table, her arms and the bedding. As if the smell of burning skin and bedding wasn’t bad enough, a quarter of the house wiring got shorted out. 

She took the lamp to a lamp specialist for a post-mortem. How did things go so wrong when the obvious ways to check the wiring were fine? The problem wasn’t with what could be seen, it was with what couldn’t. Her father had married the new wiring to some existing old wiring inside the lamp. 

While definitely unforgettable as a cautionary tale, that experience hasn’t diminished my love of lamps with a history.

My home is full of vintage lamps, all of which have been to our local lamp guy for new wiring. That’s always been my policy. Wiring a lamp is not all that hard, but messing with electricity is one of the things on my don’t try this at home list (along with eating potato salad that’s been sitting in the sun for more than 2 hours and poking badgers with sticks). I could do it, but really, I’d rather not.

With that in mind, here are some things to think about when you are talking vintage lamps–whether they’re something you unplugged in your gramma’s basement or stumbled on at the flea market.

Having a UL label does not mean a lamp is safe, necessarily. Underwriter’s Laboratory has been around 100+ years. They certified the lamp was safe at the time it was made. It doesn’t mean it’s safe now.

Look at the socket. LampRepairShop.com has a fabulous page of  vintage wiring horrors photographs, including the socket. Look for the insulation. Look to make sure it’s seated properly. Look to make sure it resembles something that was made in this century.

Look at the plug. Is it polarized, meaning the prongs are two different sizes? 1000bulbs.com has a technical explanation of how polarizing works, but for most of us, all we need to know if the prongs are the same size or not the same size.

Look at the cord. Is it cloth covered? Are there breaks in the wire covering? Is it pliable and flexible? 

lamp cord
Authentically hair-raising vintage lamp cord.

The cost of having a lamp professionally rewired depends on where you live and how complicated it is. Expect to pay between $10 and $40 for an average lamp. To put it in perspective, my $10 garage sale brutalist mid century lamp cost $25 to rewire. Total investment, $35. Retail value $300. Or, a more common scenario, $0 beloved boudoir lamps from my parent’s house cost $50 to rewire. Total investment, $50. Value of seeing them on my vanity, priceless.

If you decide to wire lamps your self, there are plenty of online supply resources.

You can find vintage-looking replacement parts at Antique Lamp Supply

You can find colorful cloth covered replacement cords at Cloth Cord Company.

You can find lamp rewiring parts with a little steampunk style at Vintage Wire and Supply.

Lamp rewiring instructions are also available in abundance; among the many are instructions from Martha Stewart, This Old House, and How Stuff Works.





Houseplants with vintage style



Houseplants are a simple way to add interest and vintage charm to your decor. Newer varieties of old favorites, like the leading member of the houseplant hall of fame–the philodendron, are a whole new world of leaf shapes and interesting variegated color patterns. 

Classic terracotta pots are classic for a reason. They are inexpensive, they come in a million sizes and shapes, they breathe, they provide the plant with good drainage…the list goes on and on. But there are lots of alternative containers like tins and vintage planters that take a little extra work to make good homes for your plants but pay off by adding extra interest. With that in mind, here are some quick tips to make your houseplants at home in your home.

Choose plants to fit their location

Houseplants all require different levels of sun and moisture. Look at the locations in your home where they will live and pick plants that will thrive there. A plant that needs lots of sun is not going to thrive in the dark corner of a bookshelf.

Match plant growth habits to their containers and their location

Plants that grow up and are tall need a container that won’t become tipsy when the plant gets bigger. Plants that grow slowly are good for smaller containers in tighter locations. Plants that grow down are natural picks for high locations that would love a cascade of leaves dripping down.

For floor plants, add a base with wheels

Large plants can quickly get heavy. Making them mobile insures that you can move them for cleaning or for giving them a visit to another part of the house.

3 houseplant indoor gardening scenarios

planting locations

The first locations: Two very boring kitchen shelves next to the greenhouse window. It gets indirect sun, but plenty of light.

Selecting the plants: One of these two is clearly not a player because it’s too tall. The spathiphyllum (Peace Lily) needs to be where it can stretch its leaves and grow tall. The philodendron ‘Brazil’ with its trailing form, is a natural for the top shelf. And you have to have a succulent somewhere. You just have to. Its compact size and growth pattern will make it a long term resident on the bottom shelf.

planting container

The containers: They’re not vintage, but they have vintage charm. A tea tin from Fortnum and Mason, London tea merchants, and an Irish oatmeal tin, emptied at breakfast. I used these tins because they are things I love and they will look at home in the kitchen.

The materials: Fine pea stone for drainage, a good potting mix. Holes could be punched in the bottom of the tins for drainage, since drainage is important. But I would need to add a saucer to catch the water and that would distract from the look I want. So, I went for ample stones to collect extra water and careful watering in the future.

The technique: Stones in, small amount of soil in, plant out of pot, loosen pot-bound roots, put in pot and water.

plant locations

The results: From boring to full of leafy green life and vintage interest.


Second location: Tea trolley, gets some direct, but mostly bright indirect light. 

Selecting the plants: Need height to fill space visually. This is a job for the spathiphyllum.

The containers: Two vintage planters from my youth. 

The technique: Because these planters were previously used for plants, they already have water and mineral marks, so I planted directly in them. If I wanted to use them for another purpose later, I would plant in a smaller container and drop that in so the interior of the planter would stay pristine. No drainage here either, so same planting procedure as above.

The results: One went on a book stack, the other in a tray of pebbles with my cheerful hedgehog planter (a holiday gift purchased from Cindy Searles Ceramics on Etsy). Rather than risk damaging the books, the taller planter is watered elsewhere and returned to the stack when the planter is drip free.

plants and john cleese

Third location: Top shelf of bookshelf, bright indirect light.

Selecting the plant: Need a trailing habit, need a classic. The philodendron. Just a philodendron, no pedigree.

The container: Milk glass urn, a thrift store find that is one of my favorites. I use this for everything from silverware on a buffet to Christmas ornament displays, so I don’t want to commit to using it as a planter. I purchased the plant knowing the pot would snuggle inside the urn. The top of the pot shows a bit, I could snuggle some moss around it for camouflage, but meh. Life is short and I’m lazy.

The result: John Cleese must feel like he’s in the tropics.

Final Notes:

The catch with using real plants is they need to be fed and watered. Don’t forget to give them a good drink and plant food when they need it.

Don’t plant directly in a vintage or new container you care about or that you use for food. The minerals in the soil and water will etch the container eventually. Use the container in container method.

Don’t mix plants that have radically different needs in the same pot. Dish gardens and terrariums are wonderful, but a cactus and a fern might have great eye appeal together, but they are going to be very bad roommates.

Have fun, be unexpected. Some of our favorite planting containers come from the kitchen–enamelware pots and pans, aluminum molds, mixing bowls. We’ve also been known to plant in Dutch wooden sabots, ski boots, buckets and baskets. In almost all those cases, I use a container in the container.


October is National Do-It-Yourself Month – Create Your Own Greeting Card Books!

diybookletOctober is National DIY Month – and a perfect time to create your own mini books!

This activity inspires creative thinking, sparks the imagination, and is easy to do. It’s a fun project for kids and adults.

And… with Halloween right around the corner, use this project to create your own unique Halloween greeting cards – in booklet form.

Get busy, create, and have fun!

What You Will Need:

  • Our Mini Book Template (click to print)
  • 1 sheet of 8-1/2″ x 11″ White Paper for each booklet (I like to use a 24# paper with 113 brightness, but any copier paper will work)
  • Colored Pencils
  • Craft Knife or Xacto Knife
  • Glue Stick (optional)
  • Cardstock Paper (optional)
  • Vintage Ephemera, Book Pages, Wrapping Paper, Fabric Scraps (optional)
  • Vellum Envelope (optional)

What You Do:

  1. Fold a sheet of 8-1/2″ x 11″ paper in half, as shown in Figure 1, then crease the paper along the fold.
  2. Unfold the paper, then fold the top half into the center fold; then unfold and fold the bottom half into the center fold, as shown in Figure 2. Crease the paper along each fold.
  3. Unfold the paper completely. Each of the eight panels will become a page in your booklet. While looking at the paper in landscape position and reading from left to right, top to bottom – the panel page numbers are 4, 3, 2, 1, 5, 6, back cover, front cover (as shown in our template, which you can download from the link above).
  4. Use colored pencils to decorate the background of your pages. Your design can span across several panels or along each of the folds. You may want to add abstract elements such as curls, swirls, dashes, lines, or dots. Think about the theme of your booklet and draw designs to reflect the theme. Be creative!
  5. Once your background drawings are done, write sayings or poems on the cardstock, then cut them out and glue them to the pages of your booklet. These sayings or poems are used to embellish your pages, and because they are printed on heavier paper, they will stand out nicely.
  6. When all the pages of your booklet are done, unfold the paper completely, then use a craft knife to cut the center line of the center two panels, as shown in Figure 4.
  7. Fold along the lengthwise fold. Along the cut line for the middle panels of your booklet, the shape of a diamond will be formed, see Figure 5.
  8. Push the panels together, see Figure 6, and then fold the remaining panels into place to form your booklet.
  9. To make your booklet sturdier, use a glue stick and glue the backside of the pages together that formed the diamond shown in Figure 5. You may also want to glue the outer pages together.
  10. When your booklet is done, place it in a vellum envelope and give it to a friend!



  • If you would like to make multiple copies of your booklet, make colored copies of your decorated sheet before cutting and folding it. If you don’t have a color scanner/printer available, colored copies can be made at copy centers, print shops, or office supply stores.
  • Instead of hand-printing your sayings or poems onto the cardstock, use a vintage typewriter (or word processor software program) to type them! Use a variety of fonts for more interesting text. After you print the sayings or poems, just cut them out and glue then onto the pages of your booklet.
  • For more embellishments, use vintage dictionary pages, vintage ephemera, old tickets, antique photographs, or even scraps of vintage fabric or lace on your card. All of these vintage elements add even more interest to your card!

Backyard Elegance – Repurpose a Vintage Chandelier

Imagine this scenario…

You’re strolling through the woods on a gorgeous afternoon, just enjoying the day when you come to the most fabulous clearing. Inside this clearing is a chippy white wrought iron bench, two matching chairs, and a table nestled into the alluring smell of fresh chipped wood. The bench and chairs have pillows on them that look like they were made using the floral vintage sheets you remember from your grandmothers house. But the best part? Three elegant chandeliers hung from the branches of the tree directly over the sitting area. Ah….

Photo by Christina Carroll Photography
Photo by Christina Carroll Photography

After stumbling upon this photo, I am inspired to create just a setting in the woods on our property. A secret place that no one will know about unless I share it with them. A place to relax. Maybe read a book. Certainly a place to dream in.

If you don’t have a wooded area where you live, you could still repurpose a vintage chandelier and hang it from a tree in your backyard, in a tree in a garden, or over a patio or deck, or perhaps even from a tree in your front yard!

Finding Vintage Chandeliers

Recently found chandelier, soon to be repurposed
In today’s modern age, chandeliers from older homes are being replaced with newer lighting options. This is a good great thing for us, as it makes it much easier to find affordable vintage chandeliers to use for this project! So, where do you find old chandeliers? Here are some places to check:

  • Thrift Stores
  • Estate Sales
  • Garage / Yard Sales
  • ReStore Shops
  • Salvage Shops
  • Craigslist
  • Local Facebook Sale Groups

Customizing Vintage Chandeliers

It doesn’t matter what finish your chandelier has, you can customize it to match your style or decor. Here are some ideas for refinishing and embellishing a vintage chandelier:

  • Repaint – Remove all wiring and light bulbs, then clean the metal very well. Use sandpaper to lightly sand the surface of the metal, then use an outdoor-rated spray paint to repaint the metal. You may need several light coats of paint, depending on the color you’ve selected. Once the paint has thoroughly dried, you can replace the wiring and the bulbs.
  • Embellish – Add beads and crystals to the chandelier to customize and embellish it. Thread beads onto stainless steel wire and hang the beads from the chandelier, or wrap the beaded wired around the light holders. You could even repurpose vintage costume jewelry as the beads and embellishments. Be creative! There are SO many ways you could embellish with beads and crystals! If you prefer, you could also embellish the chandelier using silk flowers or live moss. Or replace the light bulbs and mount small birdhouses in their place. Let your imagination run wild!
  • Hang – To hang the chandelier from a tree or patio arbor, you could use lengths of fabric (similar to the photo above), rustic rope, or even chains from the hardware store. Whatever you use to hang the chandelier can match your surrounding decor.
  • Lights – Obviously, if you are hanging the chandelier in the woods from a tree, you are not going to have electricity to light the bulbs. Instead, you could use candles or battery operated candles in place of the bulbs.

Why stop at one chandelier! Find several in different styles and hang them together in your yard!

How would you embellish a vintage chandelier for a project like this? Share in the comments below!