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New life for old knickknacks

By on April 11, 2008

photo by ecram1
egg cups
It’s been said that everything old is new again. So if you have vintage accessories packed away or collecting dust, take a fresh look at them to spark creative new uses. If you don’t have anything boxed up or hanging around, a brief trip to a local thrift store can inspire you, too. Spring is the perfect time to redecorate without spending a fortune. And when guests see your unique sense of style, not only will it be a topic of conversation but they’ll want to run home to make these things, too. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

POTTERY: Break out your old ceramic planters and fill them with rolled washcloths, teas, soaps, loose change, keys or office supplies.

CAKE STANDS: Set one on your dining table or on the counter and use for condiments, spices, salt-and-pepper shakers or syrups and dressings. Stack them to serve appetizers or cookies. They’re also pretty with an arrangement of African violets.

ODD PLATES: Stack three in various sizes from large to small, and they’ll look like flowers when assembled. Use silicone glue to adhere them, and hang with a plate hanger. Stack various patterns, colors and sizes; the center could be a small finger bowl, dessert/berry bowl or votive holder.

PICNIC BASKETS: Use to hold magazines, craft supplies, place mats, cloth napkins or tablecloths.

EGG CUPS: Use as small vases or votive candleholders.

VINTAGE COOKIE CUTTERS: Don’t keep them stuffed in a drawer. Attach a ribbon and use them as curtain tiebacks, or hang a grouping on your kitchen wall.

GLASS VASES AND BOWLS: Stack and glue together clear or colored glass vases, bowls and various-sized plates to make a birdbath. Start with a large glass plate as the base (an old microwave plate works well because it’s heavy), stack one or two large glass vases on top, then add a medium glass plate, another glass vase, an inverted glass bowl and then a large bowl such as a punch or salad bowl for the actual bath part on top. Use large, cheap floral vases that typically hold a dozen roses. You’ll want a larger glass vase toward the base for stability. Use silicone adhesive to stick the pieces together. Fill the top bowl with polished pebbles or a medium-size rock to add weight and provide a place for birds to perch.

If you have an odd candlestick, you can glue an ivy bowl on top to make a new pedestal vase. You can stack a plate on top of a vase to use as a serving dish, too.

FRAMES: If you have beat-up frames that have seen better days, put them to use. Instead of simply repainting them, glue on velvet or tapestry ribbon. Miter the corners, and you have a new frame to display. If you’re afraid to ruin the ribbon with glue, just use fusible webbing. You can also glue sheet moss to frames and add silk or dried flowers.

MASON JARS: Use as beverage glasses. They’re perfect for iced tea and look beautiful as vases for fresh flowers, too.

OUTDOOR FAUCET KNOBS: Paint these in vibrant colors so they look like blooming flowers. Attach heavy-gauge wire for the stem and leaves, and use them as garden art.

METAL MILK-BOTTLE BOX: Use these outside as planters, or inside as wastebaskets or to hold kindling.

VINTAGE APRONS OR BABY CLOTHES: Cut a section of clothesline and hang it on the wall. Hang the aprons or baby clothes with clothespins on the line.

DRESSER: Bring it outside or into the garage and use as a potting table or workbench. It also works well as a craft organizer or toy holder. If you remove the drawers, you can cut wooden shelves to fit and convert it into a bookshelf.

TRIFLE BOWL: Use it for fruit or green salads.


  1. AmyBoz

    4/11/2008 at 2:06 pm

    Great ideas, Sara! I always am picking things up around here and wondering “What else can I do with this?” These ideas will be VERY helpful!


    4/12/2008 at 3:26 pm

    What a great blog, Sara! Since I have been accumulating alot of antiques from my mother in laws antique shoppe, I have been having fun with them. Let me share what I did with one of the cake stands. I placed a variety of sizes of scented candles on the cake stand and am using it as the centerpeice on my dining room table. It looks very pretty when we are having a family get together and the candles are all lit.

    I just brought a wonderful claw foot oak dresser with an attached mirror home and I placed it in my family room. I opened the top drawer about one inch and placed a patriotic quilt in the drawer , to hang out of the drawer. I placed a clear hand cut crystal lamp on the top and then added a pillar candle on top of a hand carved box. And last but not least….some family photos in various flea market frames. It makes the entire room feel warm and inviting!

    My dear grandmother passed away last november and I am now the proud owner of her vintage aprons. I have a cabinet pantry that is located on one entire wall in my ktichen. I have tied the aprons and placed them on the various nobs of the pantry cabinets and it really looks nice! And I get to see these aprons on a daily basis now instead of just folding them and placing them in the closet. I am reminded of my grandmother and all of the wonderful meals she prepared for our family while I was growing up and she wore these aprons.:-)

  3. Catherine

    4/13/2008 at 8:20 am

    A lovely way to use your aprons and keep your grandmother close.

  4. Kristen

    4/14/2008 at 10:45 am

    Thanks for the tips! I love finding new uses for items that seem destined to be dust collectors or trash. I especially love the garden ideas as this year will be my first out there really whipping my yard into shape.

  5. Jesse

    6/14/2008 at 3:01 am

    The mason jars also make great storage for leftover soups and such, and also great pantry storage for grains and things you want to protect from those bugs who want to eat them!

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