Six Vintage Things You Can Repurpose
When it comes to vintage home goods, a lot of “shabby chic” magazines are into the idea of repurposing old items. I’m all for that, but sometimes that means destroying perfectly good vintage items in order to make new items, which I’m not about. So today I bring you six vintage items you can repurpose without any alteration.
Years go I started collecting vintage Las Vegas ashtrays simply because I like old Vegas, but soon realized most glassware, soda cans, and bottles fit inside, making them unique coasters. Today I try to stick to Vegas, but it’s also expanded to California locations, and western themes.
While not all ashtrays are suitable as coasters, as some have raised portions in the middle to hold cigarettes, try to look for restaurant style ones, with wider openings of around three inches. They make for unique decor and great conversation pieces when not being used as coasters.
Magazine racks are perfect for holding magazines of course, and like ashtrays, not all are designed the same, however some, like this one here are perfect for storing wood by a fireplace.
Look for wide magazine racks, as opposed to narrow, divided ones. Most magazine racks were made of a goldtone metal, or painted black. Often you’ll find that the metal has discolored, so, at least in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with spray-painting it a brighter color. Just remember to clean it before painting.
Perhaps you’ve been at an antique mall and seen small, long oval or rectangular boxes of quilted fabric. They were originally designed to help women organize their stockings, which would be rolled up and kept in each little compartment. But over the years I’ve found many uses for these cute little boxes, including jewelry, hair accessories, scarves, and of course stockings.
There are a few different style of stocking boxes, including large ones that have wider compartments in addition to small compartments, but the style above is the most common.
Metal telephone stands provided a nice surface for a phone to sit upon, along with a shelf below for a phonebook. Today, with the disappearance of land lines, there is no almost need for a piece like this. But what it does hold perfectly is toilet paper!
We have two of these, one in each bathroom. Like the magazine rack, most of these came in a gold tone like the one above, but you can spray paint it to match your bathroom.
Floral Frogs & Vases
Like the stocking boxes mentioned earlier, maybe you’ve stumbled upon another item that has left you a little confounded, a small glass object with shallow holes in it. Don’t worry, you’re not alone in not knowing. I’ve overheard many people wonder what they are! They are floral frogs, used to make floral arrangements in the days before styrofoam. Today, few of us make our own floral arrangements, so often glass frogs are overlooked at antique malls. There are may different style of frogs, including beautiful figural ones, like the one below, which I acquired when my grandmother passed away, and I use it for my slim make-up brushes. I’ve also seen them used for pen and pencil holders. However, not all of my make-up brushes fit inside the frog, so in keeping with the feminine theme of our bathroom, I chose to use a vintage head vase to house my thicker make-up brushes.
Of course, any vase with a wide opening is suitable to hold make-up brushes! So just keep an eye out for something the fits in with your bathroom. The important thing is to make sure it’s a relatively short vase. Shallow, figural planters also work well.
Another item that often gets overlooked at antique malls are vintage shaving brushes. For one reason or another, these items have survived the decades, and sit collecting dust. But here’s the thing, they are perfect for removing dust!
Shaving brushes have stiff, yet flexible bristles, often made of badger hair, and they are dense. That makes them perfect for getting inside nooks and crannies of items when you’re cleaning, especially vintage ceramics.
Perhaps you’ve found some things to look out for next time you’re out antiquing! But remember you can also search Ebay and Etsy to find these and have them delivered right to your door! Happy hunting!
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7 comments on “Six Vintage Things You Can Repurpose”
These are some great ideas!
There are so many cool and unique ashtrays out there: I have a polished stone one from my Grandma that I use as a key bowl by my front door. Also, my family ‘inherited” (with the house they bought) a large metal ashtray on a stand and it makes a perfect birdfeeder for the patio!
Also, I’ve never heard of or seen of floral frogs, but I’m going to keep my eye out next time I’m antiquing and see if I can find any. Actually, come to think of it, these should make a comeback- I read that floral foam is really toxic.
I agree with you, there are plenty of uses for vintage items outside their original use without damaging them. I like the idea of using ashtrays for coasters. My grandma would use the smaller marble ones for water when painting, which I continue to do, and they are perfect (provided they don’t have a design painted on them) for corralling smaller things like bobby pins and buttons into, too!
I really cannot overstate how much I am in agreement with you regarding not wanting to damage/greatly alter perfectly intact vintage or antique items. To each these own, of course, but for me personally, as someone who genuinely feels like one of the reasons they were put on this earth is to preserve the past, willingly damaging/destroying older items just isn’t my personal cup of tea.
I adore your list and that all of the awesome suggestions here leaves the original item intact. Thank you very much for doing that! 🙌
Autumn Zenith 🎃 Witchcrafted Life
What nifty ideas! Very resourceful. I use vintage crockery/glassware for all kinds of things. A cream jug for my makeup brushes, a dessert bowl for jewellery. It’s a shame to let things go to waste!
I have to thank you for this post. Sometimes I get so crossed and sad when I see really nice vintage item ruined by paint or other things. Some time ago I made myself really upset about stiffened antique straw boater hat (no cracks!) which someone had painted pink and added some plastic flowers and used it as home decor. It is really hard to find those at all in our country so it felt like they just wasted a perfect wearable hat.
On the other hand it’s nice that people start valuing old items, but it should always be well considered if the item is more “valuable” as it is (not necessary moneywise, but also culturewise and historywise), or does the revamping and altering add more value to the item. Sometimes even as simple as a layer of painting is not necessary at all.
You are a genius! I love all of these ideas. There are so many times I see an item at a flea market or thrift store and want to buy it, but I’m also the type of person that usually wants my items to have a “purpose”. Of course sometimes that purpose is just to be pretty or look good on a table. But these are amazing ways to use items in a different way. Thank you for this.
All of these are great ideas. Now I want to go search for shaving brushes, and small oval vintage boxes for my pins and hair scarves.