As vintage obsessives, we’ve all been there: whether it’s spending our last pennies on a beautiful yet broken teacup;  impulse buying a lampshade for a lamp we don’t actually own;  and cooing over cute wallpaper we couldn’t possibly use on our rented walls, collecting thrift and drift is our forte. But hoarders, fear not, Joanna Thornhill is on hand to offer you some crafty ways you can put your ‘tat’ to work around your house in 2013.

If you’re anything like me you fill your house with these beguiling pieces that quite simply serve no purpose other than to incense your boyfriend with the fact you’ve come home with “yet more tat”. But with a bit of clever and crafty planning, many delicious vintage pieces can be repurposed to suit our 21st century needs, as detailed in these top five tips.

1. Frame vintage clothes patterns for instant art

For many years I’ve been a big admirer of my mother’s extensive collection of clothes patterns dating back to the Sixties, and wanted to pay homage to them in some way.

Inspiration struck when I bought home this beautiful frame (a bargain £5 car boot find), which proved the perfect size to create a collage of all my favourite pattern sleeves (after removing the patterns and photocopying the pattern jacket with instructions for a rainy day).

This look would also work just as well by framing individual covers – try grouping a few together on a wall for a little mismatched chic.

2. Too good for the kitchen cupboard: storage ideas for vintage biscuit tins

While some might argue there’s no such thing as too many biscuits, with so many adorable tins available, thinking of alternative uses for them might be beneficial to the waistband.

Their often relatively small size makes them perfect for compartmentalisation – I’ve put some to work storing jewellery, sunglasses, spare change and bathroom paraphernalia. They are also ideal for hiding away ugly camera chargers, USB cables, and all those odd wires you keep just in case one day you’ll remember what they are actually for.

Even a homely country cottage tin has been somewhat ironically repurposed to store my SatNav, guiding me to my own rather more urban abode.

3. Practical yet pretty: repurpose chandelier crystals as tablecloth weights

No giant chandelier gracing your drawing room? No need to repress your inner magpie – keep an eye out for odd sparkly crystal chandelier drops and use them to trim a cotton tablecloth.

Single, mismatched drops are often much cheaper than a matching set and look all the more charming for their individuality. Simply hold in place with curtain pincers or fasten with a few running stitches and hang evenly around the edge of your chosen tablecloth to weigh it down – perfect for a bright and breezy spring picnic. Polyanna eat your heart out.

4. Turn vintage wallpaper into bespoke art

If like me you rent, or are not yet ready to embrace an entire wall of pattern, there’s no need to put down that roll of glorious florals. By liberating an individual print from its paper with some scissors (and a scalpel for any tricky bits), you can decoupage furniture or create artwork on a board or canvas to create something truly unique.

Simply stick your paper down with diluted PVA glue, then brush an extra couple of coats over the top to seal.

5. Old china – perfect for plant pots and storage

There’s something irresistible about a pretty vintage teacup, and luckily you don’t have to spend too long scouring charity shops and car boot fairs to come up trumps. But if you’ve got more cups than you can realistically drink out of, there are heaps of other clever ways to use them.

Try using them as beautiful mini plant pots, ideal for planting a cheery spring Hyacinth (or a flowering cactus if your fingers aren’t too green), or simply adding some bloomy short-stemmed flowers, like Peonies.

Purchase a candle-making kit from a craft shop and create your own bespoke candles (great for an individual gift, and you can re-use once the candle burns out).

Storage is also a good option – keep a couple in your bathroom to store cotton wool balls and cotton buds, or have some do double-duty in the kitchen by using them to keep teabags close at hand (then when you’re down to your last bag you’re only one step away from a cuppa – perfect!)

5 Responses

  1. Admin

    This is a very lovely feature. I’m inspired by the wall art and the mini plantpot teacups here, which look absolutely gorgeous. I’m not particularly green-fingered, but as there’s no drainage in tea cups you might need to pick your plants carefully, and make sure you don’t over-water.

  2. Carmen

    I have to agree. I’m a renter too and begrudge forking out wads of cash (not that I have wads anyway ;)) to decorate my landlords house. Lots of lovely tips and hints here. I love the Sat Nav idea!

  3. Kiri

    I think I like that wallpaper idea best. I’ll definately have to go find some. Wonderful article!

  4. Mary

    we collect tins, as well, and LOVE them! we use our holiday ones to hold vintage gift tags, stickers, address labels…we use some larger tins to hold our kitty and puppy treats…and others to sort vintage buttons by color…so many uses! just love ’em! and love your blog, too!