At The Brooklyn Teacup, we are passionate about repurposing vintage and antique dinnerware into practical gifts, serving pieces, and home decor. We believe beautiful objects deserve to be adored, not stored. This blog post invites you to rediscover the beauty of your old treasures with 10 creative ideas.
Whether you're a seasoned DIY-er or prefer ready-made vintage decor, our aim is to inspire you to enjoy these precious treasures in refreshing new ways. Let your repurposed china take on new significance in your life while paying homage to the memories that these pieces represent.
The repurposing ideas below are intended for a spectrum of skill levels. Beginners can choose from quick and easy options that don’t require specialized tools or experience and can be done in a couple of hours (Level 1 🔥); Experienced DIYers can find more involved projects that require a longer time investment (Level 5 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥).
1. Enhance your decor with mosaic art: 🔥🔥🔥
Have you been hanging on to pretty pieces of imperfect or broken china? Consider channeling your creative energy into converting these pieces into mosaic art and add pops of color and personality to your home decor. If you’re new to mosaics, start small with picture frames or planters. As you gain confidence, you can venture into more ambitious undertakings like tabletops or large framed mirrors.
Admittedly, mosaic art can be time-consuming, especially when working on larger projects that require breaking up lots of broken china pieces and arranging them in a design. However, witnessing your creation come to life is incredibly satisfying.
2. Display broken pieces in a glass jar, vase or bowl: 🔥
If mosaics sound like a little too much of an undertaking, you can always choose to display your broken pieces in a large glass jar, bowl, vase or container.
Tips: Wear rubber gloves to avoid cuts, and arrange your favorite bits of china so that the decorated side is facing outward.
3. Create decorative refrigerator magnets: 🔥
Another way to repurpose broken china shards is to use and display them on your refrigerator or an office cabinet. Simply adhere magnets to the undersides of your prettiest pieces using a hot glue gun.
Tip #1: Sand down rough edges of your shards before turning them into magnets by scraping them against your sidewalk or driveway.
Tip #2: You’ll want to make the non-decorative side of the shard rough using sandpaper before applying the glue and magnet to allow the glue to more firmly adhere to the surface.
4. Tiered serving tray: 🔥🔥🔥🔥
Pictured: Sophisticated 3-Tier Serving Tray
A staple at traditional tea parties, the iconic 3 tier serving tray, also known as a tiered cake stand, is a versatile entertaining accessory that can dress up any occasion. Thanks to its height (~15”) and ability to be assembled in several configurations–such as a 2-Tier tray–the 3-Tier tray can also serve as table decor.
For example, set a romantic ambiance for an evening occasion by adding decorative tea lights and flowers around the different tiers and using the stand as a centerpiece.
To create a tiered serving piece, you’ll need a drill, a diamond drill bit and sturdy cake stand hardware. After marking the center of your plates, you’ll begin to drill, spraying water on the bit periodically to keep it from overheating.
Tip: Practice drilling on china you don’t care about before using the plates you intend to keep for your finished pieces.
If you don’t want to mess with power tools or risk damaging an heirloom china set, we’d be honored to assist. Learn all about our unique upcycling service and book a quick consultation to get started.
5. Plate wall art: 🔥🔥
Transform your wall with a curated gallery of your favorite vintage china plates. Express your creativity and showcase your style by mixing and matching charming pieces in different sizes, patterns, and even shapes.
Create a symmetrical and formal display for a touch of refinement, or opt for an eclectic mix of shapes and sizes to infuse your wall with a sense of whimsy and charm.
Tip: The key to is to use plate wall hangers. See how easy it is to hang up your display with these nifty pieces of hardware.
6. Herb garden teacup planters: 🔥
Bring a touch of nature into your home by repurposing tea cups or tea pots as adorable planters for your indoor herb or flower garden. The delicate designs of the china will beautifully complement the vibrant greenery and look lovely on your window sill.
Tip: Remember to add drainage to your teacup planters. For permanent drainage, you’ll need to drill through the bottom of the teacup and use the saucer to catch water. For a less permanent solution, you can simply add pebbles to the bottom of the cup before adding your soil to allow for proper drainage.
Interested in more teacup-specific upcycling projects?
Visit our home decor ideas for repurposing vintage teacups
For charming, upcycled teacup planters with built-in drainage, check out the upcycled teacup planters available in The Brooklyn Teacup’s shop.
7. Craft a teacup or plate clock: 🔥🔥🔥
Photo ℅ replacements.com
Revive a decorative plate into an eye-catching clock. To get started, carefully drill a small hole in the center of the teacup or plate and secure the assembled clock mechanism in place through the drilled hole. Then, attach the clock hands and numbers and hang your “new” timepiece on the wall or rest it against a wall or mirror. Enjoy a timeless piece of functional art that doubles as a conversation piece! Visit How Stuff Works for a step-by-step tutorial on vintage plate clocks.
8. Arrange plate and teacup shelf display: 🔥
Teacup shelf and teacup display ℅ Etsy seller Eugenie Woodcraft
Round up an assortment of vintage china pieces that hold sentimental value, have designs that complement your home's decor, or just inspire you. Organize and arrange the pieces based on any number of criteria—patterns, sizes, themes, or colors—in a space that works well for showcasing your pretty treasures, and what do you know? It’s wall art in a flash.
Compared to a plate wall, a teacup or plate shelf display allows you to easily access your dinnerware for entertaining and also easily swap pieces in and out for whatever reason, from unexpected guests to holiday decorating.
Tip: Consider using a simple plate stand to safely display your collection and easily adjust the angle or orientation of your pieces. If showcasing teacup sets, consider using teacup and saucer display stands so the patterns on both the cup and saucer can be admired.
9. Design broken china necklaces & accessories: 🔥🔥🔥🔥
Make a statement with one-of-a-kind jewelry and accessories crafted from vintage china. Elevate your style with bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and more, carefully transformed from select fragments of vintage plates and china bowls. By repurposing china into accessories, you embrace sustainable fashion and can wear beautiful moments from the past with pride.
10. Multi-wick candles in gravy boats, bowls, teapots & more
A fun and sustainable solution for what to do with old china is to repurpose pieces to use as vessels for scented candles. Teacups are the most commonly upcycled pieces of china for candles, but there's no need to limit yourself to those. For larger vessels like gravy boats, just add an extra wick! For step-by-step DIY instructions to make your own candles, visit The Craft Patch’s Blog post DIY Tea Cup Candles.
Thanks to a local partnership with the Brooklyn-based candle makers at Glow to Grow, The Brooklyn Teacup now offers all-natural, vegan soy wax candles in vintage china vessels as part of our upcycling services.
Learn more about upcycling your vintage china into scented candle gifts and other unique home decor today.
Repurposing vintage china offers an array of possibilities, from mosaic art and jewelry made from broken pieces to teacup candles and tiered serving trays—the possibilities are practically endless. Though some forms of repurposing china are more challenging than others, there are plenty of ideas available for crafters of all skill levels.
Unleash your creativity and explore the beauty of upcycled creations that celebrate the past, while contributing to a more sustainable and eco-conscious future.
Visit our blog post for more ideas on what to do with your vintage teacups.