A bucket of dye holds much more than tinted water—it is filled with potential. Use it to reinvent all kinds of items around the house, giving them not just a new shade but a new life. And have fun while you’re at it; there’s nothing complicated or intimidating about the process. Experiment to come up with your own colors, and then enjoy the transformation that takes place before your eyes. If you want to rethink your old table linens, wake up some bedding that bores you, or find a fresh way to display favorite photos, just dip them in dye and consider it done.
Photography: Paul BARBERA2 of 7
Fabric isn’t the only material that can be dyed—paper, wood, yarn, raffia, and even feathers and stones can as well. Be prepared to embrace the element of surprise: When you dye an item, you never know exactly how it will turn out. All of the objects here were dyed in the same aqua bath (for varying amounts of time). The fluctuations in color are part of the magic.
Photography: Paul BARBERA3 of 7
Give vintage table linens, particularly those with interesting trims or patterns, a more contemporary look with a new color.
Photography: Paul BARBERA4 of 7
These disposable bowls are a wonderful, low-commitment way to play with dye colors: In pretty shades, they mimic the look of handmade ceramics and are worthy of display on a desk or dresser as organizers for small supplies.
Disposable bowls, by Wasara, shop.cooperhewitt.org
Here’s a notion: Brighten up buttons—these are wood, fabric, and mother-of-pearl (for the last, make the dye bath more concentrated)—and use them to customize clothing or for crafts projects.
Wooden buttons, woodbuttons.com
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Photography: Paul BARBERA6 of 7
This vintage linen dress was originally white but had yellowed; the pale-blue-green shade makes it feel fresh and wearable, while wooden beads, a string bag, and a button-front shirt also get new hues for summer.
Streamline hook, in Bronze, anthropologie.com
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Your bedding can be any color you dream up. Together, this happy yellow and sophisticated green make a beautiful ensemble. The two blankets and pillowcases are vintage finds, unified with the same sunny-yellow shade. Large items can be tricky to dye but just require a little extra room and patience. The green linen duvet cover and pillowcases were dyed in a big plastic bin, all together in one dye bath—the only way to ensure they’d be the same color. The yellow blankets and pillowcases were dyed separately, because wool requires cooler water than cotton and linen.
White sheet, Whim by Martha Stewart Collection, macys.com
Hudson C-Table/Nightstand, roomandboard.com
Envoy Swing plug-in sconce, schoolhouseelectric.com
Sugahara bedside carafe, in Indigo, globaltable.com
Cecil wallpaper, from China Seas collection, in Brown on Almost White, quadrillefabrics.com