Learn How to Repurpose Vintage Finds Into Beautiful, Unique Outdoor Lighting

From solar-powered antique floor lamps to colander hanging pendants, these lights will brighten up any backyard.

Some of your favorite old home wares and flea market finds are brimming with design potential, it just takes a little upcycling. Believe it or not, everyday vintage items like colanders, bottles, and even birdcages can easily be repurposed into interesting light fixtures that you can use to dress up your outdoor space. "Along with being environmentally friendly and inexpensive, upcycling allows you to custom create something for any type of décor style," explains Sarah Ramberg of Sadie Seasongoods, a blog devoted to upcycling. "Whether your taste is classic or eclectic, you can upcycle a beloved vintage piece into a fresh outdoor light fixture that blends in seamlessly into any space."

woman setting a table with outdoor party lights overhead
Lucas Allen

With the right lamp kit and solar-powered or LED light, she says just about any dated item can be converted into a stylish fixture that's safe to use outdoors. "If lamp kits intimidate you, consider adding solar lights to your vintage items instead," she says. "And if you plan on leaving something outdoors, you'll likely want to add a topcoat to protect it from the elements." Looking for inspiration? From solar-powered antique floor lamps to colander hanging pendants, here are five upcycled outdoor lighting ideas that will brighten up any yard.

Vintage Bird Cage Lantern

If you're a fan of whimsical, enchanted outdoor spaces, then this is the project for you. Ramberg says you can fill a vintage metal birdcage with LED pillar candles and hang it from a tree lantern-style for a dreamy backyard scene.

Revamped Antique Light Fixture

Ramberg says the possibilities are endless when it comes to upcycling vintage light fixtures. Whether it's an antique floor lamp or an ornate chandelier, she says you can repurpose any old light fixture into a solar-powered piece in no time. Removing the electrical components of old lighting is easy, even for a novice DIYer. Once de-wired, she says to check out your local hardware store's selection of solar-powered lights to find a bulb that fits to replace the old one with.

Colander Pendant Lights

If you thought your old retro colander was only good for draining pasta, then it's time to think again. Ramberg says you can turn any colander upside down and use it like a pendant light on your back porch, all it takes is a jigsaw knife—to cut a hole into the colander—and a pendant light kit ($20, worldmarket.com).

Glass Globe and Mason Jar Lights

Searching for a goofproof way to score ambient outdoor lighting in pinch? Ramberg recommends filling old glass globe lights and mason jars with small LED lights ($40, westelm.com) and placing them around your patio for a twinkling backyard scene. "LED fairy lights and candles are an easy way to give a warm glow to your space without any tools or electrical know-how," she says.

Washtub with Floating Candles

Prefer your outdoor lighting with a little more wow factor? Rambert suggests turning a vintage washtub into a sparkling candle-lit backyard scene. "For ground-level mood lighting, fill a vintage washtub with water and floating candles," she says. LED floating candles are widely available at stores, but you can use real ones for a more romantic display—as long as you remember to blow them out before you call it a night.

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