A vintage Coca Cola bottle and an old Mattson's soda bottle are storing flowers.
8 Vintage Finds You Can Use To Control Clutter Expand options

It’s out with the old and in the with the … old? That’s right, just because a vintage object is decades old doesn’t mean it belongs in a museum.

While you don’t want to be using an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus as a coffee table, you’ll find that repurposing little things from the past into a storage container, piece of furniture, or wall art will give your apartment some much-needed character and space. Price: dirt cheap.

So, where do you find the cigar boxes, ancient soap dishes, and medicine bottles that will transform your apartment into the classiest joint on the block?

Thrift shops, antique stores, and even your parents’ attic! After all, half the fun of decorating with antiques is the search. Here are eight vintage finds that can double as everyday necessities.

1. Vintage cigar box as a jewelry box

A wooden vintage Claro Lawrence Barrett cigar box that can also be used for jewelry storage.
Wikimedia/Joe Mabel

Despite the fact that people didn’t really know what they were doing to their lungs when they were smoking cigars, you have to thank them for leaving behind such exquisite relics from a different time. Unless you actually want to use cigar boxes for their real purpose and give your cigars a distinctly musty smell, you can store just about anything in these wooden boxes. Jewelry, watches, sunglasses, even TV remotes.

Pro tip: Go for the exotic cigar boxes. Extra points if you find one from Cuba.

2. Old glass soda bottles as flower vases

A vintage Coca Cola bottle and an old Mattson's soda bottle are storing flowers.

You’ve probably passed by the section of old glass soda bottles in your local antique shop, but take a second look and appreciate the beauty that was a world before plastic took over. While your bottle will only likely support a flower or two, having a rose adorned by a classic Coke logo will put every other nondescript vase to shame.

3. Storage crate as a nightstand

A DIY wooden crate used for book storage.
Charles Adams

Speaking as someone who’s actually tried this, storage crates make incredible nightstands. They’re the perfect height, incredibly sturdy, and the inside of said crate can fit a ton of books. Just make sure you give it a thorough cleaning before you put it near your bed.

4. Vintage frames as wall art

An empty golden vintage frame is mounted to a wall-papered wall, which serves as unique art.
Shutterstock/Luisa Fumi

There’s something unsettling about hanging a frame on your wall when there’s no art inside, however that’s a feeling that will soon dissipate when you realize how nice an empty and ornate antique frame looks on a wall. They just don’t make them like they used to, which hoists the frame in its own category as a piece of art by itself.

Like the storage crates, you’ll definitely want to clean and shine these suckers up. Try hanging a few in a row over your bed for the full effect.

5. Old medicine tins as medicine containers

A Bronk-Lets tin container used for medicine storage is on top of a wooden table.

There’s a built-in classiness to a person when he/she can reach into his/her bag, pull out a metal tin, pop it open, and pull out a couple of spare Advil.

I found my tin 15 years ago at a tag sale and often use it as a flying companion to store all my spare medicine. However, when the tin isn’t being used, it sits on my bathroom shelf where it remains a topic of conversation to those who rifle through my things.

“Yes, it’s an old medicine container. No, I don’t know what Bronk-Lets are.”

6. Vintage TV dinner tray as a coffee table

A vintage A-Team Mr. T TV dinner tray.

This is one of my favorite organizing tricks as the old TV dinner trays from the 50s and 60s have an incredible amount of character to them. It’s definitely worth having guests fiddle around with your stuff for the amount of praise you’ll get.

I wouldn’t recommend eating off these things as people loved filling their household items with as much lead and asbestos as they could fit. But the little sections in the tray make a perfect holder for keys, remote controls, matchbooks, and of course, Bronk-Let containers.

7. Decanter as a water jug

A vintage diamond cut Val St. Lambert crystal whiskey decanter with an etched diamond design and 6 matching glasses.
Wikimedia/Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum

True, some of the gentleman of times past will be spinning in their graves when they see their decanters used for anything but brandy, but an old decanter sure beats the heck out of a plastic water jug in your refrigerator.

They’re always well-made and hold up extremely well through the ages. Plus, if you really want, fill the darn thing with whiskey.

8. Old tin can as a utensil holder

A vintage Sclafani tin can used for scissor and pencil storage in an apartment.
Charles Adams

Unlike a soda bottle, you can actually fit a fair amount of stuff in an old tomato tin can. Try keeping your wooden baking spoons or whisks in an old tin. Depending on the tin you get, it’ll fit right in with your kitchen and save some space, too.

You can also use the tin as a plant holder, a piggy bank, or even as a pen holder. Just don’t keep any actual fruits or vegetables in there.

This article was written by Charles Adams, a Connecticut-born writer who currently resides in Brooklyn and has written for a multitude of men’s interests sites under a number of pseudonyms.

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