photo of sconce built-in | down2earth interior design

Designer’s Own Home: How to Reuse Vintage Finds

We are bringing back a blog feature we started last year where we bring you into the home of one of d2e’s designers.  In this Designer’s Own Home we take a peek at Jillian’s new but old vintage finds.  Bringing back to life old lighting or furniture is a green design decision allowing the home owner to reuse, reduce and recycle.

I love homes, especially old homes, so when a local estate was opened to the public a few years ago, I jumped at the chance to go and have a look around. It was bittersweet, though, since The Copernicus House (as it was called) was going to be razed and all items inside the home were for sale.

Copernicus House. Photo courtesy Upper Dublin Township Historical Commission

Copernicus House. Photo courtesy Upper Dublin Township Historical Commission 


Everything was for sale — furniture, chandeliers, windows, door trim, enormous vaults built into the wall, etc. It was amazing. And I walked away with sconces and a mirror.

Copernicus House. Original Sconce D2E Interior Design

Copernicus House. Original Mirror D2E Interior Design

For years, both items sat in my basement as I tried to figure out what I wanted to do with them. Then a few months ago I figured it out — the mirror was painted coral and hung in my daughter’s bedroom and the sconces would become a feature in the built-in cabinetry I was designing for my family room (full post on the built-ins coming soon).

coral mirror photo finished | down2earth interior design

The sconces needed a lot of work. A local lighting shop referred me to someone who was able to rewire them. Then I took them to a hardware shop to refinish them. They sat in a cleaning solution for weeks. I knew that once clean, the metal on the sconces would look different but was so surprised to find such a bright, shiny brass underneath years of all of that patina and gunk.

sconce being cleaned photo 1 | down2earth interior design



sconce being cleaned photo 2 | down2earth interior design

The look of the shiny brass sconce seemed a little old-fashioned so to modernize them a bit, I unscrewed the little pine cone detail on the top. I like it much more now. Between rewiring and refinishing, the total cost for both sconces was around $100.


photo of sconce built-in | down2earth interior design


photo on built-in | down2earth interior design

And here they are in the built-ins. I designed the vertical spaces to fit the sconces perfectly. I wanted the family room to look current and modern but with a nod to history. With all of the clean lines in the rest of the room, the sconces and trim details around the sconces help bring some character to the space. Set with a dimmer light switch, these sconces are the perfect touch to my room, day or night.


Do you have any great vintage finds?  Are they stowed away in a corner of your garage or basement waiting to be used or have you found the perfect spot?  Tell us in the comments below! 


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