May 12, 2009

I adore chandeliers. But the gorgeous ones cost a fortune. Plus, you need ceilings with enough height for showcasing them. Well, I don’t have the money or space to buy the kind of lamp items that make me drool. However, I still have two beauties in my home because…I created them from rusty tag sale bargains.

This one began as a rusty, dirty basic brass model that was $5 at an estate sale (which means the homeowner died and the house is being emptied). I washed it, spray painted it black and had it rewired (about $20). Then came the painstaking work of gluing the seashells on one by one. What a pain that was. But worth it! To take a better look, click on any of the photos in this post and you’ll get a close-up image.

It was a pain gluing on the shells one-by-one. But worth it!

The seashells are from Sanibel Island, Fl. My daughter and I went there during an elementary school spring break. It was our first, post-divorce vacation. It was also the first time in nearly 25 years that I found the nerve to booked a flight and hotel room  — things I was scared to do and used to have my husband handle.

But I got over my fear and we had a great time. We went there for the local specialty: shelling. Each morning, piles of seashells washed up on the shore, free and beautiful.

What wonderful memories we have of waking up to the sound of the waves, running out to the beach and picking shells. Shelling!

For ages, the shells sat in bags in the closet. Even though I saw plenty of plain Jane ugly brass chandeliers at tag sales, it took a while before I realized any one of them would work for this project. Now our vacation treasures hang for all to see in our very orange hallway, casting a warm, cozy sunset kind of glow.

Speaking of hallways and $5 chandeliers, that’s also what I paid for the vintage-looking number in the foyer. Again, the makeover began with a mess of rusted, dirty brass. The multi-faceted diamond-shaped glass crystals were so filthy. And unfortunately, a bunch of them were missing.

For $5, this chandelier cleaned up nicely

Again, I cleaned, spray-painted the thing black and had the thing rewired by an electrician.

The original chandelier was a three-tier, upside-down wedding cake affair.

There were too many missing crystals to complete the tiny, lowest third tier.

My solution? I felt really smart when I figured out that I could eliminate that last layer. Instead, the remaining odd number of sparkly dangles to fill out the two, larger levels.

At night, this lit baby turns into a crystal disco ball. Groovy! It’s so satisfying to recycle other people’s garbage into eco-friendly decorating moments for my home.