colander planterPhoto:

I love the look that’s achieved by repurposing old kitchen gadgets into new, beautiful-yet-functional furnishings. Old and tattered antique items always convey such whimsy, while rusted or well-worn objects lend an industrial, modern feel. Mint condition midcentury modern artifacts can be converted into clever reinventions for a playful retro vibe. Glass and wood can be reclaimed for a rustic, earthy aesthetic. The fun of upcycling is that there’s so much possibility!

Colanders — also called strainers — offer especially excellent potential for creative repurposing. They come in a million shapes, sizes and styles (think battered silver that will tarnish with weather, crisp clean stainless steel, pretty enamel in vibrant pop colors, ivory or white for elegant simplicity, and on and on). They’re also visually stimulating, with their soft curves contrasted by the textured patterns of the holes. And they’re familiar; there’s a colander in every kitchen.

If you have an extra colander lying around (or feel like picking one up at the thrift store), then I have a list for you. I’ve rounded up a few easy and awesome projects that’ll put that extra colander to good use, and also add design appeal to your living space. In no particular order . . .

colander lamps1. Make a hanging lamp.

From simple and clean to artful and even avante garde, you can create a fantastic effect by using a colander as a pendant lamp. Other than the cool look, the light that shines through the holes casts the most beautiful shadows!

2. Make a pretty garden planter.

Colanders are basically large, deep vessels, which makes them perfect for planting. Just pack the dirt in tight and it won’t spill through the holes. Remember to put it somewhere safe when you water!

Colander planters are especially lovely for lettuces, herbs, and other edible flora. Keep one on your kitchen counter, or hang one out in your garden. They’re versatile and easy to make and oh-so-very quaint.

colander centerpiece3. Make a colander centerpiece.

A colander also makes an excellent centerpiece. Imagine it: with flowers as the centerpiece of a table spread, or holding a citronella candle out in the backyard on a summer evening, or draped in holly and red berries as a holiday decoration. You can get very creative; just remember to line the colander with something to prevent the wax from leaking if you are using candles.

4. Make a slush-free ice bucket.

Next time you host a party or barbeque, put out your ice in a colander that’s set over a large bowl. The holes will allow the melted ice to drip away, and you won’t have to deal with any of the usual ice-water-makes-for-frozen-hands mess.

colander cake pop holder5. Use it to hold sticks when confection-making.

The holes in colanders are perfect for candy sticks (like lollipops, etc). When making homemade cake pops or other candies, use a colander to keep the pieces upright and away from one another.

6. Make a lamp shade for a desk lamp.

You can also put together a simple tabletop lamp — with a vibe that’s anywhere from ultra modern to uber rustic. Small colanders work best for this but hey, do whatever suits your fancy.

7. Make an upcycled wind chime.

You can use a colander as the base and a bunch of mismatched silverware as the “chimes,” then decorate however you see fit. This project is cheap and simple and super fun for kids, too!

Sayward Rebhal originally wrote this story for It is reprinted with permission here.

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Click for photo credits

Photo credits:

Lamps: Eric Herot/Flickr

Centerpiece: Deb Packard/ via

Cake pops: Claire and Ed Sutton/Flickr

7 clever uses for old colanders
Don't throw out that old kitchen staple because it's seen better days. Just put it to another use.