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DIY/Home Improvement: How to upcycle old light bulbs

Leigh Leigh
modern  by FIGR1, Modern
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Don't throw out your old, used up light bulbs, instead put them to stylish and creative use and transform some little pockets of your home. All you need is a little bit of DIY enthusiasm. 

Today at homify, we are going to show you how you can get creative and how you can use your old light bulbs to create all sorts of fun, interesting, decorative and most importantly, functional, items for the house. Not only will this flex those creative and innovative muscles, but it can be a fun project for the whole family.

Collect all of your old light bulbs in a box in a cupboard and then set an afternoon aside to get to work. You won't believe the results!

Before you start any of the below steps, clear out the insides of the light bulb with a piece of wire.

“Innovation is anything, but business as usual.” (Anonymous).

As a terrarium

Bespoke Aztec Terrarium Installation by The Urban Botanist Modern
The Urban Botanist

Bespoke Aztec Terrarium Installation

The Urban Botanist

“If at first the idea is not absurd, then there will be no hope for it.” -Albert Einstein

Terrariums are very interesting and innovative objects in themselves. Terrariums are usually glass containers that contain plants or flowers inside. They are usually sealed, but can be opened so that the plants can be cared for.

Use small pebbles or sand as a base for your little, tiny garden, like in this design by The Urban Botanist. This is a good base as water drains through them so you won't get moist mold growing at the bottom. You also need to opt for plants that don't need too much water, such as Tillandsia (air plants). This type of plant only needs a spray of water once a week. You can also add little objects to it to add character. Use tweezers to place all of these objects inside the light bulb.

Keep your terrarium near the light so that your plant thrives in plenty of sun.

Stay away from soil and moss.

For christmas decorations/baubles for the tree

Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.—William Pollard

The Christmas holidays are the perfect opportunity to get busy on some creative projects. Producing baubles or decorations for the Christmas tree—why not?

Light bulbs are the perfect tool to create Christmas baubles. All that you need is some paint and some string! Place some newspaper on the floor and get painting. You can do whatever you like—paint shapes or objects onto the light bulbs like stars or Santa Clause—or just opt for solid colours. Once all of your light bulbs have been painted and are dry, tie string through them. Your baubles are ready!

Also check out this ideabook on Christmas decorations for the small home.


Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.—Steve Jobs

Light bulbs are the perfect shape for a vase and they look beautiful too! Obviously you won't be able to use regular light bulbs to display large bunches of flowers, but you can use them for a few flowers or fronds. 

Once you've carefully chosen which flowers or plants you want to display in your light bulb vase, you need to make sure that you stand your light bulbs upright. You can do this by fitting them into a wire stand or by hanging them. These would also look especially wonderful in the kitchen!

Decorative ornaments for children

Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.—William Pollard

kid's bedroom should be creative, fun and funky! Get your kids to contribute to the decor in their room by helping you with some DIY projects. Then get the light bulbs out!

One really fun idea is to create characters out of light bulbs, such as bees or lady bugs. If your son loves air crafts, for example, you can also create little planes out of the light bulbs and hang them from the ceiling. 

Make sure that the colours and characters that you use fit into the theme of your kid's bedroom. An entertaining way to spend the day for the whole family.

Snow globes

classic  by PartyLite, Classic

Snow Family tealight holder


There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period.—Brene Brown

Back to our Christmas theme!

If you can believe it, you can create a snow globe—or many snow globes—with your old light bulbs.

Use light figurines of Santa or a snowman and insert them into the globe. Use tweezers and glue to secure your figurines to the inside surface of the bulb. If you don't have figurines, paint a cork into a Santa or snowman. Then insert glitter and some distilled water. 

When it comes to the snow, experts recommend using egg shells from a hard boiled egg. Simply use a spoon to crush it into little pieces and you have snow that will fall wonderfully when you shake your snow globe.

And there you have it!

Oil lamps

I think frugality drives innovation, just like other constraints do. One of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out.—Jeff Bezos

Lighting is incredibly important for any home. Just because your light bulbs are used up doesn't mean that they can't be useful for lighting purposes anymore.

In fact, you can use an old light bulb to make an oil lamp! Firstly use sand and water to clean out the light bulb. Make sure it is thoroughly rinsed out before you begin. Then drill a little hole into the centre of a bottle cap and screw it onto the light bulb. Thread a piece of lace through the hole and make sure it fits neatly into the light bulb.

Now you can use lamp oil! Pour it into the light bulb—not too much, about one third full. Screw your cap back on and light the piece of lace.

Now you have a stylish oil lamp!


modern  by FIGR1, Modern

Outrageous behavior, also known as the lunatic fringe, is the seed bed of innovation and creativity.—Joel Salatin

Last, but not least, you can use your light bulbs as containers. Don't you love this design by FIGR1?

Clean out your light bulbs and use them to store spices, salt or pepper. You'll have the trendiest containers on the block. You'll also be able to see what is stored in them at all times, but add little labels if need be.

The opportunities are endless when it comes to upcycling your light bulbs. It's time to get crafty!

What have you used your old light bulbs for? Do you like these ideas? We'd love to hear your thoughts!
Modern houses by Casas inHAUS Modern

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