DIY Projects · Flip #3 · Uncategorized

Upcycling 90s Brass Curtain Tie Backs

The other day I was perusing Goodwill killing some time, and I spotted a flashback from the 1990s.


I’m pretty certain my mom had these. 1990s brass clam shell curtain tie backs. Goodwill had two of them for $1, and I instantly snatched them up. I know most people would have walked straight past them, but I immediately knew how I could upcycle them!

That’s one of my favorite things to do- find junk, trash, things people overlook- and give them new life. I do it with Goodwill finds, and I do it with houses! On this particular trip, I wasn’t really looking for anything specific, but I knew specifically how these tie backs could be transformed. And even though brass is back, and if you’ve followed my vintage shop Mac’s Attic, you know what a statement brass is making, I decided I didn’t want to leave these with a brass finish.


Using some leftover white chalk paint, I gave each of them a quick coat of paint. I didn’t know if I would end up using the 2nd one, but I painted it just in case. I wasn’t too concerned with the quality of the paint job because of what I would be doing in the next step. So if some brass is showing or it isn’t a stellar paint job, don’t sweat it.


Once the paint dried on the shells, I took out my electric hand sander and with no real rhyme or reason, I began sanding to distress the shells. I didn’t want a pristine white because I loved the two tones of the metallic and the white paired together. So I made sure to treat some of the edges and grooves with the sander and then the rest was just a haphazard method of sanding.


The shell tie backs came with a wall mount and screws which made my job a lot easier. So I just added the wall mount and screws and the shells found a new home. If you recall from my DIY gallery wall, I went with a vintage seaside theme to enhance the mint green tile. That’s why I knew these shells were perfect for the space, and they matched the metallics in the gallery wall. I had it hung in less than one minute. I didn’t end up using the 2nd one, but I’m sure I’ll find a place for it in some house.


The wall mount brackets were deep enough that I knew they’d be the perfect holder for a towel. I didn’t have a towel ring in the green bathroom, and I didn’t want to just go buy a normal one at Lowe’s. I wanted something different that brought some unexpected charm to the space. So from a 90s curtain tie back to a mid-century towel holder, this was $1 well spent!


I mean is this not the cutest towel holder you’ve ever seen? I saw the vision while standing in the aisle of Goodwill, but it turned out way cuter than I had envisioned!


This was a very easy, very quick $1 investment. Using leftover chalk paint and thrifting the tie backs made such an easy upcycle project. That’s why I love so much about thrifting- finding treasures and giving them a new life!


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