Vintage telephones make for unique and charming home decor accents that add personality and nostalgia to any space. Bringing new life to old phones is an easy DIY project with endless creative possibilities.
Why Display Old Phones
Old telephones recall a simpler time before the digital age. Their sculptural forms and variety of colors lend visual interest to shelves, walls, and tabletops. Retro phones are steeped in nostalgia and bring back memories of important conversations from the past.
- Provides a decorative focal point
- Adds vintage flair to a room
- Sparks conversations about simpler times
- Evokes feelings of nostalgia
- Makes a statement about your interests
Vintage phones are sculptural, tactile, and functional as decor. Unlike phones today, old phones were designed with style, made of metal and Bakelite with curved lines and fun colors like mint green and bright red. Showcasing these “antique tech” designs adds character to any space.
Sources for Vintage Telephones
Finding an old phone to upcycle is part of the fun. Look in the following places to discover the perfect retro telephone for your home:
- Flea markets
- Estate sales
- Thrift stores
- Online auction sites
- Classified ads
- Antique shops
- Garage sales
- Family heirlooms
- specialty dealers
Search for popular vintage telephone brands like Western Electric, AT&T, and Kellogg. Pay attention to the phone’s condition, electronics, ringer, and cord. Minor repairs may be needed before decorating. Prices typically range from $20 for tabletop phones to over $100 for floor models in working order.
Preparing Old Phones for Display
Once you’ve sourced your vintage telephone, some restoration is likely needed before decorating:
- Clean: Remove dirt and grime with a mild cleaner.
- Repair: Replace cracked plastics and make minor repairs.
- Update: Rewire or replace old cloth cords for safety.
- Restore: Touch up chips and scratches in the paint or enamel finish.
Don’t try to get the phone in working order. These old telephones may not function on modern phone lines. Focus on aesthetic fixes to prepare the phone for decor duty.
Ideas for Decorating Vintage Phones
Let your creativity run wild when decorating old telephones! Almost anything goes. Here are some fun and unique ideas:
Highlight Natural Form
Keep repairs minimal to let an old phone’s sculptural shape and patina shine. Place the vintage telephone on bookshelves, end tables or window sills to display its silhouette. Let the phone be the focal point.
Add Colorful Details
Paint vintage telephones in bright colors to contrast with traditional decor. Add flourishes like gold leaf accents or sculptural bases for a dramatic look. Embellish with decals, wallpaper or fabric inside to complement your color scheme.
Craft A Vignette
Create a mini vignette scene inside or around your old telephone. Use it to hold mini plants, artwork, or photos. Surround tabletop phones with stacks of books and small objects to build a still life composition.
Turn old telephones into display cases for favorite collections like sea shells, crystals, miniatures, or art glass. Affix small hooks inside the phone’s cradle to hang necklaces or other jewelry. Make your passions part of the decor.
Miniature potted plants like air plants, succulents, or cacti look right at home inside old telephones. Try other organic materials like moss or flowers. Just remove the electronics and add drainage holes before planting.
Best Spaces for Vintage Telephone Decor
Retro telephones add a distinctive touch to all kinds of rooms:
- Living room: Place on bookshelves, side tables or fireplace mantels.
- Bedroom: Sit on nightstands or dressers to replace modern phones.
- Office: Display on desk or shelves to accentuate a vintage workspace aesthetic.
- Kitchen: Serve as charming “lands” for portable handsets.
- Bathroom: Provide storage for towels when wall-mounted or set on counters.
- Porch & patios: Bring nostalgic charm to outdoor tables and seating areas.
- Powder room: Make a decorative statement on the vanity.
Do’s And Don’ts
Follow these tips when decorating with old telephones to maximize vintage appeal:
- Spotlight unique colors and sculptural shapes
- Keep your design theme consistent
- Mix and match different styles and sizes
- Showcase phones with displays inside
- Include other antique elements
- Add lighting for extra drama
- Overcrowd the space with too many telephones
- Hide cords – make them a decorative feature
- Let phones fade into the background
- Display phones that don’t work with your decor
- Worry about phones matching your color scheme
Breathing New Life into Old Phones
Vintage telephones never go out of style. Their sculptural forms and nostalgic charm make old phones ideal for adding a unique decorative accent to your home. With some hunting and a dash of creativity, you can find the perfect retro telephone to dial up some vintage character in your space. Rediscover the joy of simpler times by displaying old phones for decor with character.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I find vintage telephones for decor?
The best places to find old telephones are flea markets, thrift stores, estate sales, online auctions, antique shops, and specialty vintage phone dealers. Look for popular brands like Western Electric, AT&T, and Kellogg.
What are some creative ways to decorate an old phone?
Some fun ideas include painting phones bright colors, creating mini vignettes, displaying small collections inside phones, using phones to hold plants, adding decals or embellishments, surrounding phones with books or objects, and mounting phones on the wall.
What are the benefits of using vintage phones as decor?
Old telephones add visual interest, evoke nostalgia, create conversational pieces, display collections uniquely, and lend vintage flair to modern spaces. Their sculptural silhouettes make them ideal decorative accents.
Should I try to get an old phone in working order?
No, vintage phones often can’t be restored to function on modern phone lines. For decor purposes, focus on cleaning, superficial repairs, paint touch ups, and rewiring to prepare the phone aesthetically.
What are the best places to display vintage phones at home?
Fun spots include bookshelves, end tables, night stands, desks, kitchen counters, fireplace mantels, powder rooms, patios, and anywhere you want to add a pop of vintage character.