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4 ways to turn old light bulbs into classy decor

Don't throw out your old incandescent bulbs. Used or not, they can be turned into beautiful decor for your home.

Taylor Martin CNET Contributor
Taylor Martin has covered technology online for over six years. He has reviewed smartphones for Pocketnow and Android Authority and loves building stuff on his YouTube channel, MOD. He has a dangerous obsession with coffee and is afraid of free time.
Taylor Martin
3 min read
Sweet Society

If you've recently upgraded your home to more energy-efficient lighting, you're probably left with a stockpile of unused incandescents that you don't want to throw out.

So what do you do with all those bulbs?

Fortunately, there is a host of alternative uses for old incandescent bulbs, used or not. Learn how to put those old light bulbs to good use.

Twine pears

You can turn old light bulbs into twine pears for an artsy centerpiece straight from Pottery Barn. Sweet Society shows that it's a very simple transformation. All you will need is a roll of twine, a small twig, some hot glue and a pair of scissors.

  • Start by gluing a short twig to the base of the light bulb.
  • Glue the loose end of the twine to the top of the bulb.
  • Once that has dried, begin winding the twine in a circle - as tightly as possible - around the glued end.
  • Continue wrapping the twine and periodically gluing it down as you go.
  • Cut away the excess and glue down the loose end with one final drop of hot glue.
  • Repeat until you have the desired amount of twine pears.

Terrariums and vases

One of the most popular alternative uses for old incandescent bulbs is to turn them into vases or terrariums.

Hollow out the light bulb by breaking away the ceramic base, breaking the inner liner and filament and removing everything from the inside of the bulb. Remove the white power coating on the inside of the bulb by adding a tablespoon of salt and swirling it around until the glass is no longer white. Wash the bulb with warm water and rinse with rubbing alcohol. Finally, fill the bulb with either moss, an air plant or water with a small plant, such as flowers.

Note that hollowing out the bulb can be rather tricky and dangerous, so be sure to use gloves and eye protection.

Wall coat hook

Taylor Martin/CNET

Another way to repurpose those old glass bulbs is to use them as a mold for a wall-mounted coat hook (link to video tutorial). Other than the bulbs, all you will need is some fine cement, a lag screw and some patience.

  • Start by carefully removing the innards of the light bulb.
  • Next, mix the cement to a melted peanut butter consistency and begin slowly packing it into the hollow bulb, using a skewer or the handle of a small brush to pack the cement tightly.
  • Once the bulb is about half full of cement, insert the lag screw and continue packing cement tightly around the screw.
  • Top off the bulb and gently tap it into the palm of your hand to remove air pockets from the cement. If needed, top off with additional cement.
  • Let the bulb sit for at least 48 hours to cure, then break away the glass. Find a stud on a wall near your front door, and install your new lightbulb-shaped coat hook.

Christmas decor

Turn old light bulbs into something you will cherish forever by making holiday ornaments with your family.

Using felt, cotton balls, paint and a little imagination, you can turn light bulbs into your favorite holiday characters. They make particularly great penguins and a Santa Claus with a very jolly belly.

Once you're done painting and decorating the ornaments, hot glue a loop of ribbon or twine to the very top and hang them on the tree.

If nothing else, recycle

If a DIY solution doesn't pique your interests, you're not entirely without options. Instead of tossing them in with the trash, contact your local retailers to see if they recycle incandescent bulbs. You shouldn't recycle incandescent bulbs with the rest of your glass, but some retail locations will collect bulbs for recycling.