Up-Cycling Antique Tin

Anyone who has visited our store in Cornwall knows just how much we love unique pieces— especially when it comes to antiques and one-of-a-kind, up-cycling projects! One of our very favourite items to work with falls into both of these categories:framed green tin .jpg antique tin ceiling tiles!

In the 1800s, most popularly in the 1850s, beautifully patterned tin tiles were often used to adorn the ceilings of old farm houses. These tin tiles served not only as
a decorative element in these homes, adding interesting texture and charm, but also performed the practical function of reflecting heat downwards to more efficiently heat the main levels of these houses. Over the years, as the houses have been renovated or torn down, the tin ceilings have rarely been preserved as part of the house. Tiles are often missing or damaged and the cost to replace or restore them is just too high, especially since a tin ceiling in a new, or newly renovated house would generally be far more decorative than practical.

Luckily, the tin is often salvaged in good enough condition for antique-lovers like us to use it for some of our favourite up-cycling projects! It’s amazing how many different ways we can use these tin tiles to preserve the history of the old homes they came out of, while adding some antique character, charm and visual interest to new houses!

Here are some of our favourite ways to revitalize and showcase antique tin:

  1. Frame it! A single tile in a simple frame can be a work of art all on its own. Depending on the individual tile, we sometimes choose to simply clean and seal the tin to showcase the metal and rust, and other times we paint the tin to add a pop of colour and highlight its pattern.
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The unpainted tin has a chic industrial look, while the painted tin really highlights the ornate pattern in these tiles!
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We love pairing tin with a simple barn wood frame to complement its farmhouse history!
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A larger piece of framed tin can make for an awesome, unique headboard! This works especially well in a tight space where a headboard and footboard might take up too much space in the room. (I love this idea so much that I used it myself!) 


2. Incorporate it into panelled doors! Tin is a great fit for the doors of small cupboards and medicine cabinets— it hides the mess inside the cupboards (which is definitely an important feature in my house!) and adds elements of texture and visual interest that you don’t get with a solid wood panel or mirror.

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Painting the tin the same colour as the rest of the cabinet showcases the intricacies of the tin’s pattern, without making the whole piece look too busy!


3. Frame it up and make a clock! Some tiles feature more simple patterns than others. These pieces can be great for making clocks because the simple pattern doesn’t interfere with the mechanism or clock hands, and allows us to paint the numbers on clearly!

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This tin tile is particularly perfect for making a clock because the flat centre is practical for the clock face, and the patterned border keeps things interesting!

4.  Make a tin crown shelf! The flat tin tiles were often accompanied by beautiful crown moulding; both of these styles are great for making up-cycled tin shelves. We love to showcase heavily patterned tin in pine shelves; the simple design and clean lines of these shelves really features the tin nicely, and makes it the focal point of the piece!

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This shelf is doubly special! The antique tin is housed in an old window frame, which makes the backsplash of the shelf!

5. Use it as a canvas! Antique ceiling tin provides a unique surface to paint on and makes for really interesting artwork; this way not only is your artwork one-of-a-kind, but your canvas is too!

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This painting, by Deirdre Cuggy, features the history of the tin by complementing the original chipped paint on the borders of the tile!

We absolutely LOVE antique tin for its decorative texture, its history, and its versatility. With materials this great, it’s hard not to be inspired! Keep an eye on our store and website for more projects featuring antique tin ceiling tiles.