Trending: BirdcagesJanuary 11, 2013
Whether it’s in an antique shop or in the pages of my favorite design magazines, I'm always stumbling on intricate antique birdcages being used in creative ways throughout the home. The shapes and sizes vary. Some are made of bamboo, others in the shapes of English castles, or temples from the Far East. What is it about birdcages that that has designers and design junkies so smitten?
A conversation with Marston Luce gave me a clue. Alabama-native and owner of the eponymous Washington, D.C. antiques shop, Luce often features antique European birdcages in his shop window. I remember them from my time spent working in design in D.C.
Marston Luce storefont; A "bird chateaux" that once sat in the the shop window. Via Marston Luce.
“I’m on the lookout for birdcages when I’m antiquing because I love anything architectural," Marston says. "That’s really what birdcages are—architectural miniatures. I think that is the appeal for most people, whether they are admitted architecture lovers or not.”
The secondhand market for birdcages also begs the question: when did people own all of these birds? Clearly it was a trend once big enough for these cages to be manufactured en masse. With a little digging, I discovered that pet birds were popular during the Victorian era, which is why many of the cages you see are so ornate. Fun fact: Bird ownership has always been most popular in Asia and Europe, but slow to catch on here in the States. We just love our dogs too damn much.
Below are some of my favorite images of birdcages in the home and garden along with some ideas for how you can incorporate them into your own home décor. I prefer the aged look—peeling paint and rusty hinges. But if you want to make yours over, there’s nothing more useful than a can of spray paint.
Birdcages are easily re-purposed as indoor lighting. Either cut the bottom off and use it as a flush-mount light, or wire it for use as a pendant light, table lamp, or floor lamp.
Via Apartment Therapy.
For the Table:
They're also great when used as a centerpiece and make a unique alternative for the standard hurricane lantern. Group a few candles together (make sure the cage is iron, not wood) or stage seasonal trinkets for a more festive look. Round holiday ornaments in different colors and textures, Easter eggs for spring, or even a beautiful potted orchid.
In the Garden:
Use smaller birdcages as an accessory in your garden by interspersing them with smaller planters up-and-down steps or on tabletops. They also work hanging from a porch ceiling, with a collection of succulents or an ivy plant in the middle.
Large birdcages can be great furniture-like centerpieces for an outdoor porch or garden. Use them instead of traditional garden shelving to stage your smaller plants and herbs in. Who knows, maybe it will become a hang out spot for…birds.