Lisa Leonard Designs

project: knick knack update

February 10th | decorating, DIY

i’m showing you the after, before. a ten minute project that cost about $2. love it.

i found these little birdies at a local thrift shop. $1 each. they had potential. i could just see it. they wanted me to bring them home and make them fresh and new.

i just brushed on a good coat of turquoise, water-based paint from michaels. such an easy update. and such a happy addition to the corner shelf. i’d like to place them on the coffee table but they wouldn’t last 5 minutes with david around. they’re much safer up on a shelf.

they would also be so sweet in white or cream. knick knacks–love ’em or leave ’em?

64 Responses

  1. soo cute and cool! Love me some fresh paint for a fun easy update! The birds look awesome in turquoise! and as for love or leave? Definetely LOVE! :)

  2. Heatherly says:

    I’ve always had a fear of knick-knacks… to tacky for my taste, but this post gives me hope.

    I wonder what tackiness I have hiding that I could transform- my theme for the year is “made new” after all.

  3. Suzanne says:

    totally love them. I like looking for things with potential and then noodling on it for a while until I decide how to use them.

    Your project turned out darling!

  4. April says:

    I love how you can see that those little birds need to be blue. I think I need to start looking at things that way. Very cute! You are inspiring lisa!

  5. Cris Marsh says:

    Love Love Love these.I can’t wait to go out and find some of my own and refurbish them.

  6. becca says:

    I love your spin on them! Wish I’d thought of that when looking through all of my Grandma’s tons of birds just like that when she passed away.

    Knicknacks….I don’t know. I love how they look but we don’t have alot of space in our house right now. It’s not our forever home but it’s paid for so I’m not complaining.

    Plus, with two small kids, things wouldn’t last and I don’t have alot of “up high” space. 😉

  7. MichelleF says:

    I used to leave them after moving them ALL to dust {my Mother’s} :) but have started to love them a little more – just ones with meaning – not a bunch just to have around collecting dust!! Plus, our home was looking a little minimalist – in a bad way!

  8. Sallie says:

    I usually leave them, but your post is pretty inspiring! I might just learn to love them.

  9. Leanne says:

    we’ve been doing this too…my girls are always looking at stuff and saying “that would look good painted”…they want me to buy everything at the thrift store!

  10. Paige Anderson says:

    OMGosh, that is so so brilliant!!! I’m headed to the salvation army today!!

  11. Emily says:

    What an AWESOME idea. My great aunt gave me a few as a young girl and they never really fit my style. But they would this way!

    Thanks for the inspiration!


  12. Michelle in N. Cal says:

    Love them! Love the “pop” of turquoise too (my fave color!)

    Great inspiration …

  13. Paige says:

    The birds look great! I love that you painted them turquoise! This is a great inexpensive update. I love the vignette. I like knick knacks in moderation.

  14. Anni says:

    I love these! I feel like they wouldn’t last long in our house, though – we have an Australian Shepherd and a cat she loves to chase. :/

  15. Karen Hayes says:

    LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! I have birds anywhere I can… or that my hubby lets me! LOVE! LOVE! LOVE!

  16. Kelly says:

    Love them! It’s all about the birds right now, isn’t it. I find myself doodling birds in my journal all the time. You are so creative, thanks for sharing a bit of yourself with your fans!

  17. Mandi says:

    Lovely update! So nice when unloved knick-knacks can find new homes :)

  18. Leigh says:

    Love ’em, but I leave ’em…..with a 16 month old and a 3 year old, they would never survive. And I just don’t have enough room on shelves and mantles to put anything else. I’d love to use my coffee tables one day for something other than a holder for a lamp and numerous toys and crumbs!

  19. Leanne says:

    i love paint! very, very sweet!

  20. Jen says:

    Leave ’em. I love them in other peoples’ houses but in my house I feel too distracted with busyness around me. Plus I hate dusting stuff.

  21. pam says:

    This is a wondereful idea!

  22. Melody says:

    Love them! So happy for your find :)

  23. Linda says:

    Lisa, How do you have time to do all of these things? You must be on the go 24/7. Looks beautiful. What a your favorite thrift shops?

  24. polly says:

    What a great idea … so simple, yet I never would have thought to do that! Thanks for the fabulous tip!!!

  25. Amazing idea what can do!

    Thank for sharing!!

  26. Gina says:

    Love them – i was thinking of doing a similar thing to decorate a ledge above the couch. I can’t do turquoise, but there are lots of colors to choose from!

  27. Katy says:

    ok so here’s my question. would you ever consider spray paint? why the water-based paint? i’m just curious cause spray paint is such an easy fix but if the water based paint gives a different feel and texture, i’m all for it. :)

  28. Tiffany Day says:

    hi lisa,

    love them – love nick nacks!! please show us the rest of your shelf – it looks like a corner shelf?? I have one too – I am always changing stuff around!!

    Great idea to paint the birds all one color!


  29. kerry says:

    I would usually say leave ’em but then I haven’t got an eye like you! This is a terrific idea! I love that it is so simple and reasonable and something that I could actually do with my skill level and time allotment! Thanks Lisa!

  30. Danielle T says:

    I just did the same thing to a few left over plastic easter eggs —-now I have the cutest turquoise eggs atop a nest in a while bird cage that had been yearning for something more updated than the pathetic ivy wrapped candle that had previosly occupied it.

  31. Megan Lane says:

    love ’em! great idea. now i’ll see potential the next time i spot some outdated knick knacks!

  32. Take ’em! But in my small apartment, I need to be careful.
    Love those birdies.

  33. Love em’ They are the cherry on top.

  34. Janice says:

    Soooo cute!!!
    Now I ReALLY want to go thrifting!!!

  35. Brooke says:

    I LOVE this idea! I’ve seen a lot of birds like that at thrift stores and never thought to paint them and make them cute/new. Thanks for the idea! I love knick knacks but have small kids so I don’t have many!

  36. Christy says:

    love these what a cute idea. I’d love to find some owls like this to put in my nursery for baby#2

  37. SueB says:

    what a great idea … and methinks an ivory paint job with some distressing is in my immediate future – TFS!

  38. Anne says:

    I have my share…but try not to get carried away! haha
    Mostly seasonal stuff..but your birds are cute.

  39. Trish says:

    get out. that is adorable!

  40. Erin Leigh says:

    love this thrifty ideas. Makes me want to make a thrift store run! thanks lisa!

  41. Morgan says:

    Wow, those turned out so great! I would have passed by the originals without a second glance. I need to work on seeing that potential! :)

  42. Kelly H-Y says:

    Those are so cute! Personally, I have a love-hate relationship with knick-knacks, because I’m always thinking about having to dust them! ha! :-)

  43. Kelli says:

    Leave them…but you give me hope! You have an eye for diamonds in the rough!! I agree with someone above: I HATE to dust!!

  44. What a great idea. I love it! I’m going to have to try that one.

  45. jamie says:

    LOVE it! the turquoise color is perfect!

  46. A very small amount. I have a shelf in the living room w/ lots of cubbies. I like to keep it seasonal. So for that shelf, knick knacks are good. But for the rest of the house I like to keep the horizontal spaces clear.

  47. Sandy Johnson says:

    love ’em!

  48. kristyn says:

    love their new look! and how you changed my view!

  49. Stephanie says:

    WOW! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! That is such a great inexpensive idea! I will definately have to try it!

  50. Lea Culp says:

    Well, now if that’s just not the neatest idea. I love the idea of painting them. Always a joy to stop by your place. :o) Blessings my dear!

  51. Leigh-Ann says:

    they’re so awesome!!

  52. What a great update! These look 1000x better than they originally did, you have definitely inspired me to update a few things I have laying around :)

  53. Nicole says:

    I love OTHER people’s knick-knacks, but I can’t stand having them in my own home. I think that they’re really cute, and I understand why people have them, but they’re a pain to move with (something I do a lot of), they’re a pain to clean around (something I only do a bit of ), and you really need to get good ones that match each other if they’re going to look cute and not tacky (something i have never been able to do).
    So, while I REALLY love these little birdies in your house, I don’t think I could handle them in mine.

  54. mary says:

    what a GREAT idea! why didn’t i think of that? lol.

  55. maria says:

    I saw a blue bird on someone’s bookshelf recently and was enamored with it. How very clever to paint or even spray paint it. Thank you for sharing such an easy fix for some unslightly objects. Maria

  56. Love it! I am so going to the thrift store this weekend! Thanks for the idea!

  57. Elizabeth Anne says:


  58. *Just Fran* says:

    Love this spin on the knick-knack. After a brutally ugly bout of Victorian-ish decorating, I have drastically decluttered and only kept my books and vintage pottery as decorations. Your post makes me want to rethink that…but it is sooooo much easier to dust and clean now. 😉

  59. Michelle says:

    This is sooooo brilliant!!! Love!

  60. Lindsey Rowe says:

    Love it! What a great idea! My grandma had those birds when I was little, they remind me so much of her, but what a fun new take on them!

  61. Anne says:

    I always look for bird figurines when I go thrifting, mostly I paint them white… yours looks fantastic, esp with those lovely old books!

  62. Marcy says:

    What a GREAT idea!! I am doing this next time I find some figurines like that!

  63. […] has never occurred to me to paint knick knacks but these are awesome – I so need to update my […]

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