Decorative Scale Makeover

Decorative Scale Makeover

Admittedly, I’m not usually a fan of painting brass. But every now and then, I’ll make an exception for the right piece. And this decorative scale that I found at Habitat ReStore was definitely meant to be one of those exceptions.

decorative scale at a thrift store

I’d never seen anything quite like it- perhaps more of a hanging bowl than a brass scale. Either way, on its little marble base, it was just too unusual and interesting to pass up!

brass scale or hanging bowl

The brass itself, however, was in terrible condition- particularly the inside of the bowl. I’ll never be certain, of course, but I’m strongly suspected that it had been used as an ashtray in its previous life.


But, it deserved a second chance with an easy makeover, using a similar process that I followed for this vintage brass lamp. So, I disassembled the scale; hand washed and dried everything; and gathered the paints and supplies that I’d need!

cleaning and painting a decorative scale

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Painting a Vintage Brass Scale

First, I decided to makeover the decorative scale as two different parts: the hanger/base and the bowl/chains. I needed to coat each with metal primer before anything else.

For the base, I wanted to take advantage of the fact that it could stand on its own. But I needed to protect the marble! So, I drilled a hole in a to-go container lid and slid it over the connecting bolt as a shield!

metal primer for brass painting

When it came to the bowl, I primered the underside of it first.

painting brass

For the concave side of the bowl (and chains, too), I tied a long loop of kitchen twine through the top ring. I held the bowl/chains by the string and primered it while holding it.

Then, I simply hung it on a shepherd’s hook in our yard to dry!

how to paint chain

As it dried, I carefully moved some of the joining rings to ensure that I primered the parts that had initially been resting against the chains and/or bowls. That way, I could touch up any parts that had missed the initial coat of primer.

When all was said and done with the metal primer, I grabbed my spray paint of choice to finish my decorative scale makeover.

oil rubbed bronze spray paint

Oil rubbed bronze was obviously a lot darker than the original brass, but it’s one of my favorite metallic paints!

And I went through the same motions as I had with the primer to ensure even and thorough coverage.

painting a decorative scale

Decorative Scale Makeover

After using a spray satin topcoat on all the parts, I was nearly done! Before I’d started on the primer, I had peeled off the original felt from under the marble base.

It had deteriorated over the decades and made a dusty mess! So, all I did was cut out a new square of adhesive felt and stuck it underneath the marble!

Now it was all done and I could reassemble everything. The darker paint was quite a different look, but I love how it looks in person.

painting a brass scale

A decorative scale for our coming-along-nicely eclectic living room! I love it as an air plant holder (for faux air plants), but what would you use it to display?

decorative scale for home decor

All I know is that it’ll never be used as an ashtray again! Poor little brass scale, you deserved better than that.

decorative scale makeover

So, tell me- would you have painted the brass or left it as is? Had the inside of the bowl not been so corroded and rough, I might have been able to avoid painting it. But the years hadn’t been kind to it, so I have no regrets over painting my little hanging bowl!

If you enjoyed this upcycling idea for a decorative scale, then you may also enjoy how I created this industrial side table. Hint: Think 1980s movie tapes on VHS!

industrial side table from vhs storage

Craft on!


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upcycling a decorative scale

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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.


  1. You saved this poor old brass scale. Spray paint to the rescue. What could be displayed….anything and everything.

  2. Absolutely gorgeous! I’d love to find a piece like that to display my crystals and/or seashells!

  3. Penneu Helms says

    This is so awesome-I love the bronze. How about Easter eggs, moss balls, vintage balls of any kind, jewelry, vintage postcards, the mind just blows!

  4. Perfect! I love the new color!!

  5. Wendy Oyler says

    This is a cool piece but it definitely needed an upgrade and I love the new look!

  6. I would have nabbed that find also. I’ve never seen anything like it! Love the makeover 🙂

  7. Judy Smitha says

    Hi Sarah – I’m new to your blog and now follow you on Facebook. I like the recycle and upcycle that you do and have a question. I’ve been saving small bottle lids in different colors for over a year. Trying to come up with a project to re-use these items and make a statement about plastic pollution. Maybe a mosaic? A picture? I don’t draw well but would like to DO something with these little guys. Got any ideas? Thanks for any suggestions!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Ooh, like ketchup or jam caps? (i.e., metal) If so, I bet you could make cool fridge magnets with them- paint them like flowers, or experiment with resin…

      • Judy Smitha says

        These are mostly plastic caps and lids, which is why I was thinking of a map or picture or mosaic type ‘thing.’ Like I said, I don’t draw/render well but hate to just throw more plastic away! ??? Thanks!

      • Judy Smitha says

        Not sure I did the reply correctly first time… The caps are mostly plastic in various colors from different bottles.

  8. Jo Johnston says

    That turned out great! Love the new color.

  9. Lovely job on painting the scale! (BTW, it’s “primed” not “primered” 😊

  10. Great project, what an interesting find! Love the line of the piece. Yes, I would have painted it too, and with the same color, LOL, I have a can of that to use today to touch up my cake topper art piece.

  11. Loved your makeover. When something can be improved with paint, I say go for it. I own lots of dark mahogany wood furniture that I would NEVER paint as it is in good shape.But when something is “past praying for” and can be made beautiful again, it ought to be done. That metallic color is perfect!

  12. I have a scale somewhat like that, somewhere in my attic boxes! It was a wedding gift 57 years ago, and held artificial grapes. It was a popular thing back then. I don’t think yours was an ashtray, but probably a fruit display like mine. I like the redo and it may inspire me to hunt through all those attic boxes for my scale!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Oh, I know it wasn’t meant to be an ashtray. But I think it was used as one regardless- my truck stunk for a week after I brought it home!

  13. Naomi Shelton says

    Wow, what a difference! You definitely made it look quite up-scale. I think a bowl of mixed fruit would look great in it. Or some pinecones and Fall leaves for an autumn display. You saved it from extinction!

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