Tessa Dee Miller enjoys breathing new life into things seemingly past their prime. As the owner of The Nest, a vintage decor and apparel shop in Reno, NV, Tessa has ample opportunity to upcycle found treasures. Her refurbished speakers had some nice features to begin with — like the decorative grates in front — but she could see them fitting into a more contemporary home with just a bit of a cosmetic makeover and several options to configure. —Annie
As a music lover, every room in my house must be equipped with a record player, amp, and speakers for spontaneous morning dance parties to get the blood flowing. Record players have a nostalgic aesthetic on their own, and amps hide away somewhat discreetly under the record player, but speakers can be such an eyesore. Feeling like speakers constantly commanded too much of the wrong kind of attention in my living room, I decided that they needed some sprucing up. In true DIY fashion, I pulled out a can of spray paint and some fabric from the stockpiled stacks in my craft room and went to town. After a super simple makeover, my speakers feel more like works of art, and I get compliments on them all the time!
One of the most underrated thrift store gems can be found in the section that is the iffiest to venture into: electronics. While I frequently skip past the plastic graveyard of old cameras and boomboxes that most likely don’t work anymore, I have oddly enough always had great luck with speakers. I’ve never picked one up that hasn’t functioned well, although aesthetic-wise, most of them could use a little love to be able to fit seamlessly into my décor. This DIY may not be for the snootypants audiophile, but if you are okay with less than top-of-the-line sound quality speakers that aren’t an eyesore, listen up! —Tessa Dee Miller
Photography by Jocelyn Noel
– Vintage speakers in working order
– Flathead screwdriver (and possibly Phillips head depending on existing screws)
– Spray paint
– Thin fabric 1″ larger (on all four sides) than upholstered speaker panel
– Hot glue gun
Step 1: If you are able, it’s always great to test the speakers before you purchase them. Once you’ve found ones of a suitable size and sound quality, pull off the front. The ones that I found have an extra front grate that most speakers don’t have, but I liked it because it gave them a little extra somethin’ somethin’.
Step 2: Since these particular speakers had an extra front grate, I had to unscrew it from the frame covered in fabric.
Step 3: Most of the time, the front fabric part is held on with Velcro. If you can’t just pull it off, then pry it off with a flathead screwdriver. It shouldn’t take too much effort.
Step 4: I then spray painted the front grate and the speaker casings white to give them a clean, modern look.
Step 5: Next, I couldn’t choose which fabric I wanted. A fun antelope scene from Dwell or a neutral vintage classic with green and blue nubs? Well, with a DIY this easy, I did both so that I could change it up whenever the mood struck me. Note: choose a thinner fabric as opposed to a thicker one so you don’t muffle the sound too much.
Step 6: Next, I ironed out the fabric and cut out a piece 1” larger than the front fabric part.
Step 7: After pulling taut, good ol’ hot glue keeps it in place just fine!
Step 8: Now just pop the front fabric part back on, and voila! A speaker that matches your décor!
Step 9: To put the neutral fabric on, I placed it on top of the antelope fabric and secured it snugly with the grate itself and screwed it in — no glue needed!
Because I have the front grate, I can use these three different ways: (1) plain antelope (2) antelope with grate (3) neutral with grate. When I’m feeling saucy, I break out the antelopes, but I also love the neutral with the grate for everyday use. Which look do you prefer?