Repurposing My Flea Market Find – Cast-Iron Gas Heater

Readers, I need your help!

Last weekend, my family and I went to a flea market and an interesting item caught my eye. An old cast-iron gas heater.

It was sitting on a table next to some (poorly) faux finished cabinets. It looked so out of place. A beautiful gem from another era sitting among new pieces trying to look old and old pieces trying to look new.

Unfortunately, I have no need for an old cast-iron gas heater. However, it was just too unique to pass up. I decided that I simply had to give this old piece a new life.

A bit of scrubbing to get the rust off, a couple of coats of high-gloss enamel paint, and a plan could turn this into an unexpected and quaint piece of furniture/art for my home.

I’ve got the wire brush to get the rust off, and a can of spray paint is easy to come by… the problem is coming up with a plan.

I’m considering turning it into a charging station for all of the electronic devices in the house. The problem is that it is a little big to sit on a counter or desk.

I’m hoping that you can help me come up with other ideas for repurposing my flea market find.

What would you do with this piece of history to give it new life? Share your ideas in the comments.




  1. Sue Kamienski says

    Hi –I’m a friend of your parents. Your mom gave me your blog site card and I love reading your blogs. Suggestions for your new found treasure:
    -don’t paint just put a Clear Coat on it–to keep the patina
    -book shelf for the boys books
    -aquarium–this is my favorite. I think your boys world love sitting on the floor watching the fish swim
    Good luck

    • says

      Hi Sue – you don’t need to introduce yourself… my mom talks about you all the time (and, yes, it is always nice stuff). I’m glad you like the blog – I appreciate your support!

      Those are great ideas. I don’t think that it is deep enough to be a bookshelf or aquarium… but, you are right, the boys would love that!

      I’ve debated whether to paint it or keep it original. I see pros and cons to both.

      I’ll be sure to post the pictures once I’ve decided what to do with it!

  2. Kristin says

    Is it deep enough to hold a few rolls of toilet paper? It could look very fab in the bathroom to hold extra rolls! Also, you could install small hooks in the top and hang jewelry in it!

    It’s so hard without seeing it in person, but its a fabulous find!! Good job! 🙂

  3. says

    I would probably do something like prime and paint it in a wild color, then use it in my entry for storage. Maybe find some cool baskets for the ‘bottom’ and put some plants on top, hang a mirror behind it for light reflection and there you go. Of course, just clear coating it would be super awesome, too.

  4. Andrea says

    That’s a fabulous find! If you post on Pinterest you may get some more comments/ideas on there. Maybe a terrarium would be easier than an aquarium, then it wouldn’t have to be waterproof. Is there a way to fashion a plexiglass box that’d be the right size?

  5. Beth says

    Man, that’s cool, I am jealous, very awesome. I will have to let the repurpose ideas marinate. What are the dimensions, roughly?

    • says

      I need to get out the measuring tape and post dimensions.

      I think that the inside is really too small for things like aquariums (would be cool if it could be done). Turning it into a planter is an idea, but we don’t really have a lot of plants in the house, and I want it to be in my home so I can show it off.

      Right now, I am still leaning towards a charging station for phones, tablets, etc. I will do a dry run of it this weekend – see if cords would fit, etc. Maybe I will post that picture so you can get a better idea of the size.

  6. Brenda says

    I have one of these that I want to redo. Maybe put a mirror strip in the center of each brick and use battery operated flickering candles of different heights set up across the bottom. Think that’s what I am gonna do with mine.

    • says

      I really need to get around to finishing this project! I am going to turn it into a charging station for all of the electronic devices (useful and decorative). I am having trouble dealing with the rust – all of the little tiny holes through which the gas flowed are covered with rust. There is no getting it off with a wire brush – and I don’t want to damage the etching on the surface by using acid. I think I am just going to use rust-covering paint on it.

      Hopefully, I will get it done in the next month!

      I like your idea of the candles. I bet that will be very pretty – and add some nice accent lighting to a room.

  7. Christina says

    I found your blog looking up what to do with the old one of these my landlord just took out of my apartment and the apartment next door, they both died at the same time. They are sitting outside calling to the crafter/repurposer in me “Save Us, Save Us we’d make a cute….” I don’t know? Ha ha I did see a cute fake fireplace one with candles and one with a moving picture of some kind. I love the idea of a charging station. Lord knows we are forever asking “where’s our phones? where’s the charger?” Did you finish yours? would love to see it.

    • says

      Hi Christina, Thank you for stopping by. I am embarrassed to say that I haven’t finished repurposing my heater yet. I started doing some spray painting, but haven’t figured out the best way to modify the inside to hold the electronics. I think I am going to have to get a large piece of felt and cover it, but I need to figure out the best material (it needs to be soft, but stable).

      I will definitely be posting about it once I get it figured out. I hope you will check back in the meantime.

      I would also love to know what you decided to do with yours. These old pieces are so lovely, that I just can’t imagine tossing it out.

  8. Charlotte says

    I say one this weekend that someone had put a string (7 in a set) of flicker lights in it and it was very sweet. I had to look twice to make sure it was not real. I had also thought about the faux candles. So I found one at a garage sale and I am in the process of putting a set of flicker lights in it.
    Good luck.

    • says

      That sounds like a wonderful idea. I have tried turning it into a charging station for our electronics, but it isn’t working out well for me. I like the idea of lights. It would make a beautiful decoration. I would love to see a picture of yours when you are done!

  9. Laurie says

    I have 3, yes 3 of these beautiful ornate peices. 1 i def. Plan on painting a glossy black. Most have a hole in the back on the top or mid section. Home Depot sells little plug in spot lights. I have found some old victorian pics that will be resized and matted. Glass to cover the sqare section. The mini spotlight will shine down on the enclosed frame. A few candls on the shelf part and just use as a decrotive item. I will post when i am done. The only thing i worried about is the light and reflection on the glass that i plan on installing. Also thought about a childs bookshelf, victorian style, painted shabby sheek. Their are chalk paints that work well over these types of material. Distress it a little and i think it woild be beautiful.

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