Decorate Your Unused Glass Bottles

A couple months ago I shared a post about some gray-painted glass bottles that I had purchased from a local flea market vendor. I tried making a couple myself and one of my readers asked if I could share the tutorial. If you have any unused glass bottles laying around, consider decorating them instead of throwing them out. They don’t need to be vintage bottles … just find a few with interesting shapes.

How to decorate unused glass bottlesWhen it comes to painting and distressing glass bottles, there’s really no right or wrong way to do it. You’ll find that even your mistakes end up looking good (as I’ll explain in a minute).


How to decorate unused glass bottlesHere’s my trio of glass bottles before painting them. I chose them primarily for their shape and size. If you don’t have any lying around, a quick trip to the thrift store will result in several cheap options for you. There are always glass bottles at the thrift store!  I was out of gray Annie Sloan Chalk Paint so picked up this economical brand at Walmart. I found that the Waverly brand did not adhere to glass nearly as well as the Annie Sloan brand. If you have Annie Sloan Chalk Paint on hand … use it.


Decorate unused glass bottles with chalk paint. See the results after they're distressed!The beauty of chalk paint is it dries quickly. But they’re not all created equal and you get what you pay for. Give your bottles 1 to 2 coats of chalk paint and allow to dry thoroughly between coats.


How to decorate unused glass bottles. Make them pretty instead of throwing them away!After your gray paint dries completely, you can give the bottles an aged appearance by whitewashing them. I had Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Old White and watered it down ever so slightly. Don’t water it too much as the watery consistency can strip the gray paint off the bottle. Using an almost dry brush (which means you knock most of the white paint off the brush), apply a very thin coat of white and very gently use a dry towel to blot it off immediately. You don’t want the white paint to dry before blotting it. If you rub too hard, you might pull some of the gray paint off.


Gray Painted BottlesSee the white blotchy marks? That’s where some of the gray paint came off while I was adding the white. Again, I think it’s because I used a cheaper chalk paint (it didn’t happen when I first painted bottles with the good stuff). But then I kind of liked that a little paint was off, and simply dabbed a bit more white in those spots so you couldn’t completely see the glass.


Gray Painted BottlesI gave each bottle a slightly different effect. You can vary the finish simply by applying more or less white paint. You can also play with the blotting motion to create different swirls and streaks.


How to decorate unused glass bottlesThe next step is to apply graphic elements using Mod Podge. You can find vintage graphics at The Graphics Fairy. Simply print them, cut them out, and glue them onto your bottle. If you want to seal them, simply give your bottle a coat of matte Mod Podge, but it’s not necessary.  I opted not to seal these bottles and they’re holding up just fine.


How to decorate unused glass bottlesOn the larger bottle, I had a small piece of rough cloth I wanted to use. I transferred a printed graphic onto the cloth using a colorless Blender pen. I then frayed the edges and glued it onto the bottle.


How to decorate unused glass bottlesI think this is a liquor bottle. They tend to come in interesting shapes but we don’t drink any hard stuff. I guess I could check out our neighbors’ recycle bins on garbage days to find empty liquor bottles!


How to decorate unused glass bottlesThere are so many different ways you can embellish unused glass bottles. Use your own creativity or search for “altered bottles” on Pinterest for inspiration!


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  1. Great way to re-use bottles! I love the one you put the “Grains” cloth on – in Canada those stopper bottles are sold with pure Maple Syrup and I have a stash of empties- now I know what to do with these unique bottles – thanks!