10 New Things to Do With Vintage & Antique Corbels

When it comes to useful antiques, it's hard to beat the humble corbel.

Published February 22, 2024
Worker painting corbels

Long after they've outlived their life on the outside of a building, antique corbels can be super useful (and pretty) in your home. There are tons of ways to put them to work, and these are a few of our very favorites.

Corbels were originally made to help support trim and add decorative appeal, and they can still fulfill that purpose. Many have a pretty chipped finish that can give any modern home a sense of history, too.

Turn a Candlestick Into a Wall Sconce With a Corbel

Candlesticks are awesome, but the truth is, they aren't always that useful. They take up space on your table, especially when you aren't using them. On the other hand, a wall sconce is happy just chilling on the wall. You can mount a corbel to the wall and place a single candlestick on it. It gives the candlestick more visual impact, and it's a sturdy surface for display.

Support Your Fireplace Mantel

Corbel Mantel

Sure, you can use an invisible bracket to hang a shelf over your fireplace, but why would you do that when you have access to the most gorgeous vintage corbels out there? Choose a pair you love (we're partial to acanthus leaves) and hang them beneath the shelf. You can use them for actual support or just let them be a decoration.

Need to Know

The value of antique corbels depends on their details (carvings of animals and people are worth the most) and their size (bigger tends to mean more valuable). You can find small, simple ones for under $30 a pair, but you might pay hundreds for a pair that's elaborately carved and very large.

Keep Your Books Standing Tall

Upcycled Hand Painted Ceramic Corbel Bookends

Small corbels are awesome as bookends, and even better, they're fairly cheap most of the time. They're usually heavy enough to keep your books from falling over on a shelf, and they give an instant vintage appeal to any bookcase.

Related: How to Store Antique Books to Best Preserve Them

Show Off a Small Vase on the Wall

Corbel Wall Decor

A small vase looks amazing resting on top of an ornate corbel, and this is a perfect option if you don't have a pair of vintage corbels to use for something else. You can put dried flowers in the vase or just let it stand on its own as a work of art.

Put a Custom Wall Shelf Anywhere

Corbel Shelf

A shelf is a totally classic use of old corbels, but there's a reason for that. You can really customize the look. Cut the shelf to whatever size you want (as long as your corbels will support it). Hang it on any wall. What's more, you can mix and match the finish of the shelf with the corbels for a gorgeous decorative statement.

Support a Wall Desk in Style

If you want to save floor space and create a unique home office at the same time, we're all about hanging a giant shelf on two big corbels and using it as a desk. You'll want corbels that are big enough to support the width of a desk (probably at least 18 inches). Then, use a piece of wood or a butcher block counter as the desk surface.

Build In Your Range Hood With Architectural Beauty

Corbel range hood

Give your range hood a built-in, historic look by hanging two antique corbels under it as supports. Go for a size that's big enough to support the range hood without getting in the way under it. You may also want to add some wood trim to help them look built-in.

Quick Tip

If you need a specific size of vintage corbels for your project, it's worth stopping by an architectural salvage store to compare and see them in person. You can buy them online, too, but it's sometimes harder to image just how big something is when you can't see it with your own eyes.

Add Architectural Interest to Your Modern Home

Distressed, Shelf bracket, farmhouse corbels

Another awesome option for using antique corbels is to add architectural interest to your modern house. They're fancy, after all. If you have an open doorway, you can use two corbels in the corners to give it more style. Any size works here; it's all about your preference.

Related: 21 Innovative Ways to Repurpose Old Windows

Support Counters and Cabinets the Prettiest Way

If you have an overhanging countertop, you'll need to give it a little support where there isn't a cabinet underneath. A corbel comes in handy here. You can also use them to support wall cabinets and just make them look cute. In fact, there are just tons of ways to use corbels to make your kitchen pretty.

Put Corbels to Work Anywhere

There are plenty of antique items that just don't serve a purpose anymore, but vintage corbels aren't one of them. Their job is to support things and look nice doing it, and that's as useful today as it was in centuries past. Next time you're at a flea market or antique store, pick up some corbels and put them to work.

10 New Things to Do With Vintage & Antique Corbels