Incorporating items that are exclusively ornamental, such as paintings and statues, is an important part of decorating your home and garden. However, you can greatly expand your decorating options by adopting a simple philosophy: How can I accomplish a necessary function in an aesthetically pleasing way? Rain chains, decorative alternatives to traditional metal or plastic downspouts, are a fantastic example of what this philosophy looks like in practice. They come in a wide variety of styles, but all have the same practical purpose: directing rainwater from rooftop gutters away from the house and to the ground (or to a storage vessel). Additionally, rain chains offer the benefit of being visually pleasing water features which enhance a home’s appearance.
Rain chains originate in Japan, where they have adorned houses and temples for hundreds of years. There they are called “kusari-doi”, or “chain gutter”. The first kusari-doi were created in the 1600s to adorn teahouses. These early examples used bamboo and palm ropes. In addition to being attractive, kusari-doi are valued for generating a pleasant white-noise effect as water drips or pours down them. Rain chains began gaining international popularity after Japan hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics and visiting style connoisseurs spotted them.
Some garden supply shops offer rain chains for purchase, but they are also easy to make and customize at home. Many different objects, from recycled household items to natural objects like stones can be incorporated into a rain chain. You can use materials and color schemes that complement your home, or you can choose contrasting materials and colors to add an intriguing accent. This article offers seventeen rain chain ideas of the many creative options that you can do yourself (DIY).
1. Ombre Rain Chain
This rain chain incorporates miniature terracotta pots in a gradient of different shades of blue. The pots are connected along the chain by running the chain through the drainage hole at the base of the pot. The possibilities for customizing color schemes and decorative designs on the miniature pots are endless.
2. Stone Rain Chain
Source: Dollar Store Crafts
This charming rain chain consists of polished stones wrapped into the links of a chain using thin wire. The links themselves are also connected with wire spirals. This rain chain could also hold polished shells or crystals.
3. Copper Tubing Rain Chain
Here we see a rain chain making clever use of recycled lengths of copper tubing. The tubing helps direct even heavy rainfall safely away from the house, and the oversized rings of copper create an appealing water feature.
4. Recycled Spoon
Source: Birds and Blooms
This rain chain made of recycled spoons has undeniable rustic charm. The spoon handles are used to create the chain itself, while the bowls are attached along it at angles to direct water.
5. Fork and Spoon
Source: I’m Going to Texas
This is another great example of a rain chain made from recycled materials, incorporating both spoons and forks. The tines of the forks are bent to create the chain, adding whimsical appeal. This is a great project to put together with old silverware of your own, or with a handful found at a thrift shop
6. Mini Flower Pots
Source: All Things Heart & Home
A cute take on the flower pot rain chain idea, this example features an antiquing effect achieved using paint. It also features a basin at the bottom, a useful addition which helps anchor the chain and collects rainwater for eco-friendly re-use.
7. Ring Rain Chain
Source: My Home My Style
Featuring a copper basin and a chain made out of vertical tubes, this rain chain is reminiscent of those featured in early Japanese teahouse. If you are going for a sophisticated, timeless look, this style of rain chain is for you.
8. Pine Cones
In this rain chain, elements from nature are used to direct water away from your home. This chain includes large pinecones connected by small metal links. If you try a similar project, it may be a good idea to apply a weather-resistant coating to the pinecones.
9. Stacked Mini Planter Pots
Source: Old House Crazy
Water will cascade attractively from flower pot to flower pot in this rain chain featuring stacked miniature planters. The attached hooks for hanging make it easy to assemble.
10. Stacked Planters
Source: Cut Out and Keep
Featuring large hanging planters, this rain chain is a good option for areas with heavy rainfall, as the stacked style is capable of redirecting a large amount of water. The design also makes use of a planter saucer to catch overflow.
11. Stacked Metal Buckets
Source: Timeless Treasures
The re-purposed materials used in this rain chain would be totally at home in front of a cozy farmhouse or cabin. The small metal buckets direct water into a tall, weathered metal rain barrel where it can be collected and used to keep the garden lush and healthy.
12. Candle Holder
Another interesting way to use recycled objects in rain chains is by using candle holders, as this chain does. The variety of whimsical designs on the candle holders adds visual interest as the water is directed in ever-changing patterns.
13. Funnel and Basin Rain Chain
Source: Northline Express
Featuring delicate metal cups, thick chain links, and a gorgeous copper basin, this rain chain is a statement piece that complements any yard. The water striking the scooped surface of the basin gives a dramatic visual effect.
This rain chain captures the spirit of kusari-doi by incorporating intricately decorated metal lanterns. The wooden box at the foot of the chain, filled with polished stones, is an attractive way to ensure proper drainage.
15. Rain Chain with Copper Planters
Source: Two Thirty Five Designs
With live plants growing in each copper planter, this rain chain is the ultimate combination of form and function. It brings an element of botanical beauty to your yard that is effortless to maintain.
16. Stacked Copper Buckets
Source: Randy and Meg’s Garden Paradise
The large decorative pot at the foot of this rain chain serves as an intriguing visual contrast to the sleek copper buckets that make up the chain. This interplay of metal and ornate ceramic provides timeless style.
Source: Prairie Break
This striking rain chain is made up entirely of polished ceramic discs in different colors. The water streaming over the edges is pleasing to the eye and ear, making this rain chain a great conversation piece as well as a practical tool.