Upcycling is an inexpensive, eco-friendly option for upgrading your home in all sorts of ways, from creating one-of-a-kind furniture or garden decorations, styling any room in your home, or even making a new bed for your “best friend” (see photo). All it takes is a little time and some creativity, and you can transform found items, or even things you were going to throw away, such as your children’s old skateboards, into brand-spanking-new treasures that will have your friends asking you where you got them. Read on to discover 5 crafty upcycling ideas for your home!
Upcycling or Recycling?
If you’re like many Americans, you probably put out a recycling bin filled with bottles and newspapers every week. Recycling is an excellent way to do your part for the environment by adding less trash to landfills. However, upcycling takes things a step further.
With upcycling, you can take things that you find at a garage sale or flea market, or things you thought about throwing away, and transform them into useful and even beautiful items for your home. For example, our team member Melissa found lots of “junk” left behind by the previous owner when she bought her home. Some stuff went to the curbside, but Melissa painted a cool old pair of wooden skis and repurposed them into a wall decoration that’s a real conversation starter. She also sanded and re-painted a 1950s-era metal footstool and transformed it into a beautiful plant holder. She loves to tell guests how the footstool is identical to the one Tom Ewell used to reach his cigarettes in The Seven Year Itch.
Here a few ideas to help you start upcycling if you haven’t tried it yet. Or, if you’re already a happy upcycler, give you new inspiration!
1: Cool Bookshelf Upcycled from an Old Ladder
If you’re a reader, you’ve probably noticed that your options for displaying and storing your books can be less than satisfying. Built-in shelves or high-quality solid-wood pieces can be prohibitively expensive, and those pressboard home-assembled shelves, while serviceable, lack style.
If you luck into finding a slightly under-the-weather solid-wood bookshelf for a low price, snap it up, re-finish it, and you can enjoy it for years. Another stylish, eco-friendly solution for storing your books is to repurpose something sturdy enough to hold your literary treasures. This Esty user upcycled a vintage wooden ladder to make a super-cool corner bookshelf. We love it!
2: Super-Stylish Upcycled Lighting
A lot of the lighting fixtures you find online or in stores are either affordable and bland, or stylish and completely out of your price range. Upcycled lighting allows you to help preserve the environment, set your creative side free, and end up with truly stylish lighting fixtures at a fraction of the cost. Here are some upcycling ideas we love:
3 unique lamp shades made from upcycled maps, sheet music, and even an abandoned wasp nest (make SURE it’s really abandoned before trying that one).
3: Beautiful Art Upcycled from Spare Molding and Garden Gatherings
Looking for something besides boring cookie-cutter prints to decorate your walls? Better Homes and Gardens (BHG) made cool frames by upcycling extra lengths of molding, which you may have left over after a home improvement project, or you can find for practically nothing at places such as one of Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore Shops, and give back while you style your home. You can also re-paint old picture frames from your attic or the local flea market.
Then BHG filled the frames with dried twigs and flowers, which is an excellent way to enjoy parts of your beloved garden indoors. The results were beautiful, one-of-a-kind works of art. Success!
4: Potpourri Bowl Upcycled from an Old Globe
Better Homes and Gardens found a creative way to upcycle an old paper globe! They cut it in half, and created a nifty potpourri globe. Score!
5: Shadow Box Upcycled from old Dresser Drawer
If that old dresser you’ve had forever is simply unsalvageable as furniture, there are still lots of uses for the drawers. Better Homes and Gardens went the stylish route and upcycled dresser drawers into decorative shadow boxes. Another excellent upcycle for old dresser drawers is to use them to help maximize space in your garden (see photo above).