Are you familiar with upcycling?

Upcycling is using your old, or discarded items and using them for a different purpose. Considering that by 2030, the trash in the United Kingdom will practically be overflowing, it’s time to start thinking how to put items to better use. 

But do you ever look at an item and wonder how you can upcycle it? How do you create something useful? Is it a lot of work?

Upcycling is the ultimate form of DIY, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. With a little imagination, paint, tools, and time, you could have a beautiful piece to enjoy for years. Here are 15 upcycling ideas to get you started.

19 Upcycling Ideas

Ready to get upcycling? See if these ideas spark inspiration!

1. From Box to Basket

Get a lot of packages? Instead of tossing the cardboard box in the recycling bin, grab some hot glue, jute string, and fabric for a liner to turn your box into a beautiful basket to hold books, toilet paper, junk mail, or anything you can think of. 

Don’t forget to remove the flaps on the box first!

2. Dish Drainer Turned File Holder

Files piling up on your desk? A dish drainer to the rescue! With a little paint and cleaning your home-office desk can be tidy in no time.

3. Old Dresser For New Bathroom

A beautiful antique should never go to waste. Repurposing an older dressing by sanding, painting, and adding finishing touches like modern hardware create a stunning look to a modern environment.

Any old dresser could be painted and used for almost anything – children’s rooms, buffet tables, or converted into bookcases. So many possibilities!

4. Coffee-Can Planters

You daily java gives you life, and when it’s empty let a plant bloom. Empty coffee containers make perfect potters for small counter plants.

5. Window to Wall Hanging

Deep old windows make a great piece to showcase art or other decors. These decorative windows can be done to match any theme or palette in your home. 

6. Mason Jar Lanterns

Mason jars have endless options when it comes upcycling. People have used them for holding personal care products like cotton balls or Q-tips, and for storing weekly salads. For ambient, tender light, put tealight candle inside mason jars and watch your room or outdoor area be bathed in light.  

7. Toilet Paper Roll Art

Save those toilet paper rolls and make something beautiful! Create a one-of-a-kind wall piece that will cause others to do a double take.

8. Yardstick Rail

If you have piles of yardsticks or rulers cluttering your space, they’re good for more than measuring. Take clothespins (paint them if you’d like), and glue them on the yardstick or ruler with several inches between each.

Hang the stick on the wall and use it to display children’s art projects or assignments.

9. Bookworm to Gourmet Chef

Unused bookcases can be brought back to life! If you have a child (or grandchild), repurpose the bookcase into a child’s play kitchen. With a few materials like a tension rod and pan, your child will spend hours creating ‘goodies’ for you!

Any furniture piece like an old entertainment center could work just as well. 

10. Mascara Cleaning Brush

Ever wonder what to do with an old bottle of mascara? Turns out there’s a use for it! After cleaning the gunk and extra mascara off, the brush is perfect for sprucing up the small space or objects like jewelry or corners that are often awkward to clean.

11. Shutter Shock

Shutters are excellent at being upcycled. They can be painted or refinished to give your room a fun focal point. 

They’re not just for standing. Take one shutter and place it on top of a sofa table for a truly unique look. 

12. Conex Box

A Conex box is a storage unit or a shipping container. If you’re ready to tackle a large project such as building a shed outdoors or even alternate living area, learn more about how to design a custom space.

13. Crib Rack

Have your children outgrown their crib? Don’t store away the crib just yet! Take one of the rails and hang it against the wall to store magazines or even blankets. Make sure it’s free of slobber first!

14. Dining Chairs

There’s usually an abundance of dining chairs at second-hand stores or flea markets. If you’re not a type A person, grab a few of these chairs and paint or finishing them to match your decor. Reapolsture the seats if you can, too. 

A collection of different types of dining chairs adds a fresh perspective to a room that’s typically more traditional.

15. Wine Bottle for Light

Empty wine bottles don’t need to be in the recycling. Wash them out, let them dry, and rewire them to create lamps in your home. There’ll be nothing like it anywhere!

16. Colander Plants

If you have a colander that’s lived its life, place landscaping cloth inside and tie a rope to the handles. Place a plant inside the colander, hang it up, and bring a little green to your living space. 

17. Tissue Box Desk Organizer

Snuff out the tissue boxes by turning them into desk organizers. Grab some heavy-duty craft paper and cover the tissue box. Store items like pens, pencils, highlighter, scissors, and other desk-related essentials to keep a tidy space.

18. Wooden Crates

Wooden crates are like mason jars – they’re endless with possibilities and incredibly versatile. Painted almost any color, build a bookcase, nightstand, or hand them on the wall as shelving. 

19. Stool Gift-Wrap Caddy

Gift wrap is awkward to store. Not anymore! Tip over an old stool, paint it, attach wheels, and you’ve got yourself a gift-wrap caddy. 

Use the bars of the stool to store supplies like scissors, tape, or bows. 

Ready to Start Upcycling?

Upcycling can be a fun and entertaining time for all. If you’re stuck with a pile of trash and recyclable materials, try digging through to see if any treasures stick out to you. Which one of these upcycling ideas will you try today?

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