There’s more to sustainable living than just recycling, decreasing waste and using products made out of renewable materials! Although throwing rubbish in a recycling bin may benefit the environment, you can do so much more to help. Remember the principle “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”? By upcycling, you will be focusing on the reusing part of sustainable living, and you can decorate your home to your heart’s content while you’re at it!
What is upcycling?
We all know recycling involves breaking down used materials to create new items, like taking plastic waste and creating new products. This is why recycling has also been called “downcycling”.
On the other hand, upcycling means taking low-value items and creating more useful or higher-value pieces. The term was coined by Reiner Pilz, a German engineer, in the 1990s. It’s about giving new life to old clothes, old furniture or even parts of your home. You use them in creative ways that have a more lasting impact.
Find some upcycling projects that you can use to give boring objects of yours a makeover, and these design ideas will add more colour and character to your home.
How to repurpose and reuse at home
Upcycling is a DIY project that your whole family (or friend group) can get involved in, and it’s a fairly simple process too:
- Evaluate your daily habits, your space and the aesthetic you want to create in your home.
- Discover what furniture, accessories or other items you need to capture this vibe. You can also think about how you can match these functional objects with the rest of your home décor. This way, they won’t seem out of place at home.
- Shop around your house, find what old and unused objects can be repurposed and transformed.
If you’re handy with a hammer, mend any breaks or damages on your chosen materials. Otherwise, look for tutorials online to help you. Once you have your fixed objects, you can finally give them the Cinderella treatment they deserve!
DIY upcycling ideas to make old stuff new!
Of course, as an upcycling beginner, you may be stumped on where to start, but we have you covered. Here are a few DIY ideas to get you refurbishing.
Brush a new coat of paint on your coffee table
Any furniture that already looks worse-for-wear or has some damage will come alive with a fresh coat of paint. This will allow your old coffee table, for example, to continue supporting your coffee mugs. Don’t be afraid to stencil a design or paint to match your living room aesthetic. Other options include stains and bleach to strip the paint and give it a modern, minimalist look.
If damage has taken too much of a toll on your old coffee table, you can also repurpose it as a work table. Children can colour and draw as much as they want on its surface. You can use it for crafts or gardening. You can even use it as a platform for house plants. If you have some monstera to show off, side tables are also good choices for displaying pots.
If it’s a table or dresser you’re revamping, consider adding new hardware to it or spraying the hardware gold; you could also add texture with smaller pieces of wood or ice cream sticks (saw the ends off for a rectangular shape, and glue them on in a criss-cross formation).
Give your plants and herbs a home with plastic bottles and mason jars
Speaking of plants, you can also grow house plants in pots made out of plastic bottles. Just give the plastic a thin coating of paint to spruce the container up with colour. You also hide the fact that they’re made from plastic. In the meantime, mason jars can be used to grow herbs. They will look pretty, and you can keep them close in your kitchen.
Also, plastic bottles and mason jars aren’t the only things you can repurpose for plants. If you have enough corks, you can actually glue them together to create cork pots. These will be perfect for succulents and other small plants on a table, counter, or bookshelf.
Oh and, check this out: you can turn a basic cereal bowl into an abstract sculpture.
Have your dresser carry something else — wine bottles and liquor
Like the coffee table, an old dresser can be given new life with a paintbrush, but you can also use it to make a bar. Keep your glasses and wine (or vodka bottles) there. At the end of a long day, you can easily pour yourself a drink and lounge on the couch in your classiest robe.
Stack crates or combine pallets for an easy storage solution
Stacking crates on top of each other will make for a beautiful bookshelf or cabinet. Pallets can also turn into shelves, but they can become a coffee table that has a storage unit inside, too. Match these storage solutions with a white, off-white or light blue colour, and you’ll have found another piece for a rustic or coastal aesthetic.
Create some bling for your home using a chandelier
An old chandelier due for replacing need not be thrown in the hard rubbish. Although some suggest that using the chandelier crystals as a necklace is the perfect upcycling idea, you can instead use the crystals to add some eye candy to your home décor. Curtains, runners, tablecloths, vases, and even furniture can also be upgraded with added gems.
You can also bedazzle a plain mirror using some designer stencils.
Find a place for your scented candles with teacups and tin cans
Scented candles not only smell good, but some of them even look stunning. Just like other candles, however, scented ones can drip wax everywhere. You can keep your furniture protected while still showcasing your candle collection by reusing teacups or tin cans. These objects can catch all the dripping wax from the candles. With a lick of paint, they can even appear as decorative holders for your scented candles.
Upcycle your way to an upscale home
The list above is by no means a complete round up of all the upcycling home décor ideas you can dream of. Other possibilities include headboards, textured canvases, vases, tiled tables and much more! Think of some thrift flips yourself with the help of the things around you. You don’t have to visit an op shop, flea market or antique store for that. You have all you need at home (or on the sidewalk) to make your home look a million bucks, using zero dollars.