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25 Ways to Upcycle Your Old Stuff
The best things in life are (nearly) free. See how you can upcycle your old stuff into something beautiful and functional.
Trash Can Planters
If you’re a beginner gardener and don’t know how much sunlight each plant needs, consider making your garden mobile. To do this, attach casters to galvanized metal trash cans and fill with your favorite flowers.
Porch Rail Coat Rack
An old porch rail works great as a functional coat rack for a mudroom or kid’s room. All it needs is fresh paint and hooks.
Old Cabinet With Antique Charm
The key to upcycling is being able to see the beauty in an old, damaged piece of furniture. Erinn Valencich found an old cabinet at a flea market and repurposed it as an antique bathroom vanity, bringing a charming look to this bathroom.
Layla Palmer added visual height to her bedroom by placing old wooden shutters behind her bed. To give them a coastal, cottage look, paint them in fresh, light colors. For added visual effect, alternate the colors of each shutter.
Mason Jar Lanterns
Creating a soft, intimate glow in your yard is simpler than you think. To illuminate your outdoor space, place tea light candles in Mason jars and hang them with shepherd’s hooks.
Stair-Post Kid’s Desk
The best part of upcycling is taking an old piece of furniture and creating a custom-made piece with new life. Designer Brian Patrick Flynn made a colorful kid’s desk using old stair posts and stain-grade plywood — the perfect spot for a kid to do homework.
Upcycling can be as simple as placing a frame around an architectural object, bringing new life to it as a stunning piece of art. Here Brian framed an old barn door and placed it over the bed to create a focal point.
Ruler Clip-Art Rail
You probably have several rulers and yardsticks in your kid’s school supplies stash. Get use out of some of them by gluing colorful clothespins to them and hanging them on the wall. You can use the clothespins to hang your kid’s art projects and good grades.
Don’t know what to do with that small, damaged table? Brian cut a table in half and painted it a bright color to give the tiny piece a bold look.
Door Knocker Knobs
Door knockers add an intricate look to your home’s exterior. Bring them indoors by giving them new purpose as knobs on your bathroom vanity or kitchen cabinets.
Bookshelf Turned Kid’s Play Kitchen
You would never guess that the base of this kid’s play kitchen is an old bookshelf. To get the look, use a cake pan as the sink and painted wooden play blocks as the faucet. Slide playful fabric on a tension rod, and place it in the shelf opening to create a sink skirt.
Bench End Table
Layla Palmer transformed an old bench into a vintage end table. Using a bench provides plenty of surface space and storage underneath.
Nature-Inspired Sunburst Mirror
Collect sticks and twigs of varying lengths next time you’re hanging out in your backyard. Glue them to a round mirror and spray-paint in your desired color to create a contemporary sunburst mirror.
Shutter Sofa Table
Shutters are key design elements in cottage style. Many people repurpose them as wall art or headboards. Layla used a shutter as the top surface of a sofa table to bring in soft lines common in cottage design.
Wallpaper isn’t just for your walls. Brian updated an old bathroom vanity with vinyl wallpaper — it gives any outdated bathroom a fresh, new look.
Eclectic Dining Chairs
Flea markets are full of seating options, but they rarely come in sets. Brian suggests buying chairs in different styles and painting and upholstering them in the same shade and fabric.
Daybed With a Crib Mattress
If you’re updating an old nursery, repurpose the crib mattress into a daybed for a cozy spot to read a book or for overnight guests.
Painted Brass Chandelier
Brass is a beautiful metal, but it may not fit in with your home’s contemporary design.
Kids’ Craft Station
The Junk Gypsies sisters created a kids’ mobile craft station using an old wooden spool.
Cardboard Drawer Dividers
Keep the packaging next time you buy a product. You can use the cardboard to create drawer dividers — they work great for socks, ties, jewelry or scarves.
Wine Bottle Table Lamp
Lighting is one of the easiest things to upcycle. You can turn practically any hollow object into a lighting source if you wire it.
License Plate Room Divider
Sometimes the items you collect make the perfect objects for upcycling.
Piano Coffee Table
The Junk Gypsies sisters love scouring thrift shops for treasures, like this set of piano keys.
Outdoor Buffet Table
Use some sandpaper and spray paint to transform an old, damaged dresser that’s been collecting dust in your attic into a buffet table or bar area perfect for an outdoor sitting room.
Lab Container Coffee Table
Don Short of West End Salvage used acryclic lab boxes from the ’70s to make a sturdy coffee table.
Home Decor Sewing 201 Series: Peg demonstrates her method for cutting bias strips for piping (welt cord) for the “Little Striped Cushion” Project.