Upcycling and Refurbishing

Are you stuck at home looking for some ways to improve, revamp, and rework the spaces you’ve had to stare at for the last two months during COVID-19? Check out these upcycling ideas!

Fortunately, you don’t have to work on your home to feel like you’re creating something new for your space! “Upcycling” is a great way to take materials you already have and repurposing them into something new and creative. It’s cost-sustainable, eco-friendly, and fun! From furniture to clothing, these ideas for repurposed items are sure to give you something to do.

What Kinds of Things Can I Upcycle?

The key is imagination! Take an everyday object out of its typical context and think about other ways you can possibly use it. Does it have spaces that could hold plants? Could it be transformed into an eclectic light fixture? How can it be made into bookends?

1. Upcycle Clothing

Fabric can be a great material to use when looking for a DIY project because it can give texture and color to any project. Or, if you’re good with a sewing machine, give an old clothing piece new life by re-purposing it for one of your kids. Check out this project from Esther Louise Photography! She took a favorite dress and re-purposed it for a summer dress for her toddler! Simply adorable.

2. Accessories

Upcycled accessories are nice because they often require a lot less material than a whole piece of clothing. Also, they can be a fun conversation piece! Check out these simple, DIY headbands. You only need three things: A plastic headband, a scarf or fabric, and a hot glue gun!


photo and idea by lessplasticliving

3. Upcycling Jewelry

With a little resin, you can turn so many things into jewelry! Check out this tutorial on how to make unique custom jewelry. Things you can suspend in resin include old repurposed jewelry, flowers, and twigs, sprinkles, small toys, book pages, the list goes on! You could even ModPodge paper or a picture to the inside of a bottle cap and fill it with resin. If you want something a little less complicated, take some pretty scrap fabric and cut it into two identical earrings, maybe a leaf or a teardrop shape!

Upcycling For Your Home

4. Furniture

Check your attic, garage, or storage for any furniture that’s outdated. Talk to your friends and ask if they have any old furniture they’re putting on their curb. Since thrift stores, yard sales, and antique shops are not a viable option at this point, you can also check Facebook marketplace or other apps where you can buy/sell secondhand goods. If you do use this method, be very cautious to keep your distance from individuals, and sanitize the piece of furniture before you work with it.

5. Flower Arrangements

Once you have a good base for a flower arrangement, you can reuse it, again and again, to rotate with the seasons. In this example, the base is made with rolled-up pages from an old magazine, which creates a cohesive, creative frame for the beautiful flower arrangement.

You could make this at home by rolling old magazine papers into tubes and coating the paper with glue. Get a shallow plastic bowl or plate and attach the rolled papers to the bottom with even more glue. Once your container is dry, secure a piece of floral foam on top of the plate. Arrange with your choice of fake or fresh flowers and foliage (or even a mix)!

upcycling paper

A floral arrangement made with recycled paper

6. Tips for Upcycling Windows

Aged windows are one of the most versatile items to repurpose, and I love their rustic look. My parents glued sea glass to the window sections, creating a mosaic that filtered the sun with beautiful colors in our sunroom. The partitioned sections lend themselves to a clean, geometric vibe. It can make a cool picture frame, key rack, dry-erase board, chalkboard, shadow box, or display case.

7. Mason Jars and Kilner Jars

mason jar upcycling

Photo by the thecraftpatch

Nothing says country-chic like Mason jars and Kilner jars. There’s no shortage of creative ways to re-use them. Here are some of our favorite ideas:

  • toothbrush holder
  • plant hangers
  • salt and pepper shakers
  • makeup brush organizer
  • coin bank “travel” jar
  • kitchen/pantry storage
  • sewing kit with a pincushion lid
  • tissue dispenser

8. Upcycling Mirrors

Mirrors can also be fun to repurpose! I once collected about a hundred similar-looking seashells on the beach, glued them around the rim of the mirror, and sold it on Etsy! If you have a lot of the same or similar objects, gluing them around the edge of a mirror can give it a fun, unique vibe that adds a touch of personality to your decor.

upcycling mirror

My seashell mirror creation

If the objects need to be more cohesive, grab a can of spray paint (I’m a fan of gold) and spray all the objects before you glue them to the edges. This can be anything from kid’s toys, small figurines, twigs, rocks, paper, or anything that most represents you and your style! Make sure they’re securely fastened with hot glue or mosaic glue.

How Do I Upcycle Furniture?

The key to upcycling furniture is making sure you have all the materials you need before you start. There’s nothing worse than realizing mid-project that you’ll have to make a trip to the craft store or home improvement store.

Also, be sure to properly prep your piece beforehand. Whether that means giving it a good wipe-down to clear away excess dirt or cobwebs, or removing an old finish with a sander. Wooden pieces like end tables, coffee tables, dressers, and hutches can be easier than couches and chairs because they don’t require any re-upholstering.

Make sure you match the era of the piece of furniture with the style of upcycling. If it’s a 1950’s midcentury modern table, don’t paint it with pastels and distress the paint for a shabby-chic look. Instead, paint it with a bold color or a geometric pattern as a statement piece.

Finding Your Next Upcycling Project

With all the time we have to spend at home, it’s the perfect time to start your next DIY upcycling project with materials you have at home. Don’t forget to think out of the box! Share your ideas and creations with your friends and family on FamilyApp! Who knows? It may inspire their next project!

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Jayne SchultheisAuthor posts

Jayne Schultheis

Jayne is a Virginia Beach native who loves her local community. She’s a thrift store enthusiast, musical theater fan, amateur hiker, and lover of all things creative and artsy. You can often find her combing the racks at the local thrift store searching for a fun and unique outfit or spending time getting lost in a good book.

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