Upcycling is a new term for an old idea. Upcycling is the concept of taking something old and reinventing it into something new and hopefully either useful or pretty. Basically upcycling is a fancy way of saying recycling, often turning cheap starting material into something completely new. In the upcycling world, a little bit or creativity, some elbow grease and a few coats of paint goes a long way.
The idea centers around finding items at thrift stores or garage sale that might not be in the best condition but are very reasonably priced (even better if it’s free on the curb). With a little out of the box thinking and a few common household items like paint and fabric, the cheap steal of a deal is turned into something that expresses your personal style and adds character to your living space.
Some of the hottest items to upcycle are wooden pallets, old rickety ladders, mismatched picture frames, old dressers and dresser drawers; the options of what can be created are endless.
Wooden pallets are excellent for creating all sorts of different coffee tables, storage shelves, interesting wall art and unique shelving solutions. As wooden pallets are easy enough to come by, are generally free and portable, they are a great source for easy and cheap furniture builds. A hammer, some nails, sand paper and a saw might be needed to bring the idea to fruition, and it’s probably best to have someone who is comfortable handling these kinds of tools as we want to make sure all fingers stay in tact. With so many different projects that can be created from wooden pallets, be sure to pick the one that works best with your skill and comfort level.
Ladders are another quick and easy way to create shelving or bath room towel racks. Old double-sided ladders are great for shelving, as all you need is something to create shelves with, such as sanded down and stained planks from a wooden pallet. Single-sided bunk bed ladders are super easy bathroom towel hangers or in a bedroom lacking storage, as a unique solution for hanging clothes. With just a quick sanding and a fresh coat of paint in your favorite color, these easy upcycling ideas add instant character and function.
Old picture frames can be turned into personalized wall art, jewelry hangers, bulletin boards, chalkboard message boards and coffee table trays. Glue together a complete picture frame (the frame, glass and backing) to a few old candle stick holder and instant funky side table. A larger frame can be used as trim to top off a basic boring Ikea coffee table and add that extra designer feel.
Old dressers and dresser drawers are easy enough to find at the local thrift store, but finding one that fits your personal style and not break the bank may be a little more difficult. However, most dressers can be transformed easily by focusing your attention on a specific detail. Painting either just the drawers or just the frame can give the dresser a modern fresh look. A bold color added to the side of the drawers gives a boring dresser a funky pop! Applying fabric or contact paper to the dresser drawer fronts is another easy way to add pattern or texture to the piece.
However, if the dresser is in pretty good working condition but is ugly, just a simple coat of paint and some fresh hardware will make any old dresser feel brand new. If the working condition of the drawers leaves something to be desired, consider alternatives that can be used within the dresser frame such as the right sized storage baskets to replace those dingy dresser drawers. These dresser drawers can then be turned into ottomans, night stands, side tables or shelving. The options are endless.
With upcycling, you are only really limited by your creativity and the time you are willing to put into a project. From the minimal effort of just a bit of paint to maximum effort of building new furniture from pallets, with upcycling the end result will always match your personal style because they are created by you for you!
For upcycling inspiration please check out our Pinterest page – How to Make Your Rental Homey Part 3.