Reduce, Reuse, Upcycle

When it comes to decorating, it’s the little details that make a room – the wall art for a splash of colour, the rug to pull the room together, the technology to add a modern touch. But buying new home decor is often expensive – and excessive, too. Upcycled DIY home decor reduces waste, saves money, and greenifies living spaces.

While we have enough money for a night out, or a mini-break to Amsterdam, decorating falls short on the list. With upcycling, decorating needn’t be so pricey, complicated or time-consuming.

Upcycle copper pipes and glass lamp shades

Every so often, we get tired of how a room looks and want to switch it up a bit. These days we can choose to decorate our homes in pretty much any style we like. However, rather than just tossing furniture or home accessories and replacing them with new things. We prefer to reuse and upcycle what we have into a new look by mixing with other items.

It is thought that handmade products are just as expensive as buying a new object and is seen as undemocratic if only the rich can afford it. It’s not always the case that upcycled is more expensive than buying new, you just need to know where to look for it. Most importantly though, upcycling, like any art form, is something anyone can excel at regardless of their financial status.

Upcycle collage of creative tins and kettle aquarium

Upcycling is all about breathing new life into old items – whether it’s furniture, home accessories or, even clothing, you should think of upcycling as recycling old items into much nicer trinkets for your home. So before you get rid of that patchy old armchair or ditch your dated desk for a swanky new piece of oak, stop and have a think about how your beloved home accessories could be updated and re-used.

Used or discarded objects are recreated as unique home accessories – old wine barrels transform into bookcases, photo frames to food trays, and bottles to desk lamps. Ready to get creative? Read on!

Bottle Cap Tea Lights

Upcycle bottle cap tea lights

If you’re looking for something to do with your unique collection of bottle caps, these candles are a great way to light up your home.

What you’ll need: Bottle caps, crayons or wax, pre-waxed wicks, small cooking pan, water, scissors

How it’s done: Put the crayons in a tin can, then place your wicks inside the bottle caps. Then fill a small cooking pan with a few inches of boiling water and place the tin can in the can and melt the crayon. After a few minutes, pour the melted crayons into the bottle caps. Let cool for 1-2 hours and trim the wicks and you have some fun tea light candles to enjoy! Find the full instructions here.

This is also a great idea for antique mugs or cups. Instead of throwing them out, make a candle!

Record Side Table

Upcycle record side table

If you’re looking for a nice way to display your neglected vinyl record collection, this table will bring a pop of vintage to your room.

What you’ll need: Vinyl LP record, plant stander, glue gun

How it’s done: Dust down your record and heat up your glue gun. Apply an even line of hot glue along the top edge of the planter then place the record on top of the planter while the glue is still hot. Let the glue cool and harden – and you are done! Super easy. Find the full instructions here.

Because vinyl records melt so easily, there’s a lot you can make with them. Try this bowl next!

Clothes Hangers and Wallpaper

Upcycle clothes hangers filled with wallpaper

Salvage old clothes hangers with this quirky wallpaper idea that will make a practical and colourful addition to a bedroom, office space, or kitchen area.

What you’ll need: Clothes hangers, magazine/wrapping paper/wallpaper, glue, scissors

How it’s done: Gather some colourful thick clothes hangers, get some creative wall paper. Trace the shape of the hanger on to it and cut out the shape. Glue around the inside of the hanger and stick the wallpaper inside it. Find the full instructions here.

There are also several other great ideas for clothes hangers. Instead of throwing them out, be creative!

Window Pane Table

Upcycle window pane coffee table

The perfect DIY project for window lovers, this eclectic piece will bring a rustic feel to any living space. Also, serving as a storage component.

What you’ll need: Window, measuring tape, plywood, screws, drill, sandpaper, paint

How it’s done: Click here for the guide to making this cool table.

T-shirt Pillow Cases

Upcycle handamade t-shirt pillow cases

It’s time to clean out your closet and get rid of the mountain of old t-shirts you never wear. Instead, repurpose them as soft, sentimental pillow cases. Upcycling T-shirts into pillows is a fast and easy sewing project that anyone with beginner-level sewing skills can handle.

What you’ll need: Old t-shirts, rotary cutter, ruler, sewing machine, thread

How it’s done: Cut the fabric to the desired size, allowing for 1/4-inch seams. Sew the sides together, leaving an opening to fill. Use filling to stuff your pillow, and then sew it closed. Push the filling to the bottom of the pillow and feed the unfolded edge through the sewing machine.

T-shirt pillows make great gifts! Try it out with a shirt of your friend’s top band, college mascot, or favourite colours.

Old Magazines to Wall Art

Upcycle old magazines to wall art

It’s time to put your old magazines to use and create one-of-a-kind, wall art that will look creative and fun in your bedroom.

What you’ll need: Magazines, canvas, pattern, tape, hot glue gun, tape, hot glue sticks

How it’s done: Print and cut out a silhouetted shape. Tear out a bunch of magazine pages. Fold in half twice to get four small rectangles. Start to roll! Tape the end to avoid it from unravelling. Hot glue your magazine roll-ups to your silhouette. Once the silhouette is covered, trim off the extra magazine pieces. Glue magazine silhouette to your wood board. Find the full instructions here.

This wall art can also be done in different shapes. Add some decorative different shapes for an extra touch.

Faux Stain Glass Jars

Upcycle faux stain glass jars with flowers inside

As a creative project, why not create decorative bottles for potential flower vases? With a little bit of TLC, you’d be amazed how easy it is to can transform objects.

What you’ll need: Clear glass bottles, tissue paper, mod podge, small painting brush

How it’s done: Use scissors to cut pieces of tissue paper in whatever colours you choose. Paint a little mod podge on the glass first then place the tissue on the glass, and then follow up with a thin coat of mod podge. Follow all along the glass, cover completely or make a pattern. Find the full instructions here.

Add some small flowers to make this a truly eco-friendly home accessory.

Framed Map Pictures

Upcycle framed road maps

A creative way to preserve memories while upcycling old maps, you can even stitch your route for a trip down memory lane.

What you’ll need: Old road map, embroidery needle, embroidery thread, frame

How it’s done: Cut the map to fit the frame and then use the needle to poke holes in the map along your route. Using a backstitch, sew along the route, finishing with an X at your destination. Find the full instructions here.

You can also use old maps, instead of a regular frame, to add a quirky border to any picture.

Repurposed Cot

Upycyle repurposed baby cot transformed into a play desk

It is hard to see that they are growing, but what better way to face it head on than too convert the out-grown cot into a decorative child’s drawing desk.

What you’ll need: Baby cot with a removable side, mdf board, blackboard paint

How it’s done: Remove a drop side, then cut two sheets of thick mdf to fit into the mattress base to provide a table top. The paint the board with blackboard paint to create a chalkboard table top.

Find the full instructions here.

Why not try and experiment other things with your old baby cot? instead of a desk, have a look at some other ideas here.

Upcycle home plant jars

If you’re interested in creative ideas, you can find more upcycling creations here. Also, check out our infographic on how to upcycle a rug here.

All it takes is a little imagination to turn that budget-friendly thrift store find into an eye-catching piece that will add loads of personality to your home.

So, which was your favourite creative idea?