How To Upcycle: Successful Tips for Changing Old Items into Creative Home Decor

One of my all-time favorite ways to save money and bring elements into my home that have purpose and meaning is with upcycling, a.k.a. reusing / repurposing an item into another use or function. I’ve upcycled a lot of things around my home and shared the process and result on the blog, like my recent light to vase switch-aroo!

Not only can you save $$$ in your pocket, but upcycling allows you to create something that is original and one-of-a-kind.  Yes, you may have to think outside the box a bit, but in the end I’m sure you’ll be happy with the result.

Since upcycling so many items around my digs, I thought I would share some tips and ideas on how to successfully change old items into trendy, fun, and creative new home decor.

How to Upcycle: Successful Tips for Changing Old Items into Home Decor via @Jenna_Burger, sasinteriors.net

 

1. Shop Your Home

One of my favorite ways to shop is with a $0 budget. What?  How is that possible (you ask)?

Well by shopping your home. Take a tour around your house and look for items that you’re bored or tired of.  Then with a little creativity, give them a fresh new look.  It can be as simple as a coat of spray paint (in a fun, vibrant color) or taking the item and completely changing it’s function {like my garage sale clock-turned-mirror}.  It can be a super simple reuse of an item, but I guarantee by changing it’s look, the item will be new again!

Sometimes the unimaginary can be made into something else.  Gail of My Repurposed Life did just that when she shopped her home and instead of ditching an old bed, she used the posts and upcycled them into candletsicks. How cool?!

How to Upcycle: Successful Tips for Changing Old Items into Home Decor via @Jenna_Burger, sasinteriors.net

Or how about these old lampshades which Viv of The V Spot revamped with new fabric and ribbon?  They were almost trashed, but now they look like something that you’d buy at a high-end boutique.

How to Upcycle: Successful Tips for Changing Old Items into Home Decor via @Jenna_Burger, sasinteriors.net

 

2. Good Bones

When thinking about keeping or tossing, it’s important to look beyond the surface to see if the “trash” is worth the work to upcycle.  Who wants to spend time on repurposing something and have it fall apart the next day?  Especially with furniture or larger-scaled items, look at the joints (dovetail joints are best, but not a must) and the structure of the piece.  Think about what you want to do with it – keep as is or change it’s function – before starting the transformation.  Like our bodies, good bones are important for a longer life.

A project that I saw, what feels like a gazillion years ago but never forgot, is Beckie’s vintage television turned console table.  How incredible is this furniture upcycle?! You gotta go check it out on Infarrantly Creative.

How to Upcycle: Successful Tips for Changing Old Items into Home Decor via @Jenna_Burger, sasinteriors.net

 

3. Thrift Store Finds

Thrift stores, estate sales, garage sales, and ReStore shops are all ideal spots to find items to upcycle into trendy and creative home decor.  Things that I am always on the lookout for are picture frames, small bowls, glassware, maps, candlesticks, old books, and chairs (that can easily be reupholstered).  These items are perfect for almost any spot of the home and usually cost very little ($1-$5).

  • Picture frames can always be revamped with a can of spray paint or chalk paint. Try sunshine yellow, raspberry, or tangerine.  Bold is better!
  • Small bowls are perfect to hold jewelry or simply rest on top of a cluster of books.
  • Glassware can be grouped together or displayed on their own.  I love glassware for mantel displays and table vignettes.
  • Maps can be used for SO many upcycling projects.  Decoupage them onto drawer fronts like Dinah did in her craft room.
  • An upholstering chairs is one of my favs! Check out my 1st upcycled chair {here}

Shannon and Dean of AKA Design rocked this upcycled project outta the park.   They turned an old wooden door, that they found at a ReStore shop, into the ultimate entry table – how amazing!

How to Upcycle: Successful Tips for Changing Old Items into Home Decor via @Jenna_Burger, sasinteriors.net

Here’s another one for you…

Lisa of The Pennington Point found this frame “thingy” (as she put it so perfectly) at a flee market.  She had lots of ideas for it, then came up with the perfect upcycled creation… a new wooden clock.  So creative!

How to Upcycle: Successful Tips for Changing Old Items into Home Decor via @Jenna_Burger, sasinteriors.net

 

4. Don’t Toss It – Save It

I’m not a hoarder (even though you may think differently if you peaked into my garage), but I often have a difficult time parting with things (specifically decor items) because I always believe that someday, somehow I will use it for something.   You never know when an item can be of use.  One day it’s trash and another day it’s treasure.  The best items can be created with something you almost threw out.  If you’re questioning whether an item is worth tossing or keeping, look at it outside of it’s traditional element.  Use your creative eye to see how it can be upcycled into something else.

Now, let me state, I am not condoning keeping everything that crosses your path, but items around the house that could potentially be reused, revamped, or recycled should stick around – you never know what they can be used for in the future.

Whether it be in your home or at an old school, treasure can be found all around you.  Jessica of Mad in Crafts got a hold of these awesome floor boards from the stage of her old high school.  Thanks to her mom who salvaged some of the boards, she upcycled them into some fun wall art…

How to Upcycle: Successful Tips for Changing Old Items into Home Decor via @Jenna_Burger, sasinteriors.net

 

5. Roadside Pickup

Never doubt a roadside pickup.  “Trash” on the side of the road can literally be some of the best finds ever… like my favorite turquoise chair (remember when I had the back of my truck filled with groceries and piled the chair right on top)

My friend KariAnne over at Thistlewood Farm calls her roadside pickups her “little slice of junk heaven”.  But clearly her house doesn’t portray “junk” one bit.  Check out the transformation of this curbside find, where she upcycled a 40 pane glass window into a huge chalkboard calendar.  Pure Gorgeousness…

How to Upcycle: Successful Tips for Changing Old Items into Home Decor via @Jenna_Burger, sasinteriors.net

 

6. Look for Inspiration to Knock-Off

Don’t be ashamed by copying or being inspired by something you see in a magazine or read on a blog.  Some of the best creations can evolve from what you see day in and day out.  Knock-offs can save Big Bucks and you can be proud of your thrifty, unique, one-of-a-kind creation.

Sara of The Clever Pink Pirate created the ultimate knock-off when she was inspired by $89 Pottery Barn mirrors, but saved big when she created her own version using wood bowls found at a local thrift store.  So neat!

How to Upcycle: Successful Tips for Changing Old Items into Home Decor via @Jenna_Burger, sasinteriors.net

 

7. Dumpster Divin’

Well there’s not much of an explanation needed here.  But honestly, who knows what you’ll find in a dumpster.  Since others may not be smart enough or have the know-how to successfully upcycle, then you can truly find some awesome treasures.  Be prepared to be up against some crazy, gross stuff, but who knows what you’ll discover.

*disclaimer: this is not (yet) something that I’ve tried.

This DIY dumpster divin’ creation makes it all worth it.  Can we give Karah of The Space Between a big, WOW! What an awesome upcycled project.  From door to coffee table…

How to Upcycle: Successful Tips for Changing Old Items into Home Decor via @Jenna_Burger, sasinteriors.net

 

8. Find a New Location

Sometimes the best upcycles involve nothing but moving the item from one spot to another.  Or buying it and just using it ‘as-is’.  For many who are reluctant to DIY or use tools to change something, this is the best way to upcycle because little time is involved.  ‘Shopping your home’ and moving items around is my M.O.!  A new spot gives new life to what was once boring.  Give it a try.  Gather a few items and move them to someplace else.  I bet your home will look like new in no time (while spending nothing).

I love how Angie of Country Chic Cottage displays this old, vintage, distressed ladder to hang beautiful quilts.  What a great way to reuse something old…

How to Upcycle: Successful Tips for Changing Old Items into Home Decor via @Jenna_Burger, sasinteriors.net

Want to see more creative upcycled projects?  Have a look…

Old lamp turned plant stand by Plucking Daisies

Luggage Rack to Tray Table by Mod Podge Rocks

Barn Door Desk by Cleverly Inspired

Memo Board by Eclectically Vintage

Window pane turned cork board by Mom 4 Real

Drawer pull turned succulent holder by The Scrap Shoppe

Clock turned mirror by Free Stylin

Valentine Sweater Wreath by Crafts n Coffee

Porch Entry Table by Domestic Imperfection

Upcycled Chair to Side Table by The Happy Homemaker

Wine Crate Show Storage by White House Black Shutters

Old Chair to Spring Planter by My Sister’s Suitcase

Reupholstered Chair by Streetwise Decor

Have you ever thought of or tried upcycling? If so, what have you upcycled in your home?  What treasures do you search for at thrift stores and garage sales?


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  1. says

    I LOVE a good upcycle and you’ve rounded up quite a group of amazing projects … I love that frame thingy turned clock, how clever!! And I’m not sure I would’ve envisioned the potential in Beckie’s old tv. Great tips … thank you so much for including my coffee table (I’m happy to report we no longer own those hideous couches!!) :)
    Karah @ thespacebetweenblog recently posted..how to update cabinet hardware {the easy way}

  2. says

    These are awesome! You have many pretty ideas for up-cycling, turning old things into a new and useful one. I hope someday I can do something like this on my own house.

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