Beginners Guide to Upcycling

You know the feeling. You go to an estate sale, yard sale or antique store and find something beautiful. And then you see it. A scratch, a crack, some flaw that makes your otherwise perfect find not so perfect. Don’t let those imperfections deter you! You can quickly fix them with a little crafty know-how of upcycling.

What is Upcycling?

In essence, upcycling is taking something old and making it new again. Through a little creativity, you can easily add a bit of personality and create something unique to add interest to your home.

We all have them, pieces in your home that you have inherited, or have had for so long that they are now outdated. These items may hold sentimental value to you. But you just do not like them the way they are now. 

Upcycling is a great way to give these items a new life, rather than to get rid of them. It could be as simple as adding a coat of paint or going a bit further and decoupaging with paper or fabric.

How Do I Begin?

Start Small

Just adding a new layer of paint to old furniture can breathe new life. It can hide scratches and help to make something you would want to have in your house.

upcycling painting woodSource: Shutterstock


For those new to the idea of upcycling, using old clothing is a great place to start. While that old t-shirt you have may not fit or may have a stain or rip so that you do not want to wear it, it could find new life as something new.

You can easily take a few old pairs of jeans and turn them into a rug. Even if you are not a crafty person at heart, all you need is an old rug, a pair of scissors, and some fabric glue, and before you know it you will have a new-to-you denim rug!

With a little sewing skill, your old sweaters can become beautiful throw pillows. Old t-shirts can be repurposed into reusable shopping bags.

Glass Bottles

Wine bottles, or any glass bottle for that matter, are another great item to upcycle. The simplest idea is to turn them into vases. All you need is some sea glass spray paint, and you’re ready to go.

upcycling glassSource: Shutterstock

Another simple project is to simply fill an empty glass bottle with a string of LED lights to create a lantern. It is not only an easy one to do but also cost-effective to create an entire row of these lanterns that will fill your space with a romantic glow.

For the more inclined, cutting off the bottom of a wine glass is a great way to create a simple candle holder.


Finally, we come to furniture. Upcycling is an easy way to make an inherited item feel like your own or give your old things new life and purpose.

upcycling furnitureSource: Shutterstock

It is important to take your time when renewing furniture. Really study the piece and how it all fits together. Allow the paint to dry completely before going on to the next step and think through exactly how you want the finished project to look.

Dressers can serve any number of purposes. Add new paint and ditch the drawers, and you instantly have a new bookshelf or home bar area.

Don’t toss those drawers! They can be upcycled too. Give them a new coat of paint, add some legs to the back, and a shelf in the middle, and you have an instant side table.


Picture frames can be turned into chalkboards or bulletin boards with some paint and corkboard.

Whatever you choose to do, upcycling is a great way to showcase your personality and include unique accents to your home. In addition, upcycling is a wonderful way to help save the planet. Rather than purchase something new that may not be made as well, why not fix what you already have to make it look new?

Lastly, you cannot deny the therapeutic benefits that come through working with your hands.

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