Giving Old Things A New Lease On Life With Upcycling

By Jhoana C

This article was originally published on healthandwellnesnews

Recycling and upcycling have gotten quite the attention lately. Who would have thought that things lying around the house, which people don’t even pay any attention to, can turn into something useful and great looking? Before you throw away unused and unwanted items from your household, pause for a minute, and think of all the wonderful things you can come up with. You don’t always have to spend money on household décor or organizers because most of the time, you already have what you need; you just need to look at them with a fresh pair of eyes and some creativity. It’s easy to transform many everyday things into something new with a little time, effort, and some arts and crafts supplies. We have come up with some inspiration to get you excited and ready to start repurposing your forgotten items.

Upcycling old fabrics to make comfy pillows

If you’re someone who enjoys sewing, you probably have many unused fabrics lying around, and it’s such a waste to get rid of them. If no one else has a use for them, then it’s a good time to start upcycling.

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Throw pillows are always a welcome addition to any home. Who wouldn’t like them? They’re comfy, soft, and they make great cuddle buddies. Draw some interesting patterns and use them to cut the fabric. After cutting the fabric, you can start sewing them for your throw pillows. What a fun project for those homebound days!

Chipped mugs?

Usually, chipped mugs or broken mugs will be immediately thrown away. But before you go to the kitchen and start looking for cups that have been damaged, you shouldn’t be too quick to discard them. They still have some use.

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Not-so-perfect mugs and cups make great planters. Repurposing them gives them a new lease on life, and it’s not as difficult as you think. Just get pre-potted plants and transfer them into the mug—water as needed and put the plant somewhere with sunlight.

The Rope Rug

Sometimes all a house needs for a complete look is a unique accessory. It can be an unusual ornament or something as simple as a rug. You can get rugs widely sold in stores; however, the caveat to that is you’re buying something that most people also have because they are mass-produced.

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To ensure that you have a one-of-a-kind rug, why not make your own? Not much effort is needed to make your own. All you need is some rope, and you can form it into any shape or form you can set your heart to.The web is full of ideas to inspire you. Just look at what this creative fellow did.

Turning an old frame into a tray

Do you have an old frame that doesn’t suit your home’s new décor anymore? Hold up and refrain from throwing it into the trash can. It can be repurosed into something else, and it would make a great serving tray. Don’t believe us?

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Just look at that repurposed beauty. It can easily be a conversation piece if you add some fabric, as well as unique metal handles. Not only will it look pretty, but it will also help when you’re entertaining guests. They’ll be admiring it for hours.

From shirts to dresses

We don’t see the sense in buying designer clothes for children when they will outgrow them in a couple of months. It’s like throwing thousands of dollars down the drain. There are many ways to repurpose your clothing to make items that your kids will love to wear.

Image courtesy of Jaimie/Pretty Prudent

A great way to make unique pieces for your children and save money at the same time is to check your closet for unused button-down or t-shirts. Use another dress or a pattern to cut the fabric, and with a little sewing, your child will have a new dress. Sewing is a skill that will always come in handy.

Turn lightbulbs into vases

When you get home and find yourself standing in the dark even after you have flicked the light on, it might be time to replace the lightbulbs. What do most people do after fixing this issue? They toss them when they stop working.

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However, that’s something you don’t have to do. The old lightbulbs still have a purpose. You can turn them into vases. Yup, you heard that right. Just take the filament out, and they’d make interesting and original containers for your flowers.

Tires for patio tables?

Spare tires in the backyard don’t make great sights. They can make your house look dirtier than it really is unless you turn them into something useful, like a patio table, perhaps? How do you do that, you ask?

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First, you need to think about what color you’d like the patio to be predominantly in. Get the old tires and make sure they are clean before you start painting them in your favorite color. Get a round glass and glue it on top, and your work of art is ready to be admired!

From chandeliers to planters

If you found an old chandelier in the attic and don’t know what to do with it, then you’re in the right place! Because they can be used to decorate your home by turning them into planters. Once you’re finished beautifying it, you’d ask yourself why you hadn’t thought of it sooner.

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Repaint the chandelier in the color of choice and fix terracotta planters or cups on it. Paint the planters in the same color or paint it some other color; this is entirely up to you. Choose the perfect plants and put them inside the pots and hang them in a suitable location.

A frame made of popsicles

If you got carried away buying loads of popsicles and ice lollies at the grocery last time, you might be asking yourself what you’re gonna do with the sticks. Can you turn them into something useful? Yup, you can! How?

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By turning the sticks into decorative cubbies for plants and ornaments. Find some templates on the Internet and paint the sticks in your preferred color palette., you can simply varnish them if you prefer a more neutral look. Glue the sticks into the design of your choice, and you get an instant wall upgrade with your unique decoration.

Used and old cutting boards have a purpose too

When you get yourself a new cutting board, the next thing you probably do is throw away the old one or stash it somewhere to be completely forgotten. But why do that if you can do something more, like turn it into a décor, perhaps?

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You don’t need a lot of things. You just need the old cutting board, chalkboard paint, and some chalk. Make sure the cutting board is clean and dry before putting a coat of primer paint. Scribble some notes on it, and hang it on the wall.

A cozy cat home

Don’t throw old t-shirts away because they can be used for several things. They’d make good rugs, and if you have a cat, there is an even better use for it. T-shirts make fantastic cat houses. Yup, it’s not the first thing that comes to mind, but you’ll see.

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Don’t spend exorbitant amounts of money on designer cat houses. You can easily create a unique one on your own. You just need a few wires, some cardboard and of course, t-shirts. Just shape the wire accordingly and create a kitty tent.

Use your old belts to create a seat for your chair

Chairs, especially the seat part, withstand a lot of weight, so it is normal for seats to be among the first parts of the chair to get worn out or damaged. However, instead of replacing the old chair, you can add new seats yourself. You can easily remedy this problem by repurposing old belts.

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Yes, you heard that right. Old belts make durable and unique chair seats that everyone will admire and love to sit on. You need to attach the belt lengthwise and make sure that all belts are next to each other. Do the same thing widthwise by going over and under the previous belts, creating a woven effect and you’re done!

Repurpose old pallets

Wooden pallets make great recyclable items, and if you ever get a hold of one, don’t throw them away. Not only will pallets help you save money, but they also help the environment. One of the many things which you can turn pallets into is tables.

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All you need is a pallet, stain, and wheels. This art project takes effort and time, so you might want to do it on the weekend when you don’t have work. Stain the pallet and attached the wheels, and you have yourself a rolling coffee table.

What to do with a tree branch?

If you have a green thumb and are an avid gardener, you probably have a few trees in your backyard. Apart from the task of cleaning the fallen leaves and pruning, having trees is a perfect thing because you have access to any fallen branches.

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If you find a sturdy tree branch, you can turn it into an interesting light fixture. The image above is just an inspiration. You don’t have to do it the same way they did, and you can let your creative juices flow to come up with something original.

Making a clock with dominoes

Dominoes and other board games used to be popular decades ago, but they have lost their prominence in the household with the advent of mobile tablets and other gaming systems. If you clean your closet and find a whole box of dominoes that have been forgotten, you might want to make yourself a new clock.

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This cool clock can be easily made with some elbow grease and creativity. The other materials you need, aside from the dominoes, are some wood planks, strong glue, and some basic watch mechanics to create a timekeeping piece of decor. Go ahead and start the project; time is running out.

Wear your coke

We are talking about the other type of coke here, the one that gives you diabetes. If you have coke metal pops or other metal pops, for that matter, you can create quirky earrings that everyone will be talking about.

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Just get some metal soda pop caps , a screwdriver, and a few hooks for the earrings. Be careful when drilling through the metal cap and attach the earring hold with the use of little wires. Hey, if this is a hit, you can always sell them.

Making vases out of corks

Something of a wine connoisseur? That’s good if you want to do this project. If you have made it a habit to collect the corks of every wine bottle you have come across, you’ll be happy to know that you can make vases out of your cork collection.

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You can also ask friends for corks if you don’t have enough. Get a boring glass vase and with some glue, stick the corks onto the vase. Again the cork vases on the photo are just for inspiration. You can use them in any combination or pattern to create an item that is unique.

Suitcase bookcases

Old suitcases not only evoke nostalgia, especially when they are handed down, they also have a lot of personality. You don’t see a lot of them anymore, so if you happened to get your hands on one, you should keep it.

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If it doesn’t make a great travel suitcase anymore due to age issues, you can always turn it into a bookcase. Rip out the inside and put in some durable shelving that can support substantial weight, and you’re ready to display your enviable book collection.

Fashioning key chains from corks

In yet another display of how useful wine corks can be, we have a picture of key chains fashioned from corks. Keys are some of the things which people always lose, and what a fantastic way to prevent that from happening than by recycling corks.

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Simply drill a hole, attach a keyring to the cork, and attach the key. They certainly make fun keychains. Just make sure you don’t forget to put the keychain in your bag, or else you won’t be able to unlock the house.

Since we’re talking about keys

In the spirit of keys, we have locks and doorknobs which make excellent key holders. Again the problem with keys is that we always seem to lose them. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a place in the house where everyone can just put their keys?

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This is an excellent solution to that problem. This cool key holder is made from old doorknobs and locks. Mount them on a piece of wood, then just drape the keys over them or stick them into the locks when not in use.

Bling your vase

Are you tired of your normal-looking vase? Why not put some bling on it? We’re sure you have more than a few pennies stashed somewhere because they are seldom used nowadays. Put them to good use by making them a part of your home decoration.

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All you need for this project are the pennies lying around and your old, tired, boring vase. Glue the coins one by one to the vase, and once you’re done, you will see your vase with a lot of ka-ching. It will add a bit of glamour to your life.

Salvage empty bottles

Empty bottles are seldom thrown away anymore, no matter where you are in the world, they usually end up in the recycling bin, but that’s not the only thing they are good for. They can also be repurposed into useful items in your home.

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If you lack a soap dispenser anywhere in the house, you can get the empty bottle and simply put a nozzle and a dispenser that fits it, and voila, you have a fully functioning soap dispenser! It is up to you if you want to put labels on the bottles or not.

Put a dollhouse in the suitcase

As we mentioned earlier, old suitcases can be repurposed into various things, and one of them will probably delight your little girl. You can turn an old suitcase into an amazing dollhouse. Make sure to clean the suitcase’s interior before you start designing it.

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Add some chalkboard paint on the outside and draw the design of a beautiful house. You can add shelving and partitions to create the different house levels and make it more realistic by putting tiny furniture in there too.

Your old CDs have other uses

Nowadays, everything is digital. Gone are the days when people used to buy CDs to listen to their favorite songs and musicians. Everything can be downloaded now onto phones, and although more convenient, it has made the CD and DVD pretty much obsolete.

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However, this has turned plenty of CDs at home unusable. If you have a big pile somewhere which you haven’t listened to in years, you can use them to beautify a few things around the house, such as your trays. You’ll amaze guests when you serve them tea the next time they visit.

Corks are darn useful

In yet another demonstration of just how useful corks are, here is a different way to repurpose them. Your bathroom doesn’t have to look like everybody else’s. You can make your stand out by using a mat made of corks.

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Cut the corks in half, then mount them on a thick tile or foam. Glue the halved corks, and you have a unique mat. Just look at how great that looks. As usual, the shape and patterns depend on you, so let your creativity run free.

Turn your t-shirt into a bag

We all have that one favorite t-shirt that we keep wearing now and then, so it ends up fading and becoming loose earlier than the other shirts in our closet. When this happens, most people would stop wearing it and toss it into the trash.

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But the good thing is we don’t have to throw our old and worn shirts. They can always be converted to bags! Just remove the sleeves and cut fringes on the bottom. Tie the fringes together in a braided method to seal the bottom of the shirt, and you’re good to go.

DIY pasta containers

Tall canisters are often used to contain chips and other food items, and to help do your part in cutting down on waste and saving mother earth; you can always reuse them. They will be perfect additions to your kitchen counters.

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Remove the label from the canisters and then wrap it in your preferred choice of paper. Put some labels on each canister, so you’ll know exactly what type of pasta is inside. Your DIY pasta containers will look great and will have good use too.

Scrabble coasters

Another fun board game that people used to play a lot back in the days is Scrabble. However, once you lose some of the tiles, you can’t play the game anymore. Most of us have lost tiles at one point or another, and perhaps you have your old scrabble game still sitting in a drawer somewhere.

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Instead of throwing them out, you can reuse the remaining tiles to make coasters.Take some corkboard in the shape of your choice and glue the scrabble tiles on them. You can even spell out someone’s name or come up with a cute message.

A swinging pallet

As we’ve said before, pallets can be upcycled for many other uses. Earlier, we showed how they could be made into portable coffee tables, now we’re gonna show you how they can be converted into swings. Since pallets are often seen in shipping yards, they go well with a nautical theme.

Image courtesy of Pallet Designs

Get some sturdy hooks, a thick rope, a paint color of your choice, and of course, the pallet. Assemble the swing as you see in the photo and put some throw pillows for maximum comfort. This can easily become the focal point in your home.

Make a new stool using old jeans

A well-worn and well-loved pair of jeans can become faded and holey in time, but you don’t have to reach for the bin just yet; they can still have a long life ahead. This is a project that requires effort and patience, but the result is worth it.

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You need to know how to sew to be able to do this one. Just follow the steps illustrated above in the photo and you’ll come up with something you’ll love. Cut the patterns, sew them together, and use the leftover fabric as stuffing together with some cotton filler, and you’ll give new life to your old jeans.

Yet another use for old jeans

Jeans have plenty of uses, aside from being worn. Previously, we’ve seen just how you can make a new stool using old jeans. Now, you’ll see how you can make a new bag. If you’ve got a pair that no longer fit or no longer in style, turn them into something useful.

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Cut one leg of the jeans; wide-legged jeans are the best for this bag; sew the bottom and attach an old belt that will be repurposed to serve as a strap. A little effort and some sewing skills will get you a pretty backpack.

Turn your t-shirt into a wall art

Band tees used to be seen on everyone and anyone on the street years ago. People couldn’t get enough of them, but they have since gone out of fashion. If you have still have some mementos from concerts attended in the back of your closet, now is the chance to make them shine again.

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Turn them into wall art. They will make excellent and edgy decorations around the house. All you need is a glue gun and some cardboard to support the shirt. Not only will guests be admiring your decorating taste, but they’ll also be a conversation started about concerts you have been to in the past.

Turning jean pockets into organizers

Jeans are some of everyone’s favorite article of clothing because they are versatile. They can be worn for casual and semi-formal occasions, depending on their wash and style. Most people have plenty of worn-out jeans in their homes, which they do not have any use for.

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You can salvage old jeans and turn them into organizers. Organization is another problem at home, especially if you have little kids. Just remove the pockets and belt loop from the old jeans, do a bit of sewing and add them to a rod. You’ll get a fun organizer that everyone will love to use.

Bringing some life to your walls with spoons

Walls can use a little color and added pizzaz. Nobody likes boring walls because boring walls make boring homes. If your walls need a makeover, you can paint them a color that makes them pop, or better yet, you can hang some interesting wall art.

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You can recycle plastic spoons instead of throwing them away. Get some glue and cardboard, and start gluing the spoons into the pattern of your choice. Paint it with a bold color, and you have wall decor that’s tres chic.

A basket made from old jeans

We are not done showing you the many ways to repurpose old jeans. So far, we have seen jean organizers, jean stools, and jean bags. Now you can turn old, unused jeans into jean baskets. This is a project that will take some time, so you can do this on the weekend.

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You need scissors and a lot of patience to cut at least 2 pairs of jeans into strips. The length of the strips should be according to your desired basket diameter. Once you have all the strips, you can weave them around like you would any material, and when you’re done, you’ll get yourself a nice jean basket.

An excellent project for bookworms

Many of us find solace in books. We turn to books when we are happy and when we are sad. If you have many books at home and don’t know what to do with them, there are plenty of ideas. You can donate them to your local library or give them to someone who needs and wants books.

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You can also turn them into pretty shelves. Get a durable wall mount and attach the books to them. You can out the biggest one at the bottom and the smallest one on top. What you’ll end up with are floating bookshelves!

A frame full of succulents

Everyone has seemed to turn to gardening during the pandemic to ease loneliness and cope with the challenging times. If you want to display plants uniquely, we have an idea you’d like. Check your house for any unused frames lying around or an old frame that’s seen better days.

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An old wooden frame would be perfect for this project. Put some chicken wire to the back of the frame and secure it with nails. Attach the succulents one by one to the wires, and you have a 3D piece of art that will get everyone talking. Don’t forget to water your plants, though.

Put that vinyl to use

Nowadays, few people still play records from vinyl because most music has gone digital. You don’t need bulky record players because you can save music on to your phone or computer. A lot of vinyl LP records have become unusable.

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You need a planter stand, a glue gun, and a vinyl LP record for this project. Clean the record by wiping it, then apply hot glue all along the edge of the planter where the record will be placed. Place the record on the planter, and there you have your vinyl record side table.

Soda carton planters

Plastic is one of the worst problems the earth is facing today. We can do our part in helping the environment by recycling plastic. If you have liter soda bottles lying around at home and you happen to love plating at the same time, you’ll want to get in on this project.

Image courtesy of Kate/The Craft Train

With some paint, color pens, and a lot of creativity, you can turn the liter soda containers into unique and fun planters. You can get the kids to help you too because they’ll love this for sure. Check the photo for some inspiration.

From phone books to pencil holders

Telephone books are remnants of a bygone area. They are seldom produced nowadays, and nobody pages through them anymore to find a number. Nowadays, we just save each other’s numbers on our mobile phones. So what to do with old phone books?

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You can turn them into unique pencil holders! You need toilet paper rolls, scissors, glue, and some tape. Form the telephone into any shape you want, and for this project, they used the toilet paper rolls to make a round shape then glued the phone book pages into place. You can also paint your newly created pencil holders.

Jewelry towers from liter soda containers

Non-biodegradable plastic soda bottles almost always go to the landfill. They are one of the biggest causes of pollution, but you can help save mother earth and create a container that will be useful in storing and displaying your jewelry.

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You need a drill, some liter soda bottles, some washers, and a metal rod. Cut off the bottom of several liter soda can bottles and carefully drill a hole in the center. Layer on a few of the bottoms on the rod, and you’ll have something handy to put your jewelry in.

A use for old tire rims

If you’re someone who likes to keep things even if you don’t use them anymore, you must have a few tire rims lying around. You don’t need many; even a single one will do for this project. You can turn your old tire rims into a creative chore wheel.

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This way, there won’t be arguments as to who’s supposed to do what and when, plus it looks rather edgy. Cut a few wood pieces and coat them with chalkboard paint before attaching them to the wheel. Mount the tire rim on a wooden piece and see how the center spoke spins.

Turning old CDs into something useful

A few years ago, before everything became digital and before downloading songs became a thing, most of us would burn CDs and gave them to friends. However, that’s a thing of the past now, and if you enjoyed burning CDs before, you might still have plenty of CDs lying around.

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Fortunately, they can still be turned into ornaments, so the money you spend on them does not have to go to waste. Cut them into small pieces and take any ornament you have, such as a plain Christmas ball, then glue the CD pieces on it.

Making new rugs with the use of old shirts

You don’t have to discard your old shirts because they can still be used for other things, rugs to be specific. How much do you spend on rugs per year? Well, you can scratch that expense from your budget because you can turn your old shirts into rugs.

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For this hack, crocheting skills will come in handy. Shred your old tees in strips. Get to work with your crochet hook and the strips of cut up t-shirts. You can use any colors and create different patterns according to your know-how. You’ll have a unique rug which you can use for your front door and your kitchen too.

Making a dream catcher using old CDs and tulle

You can make a fabulous dream catcher with this DIY project that primarily uses old CDs. All you need is some glue, beads, scissors, satin ribbon, and tulle. To start, soak the CDs in hot water so the shiny part is easier to remove, and make cutouts of whatever inspires you e.g. moon and stars.

Image courtesy of Diy Celicientita Crafts/YouTube

Glue these and attach them to the ribbon at various intervals. Add white glue on the shiny part and spread some beads, as shown above. For the tulle, cut them in squares, tie a ribbon in the middle, make folds, then pull them apart to make a ball. Tie everything together with ribbons, et voila!

Making a simple solar fountain

This DIY fountain will look amazing in your yard! All you need is a large tub or basin like the one shown below, a solar fountain pump, and a solar panel. If you want, you can also get some aquatic plants, but that’s entirely up to you.

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Start by filling the tub with water till about halfway. If you’re adding plants, put them in at this point, and if necessary, add more water. Next, set up the solar fountain pump, and you’re done! Remember to ensure the solar panel is exposed to the sun for the pump to work.