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7 Easy Upcycle Ideas and Cool Projects to Reuse, Revamp, and Upcycle Your Old Stuff

Upcycle Ideas 2

Upcycling sounds like a new concept.

The truth of the matter is that the word is relatively new, but the idea of essentially upgrading your trash is as old as time. The term itself has been around since the 1970s, and it has always referred to the concept of taking something that is at first glance, worthless, and transforming it into something altogether new. It is giving a new lease on life to something that would otherwise be worthless.

It is the idea of combining frugality with creativity. If you ask anyone who lived through The Depression, they will tell you that there was a time when upcycling was a necessity. That doesn’t have to be the case in your household.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of upcycling. From there, we can talk about some easy ways to implement the concept in your own home.

Benefits Of Upcycling

One of the best things about this concept? Most DIY upcycling projects can be an absolute blast for the kids. Some upcycle projects lend themselves very well to a rainy, otherwise restless afternoon.

Here are a few quick benefits of upcycling:

  • Conserving the environment: As you may have already guessed, upcycling does its part to reduce the amount of waste that winds up in landfills. Not only are you cutting down on the things that likely contribute to an eyesore, but you are also doing your part against such issues as degradation of the soil.
  • Conserving limited resources: A lot of DIY upcycle projects involve using resources that one might consider limited, such as wood.
  • Conserving production costs: Upcycling can be utilized in a business setting, as well. Doing so can actually cut down on your business’ production costs.
  • Encouraging creativity: Whether within yourself, or as a way of giving your children something unique and exciting to do, upcycling is a great way to explore the creative side.

Let’s now take a look at a few simple upcycle DIY projects you can try

Fun Upcycling Projects

Upcycling is also a great way to declutter, while actually making useless things useful again. You’re also going to like the fact that most upcycling projects can be completed in hardly any time at all. It just comes down to knowing your materials, and how to use them in the most effective fashion.

To that end, here are a few great upcycling project ideas to help you get started:

1. Boxes to baskets

It seems likely enough that you have a bunch of old cardboard boxes laying around.

You need to break them down for recycling, but why not do something a bit more interesting?

All you need is durable, ordinary cardboard box, some 4-ply jute, a hot glue gun, a bunch of glue sticks, and a bit of patience. Cut the flaps off the box, and then start wrapping the box with the jute. Make sure to glue to the box along the way. Just keep wrapping and wrapping, until you reach the top of the box. Consider putting a liner of fabric inside the box. This protects the cardboard a little, while also adding a simple touch of aesthetic charm.

2. Trash can planters

The cool thing about this project is that it lends itself well to gardening on a tight money/space budget. If you’re new to the world of gardening, and you don’t really know how much sunlight each of your plants is going to need, this can prove to be a very appealing solution. All you have to do is attach some casters to some galvanized metal garbage cans. At this point, you simply need to fill them with your favorite flowers.

3. Comfy tire chairs

This one sounds like a little bizarre, to be fair. However, we think you’re going to absolutely love the finished result. You will want to start by taking a tire that is no longer useful, cleaning it, and painting it. You will then need to create a strong metal framework for the tire, as this will create optimal support for sitting. Once the tires have been properly cleaned and painted, you will add radial-woven seating with made-out nylon and recycled ropes of nylon. This is a hefty project, but the end result is something stunning and unique in equal measures.

4. Book page garlands

This is one of our favorite examples of upcycling. Ideal for fall/Halloween decorations, this project will require an old book (lots of pages), a little bit of coffee, and a lot of staples. Start by taking the pages, crumpling them up, and sticking them in the oven to dry at a low temperature for just a few minutes. If you can use two cookie sheets at a time, you should be able to create 8 sheets for your garland at a time. Once they dry, crumple them some more, until they resemble something of a fan shape. Starting using a couple of staples to keep each one attached to the other. Vary it up by having some tighter than others. With just two sets of eight sheets, you can start layering them together, and then adding more staples as necessary. Once you have all the double layer sections you want, staple the sections end-to-end, with just enough overlap to create one ongoing garland. Create as many layers of pages as you want. Just make sure you have enough staples to handle things! When you have finished, the piece can be established along a mantle. Some people even turn to this idea for the holidays!

5. How to rescue chipped mugs

When we chip a mug, our instinct is to throw that mug in the trash or recycling. Depending on the condition of the mug, you don’t have to actually do either of those things. All you need are a few enamel mugs with a chip/crack or two. You are also going to need a piece of reclaimed wood. What you want to do now is glue the mugs to the piece of wood, creating a cute storage method that can be installed easily in a kitchen or even bathroom space. Some people like to use the cup handles as towel hooks. Our advice would be to glue one facing up, while the other two are established sideways. You can use anywhere from 3 to 5 cups to create your new piece. Just make sure the cups aren’t so heavy that they might fall off.

6. Porch rail coat rack

This is another simple one. All it really requires are your needed items, some creative thinking, and a few cleaning supplies. If you have an old porch rail laying around, you can easily transform that into a useful coat rack, which can be set up just about anywhere you please. Get some fresh paint and hooks, and the end result will be something as functional as it is pleasing.

7. Mason jar lantern

One more simple idea to show you just how easy it is to take advantage of some DIY upcycle projects around the house. A tealight candle is really all you need, along with the mason jar. However, feel free to add anything else. Get some shepherd hooks, which are particularly well-suited to a project such as this. You’re done. Simply hang these lanterns anywhere you like. Many people find that they can make for an absolutely beautiful addition to your front or back porch.

These are just a few examples of easy upcycle ideas that almost anyone can do. Upcycling can be as simple as taking an otherwise useless architectural object, putting a frame on it, and hanging it in the space of your choice. For example, simply combining a sturdy frame with something along the lines of an old barn door can give you a perfect focal point for a living room or bedroom.


Turn an old bookshelf into a play kitchen for your children. Take some old chairs, upholster them with the same shade and fabric, and create a truly unique collection of chairs for your dining room. There are literally dozens and dozens of upcycle projects that you can tackle. The challenge is to give functionality to something that no longer has a purpose. As you will soon find by simply looking around, there are literally dozens and dozens of possibilities that you can explore as you see fit.

Most of the projects we have highlighted here can be completed in an hour or two. Some take more work, but that’s really the great thing about upcycling in general. If you have a limited range of materials, space, and time, you can still find DIY projects that can give them an entirely new lease on life. Upcycling as a concept can be matched up nicely to just about any home, lifestyle, or budget. You can even do a Google search for upcycling, and whatever items you have around that you think may have a new purpose elsewhere.

Written by JustDIY


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  1. I try to get most things used or free. Clothes, plants, books, and craft materials are all secondhand. People give me broken or odd things because I will use them or pass them on. Some people have basements and/or garages full of things they could sell, give away or recycle. I wear ratty clothes for crafting or to sleep in and save my nicer clothes if I am going somewhere. I make things from fabric, yarn, cardboard and paper. My kids used to bring me old clothes they would find at work.

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