7 ways to…upcycle household items


7 ways to… upcycle household items

This month, we’re helping you to repurpose old, tatty or unwanted furniture and bits and bobs from around the house into new and improved objects

As a society, we are fuelled by consumerism — conditioned into wanting to buy and then throw away new items again and again on repeat. But this is catastrophic for planet Earth — we are squandering so many of our planet’s precious resources, creating mass amounts of waste, causing water shortages, habitat destruction and unnecessary greenhouse gases.

But we really do not need to throw away so much, because it is easy to upcycle — the process by which existing things are made into new or improved items. To upcycle something, you don’t even need to change its function, you can simply upgrade its look to enhance it in some way. Of course, you can entirely change its use if you want to!

Just about any material can be transformed — an old rug can become a cushion case, a broken stair spindle can be made into a lamp stand, or an old chest of drawers can be painted to look like new! Upcycling ideas are only limited by your imagination. Not only can upcycling provide you with gorgeous new items; it will help to prevent unwanted objects and materials piling up on landfills, whilst simultaneously preventing the need for new materials to be sourced.

Here are seven creative ideas to get you started on your upcycling journey.

1. Add a marble effect to old tins

Transform old coffee, biscuit and sweet tins with this easy craft from Claire Armstrong of Pillar Box Blue (pillarboxblue.com). The faux marbled effect is simple to accomplish, but looks beautiful, allowing you to reuse these tins for storing baked goods and other items. You could even use them instead of wrapping paper to store Christmas gifts for loved ones!


Faux Marbled Tins

You will need:
• Old tins, e.g., coffee, biscuit, sweet or other tins. Any and all shapes and sizes will work well.
• White/cream spray paint (make sure it’s vegan-friendly and cruelty-free)
• Vegan and cruelty-free nail varnish of any bright colour (not fast-drying)
• Large plastic container

1. Remove stickers or labels from the tins. A soak in hot, soapy water should make the labels easy to remove.

2. Spray paint your tins and lids — a cream/white spray paint works well. Two coats are recommended.

3. Prepare for marbling the tin cans. Fill the large plastic container with warm water. Then, pour the nail polish over the surface, you may want to use a cocktail stick to spread it out a bit.

4. Now, the fun part! Pick up your tin, and then gently roll it over the surface of the water. The varnish should cling to the surface of the can as you go, leaving a lovely, marbled pattern.

5. Add more nail varnish to the water and repeat with the tin lid.

Top Tip: If you want to protect the upcycled tins, spray a protective acrylic varnish to the outside of them.

By Claire Armstrong, pillarboxblue.com


2. Turn a door into a statement bag or coat organiser

Got a spare door hanging around? This idea from Jennie Larsen of Craft-O-Maniac (craft-o-maniac.com) can help you to upcycle it into a fab bag or coat organiser. Vintage doors work really well here, but most doors will work — from wardrobes, cupboards and other items of furniture, just make sure they aren’t too big or heavy.

How-to: Add some screws and wire to the back of the door on both sides for hanging on the wall. Drill some holes into the front face of your door for fitting knobs or hooks onto. Using a template (which you can buy or easily make yourself from thick card), paint large numbers onto your door above each hook. Alternatively, if you don’t want to paint on numbers, template on letters or simple pictures.

By Jennie Larsen, craft-o-maniac.com/2014/08/upcycled-backpack-vintage-door


3. Transform a chest of drawers

This project by Steph Briggs, interior designer and co-founder of independent gifts retailer, La Di Da Interiors (ladida-andover.com), is great for refreshing an old, tatty or outdated chest of drawers (although the technique can be applied to most types of furniture!). Remember to double check that the paints and waxes you’re using are vegan and cruelty-free.

Painted Chest of Drawers

You will need:
•Wooden chest of drawers — can be worn, peeling, scratched or battered, it doesn’t matter, as long as it is structurally sound
•Soapy water or sugar solution
•Rag or cleaning cloth
•120 grit sandpaper
•Frog tape
•Furniture paint in whatever colour you’d like (quick-drying water-based paints are recommended)
•Paint brush
•Spray paint in complementary colour
•Clear furniture wax
•Lint-free cloth
•Optional: gilding wax in complementary colour to main face

1. Prep your furniture — clean with soapy water or sugar solution, using a cloth.

2. Once dry, sand it down using 120 grit sandpaper (helps to get rid of any superficial scratches).
3. If your chest of drawers has any repairs that need doing, now is the time. It’s quite common on old furniture to find that the veneer is lifting in places. If this is the case, apply wood glue to it and place on a flat surface overnight with a weight on top, to ensure it dries flat.

4. Once the prepping is complete, it’s time to get started! Remove drawers and number them on the back of each with a pencil. This makes it easier to replace in the correct order, because wood is natural material and will have warped and you will often find that each drawer will only fit in the original runners that it came from.
5. Apply frog tape across the edges of the drawers to give a smart finish with a sharp line when painting.
6. Remove the drawer handles using a screwdriver.
7. Grab your brush and start painting!
8. Whilst you are waiting for your first coat to dry (30-60 minutes), spray paint your handles. Two light coats are all you will need. Then, apply your second coat to the chest of drawers.
9. Once the paint has totally dried, it’s time to wax and finish. Use a clear wax all over, applied with a brush, then wipe off the excess with a lint-free cloth.
10. To highlight the pretty vintage features in the chest of drawers pictured, a gilding wax in gold was used on the edge of the top and in the geometric details on the bottom panel to compliment the gold handles. You can do the same if you’d like to!
11. Reattach the handles.

By Steph Briggs, ladida-andover.com


4. Repurpose a wire coat hanger into a photo frame

Have you got a few spare clothes hangers? If these are made of bendy wire, then you’re in luck, because these can easily be upcycled. It’s really straightforward to turn them into quirky photo frames for hanging up on a wall. How-to: take a flimsy wire hanger and bend it into a rectangle using your hands or pliers, if needed (you can make it portrait or landscape, whichever orientation will fit your picture). If you need to, you can trim your photo — it must be just slightly smaller than your rectangle. Take three wooden pegs (you can paint these if you’d like), and clip in your image to the hanger frame. Voila! Now, hang it on the wall on a hook for all to see.


5. DIY designer-worthy rattan sideboard

Repurpose a plain cupboard into a gorgeous rattan sideboard, with Furniture And Choice’s (furniturechoice.co.uk) easy DIY project.

Rattan Sideboard
You will need:
•A sideboard or cupboard. Remove the doors, but keep the hinges and fixings to put them back on later
•New sideboard door handles (optional)
•Metal ruler
•Sharp scissors
•Furniture paint
•Staple gun, strong gaffer tape or strong furniture glue
•Roll of cane webbing (make sure it’s wide enough)

1. Carefully remove the inner sections of the sideboard doors. Wear eye protection and use a cutting board if necessary or work outdoors.
2. Paint the door frames and sideboard with furniture paint.
3. Once the doors are dry, measure enough cane webbing to cover the missing inner section. Make sure it’s slightly larger than the opening so you can stick it down. For instance, we allowed a 1cm overrun on all sides. Cut out two pieces of cane webbing — one for each door.
4. Use a staple gun to carefully attach the cane webbing on the inside of the doors. If you don’t have a staple gun, very strong tape or furniture glue should work. Top Tip: Flatten the cane webbing overnight to prevent it from curling up when being attached.
5. Reattach the doors onto the sideboard and add new door handles, if using any.
6. And you’re all done!

By Furniture And Choice, furniturechoice.co.uk

6. Turn glass lampshades into vases or plant pots

Find yourself with an outdated glass lampshade? Try this hack to turn them into vases! It requires few materials and takes no time at all.

How-to: Start by cleaning your glass lampshade (it doesn’t matter what shape or size it is) with glass cleaner or rubbing alcohol. Next, apply two coats of paint primer, which will make the topcoat of paint more durable (make sure to leave to dry between coats).

Once dry, grab a can of spray paint (ensure it’s vegan-friendly and cruelty-free), and spray your lamp whatever colour you wish (you might want to do this outside on a sheet — it can be messy!). To finish, seal your new vase/pot with a clear acrylic paint — can be applied with a brush or via a spray can.


7. Make a ladder plant hanger

Take advantage of an unused wooden ladder, by upcycling it into a plant hanger! It’s the perfect, space-saving way to display your plants against a wall or glass.

How-to: First, cut down your ladder to size using a hand saw. If you want to, you can paint your ladder using furniture/wood paint, but it looks lovely left rustic. Gather as many plant pots as you have rungs remaining on your trimmed ladder (we recommend no more than four — three looks great. Try to find pots with one flat side and one rounded side, shaped like half of a pot), and attach two metal hooks to the top of each pot. Hang one pot under each rung, and you are good to go!

Older Post Newer Post