How to upcycle – tips for changing old items into new creative items


picUpcycling is really on the up in Britain and it is no surprise why; gone are the days when consumers solely relied on calling to the local furniture superstore and opted for a generic feeling sofa.

The recession of 2008 may have helped this change in purchasing patterns; with less disposable income, consumers were savvier about what they bought and when but, the need to recycle has also meant more and more of us are to looking to re-use items and their component parts.

So, with saving money always welcome, upcycling is increasingly popular. A great way to harness creativity, why not take a look at some great ways to upcycle furniture? And don’t forget, mixing the new with the old, such as new furniture legs, is also an acceptable part of creating something new, from the ‘old’…

New to upcycling furniture? Check out these great starter projects!

The great thing about upcycling furniture and other items for your home is that there are no hard and fast rules – you are simply creating a bespoke item that you like! These are ideas to help get your creative juices flowing.

Take a look around your home…

…and choose an item that you think you can easily create into something fabulous! Start small, with something like a lampshade or, if you are feeling super-confident, why not give the tired wooden-framed mirror a new lease of life?

Upcycling is really simple; instead of throwing away or giving away the tired looking mirror, simply think of ways that you can give it a new lease of life. Left over paints, especially gloss, can be used to create a frame with a different colour.

You could also use masking tape to create a really simple pattern on the frame and use different coloured paint.

Or aspire to be an ‘advanced upcycling genius’ – instead of getting rid of the old bedstead, think how you could parts of the bedframe creatively; there are some great examples of sawing chunks off legs and frames to create candlesticks or something similar.

Check out the health of the item

But, there are some factors that you do need to keep in mind; for example, you do not want to spend hours and hours gluing, sticking and sewing only to find that because the health of the initial piece of furniture you are upcycling is not good, that it falls apart.

Check out the weak points of many items which, in most cases, are the joints of a piece of furniture. Once you are confident it is in good shape, think about how you could re-use the piece – like an old-fashioned TV unit. With a lick of paint and a new shelf it could be a great storage items for towels and toiletries in the bathroom.

Keep an eye on charity and reclaim shops

There are still great finds lurking in shops and reclaim places all over the UK; from old glassware that can be used as tea light holders to old maps, that are a great way of creating exciting prints for the wall, or used as wallpaper in the smallest room in the house!

You can also shop for larger items at reclaim centres; doors are popular for either as old-style doors within new properties or, as table tops.

But is it hoarding?

With many programmes on TV advising that hoarding is not good for the soul, some people could say that by not throwing something, but saving it for future projects could be something could spiral out of control.

Again, it is important to remember that if you think you can re-use certain aspects or components of an item, then do so. But obviously, storing the old sofa may not be a viable option…

From newbie to advance ‘upcycler’

The great thing about upcycling is that you do not have to be a gifted artist or have too much of a trained creative eye to be able to see the potential in things. From simply recovering a lampshade with new fabric and contrasting ribbon is a great way to upcycle, breathing new life in to old things.

But take some time to do some research, and you will find a whole group of ‘upcyclers’ who have the ability and knack to see potential in everything! From ‘dumpster diving’ (rummaging through skips) to taking things from the side of the road, there are some people who have created the most beautiful interiors from reclaimed and upcycled items.

The next time…

… you need a new sofa, why not recover it in new fabric, give is some new legs or feet, rather than opting for the run-of-the-mill replacement sofa?