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15 Upcycling Projects to Make the Most of Old Stuff

By Staff Writer
Share to Pinterest15 Upcycling Projects to Make the Most of Old Stuff
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Few things are as satisfying and fulfilling as a completed upcycling project. You're saving cash and helping the planet, all while creating a stylish piece that'll come in handy. If you can't get enough, here are 15 upcycling project ideas to inspire your creativity and motivate your next masterpiece.

If you don't already have some components, head to your local reseller or use online marketplaces to find what you need secondhand within your community.

01

The case for an upcycled showpiece

So you've downsized and donated your paperbacks in favor of an audiobook library. Hold onto that bookshelf and give it a new life as a storage hutch or display shelf. Use a vibrant tint of wood stain or a bold coat of paint to brighten your space and make a statement.

Contrasting colors or chic wallpaper on the back panels express your personality, while funky hardware and decorative molding complete your design aesthetic.

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02

A green makeover for cinder blocks

Put your old cinder blocks to good use and upcycle them as planters. Use a stencil to paint patterns on each brick or splatter paint in several shades to create an abstract expressionist masterpiece.

Finally, fill each cavity with potting soil and plant herbs, succulents, or native flowers to attract pollinators. Use one brick as a centerpiece, or stack several to create a standing planter.

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03

Step up your closet game

Share to Pinterestwooden clothes rack with ladder shelf at bottom

Need a better way to organize your entryway? With upcycled wooden ladders, portions of lumber, and a few pieces of hardware, you can build a custom clothing rack to suit your decor.

Cut two lengths of wood to the desired width and lay them across the bottom two sets of rungs on each ladder. Secure a curtain rod across the top of the highest rung for hanging coats, and set shoes on the two shelves. Use hooks on the rungs for handbags and hats.

Alternatively, build two triangles with thick dowels and lay the ladder across the bottom, as shown in this lovely example.

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04

A new indoor life for shutters

Are you hoping to upcycle some discreet storage but don't have a nightstand or low bookshelf? Hinged shutters work with sections of medium-density fiberboard, paint, and hardware to create a beautiful cabinet for any space.

You'll need six window screens to complete this unique piece, so if you're short on shutters, try your luck at your nearest reuse store.

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05

Serve style with a dressed-up dresser

An out-of-style dresser doesn't have to be an eyesore or end up in garage clutter. Maximize style and storage by upcycling your beat-up bureau into a chic cart — you could even add wheels!

A fresh coat of paint compliments brand-new-to-you hardware — including drawer pulls, caster wheels, metal racks, and hooks for storing bar towels and kitchen necessities.

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06

A different view of communication

A smart refrigerator is cool, but don't even think about writing on it or cluttering its surface. Wouldn't it be great if you had a message board that easily hangs near the entryway? An old grid window works perfectly.

Paint glass panels with whiteboard or chalkboard paint for quick notes, or use corkboard and pushpins for sticky notes and cards. Window panes also double as picture frames. Add a wooden shelf and hooks to maximize storage.

Share to PinterestBackground of rustic wooden (timber) framed clean chalk blackboard with copy space placed on whitened floor boards.
Nikolay Pandev/ Getty Images

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07

Make a paint bucket cooler than cool

Share to Pinteresta table full of empty paint cans

Wash out and dry an old paint can, and spray it inside and out with a coat of metallic paint. Wrap the can with attractive paper, create a collage, or paint a custom design before finishing with a waterproof clearcoat.

This chic ice bucket fits a bottle of wine or champagne and sits beautifully on your bar cart. Choose a food-safe paint for the bucket's interior, or use a plastic liner.

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08

A safe method for reflecting light

The fastest approach to this upcycling project is to find an attractive framed mirror at a flea market or garage sale. Paint the frame to match your interior decor, then lay it face-up on a sideboard or coffee table to add a touch of elegance to the atmosphere.

Add handles or feet to make it more functional, or use a frameless mirror for a minimalist approach.

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09

A head-turning upcycle for headboards

Share to Pinteresthalf painted old headboard

Don't hide your coveted baby blankets and heirloom crocheted throws in the hall closet. Display these priceless treasures in a unique way on an upcycled headboard turned on its side. Remove hardware and saw off lengthier portions before adding a fresh coat of color.

Take a rustic approach with wood stain or a distressed paint treatment, or use a bold shade to draw the eye.

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10

Cut crafting clutter with a knife rack

Share to Pinterestspools of thread and other sewing implements

Whether you sew, embroider, or weave, you likely need better storage and access to your collection of threads. An old knife block does the trick when it's reimagined as a threaded spool organizer.

Give the wooden block a coat of paint, then insert narrow wooden dowels into the knife slits. You may have to widen the slats with a drill bit before assembling.

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11

Awaken those tired lawn ornaments

Used tires are perfect for upcycling projects. They're weather resistant, have a distinct lack of sharp edges, and won't fly away at the slightest wind. That makes them perfect for crafting festive lawn decorations for the holidays.

Use paint and outdoor fabrics to create whimsical designs or use organic materials and string lights for a more natural aesthetic. Incorporate old ATV and bike tires for variety and to eliminate even more waste.

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12

The gift of present supply storage

Share to Pinterestvintage stool upside down on ground

Kitchen barstools go in and out of style like the seasons, but wrapping paper? Never! Hold on to every roll with a convenient storage caddy. Take a clean barstool and attach four caster wheels to the seat surface. Flip the stool upside-down, and you have convenient mobile storage to hold those awkwardly long rolls of wrapping paper.

Attach tape, scissors, and other accessories to the horizontal stretchers for even more practical use of space.

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13

Stir up a starburst mirror frame

Wooden paint stirrers are so inexpensive you might not think twice about throwing them away, but with about 40-50 one-inch sticks, you can stir up a custom starburst frame mirror. Snag some extras at the hardware store, and always clean your used stir sticks immediately.

Paint or stain the wood to match your decor. For a more eclectic look, incorporate wooden stirrers with dried paint from other projects and arrange them in alternating colors.

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14

Entertainment center < play kitchen

Take upcycling to the next level with a fun play kitchen fabricated from an old entertainment center. First, fortify the structure with a new back panel, adding a faux tiled backsplash.

A stainless steel pan and thrifted fixtures complete the sink and stove, while tall cabinets with swinging doors become a refrigerator and freezer. Use the same metallic paint to make a matching oven.

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15

Suitcase to ottoman

Bring that gorgeous vintage suitcase out of storage and reimagine it as a custom ottoman. Begin by separating the top and bottom halves, using the larger half as the base for your footstool. A piece of plywood at the bottom adds stability to an overstuffed cushion; make yours out of craft foam and a reclaimed section of vintage upholstery fabric.

Complete the look with short legs to raise the suitcase to a comfortable height.

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