Keep Calm & Carry On Upcycling

This is a great way for people with limited budgets to find practical solutions to household problems and make their homes look beautiful. It is also good news for the environment, reducing waste and discouraging the unnecessary purchase of new products. Unlike recycling, it doesn’t use further resources (other than time and effort) to do, and it usually results in an item of higher value than the original. This imaginative approach can help to provide interior design inspiration.


Upcycling and Furniture

There are all sorts of ways to upcycle furniture or to upcycle other materials into furniture. Sometimes it’s as simple as giving an old chest of drawers a fresh coat of paint and new handles, or replacing broken wooden panels in an interior door with stretched fabric panels to give it a whole new look. Sometimes furniture is broken beyond repair but parts of it can still be used. Old chair legs often come in handy as support pieces in other furniture, and can also be used to make things like picture frames.

Planks retrieved from broken beds can be upcycled into shelves. The still-solid frames of furniture with damaged parts can be used as skeletons around which to build completely new items. Upcycled items don’t have to be delicate. Old floorboards can make a solid and extremely high quality tabletop. A former chair seat attached to a small, varnished packing crate can make an attractive and sturdy footstool.


Glass and China

Working with glass always requires care, beginning with gloves and thick clothing. Goggles are a good idea (old swimming goggles will do) and it is important to vacuum the work area thoroughly afterwards. To avoid splinters, the edges of finished items should be gently heated to smooth them. This may sound like a lot of effort but it’s well worth it as glasswork provides some of the most beautiful upcycled items.

Glass bottles with the bases removed can be threaded onto bamboo poles to make a multi-coloured wall that glows magnificently in the sunlight. Glass jars can be used to store marbles or dried flowers, bringing out the natural beauty of the materials, or can be painted with glass paint (it’s relatively inexpensive and a little goes a long way) before becoming candle-holders, sending shimmering coloured light around the room. Fragments of pottery are useful to use as a drainage enhancer in the base of plant points, but the pretty bits can be saved and used for mosaic work in picture and mirror frames or along borders in the garden.

There’s much more to explore in upcycling. Old ropes can be used to trim items like cushions and lampshades, bringing them into line with this season’s nautical trend. Old CDs can be arranged down the sides of deep-set window frames to bounce the light around.

It’s up to the individual to get creative with upcycling.

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