There’s an upcycling revolution happening in the furniture industry and it’s about time we all got onboard.
Upcycling furniture has become increasingly popular over the past 18 months – possibly due to the pandemic, with more free time to be creative, coupled with sustainability being high on everyone's agenda.
But, what exactly is upcycling?
What is Upcycling?
Upcycling is a cost-effective, sustainable way of renovating a space by upgrading an unwanted item. The process of either painting a furniture piece, reupholstering a sofa, or repurposing old objects and turning them into something more appealing or worthy, is a process we now call “upcycling”. Or, as the premium upcycling retailer UpcyclingThat puts it:“Upcycling is taking something that’s considered waste and repurposing it. The upcycled item often becomes more functional or beautiful than what it previously was. That’s why it’s called upcycling, because the value of the item increases.”
Although the buying and selling of secondhand furniture isn’t anything new, the idea of taking an unwanted, unused item and turning it into something desirable is. Facebook Marketplace is a key example of this, where items are bought, upcycled, and then resold for a profit.
If you don’t have anything within your home which can be upcycled, shop around. Secondhand furniture shops, car boot sales, Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree or charity shops are a good place to start. Remember, with some creativity and imagination you will be able to turn most things into something beautiful. As the famous quote goes: “One man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure”
So, calling all tentative upcyclers, the time has come to get creative and give your old items and furniture pieces a new lease of life. To help inspire creativity, here’s ten upcycling ideas.
Top 10 upcycling ideas
1. Turn wooden pallets into an outside seating area
Old wooden pallets are everywhere – you can find them at grocery stores, newsagents, in the skip, online, or if you’re lucky a neighbour might have one. Wooden pallets are an incredibly cheap way to build outdoor furniture. From a one seat arrangement placed at floor level to a double stacked four seat corner and coffee table; with a saw, nails and a bit of time you can create the perfect outdoor furniture setting out of very little.
2. Use wooden boxes as shelving units
Hang a collection of small wooden crates or boxes on the walls to create a unique shelving arrangement and point of interest in the room. Paint, sand, vanish (or all of the above) until you get the desired look – try sanding the paint to add personality and create an aged, worn detailing.
3. Add a touch of paint to a tired looking wardrobe
Wardrobes are a big furniture item that can have a real impact on the look and feel of a room. It’s important to choose a wardrobe that fits the interior, but instead of buying new, pick up a paint brush and tin of paint and transform the look of the wardrobe. A lick of paint might be all it needs.
4. Paint old wooden chairs to add a pop of colour to your home
Does your kitchen or dining room need a lift? The easiest way to do this is to choose an item within the room to upcycle. For example, painting the legs and back of your wooden dining chairs can be a quick and easy way to add a pop of colour to a room.
5. Build a towel holder from a ladder or scaffolding
It might be difficult to find, but repurposing scaffolding as a towel rail could be a sure fire winner to renovating your bathroom. If there isn’t any scaffolding to-hand, a wooden ladder will do.
6. Design a coffee table from pallets
Don’t fancy making an outdoor seating area from a collection of wooden pallets? What about a coffee table? Get a small pallet, add small wheels to the bottom, and instantly you'll have a new rustic coffee table. Simple.
7. Reupholster old sofas and armchairs
Spice up an old armchair or sofa by adding new foam cushions which are reupholstered to your chosen fabric. It might be a slightly time-consuming process, but it’ll be worth it.
Sometimes all a sofa needs is a fabric facelift – for tips on how to reupholster, click here.
8. Create a bold sideboard
Give a sideboard a new lease of life with a dash of paint – make it interesting by using paint tape to create different shapes and patterns.
9. Turn old tins into plant vases
As soon as you’ve finished eating your morning beans on toast, wash the Baked Beans tin, pick up a paintbrush and paint some beautiful patterns on the tin. When happy with the design, add water to the tin and a collection of plants or flowers – you now have your very own personalised vase.
10. Turn your empty glass jars into candles
Add a pre-waxed wick to the jar and pour melted wax into the jar until full. As you pour the wax make sure to keep hold of the wick. After you’ve poured the wax, cut the end of the wick to just above the wax level. It’s that simple.
When it comes to upcycling the possibilities are endless, no matter what the object it can be upcycled into something new and exciting. For more upcycling ideas or to buy upcycled items, have a look at these amazing upcyclers: