Home Upcycling Projects

What is Upcycling?

Upcycling is a DIY project, taking old, used or discarded materials and transforming them into something new. Unlike recycling, which usually involves breaking down materials to create a new product, upcycling involves creatively repurposing items without having to significantly alter their form or structure. It can take many forms and can involve a wide range of materials!

Upcycling is a fantastic way to introduce creativity into your home while making eco-conscious choices. By repurposing old materials, you not only breathe new life into them but also contribute to reducing waste and minimising your environmental footprint.

With just a few simple steps, you can turn everyday items into works of art that add charm and character to your home. From vibrant vases filled with fresh flowers to rustic candle holders that illuminate your space, the possibilities are endless.

Below we have provided some of our top tips on how to begin upcycling around your home.

How to Upcycle Wooden Furniture

One of the most satisfying ways to breathe new life into your old furniture is through a fresh coat of paint. With a bit of creativity, you can freshen up your old furniture, taking it from shabby chic, to looking brand new in no time. See our guide below on how you can make your own upcycled items.

First, you need to choose your piece. Look for a sturdy piece that looks tired and in desperate need of a makeover. Whether it’s upcycling a coffee table, or a chest of drawers any piece of furniture in good enough condition can undergo a stunning transformation with a coat of paint. You may even find some inspiration for upcycling furniture in your local charity shop.

Pick your colours. One of the best parts about upcycling with paint is the endless colours at your disposal. This is the opportunity for you to create a personalised piece of furniture that fits in with the rest of your room. For statement pieces, opt for bright hues, or stick to the softer neutrals for a timeless look. Don’t be afraid to mix and match colours or experiment with techniques such as ombre or stencilling for a bit of added personality.

Check out Little Greene’s guide on how to upcycle furniture using colour.

Next, you need to get prepping. Before you break out the paintbrushes, take some time to properly prep your furniture. Clean down the surface with a damp cloth and sugar soap to remove any dust, dirt and grime. Sand away any rough patches and imperfections for a nice smooth finish. Keep in mind that you may need a primer to help your paint to adhere better, particularly on glossy surfaces. Remove any knobs or handles and use masking tape to cover any areas you want to paint a different colour.


After all of your preparations are in place, it’s time to get painting.

Grab your paintbrush or rollers and start applying your chosen colour to the furniture. Apply thin coats for an even, well-covered finish. Make sure that you allow each coat to dry completely before you add another layer to ensure you reach full coverage.  After the paint has dried, add the finishing touches to elevate the piece to the next level. Consider swapping old hardware for new knobs and handles to complement your new look!

To protect your freshly painted furniture from everyday wear and tear it’s a good idea to apply a coat of sealant or wax to provide a durable finish.

Transforming old furniture with paint is not only a creative way to update your decor but it’s also a sustainable choice that breathes new life into existing pieces.

From cutting costs to reducing waste, explore more benefits of upcycling your own furniture.


Upcycle Bottles and glass jars

With some creativity and imagination, your old bottles and glass pots can be reworked into stunning decorative pieces, saving you money on your home decor and adding charm and character to your home. Let’s take a look at some eco-friendly ways to upcycle old bottles.


Materials needed: 

  • Glass bottle (wine, beer, pop.)
  • Water
  • Flowers or greenery

Take an empty glass bottle and repurpose it into a stylish, personalised vase that adds a lovely touch of greenery to any room. Simply clean the bottles thoroughly, remove any labels (soak if necessary), quarter-fill with water and add your favourite flowers or greenery. You could even decorate your vases to make a truly unique finished product.


Candle Holders: 

Materials needed: 

  • Thick Glass Pots
  • Tealight candles
  • Decorations such as twine or ribbon.

Transform ordinary thick glass pots into candle holders that will light up your room. Using old dip pots or glass yoghurt pots, you can make lovely candle holders on a budget! Decorate with twine for the perfect centrepiece that would be perfect for a rustic wedding.


Bottle Bird Feeder:  

Materials needed: 

  • 1 x clean plastic bottle with a lid
  • 2 x sticks,
  • 1 x pin
  • string
  • 1 x scissors.

Use the pin to poke some drainage holes in the bottom of the bottle.

Make two level holes on either side of the bottle with the scissors and pin and push the stick through as a perch for the birds to stand on.

A few centimetres above the stick, make a feeding hole big enough for the birds to access the seeds. Make two more holes in the neck of the bottle and feed through the string.

Fill with bird seed and hang up in your garden.

Discover more creative ways to upcycle your glass jars and bottles.


Fun With the Kids

Upcycling projects are a great way to teach kids about creativity and sustainability. Take a look at some fun and educational upcycling projects you can do to keep the kids occupied on a rainy day.

Tin Can Planters 

Materials needed: 

  • Empty Tin Cans, labels removed
  • Paint or coloured cards
  • Paintbrushes
  • Glue
  • Soil
  • Small plants or seeds.
  • Water
  • Decoration (stickers, tape, ribbon.)

Use the paint to coat the tin cans in your desired colours. If you don’t have paint, you could even use coloured cards to decorate around the outside and tape together with sellotape.

Once the paint has dried, use stickers, ribbons or anything you can find to decorate the outside of the can.

Fill each can with potting soil, leaving space at the top for the plants. Pat down gently to remove air pockets.

Plant small seeds or pot small plants into the tin cans. Make sure to give the plants a small amount of water on top immediately after planting.

Place the tin can planter in a sunny location and water regularly to keep the soil moist. Don’t overwater as this may lead to waterlogging.

Top tip: The perfect location would be on a kitchen or bedroom windowsill. 

Once the plants begin to grow, they will not only add greenery to your space but also remind your children of the importance of recycling and repurposing materials.

In just a few steps, you can transform tin cans into colourful planters that are perfect for both indoor and outdoor use.

Whether you’re giving wooden furniture a fresh coat of paint or transforming old bottles into decorative pieces, each project is a unique opportunity to showcase your creativity and style.

No matter if you’re a seasoned upcycler or just starting out, remember that every little effort counts. Each upcycled creation is not just a piece of creative decor for your home, but a statement of your commitment to a more sustainable future.

So roll up your sleeves, unleash your creativity, and let the magic of upcycling transform everyday items in your home!  Happy upcycling!

Looking for more ways to live sustainably and save money along the way? Check out our Beyond the Grid content hub for handy advice.


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