Upcycling Ideas You Can Try at Home

Have a desk that's looking drab or a room in need of a refresh? We've got some easy upcycling ideas to give your stuff a new look without spending a fortune. Whether you're flipping some furniture or revamping an old relic, read on for upcycling projects big and small that'll get your creative juices flowing.


Can you perform upcycling with paint?

A quick way to update old furniture is to give it a fresh lick of paint. To make the job even easier, you might want to try chalk paint, which can go straight on to wood, metal, laminate and more – there’s no need to sand or prime first! Or perhaps you’ve got a bedside table that you don’t want anymore? You could move it into the garden and turn it into a planter after giving it a coat of garden furniture paint.

Upcycling drawers with wallpaper

Don’t know what to do with your leftover wallpaper? Why not add panels of your favourite print to drawer fronts, or use it to line the inside for a more subtle effect? Another idea is to stick the wallpaper to the outer sides of drawers for a pop of pattern or colour whenever you pull them out. Textured wallpaper can give simple furniture designs an ornate touch by mimicking expensive carved wood. You can simply stick the wallpaper on using basic PVA glue.

Upcycling old furniture

Stripping back old furniture

This clever little technique is as cheap as chips to do and will instantly add a vintage feel to doors, picture frames, desks and more. It works best on old wooden furniture that’s had plenty of layers of paint over the years (but you can always recreate this yourself with your chosen colour). All you need is medium-grit sandpaper to remove the paint and expose the bare wood. Leaving patches of paint layers will help create the distressed look.

Upcycling metallic

Can I recycle luxurious metallics?

A touch of gold, silver or copper is a sure-fire way to give your home a touch of glamour. To cover larger spaces, a tin of metallic paint is ideal, or for smaller pieces, you can opt for spray paint. You could also try using gold leaf to make carved details on furnishings really pop. To create an aged aesthetic, you might want to paint the furniture with a matt colour before applying the gold. By lightly sanding the edges, you’ll reveal the colour underneath for a vintage feel.

It’s all in the details

Sometimes the smallest thing can have the biggest impact. To update chests of drawers, sideboards and wardrobes, you could simply replace the drawer handle. Quirky knobs will add personality to a piece, or you could go for modern Scandi vibes with leather pulls. Or why not try adding polished brass or silver castor wheels to the legs?

Upcycling glass jar

How to upcycle your glass jars

Are your cupboards filling up with empty glass jars? One easy idea is to make them into little pots to grow herbs and succulents, or even to display artificial foliage. For extra style points, you can try making them into retro-cool macramé hanging planters using a little twine (and a how-to video to master the knotting technique). It’s a good idea to add a few pebbles to the bottom of the jar to help real plants with drainage.

With our handy upcycling ideas, you’ll find it a doddle to revive existing old furniture, as well as any pre-loved bargains you find. New to recycling treasures for your home? Check out our guide on how to get started with upcycling.

Head over to Gumtree to discover some second-hand tables, wooden chairs and drawers in need of a fab new look.