DIY Upcycling-The Ultimate Guide

Buying new stuff is pretty exciting. In fact, it is a great source of happiness. But have you tried upcycling your old stuff to create something new? It’s an excellent way to utilize your free time and make something useful from those unwanted items in your closet. Not to mention, you’ll also feel satisfied and more productive.

Do you have lots of stuff that you haven’t used in ages or simply want to get rid of clutter? You’ll definitely love utilizing your old things with some fantastic DIY upcycling ideas we’re going to discuss in this article.

Before we show you different ways to upgrade old items in your house, let’s first discuss what actually is upcycling.

Upcycling – What is it?

Upcycling is a popular concept, especially from the past couple of decades. Most people already know what it is, but they usually confuse it with recycling. It’s because both the concepts involve the usage of old stuff.

But still, both are different!

Upcycling is converting old/unwanted items to something better and more useful that can be used for a wholly different purpose. And you don’t need to convert the items into waste first!

Now, if we talk about recycling, it involves destructing waste and then creating something new from it. Take, for example, plastic bottles. They can be melted to make new plastic which can then be used for new products.

When you’re looking to create something new from your old things, upcycling and recycling both are great options. But, upcycling is definitely more fun and creative. And it requires a lot less energy and money.

Items and Materials You Can Use for Your Upcycling Project

Sometimes we have a lot of items in our house that we can upcycle, but instead, we throw them in the waste for recycling. And mostly, we don’t even discard them, thinking we might need them later but never actually use them in years.

Here are some of the items most of us have in our house that can be upcycled.

Jewelry Items

Jewelry items for DIY upcycling

Every girl/woman has loads of jewelry. Throwing away jewelry items, no matter how old they get, is always difficult, especially those that have sentimental value. Right? Well, you don’t have to! Because you can upcycle most of your jewelry items to make something more beautiful and unique.

This way, you can make your jewelry useful again even if it doesn’t have a monetary value. Not to mention, it’ll be so much fun to create one-of-a-kind jewelry from your beloved jewelry items.

You can either convert your old jewelry into new jewelry items or something totally new. For example, you can use your clip-on earrings to create rings or even necklaces. Or, you can paint your outdated jewelry items to give them a new look, make wind chimes, chandeliers, and whatnot.


We all have heard of paper recycling. But who would’ve thought you could make use of them to create a lot of exciting things at home?

Stack of newspapers for upcycling

Although there are so many ways we can upcycle papers, there are always more papers at our home. So, it may not be possible to utilize all those newspapers, receipts, magazines, etc. This means you’ll still have to discard a lot of them for recycling.

Some great paper upcycling ideas include:

  • Making beautiful wired trees from newspapers and use them as decorative items.
  • Creating eye-catching cup rings, cards, bookmarks, scrapbooks from old colorful papers, or beautiful jewelry items
  • Using newspapers to create an artistic canvas


Leather shoes and bags

Leather is an expensive material. And no matter how old our leather bags, boots, or upholstery get, it always hurts to throw them away. So, why not utilize it to create stunning items such as jewelry. For example, you can cut petals from leather and join them to make a flower for your headband. Or you can use thick leather stripes to create a chain for your necklace or bracelets.


Cardboard boxes

If you’ve moved houses in the recent past, you probably have a lot of cardboard boxes. Instead of putting them in a cardboard recycling bin, why not convert them into useful items.

Upcycling cardboard is easy. And you’ll be surprised with the things you can make from those cardboards you were about to throw away. You can make newspaper baskets, gift boxes, beautiful wall arts, and a lot more from cardboard.


Wood pallets

Have some unwanted wood in your garage or storeroom from old furniture, doors, or wooden crates? You can upcycle them by creating eye-catching wall hangings. Or convert them into a table or tabletop for your kitchen. You can also make a handy bookshelf from old wood pallets.


Lots of used plastic bottles that can be upcycled

There has been a lot of discussion about how plastic pollutes the environment and how it takes years to degrade. So, it’s always better to upcycle those plastic bottles and other stuff than dumping them in a trash bin. From creating beautiful vases to decorating items, there is so much you can do with plastic. You can also make a storage basket and even a pencil case from it.


Used clothing that can be used for upcycling

We all buy new clothes, more than we actually need. Don’t we? Sometimes it’s also because our old clothes have worn out or our waist size has changed.

Most people usually choose to repair their clothes before dumping them. But, what to do with those old clothes that you’re not planning on discarding but also not using anymore? Upcycle them!

You can create one-of-a-kind wall hanging, kitchen cleaning cloths, apron, picnic blankets, or even jewelry from your old clothes.

Glass items

Used glass bottles and jars

Glass bottles and jars can make for some stunning decoration pieces if upcycled properly. For example, you can use them as wind chimes or create pretty vases. Similarly, if you have a large piece of glass from an old window, you can utilize it as a tabletop.


Old furniture

As time changes, furniture gets outdated, and we wish to update it quickly. If you think your old center table or sofa doesn’t go with your modern décor, you can always upcycle it. Upcycling furniture has gained so much attention in the past few years. In fact, many people are now using it as a way to run a business and earn a decent amount.

From painting your old furniture to fixing the broken parts, there are many ways to make your furniture useful again.


Pieces of different fabrics

If you have extra fabric pieces in your sewing kit or closet, you can utilize them in many ways. Fabrics such as cotton, silk, nylon, and bamboo are great for making unique jewelry items such as bangles and necklaces. You can also use scrap fabric to create eye-catching wall hangings and bookmarks, etc.

Everyday use items

You can use items such as tissue boxes and rolls, tin and coffee cans, bottles, etc., in many upcycling ideas. The best part about upcycling these items is that they are always available in our homes.

Some Amazing DIY Upcycling Ideas

Now that you know which materials you can upcycle, here are some great DIY upcycling ideas for you.

Upcycle your collection of brooches

Collection of brooches for upcycling project

If you have old brooches that you don’t use anymore, you can create many beautiful items from them. You can take a plain shirt and add brooches on it as embellishments.

Another great way to utilize brooches is to create a unique necklace. First, remove pins from each brooch. Then connect them using jump rings. Now take a strong ribbon and add the brooches to it.

Not to mention, you can make a stunning brooch bridal bouquet for your or a close friend’s wedding:

Brooch bouquet from DIY upcycling
  • Take a dozen or more artificial flowers and remove the leaves from their stems using a wire cutter or scissor.
  • Now put the flowers together in a bouquet-like arrangement and secure them using tape. Remember to cover the stems from top to bottom with tape. You can also cover the stems with ribbons for a more beautiful look.
  • Lastly, insert the brooches in the flower arrangement using floral wire and secure them with floral tape.

You can also create a one-of-a-kind bracelet by connecting multiple bracelets to a large brooch. All you have to do is open the brooch’s pin and add three or four bracelets to it.

Utilize your lampshades

Pendant lights created from upcycling of lamp shades

If you have lamps that don’t work anymore, you can use their shades to create beautiful pendant lights. Start with removing the upper fabric from the lampshades. Then take a pendant cord set and thread it through your lampshade fitting. You’ll need to take apart the cord socket to pass it through the lamp fitting and assemble it again once the cord is threaded. Finally, fix an LED light on the cord and hang it to the ceiling.

You can also use your wastepaper basket for creating a pendant light. But remember to make a hole in the center for threading the cord.

Turn your sweaters into cushion covers

Looking to give your cushions a new look?  Make cushion covers from your old sweaters!

Cushion cover made out of an old sweater

Simply measure the size of your pillows or cushions and cut your sweaters accordingly. Then take fusible interfacing, cut it into the same dimensions and fuse it with the sweater.  Next, sew the sides of the sweater but leave one side open for inserting the cushion. Once you’ve inserted the cushion, sew the opening.

Convert your dresser into a serving trolley

Old dresser that can be upcycled to create a serving cart

If you feel your dresser is outdated and you’re not using it anymore, why not turn it into a serving cart? Simply paint it to cover any imperfection and give it a smooth finish. You can then change its handles to add a more luxurious look. Also, remember to add brass wheels on the legs to convert it into a trolley. You can also add metal handles on the sides for items such as towels and tissue rolls, etc.

Utilize your Glass and Plastic Bottles

If you were about to throw those wine and water bottles for recycling, don’t do that! There are many ways you can upcycle them. You can convert them into eye-catching decoration pieces or create beautiful flower vases from them.

Upcycled old wine bottles

To make decoration pieces out of your glass bottles, you can simply paint them. You can then use jute or twine, etc., around the neck to give them a more decorative look. But before you paint a glass bottle, make sure to remove any labels and wash it properly. Next, let it dry. Finally, paint it with your favorite color.

To turn your glass bottle into a vase, you’ll need to follow some steps carefully to cut the top half:

Flower vase made out of an old glass bottle
  • Tie a piece of yarn around the bottle thrice. Then remove it from the bottle (remember to cut off the extra yarn first)
  • Next, fill a bowl with acetone and put the yarn in it
  • Take out the yarn and put it back on the bottle
  • Now, this step requires you to be very careful because it involves igniting the yarn
  • Once all the yarn is ignited, put the bottle in cold water
  • Take out the bottle, and you’ll see the top half of the bottle is fully separated. You can then paint the bottle and put flowers in it.

If you want to create vases from plastic bottles, it’ll be easier because you can cut them with a scissor. You can then decorate it with jute or wrapping paper.

Upcycle your old study table

Old study table upcycling

Is your study table rusting or wearing down? Paint it with a funky color that goes with your overall décor. Then cover the tabletop and drawers with colorful, patterned paper such as gift paper. And voila, you have a totally new table that you can even use as a centerpiece!

Turn tin cans into decorative pieces

This one is among the best DIY upcycling ideas because it’s super easy and doesn’t require much time or effort. And, since we all eat canned food, almost every house has tin cans, which means anyone can try this idea. Although tin cans seem totally useless once we’ve used all the food, they can make for stunning flower pots.

Pretty flower pots made from upcycling of tin cans

Cover the can with colorful gift paper or wrapping paper using glue or tape. You can then add artificial flowers to them and place them in your kitchen as decorative pieces. Don’t forget to wash the cans before wrapping them!

Creating candle holders from tin cans is another great idea. You can paint the tin cans with different colors and use a hammer and nail to create beautiful designs.

Make photo display from old books

This DIY idea will only take a few minutes. Look for books with colorful or patterned covers in your bookshelf or storeroom. Paste a memorable picture on the cover of each book and arrange them vertically and horizontally on your table. You’ll be surprised to see how good they look!

Make a new necklace from broken necklaces

Old necklaces upcycling

If you have multiple broken necklaces, you can mix and match their beads to create a new and unique necklace. Take beading thread and cut it into your desired necklace size. Then insert the beads in the thread and use clasps and fasteners to keep the necklace intact. You can find a step-by-step guide to create a DIY necklace from beads here.

Upcycle tissue box and toilet rolls

Cardboard part of toiler rolls

With some simple steps, you can create a pretty desk organizer from a tissue box and few toilet paper rolls. Cover the tissue box with patterned wrapping paper and secure it with glue or tape. Then place the core (the cardboard part) of toilet paper rolls in the box to make compartments. Now, organize your pens and other stationery items in different compartments.

Make a cool blanket from your old T-shirts

If there are old t-shirts in your closet that you can’t imagine disposing of, it’s time to upcycle them! You can create a cool, funky blanket for your room from all those colorful t-shirts. Although this will take a reasonable time and effort, the end result will be totally worth it.

You’ll need at least 35-38 t-shirts to create a blanket for a single bed.

Start with cutting each t-shirt into a square or rectangle and ensure that each cut piece has the same dimensions.

Next, take fusible interfacing and cut it into the same size as the t-shirts. Then attach it with each shirt using an iron. This step is important because your t-shirts won’t have enough support without fusible interfacing. And they can stretch out of shape while you sew them.  Now, sew all the shirts together to make a blanket. 

Create beautiful wall art from wood pieces

Wall arts made from upcycling of old wooden pieces

Do you have pallets of wood or wood pieces from old furniture? Cover them with newspapers or wrapping papers using glue or tape to create attractive wall art. To hang the wall art, attach horizontally-cut small pieces of wood at the back (top and bottom) of the frame. Wood glue can be used for this purpose. Then screw d-rings on them.

Other Things to Consider for DIY Upcycling

When you start working on any of the DIY upcycling ideas, it is best to consider a few important aspects. First, you need to check if you have all the required materials and components. Although upcycling is all about upgrading old stuff, you may need to buy some stuff to complete a specific project. For example, you may have old jewelry that you want to create a necklace with but don’t have beading threads.

Before you buy new stuff, ask your friends/family if they have old items that they’re not planning on using anymore. You might find a lot of useful things that you can use in your upcycling project.

There are many sites, such as Facebook Marketplace, where people sell their old stuff or give them away for free. You can purchase your desired items from such sites at very low rates. eBay also sells used clothing and fabric pieces, so you can look for required items there as well.

Similarly, you may also come across a lot of items in your house that you don’t think you can upcycle. It’s best to ask your friends and family if they need any of it. Or you can also give them away or sell them online so that other people can upcycle them.

Why Should You Upcycle your Old Stuff

The fact that upcycling is fun and creative is reason enough for many people to start their upcycling projects. But, there are many other reasons why it’s important to upcycle unwanted items. First of all, it’s great for the environment because it reduces pollution as your old items don’t go into landfills. And it also prevents the unnecessary production of new goods.

Another benefit that most people love is that it is economical. You will save a reasonable amount by turning your old stuff into something useful rather than buying new items. And it also allows you to create one-of-a-kind items. Moreover, being able to craft unique and attractive items from old and useless stuff is an excellent skill to have. You can actually start your own business with this skill. 

There are mental and psychological benefits as well. It makes you feel more productive, calm, relaxed, and satisfied.  Not to mention, it also eliminates the need to throw away things that have sentimental value.

Final Thoughts

Upcycling is a great way to upgrade your old stuff and make it useful again. And it gives you an excellent opportunity to invest your free time into something fun and creative. There are so many different types of items and materials available at our homes that we can upcycle. These include plastic, glass, papers, wood, metal, everyday use items, etc. However, you may still need to buy some stuff that you can’t find at your home to complete your upcycling project.

From creating pendant lights and candle holders to making wall arts, vases, and blankets, there is so much you can do with your old stuff. So create your one-of-a-king items with easy yet creative DIY upcycling ideas we have discussed in this article.

If you liked this article, you may also like one of our articles in the series “DIY crafts that make money

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