16 creative upcycling ideas that could save you money and help the planet

Repurposing or upcycling your clutter is a satisfying way to get creative, save money and give a new lease of life to items that you longer use. Next time you go to throw out your bean can or you’re wondering what to do with all your old cake tins that you no longer need – it’s worth taking a moment to consider whether they could be used for something else. You might be surprised at what you come up with!

Methods of upcycling are becoming increasingly innovative and stylish – and are a great way to be kind to the planet. To help you get started, here are 16 clever upcycling ideas that will hopefully inspire you to get creative with your clutter…

1. Turn old jeans into a work apron

turn old jeans into a work apron

If you’ve got an old pair of jeans that you no longer wear, then you could turn them into a handy work apron. All you need is a pair of old jeans, some scissors and a needle and thread!

2. Make a pendant lamp out of wooden sticks

Your choice of lighting and lampshades can make a big difference to your living space – and can be just what’s needed to add a touch of elegance to a room. If you fancy getting creative whilst saving some money at the same time, then you could give this DIY pendant lamp a go. You might be surprised at how something that’s so easy to make can look so stylish.

3. Turn an old stuffed toy into a door stop

turn an old stuffed toy into a door stop

If your grandchildren (or you for that matter!) have stuffed toys that are no longer wanted or needed, then consider transforming one into a door stop. All you have to do is make a needle cut in the fabric, pull out the stuffing, fill it with something heavy like gravel or sand to make it weighted heavy – and then sew it back up!

4. Turn an old cable reel into a coffee table

This cute table will not only give you somewhere you enjoy your cake and coffee, it will also allow you to display and organise your books and plants in an interesting way. An added bonus is that it also spins!

5. Turn an old sheet or duvet cover into a new rug

We all update our bedding from time to time, and the old stuff often gets repurposed as dust sheets or cleaning rags. While this is still a great way to recycle your old bedding, if you want to try something a bit different – you could try making a new rug. The video below will show you how to make an Amish knot rag rug out of an old duvet cover or sheet.

6. Turn an old window into a piece of wall art

If you’ve recently had an old window replaced – or still happen to have one lying around from when you did – then you could give it a new lease of life by turning it into a piece of unique wall art. The video below will show you how to use wax paste and chalk-type paint to create a beautiful feature piece for your home.

7. Turn cake pans into a tiered organiser

turn cake pans into a tiered organiser

Whether you’ve got too many cake pans, or yours are simply a bit worn out, they can easily be repurposed and used as a handy organiser. Whether you want to organise your cosmetics, herbs and spices, or random bits and bobs – your old cake tins could be the ultimate storage solution.

8. Give old wooden furniture a makeover

If you’ve got old wooden furniture that looks old and tired, or no longer matches your colour scheme, then rather than buying new furniture – why not just give your existing furniture a makeover? It’s really quite amazing how with a fresh coat of paint, some varnish and/or a new set of handles, something like a dresser, chest or drawers or wardrobe can look brand new.

The video below is a good example of this. Someone has taken an old broken Welsh dresser and given it a much more modern, fresh look.

9. Turn tin cans into pretty pots

turn tin cans into pretty pots

If you’ve got green fingers and you’re keen to save money on plant pots, then why not consider keeping hold of some of your old tin cans? In a few simple steps, an empty bean tin can become a pretty pot for your leafy companions. Consider hanging them in an arrangement on a wall or garden fence, using them as a table centerpiece – or even giving them as gifts to friends or family members.

10. Turn an old stool into a gift wrap caddy

Fed up with your rolls of gift wrap becoming squashed, bent or unwravelled because they’re simply in the way? Find out how you can convert an old stool into a gift wrap caddy to keep them organised,  in just a few easy steps.

11. Create your own blackboard

If you’ve got an old piece of wood knocking around that you no longer need, then why not create your own blackboard, where you can keep track of daily tasks and reminders? All you need is some chalkboard paint*, a brush, and eventually some chalk*! If you don’t have a piece of wood to spare, you can still create a blackboard on a wall in your home, using just the paint. The video below will show you how to do this.

12. Turn old newspapers into a wall decoration

Old newspapers have many uses, but have you ever thought about turning them into a pretty wall-hanging, to inject a bit of life into your living space? The video below will show you how to roll newspaper pages into thin tubes to create a piece of homemade wall art that you can be proud of.

13. Turn bricks into planters

Plenty of us have a rogue brick or two lying around in the garden. If they’re sitting there unused, then you could consider using them as planters for your greenery. Simply scoop some soil into the brick holes and add in a few small succulents. Succulents typically have shallow roots which means they should still be able to thrive in their new home, even though the holes are fairly small. Have a look at the video below, which will show you how to proprograte and plant succulents in bricks.

14. Make your own lap tray out of old bits and bobs

A lap tray can make eating on the sofa a much more relaxed (and much less messy!) experience. It can also be used to place your laptop on when you’re not sitting behind a desk.

You can use things that you’re likely to have lying around the house to make a DIY lap tray of your own. All you need is an old pillow, an old pillowcase or piece of fabric, a large rectangular photo frame, and an image that you like to go in it. The video below will show you what to do next.

15. Turn your perfume or aftershave bottles into unique ornaments

Perfume and aftershave are expensive and the bottles are often quite interesting or pretty – so it can feel a shame to get rid of them when the contents run out. If you find yourself hanging onto your perfume or aftershave bottles for this reason, but want to find a proper use for them – then consider turning them into ornaments. Acrylic paint works well when used on glass bottles and can transform your empty Chanel. No 5 into something quite unique and beautiful!

16. Make coasters out of wine corks

Rather than throwing your wine corks away, consider holding on to them and making some decorative coasters for your coffee table. All you need is some strong glue and little creativity!

We’d love to hear from you!

We hope these upcycling ideas will give you some creative inspiration to spruce up your living space, whilst saving some money in the process! If you enjoyed this article then you may also enjoy our other articles; 10 affordable ways to improve your living space and 25 tips and tricks that can make life easier.

If any of these tips worked particularly well for you, or if you have any other suggestions of your own that you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or post on the community forum.

Links with an * by them are affiliate links which help Rest Less stay free to use as they can result in a payment or benefit to us. You can read more on how we make money here.

4 thoughts on “16 creative upcycling ideas that could save you money and help the planet

  1. Avatar
    Louise on Reply

    Love these ideas – the rug reminds me of being a little child and the one my great grandad had in this kitchen. Definitely going to give it a go! Thank you!

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