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Sustainable Design: Upcycling Ideas for Your Home

 

 
 
The idea of turning "junk" into usable household items is a big trend, but it is also a problem-solver on many levels. Economically, upcycling can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars by reusing things that you already have or can find for free instead of purchasing new. Repurposing is also favorable for the environment, as it keeps used items out of landfills and the waste stream. In this article, we will provide some ideas to get you started or inspire you to come up with some of your own.
 

For the Home

 
     
  Wooden pallets are one of the most versatile resources used in DIY projects. They can easily be transformed into a coffee table, shelving, and can even be pieced together to create a beautiful wood-slatted accent wall, among many other things. The best part about pallets —they’re usually free.  
     
     
  Old shutters are great for upcycling purposes. Mount them on the wall and liven them up by hanging family photos or stylish decorations.  
     
     
  Convert an old wooden fence post or staircase newel into an attractive coat rack by adding legs and a few hooks.  
     
     
  Used for preserving foods since the 1800s, it’s safe to assume that John Landis Mason never intended for his invention, the Mason jar, to turn into a perfect object for so many projects. Candles, bathroom organizers, soap dispensers, and lighting fixtures are only a few clever ways to upcycle. The options are endless with these handy little containers, so get creative with them.  
     
     
  Glass bottles come in a large variety of shapes and sizes, which make them useful for many different projects. Large glass jugs and whiskey bottles are perfect for making lamps or vases. Smaller ones, such as wine bottles, can be used for craft making or colorful chandeliers.  
     
     
  Creating your own backsplash in your kitchen or bathroom is an excellent way to personalize your space with an eccentric touch. A collection of new and old pennies is a great way to create a copper backsplash on a budget. Use old license plates, bottle caps, wine corks, or your childhood music records and CDs if you want to get a little bit quirky.  
     
     
  That distressed wooden ladder taking up space in your shed should be welcomed into your home, because it is perfect for holding multiple towels in your bathroom. A-frame ladders can easily be converted into fashionable shelving to fit right into your rustic design.  
     

For the Patio

 
     
  Canned goods. Every home has them. Empty food¬ cans and larger coffee cans can make fantastic planters. For large plants, use old water buckets and even metal trash cans to match. Ponder ways to use tin cans indoors as well – they make for excellent silverware organizers, among other things.  
     
     
  If you have been thinking about turning your patio into a hang-out, add some extra seating by turning a few seasoned chairs into a bench using 2x4's and some wood screws. Or, stack some wood pallets and top them off with a few cushions to create the perfect outdoor lounging area.  
     
     
  Fire pits are a must-have outdoor commodity for those chilly spring evenings and brisk fall months. Rather than breaking the bank on purchasing one new or building your own, why not use that rusty steel barrel that's been living behind the shed?  
     
     
  That outdated chandelier that you replaced in your entryway coincidentally looks fantastic as a repurposed herb chandelier. Remove the sconces and replace them with small planters to begin growing your herbs in style.  
     
     
  Clay flower pots seem to take some abuse, and they are not difficult to crack or chip when left to the elements. Instead of tossing them in the trash, paint the shattered pieces and use them to create an impressive mosaic to put in your flower bed.  
     

For the Kids

 
     
  Used car and tractor tires can be unbelievably fun for children. Hang an old tire from a tree to make an excellent tire swing, or scatter and stack them high and wide to construct a low-budget playground. Cut a tire in half and fasten a plank of wood to it to assemble the perfect seesaw.  
     
     
  Toys accumulate quicker than many parents can keep up with in terms of storage, so they end up scattered across the floor or thrown into the closet. Every child could use more storage and ways to organize, and there are many ways to create that space using stuff that you have laying around the house. Tackle boxes are ideal for organizing small items, such as LEGOs and art supplies. Turn wooden crates into a place to keep bedtime storybooks and stuffed animals. Stack and glue a bundle of paper rolls inside of a box to contrive a convenient tower that will stash Hot Wheels and Barbie dolls neatly.  
     
     
  Baby crib mobiles can be made using just about any small, safe objects that you have laying around the house. Toilet tissue rolls, homemade paper airplanes, outdated music CDs, small stuffed animals, or a combination of your own ideas can be attached to string tied to a couple old hangers suspended from the ceiling . Check out these creative DIY mobiles to gather some ideas.