“Upcycle, verb: Reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original.”
Reusing things is a surefire way to minimise the amount of rubbish you send to the landfill. Here at BuyMeOnce, we believe that upcycling should be a mandatory step in the recycling process. Before you throw away or recycle something you deem trash, try thinking of ways it can be repurposed into something useful. Not sure what to make of that rinsed pasta jar in your hand? Don’t worry, we’re here to help! We’ve collated 13 amazing and unique upcycling projects so that you can jazz up all that junk.
1. A DARLING DOLLHOUSE
Dollhouses can be one of the most expensive toys a little girl can ask for; some cost upwards of £100! If you don’t relish coughing up that kind of dough for a toy that will sit in the attic collecting dust in a few years’ time, why not try making one? This tutorial from Homemade Obsessions transforms a well-loved dresser into a fabulous four-story flat.
2. A KILLER KITCHEN
Don’t chuck out that old entertainment centre. Make your budding chef a super awesome play kitchen instead! From a “real” microwave to a light-up oven to its own refrigerator and freezer combo, this kitchen playset tutorial from Southern Revivals has it all. This is the perfect DIY project if your little one has a foodie streak.
3. FROM BABY TO TODDLER
If your infant has outgrown their crib, you don’t need to run out and buy a brand new toddler bed and guard rail. Simply fashion a toddler loft bed out of their crib! This easy 10-step tutorial from Adriel Booker will show you exactly how to craft the coolest pad and set you up as parent-of-the-year.
4. FROM TODDLER TO STUDENT
So your preschooler has finally outgrown the crib and is about to hit the books. You may need to purchase a new bed, but there’s no reason to buy a desk too. This DIY tutorial on A Little Learning for Two will teach you how to transform the loft crib (or any crib) into desk fit for two. Fitted with their own stationery supplies, organisers and amazing chalkboard table, your little scholars will be itching to get their homework done as soon as the bell rings.
5. A CUSHION FOR CALVIN
Comfy dog and cat beds can cost a pretty penny. One Good Thing has an excellent tutorial that will keep you under budget and provide your pet with a luxurious place to sleep. Throw together this simple pet bed with only an old jumper, pillow and yarn!
6. WRAP IT UP
Remember when we suggested beeswax wrap as a zero waste alternative to plastic wrap and bags? Well, now you can make your own! In this easy and affordable tutorial from Mommypotamus, you’ll learn how to turn old (clean!) scraps of fabric into reusable beeswax food wrap sheets. Perfect for school lunches, leftover bits of cheese and anything else you need to keep fresh.
7. PLASTIC-FREE PRODUCE
Need to keep all of your oranges from rolling around in the car but hate using the plastic produce bags? Ecouterre has the solution: upcycle a few old tees into produce bags! The best thing about this simple eight-step tutorial is that you can even use t-shirts that have holes – you’ll just be making more.
8. FOR A GREENER GARDEN
Have you ever wondered why your roses aren’t blooming or your tomatoes aren’t plumping? Perhaps it has nothing to do with your skills as a gardener, but more with the soil feeding your lovely plants. DIY & Crafts has put together a great list of different organic household fertilizers that will revive any weedy garden bed. Coffee grounds and fireplace ash? We’re intrigued!
9. COLANDER HANGING BASKET
Blossoming hanging baskets are absolutely gorgeous, but they usually come planted in a cheap plastic pot that lasts one season. Instead of buying a run-of-the-mill garden centre basket, why not make a reusable one from an old colander? Sadie Seasongoods has an awesome colander planter tutorial for all of your petaled perennials.
10. A DECORATIVE DOOR
Home renovations are messy and often wasteful; however, there are plenty of things you can repurpose from the scrap heap instead of sending it all off to landfill or the incinerator. We love this door headboard tutorial from Infarrantly Creative! A stunning way to turn debris into something beautiful and new.
11. A STEPPED-UP SIDE TABLE
Everyone has an old, rickety stepladder they inherited from their grandfather or as a “housewarming gift” from the previous tenant. Sadly, they usually aren’t that safe to use in the conventional sense, so why not turn it into a centrepiece? How cool is this upcycled stepladder side table from Funky Junk Interiors? We think this would look perfect in a bedroom, living room or even kitchen.
12. CUT-OFFS CRUSHIN’
Ah, the old jeans to cut-offs trick. A classic yet brilliant upcycling move. Simply take an old pair of jeans, slash the legs off, give it a couple artful rips and voila! A new pair of denim shorts that didn’t cost you a penny. We love these three photographed, step-by-step tutorials from Refinery29 – a perfect DIY for spring!
Amanda Saxby hails from the frozen tundra of British Columbia, Canada, and now works as Digital Marketing Manager for BuyMeOnce in London. When she’s not analysing the latest Twitter trends or decoding the optimal time to post an Instagram, she can be found with a whisk in her hand baking up naturally sweetened desserts for her colleagues. So far, no complaints.