How Upcycling Can Elevate Your Home Decor

How Upcycling Can Elevate Your Home Decor

Don’t Just Decorate—Reincarnate!

According to Duke University Center for Sustainability & Commerce, the average person generates 4.3 pounds of waste per day. This is 1.6 pounds more than most produced back in 1960.* So where does most of it go? Into landfills, unfortunately. But happily, there are things you can do to reduce your waste.

Aside from recycling and reducing, there’s upcycling—reusing what you’d normally throw away to create something new. It’s not only a creative and fun way to decorate your house; it’s also inexpensive and better for the environment. In this article, we’ve rounded up five common household items that may have been headed for the trash. Instead, we’ve reincarnated them into five items that can help you beautify your home. So bye bye, garbage… Hello, high-end style!


This holder of jellies, jams and pickles is as versatile as it is practical. With a classic look and shape, a mason jar can transform itself into a beautiful accent or centerpiece.

  • Hanging Lanterns: Add a whimsical touch to a cookout or garden party by hanging these mason jar lanterns throughout the yard.
  • Candles: For a beautiful and classic centerpiece, cluster floating candles among flowers or branches. Or place sassy and sweet mason jar votives in a guest bathroom for a touch of elegance.
  • Vacation in a Jar: Create a conversation piece around your latest vacation or experience with a mason jar full of memories.
  • Lamp: Redberry Barn makes creating your own lamp easy. Trim up the shade with colorful rickrack or cover it with material that complements the rest of your room’s decor.
  • Terrarium: Bring the outside in with a very low-maintenance mason jar terrarium. They also make great hostess gifts; just tie a piece of burlap or fabric to cover the lid for a pretty presentation.
mason jars

Even if a window shutter is on it’s last leg, it can still be resuscitated. Some leftover paint and some tools can transform a battered-up shutter into the perfect piece of furniture or home décor.

  • Headboard: Add a rustic and chic touch by dressing up a plain mattress or bed with a headboard made from two shutters.
  • Sofa Table: An old shutter is the ideal width for a sofa table. You can even reuse old banisters or porch railings for the legs.
  • Magazine Rack: Keep magazines organized and on display with this ingenious magazine rack.
  • Towel Rack: A few hooks and some varnish or paint can replace a ho-hum towel rack
  • Planter: Retrofit a plantation shutter or two for a fabulous wall garden that takes up minimal space.
headboard shutters

image via blog a la carte

Although the idea of framing your boss’s family Christmas photo is hard to resist, please consider the many décor possibilities of frames. Old, new, chipped or scuffed—you can use any kind of frame in any condition.

  • Chalkboard: To-do lists, shopping lists and menus can’t help but look café chic on a framed chalkboard.
  • Vanity Tray: You don’t even have to have a vanity to use a vanity tray made from an old picture frame. Use it on your dresser or bathroom counter to for cosmetic bottles and brushes to make dusting and cleaning easier.
  • Side Table: Who knew a lamp base and a picture frame could make such a unique and charming side table?
  • Key Holder: Never lose your keys again with this nifty, thrifty key holder—a cute and functional addition to your entryway or mudroom.
  • Corkboard: This tutorial is for a corkboard jewelry holder, but it can be any kind of corkboard. Use it for photos, notes, jewelry, recipes and more.
chalkboard picture frame

image via Style Me Pretty

You’ve upgraded your reading library to a tablet, but you still have a bunch of old books you’ve earmarked for recycling. But books can add warmth and old-world charm to a space—even when they’ll never be read again.

  • Floating Shelf: Make people realize you are indeed a genius with this one-of-a-kind floating shelf, which gives the illusion of pure levitation.
  • Planter: This has to be the coolest idea for a planter yet. Choose an old hard-cover book with character and get your green on!
  • File Cabinet: Here’s another item you can save from the landfill—that old, beat-up file cabinet. Cover it with pages from a book for office furniture with function, style and personality.
  • Clock: A book with a colorful cover can be converted into a cool clock that’s great for a kid’s room or nursery.
  • Wallpaper: Dress up your walls or ceiling in words for a shabby chic look with an erudite edge.
plant book

image via homedit

Almost every thrift store has a mountain of mismatched plates. Ever wonder where the rest of the set went? Was there an earthquake? A violent quarrel while setting the table? That mystery may never be solved, but this one will—what to do with all those mismatched plates.

  • Wall Display: Turn old plates into a work of art with a customizable wall display. For a more streamlined look that matches your room’s color palette, you can also paint plates in whatever colors you like.
  • Tiered Dessert Stand: Mismatched plates look artfully cohesive when they’re stacked in a vintage tiered dessert stand.
  • Wall Mirrors: Take a last-minute look at your hair and makeup before walking out the door with a cluster of beautiful plate wall mirrors.
  • Bird Feeder: Create a relaxing focal point in your yard or on your patio with a repurposed plate bird feeder.
  • Jewelry: Although it’s not technically home décor, you can make your own handmade jewelry—the kind you’d pay a pretty penny for at an expensive boutique—from smashed porcelain plates.
wall plates