3 Easy Upcycling Home Projects

We really loved these upcycling home projects we recent look on – house projects can be a lot of fun, but they can also end up costing a lot of money and producing a lot of waste. Over the past year we found ourselves getting creative to update our living space on a budget all while sending fewer items to the landfill. While some of these ideas are big DIY projects, some are as simple as adding a coat of paint, and others can be hired out if you prefer. We actually did a mix of all three.

Upcycling Home Projects - Planters

Each of these items can be considered an upcycling home project. Upcycling is giving an old item a new and better purpose. For example, we do a lot of upcycling with our zero waste dog toys. For example, we’ll sometimes turn old t-shirts into a knotted rope to play tug with. In this case, the old T-shirt was upcycled and given a new life.

The same is true for these house projects. With a little creativity, we were able to breathe a new life into some old items. These are only a few examples of how to upcycle items at home, but feel free to let your own creativity guide you to come up with more ways to save money and reduce waste while making your home even more home-y.

Upcycling Home Projects: Where to start

1. RePurpose

There was a wooden swing set in our backyard when we moved into our house. Even though it was fun swinging on the swings (how often do we get a chance to swing these days??), the woodpeckers in our neighborhood had other plans and turned it into their nest. They ended up drilling a massive hole into the top of the structure and it was no longer going to be safe for us to use.

Demolishing a swing set normally creates a lot of waste, but with a little creativity we were able to repurpose the wood to fill two additional needs in our backyard. First, we wanted to expand our vegetable garden. We love experimenting with planting different veggies so expanding our garden to have multiple beds was on our wish list. The long pieces of wood from the swing set became the sides of two new garden beds.

There was still extra wood leftover and to fill another need, we repurposed the rest of the wood into two Adirondack chairs for our backyard. Even the screws were reused so no extra material was needed, and no waste was produced. It is so rewarding to see these zero waste solutions being put to good use every day in our yard.

Upcycling Home Project - Glass Jar

Repurposing doesn’t have the be as dramatic as a swing set. Clean our a pasta sauce jar after use and use it to store and organize things around the house – from coffee beans and rice, to laundry powder and reusable makeup pads.

2. Paint

It truly is amazing how much a simple coat of paint can transform an item and make it look brand new! When we moved into our place, there was an old dresser that the original family left behind. For the longest time this dresser was just in the way and we could not wait to get rid of it. It was old and wooden with some water stains on top. It wasn’t until we discovered other people painting old furniture that we actually got excited to keep this thing.

We bought some mineral based furniture paint, and the transformation was unbelievable! The best part about the whole thing is how simple it was. No sanding or other labor-intensive prep needed. All we did was wipe it down with a homemade vinegar/water solution to make sure it was clean before paining. This old furniture piece that we could not wait to toss is now one of our favorites! If you don’t have an old piece of furniture at home to paint, see if you can pick up something inexpensive at your local secondhand shop, or search neighborhood garage sales and make this your next upcycling home project.

Two other things we painted at our place that made an immediate transformation was the original cabinet hardware in the kitchen and the wood paneling in our basement. Both of these items were outdated and didn’t fit our vibe. But simply spray-painting the cabinet hardware made it look like a completely new kitchen! Cabinet hardware gets expensive, so this was a great zero waste and cost-effective win for transforming the look of our cabinets.

The basement paneling was another great transformation. Rather than taking it out and replacing it with a new material such as drywall, we opted to go the more cost-effective route and paint over it with simple white paint. We love the texture that the old paneling provides, and the paint freshened it up very nicely and gives us a blank canvas for further decorating. In all of these cases, paint was the only material used, and no items were thrown away as a result.

3. Love what you have

A lot of times when we want to update items in our house, our first instinct is to search for something new to replace an old item. This was the track we were on when we decided we wanted to replace our old front door. The original front door was an off-white color and did not go with our new color scheme. It also only had a tiny window at the top to let light in. We love natural light coming into our house and needed some more sunshine in our front entryway.

We assumed we had to replace the whole door to make this happen. We did some searching and learned that replacing an entire door was way over our budget. Doors are expensive! Thank goodness we didn’t pull the trigger right away, because soon after we learned about a company called Zabitat that transforms the door you already have and makes it feel brand new.

Even though our style-options were limited because we would be working with the door we already had, the zero-waste aspect of this option sold us. Not only would we not have to get rid of our door and replace the entire frame, but we would also be using what we already have – and it would cost a fraction of what we would have otherwise paid.

We chose a glass insert and Zabitat came to our location, cut a hole in our current door, inserted the new glass piece, and put it all back together. We then added a fresh coat of paint and now we absolutely love our new door. Give Zabitat a try if you find yourself ever needing a new door. They have tons of glass insert styles and can even add blinds, new hardware and more to keep your project waste-free and within your budget.

Bottom line, we had to really rethink and retrain ourselves to resist our first instinct and have been able to remake and reuse things we already had. It’s been a very fun and rewarding challenge to turn our home projects into upcycling home projects!