BuildDirect Blog: Life at Home

Upcycling Ideas For Stylish Furniture and Interiors

Photo: Katie Thompson ( via Apartment Therapy.

A home decorated with upcycled furniture will be completely unique and eclectic. A good place to find furniture to play with is at yard sales and thrift stores. Maybe you can trade with friends or even get hand me downs. Keep your eyes open and your creative mind alive while searching for items to upcycle.

Maybe one of the original upcycling projects was the quilt. When clothes were worn out, they were cut up, and the pieces put together for bedding. This has now become a fine art, but originally, one item was used to create a completely different one. I hung the head of a metal rake upside down to function as a clothes hook. A 6-pane window was turned into a mirror. And I’ve done my share of quilting.

Here are some varied ideas to inspire you and get you started. Most of these are DIY, which will keep down the expense. Upcycling is frugal, too!

Upcycled furniture

Probably most everyone reading this has bought some second hand furniture and fixed it up. You strip the finish, sand it down, and paint or stain it to give it new life. That is one aspect of recycling.

Another way to recycle old furniture is to upcycle it. You don’t even need to start with furniture! Giving new purpose to an object is upcycling. It extends the life of an item that may otherwise go to the landfill.

Who doesn’t have old jeans lying around? I sure do! Sew up some scraps, and make a sling chair.

I love this dresser of vintage suitcases. The frame could be an old, recycled dresser, or it could be fashioned of scrap wood. I am guessing the tops of the suitcases have been removed. Or not.

Old suitcases can also be made into chairs or pet beds.

I love claw foot bathtubs. This is a really creative idea, but I’m not sure it’s is very comfortable seating, though.

Vintage bike. Vintage bathroom.

Source: via Rob on Pinterest

Windows are multi-purpose. Make a glass coffee table!

Upcycled home decor accessories

Get your beautiful pots and pans out of the cupboard! Hang them on a bike tire rim!

This is one of my favorite ideas – the back of a chair repurposed into a shelf/towel rack. I’m going to have to try this!

If you don’t have a built-in island in the kitchen, you can create one from an old dresser. I think this is brilliant!

Source: via Rob on Pinterest


My daughter and I went to a thrift store over Christmas break. She found some tall window shutters that she wanted to use as a headboard. Unfortunately, we had no way to transport them back to where she lives 300 miles away. But someone else had the same idea! The shutters give the illusion of a window and light, even though there is none.

Fireplace mantles can also be upcycled as headboards.

Storage ideas

Here are two examples of side tables turned into shelving. I absolutely love this idea! It can be simple or elaborate, as you see. The elaborate one serves as a room divider, too.

Small dresser turned into unique and practical storage for craft supplies.

Old single pane windows have lots of uses. Have you ever turned one into a mirror or picture frame? I have! Here’s one repurposed as a door on a cabinet, and the window hardware was upcycled into a latch. Brilliant!

Here is another use for a small suitcase – put it on the wall as a medicine cabinet!

Salvaged drawers arranged on a wall make aesthetically pleasing and interesting shelves.

Source: via Rob on Pinterest


Phew! I am so inspired after looking at these photos! I am going to start rethinking my yard sale purchases as well as looking around my house and yard for things to upcycle. My whole house could be a work of art! Were you inspired?

Nan Fischer

Nan Fischer has been living and building green for over 35 years. Nan’s emphasis on the BuildDirect blog is about how to make your dollar stretch further, while also moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle, as well as upcoming and existing technology to help us live in an ecologically-friendly way. Nan also authors posts on the website of her seed business, sweetly seeds.


  1. What is wrong with the word recycling? After all, REusing something for another purpose is what the word means!

    • Hey Karen! For my part, there’s not a thing wrong with the word recycling. There are however, shades of meaning in that word that implies that something is broken down first before it’s reused. With ‘upcycling’ nothing is broken down. Objects are simply redefined by their use. So,I think we’ve used the right term here.

      Thanks for comments! :-)

  2. Hi you guys! Upcycling IS recycling, but it’s giving an object a completely different use than it was intended for in a very creative way. I think of it as an artistic upgrade. :)

  3. Upcycling ‘found’ objects is all the craze now. It is amazing what people with come up with. “Now why didn’t I think of that” is what I often ask myself. I am finding myself crazily pinning all these ideas ready to put them into action should I ever find the time to create them all.

    Yes and agreed, the landfill is a pretty scary place and we do want to keep items out of that heap.

  4. Thanks! Glad you got inspired! I did, too! :)

Leave a Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.