Did you know that on average, each UK household produces over a tonne of waste every year? From cutting down on unnecessary packaging to recycling more often, we can all do more to combat the amount of waste that we create.
That’s where upcycling comes in. A phenomenon that's taken Pinterest by storm, upcycling is the process of repurposing something to make it into a more usable and improved version of itself. For example, transforming a single-use item into something that you can use again and again.
Take a look at our 31 upcycling ideas for everyday products that you probably already have in your home.
Furniture upcycling ideas
A ladder into a shelving unit
Are you lucky enough to have an unused, old-fashioned wooden ladder floating around your home? Instead of throwing it away, upcycle it into a beautifully rustic shelving unit. Mount it horizontally to turn it into a bookshelf, or lean it against a wall in your bathroom to form a towel rack. Repaint to match your interior décor style.
Wallpaper your stair risers
Did you know that wallpaper cannot be recycled like ordinary paper? Think twice before you throw your leftover wallpaper scraps into your paper recycling bin. Instead, use your scraps on the risers of your stairs. It will add a stylish touch to your stairwell and brighten up your room.
An old suitcase into a coffee table
Found a vintage suitcase or trunk in your, or your grandparents’ loft? Show off this antique treasure by upcycling it into a coffee or side table. Fix wooden or metal legs to the underside and you’ve got yourself a cute little table.
Use old CDs for mosaic décor
Your old CD collection has more use than just collecting dust on a shelf. Paint over the shiny side of your CDs and let them dry before breaking into small pieces. Use these tiny shards of CD to give a mosaic makeover to any furniture that could do with a new lease of life. Glue to your concrete bird bath, a metal side table or even your countertops for a shiny, special effect.
A wooden plank into a bath tray
Add an extra level of comfort to bath time with an upcycled bath tray. Whether you have recently been carrying out some renovations or have spares left from a flatpack furniture build, save any spare planks of wood to use for this easy DIY. Trim to fit the width of your bath, leaving some extra room so that it’s secure, sand down and decorate however you wish. All you need now is a candle and some essential oils for a soothing bath experience.
An unused mirror into a chalkboard
If you have a framed mirror that you no longer use, repurpose it into a chalkboard instead of throwing it away. Paint the glass part of the mirror with a few layers of chalkboard paint, and give the frame a lick of regular paint to match your interior colour scheme. Use it in your kitchen for recipes, meal planning or for your shopping lists.
A car tyre into an ottoman
Getting a puncture isn’t all bad. Save the tyre and turn it into an ottoman for your living room. You might feel sceptical about having an old car tyre in your home, but trust us, your guests won’t even be able to tell! Wrap the tyre completely and neatly with rope, cord, wool or whatever string fabric of your taste, and glue down securely. You can even use other fabrics like velvet or faux fur to create this stylish piece of furniture. The shape of the tyre makes it the perfect pouffe for your home.
Storage upcycling ideas
Mason jars as multi-purpose containers
Save any mason jars that you might have in your kitchen, wash and fill them with other household goods. Their size makes them ideal for storing and organising dried foods like rice, cereal and pasta in your pantry. Or keep bits and bobs like batteries, tealight candles and clothes pegs in them. You can even use them as serving glasses for iced drinks and cocktails.
Wooden crates as shelves
Finished all of your fresh produce but left with a stack of empty wooden crates? Keep them to use as shelves. You can either stack them on top of each other vertically to form a makeshift bookcase, or you can mount them onto the wall in your hallway to create a nifty little space for storing shoes.
A wine rack as a towel rack
Wine racks aren’t only useful for storing bottles. If you have a small, wire rack that could be put to better use, relocate it to your bathroom to keep your hand and guest towels in place. Simply roll up your towels and slot into the bottle holder slots to instantly elevate your bathroom style.
Tin cans as planters
Before you toss your empty tin can into the recycling bin, why not turn it into a planter? Strip the tin of its label, file down the sharp edge to avoid any accidents and voila, you have a plant pot! In its most basic form, the metallic tin gives a shining yet rural feel to your home, or you can spruce them up by spray painting them. It’s an excellent way to grow herbs on your kitchen windowsill.
Cardboard boxes into storage baskets
At some point or another, we’ve all had unused cardboard boxes that we don’t know what to do with. Next time, transform your regular, boring boxes into cute storage baskets for your home. Remove the flaps and wrap the box from the base upwards with jute string, gluing as you go. You can either wrap the string all the way to the top, or stop halfway and cover the rest of the box, and the inside, with fabric to hide the cardboard.
Colanders into hanging planters
Colanders can hold more than just pasta. Try this genius upcycle of modifying your colander into a hanging planter. The perforated metal bowl is ideal for encouraging airflow and is the perfect size and shape for your favourite plants. All you have to do is line the bowl with landscaping fabric and hang.
Cheese grater for storing earrings
Keeping your earring collection organised and easy to access can be a chore, so why not try using an old cheese grater? Bear with us, on this one! The holes in this kitchen gadget are perfect for clipping your jewellery to and preventing them from tangling.
Jam jars as apothecary containers
When you’ve finished your favourite jam, think twice before you put it in the recycle bin. Conserve and jam jars can be repurposed into elegant trinket and beauty containers. Wash them out and fill with cotton pads, cotton buds and makeup brushes for a pretty countertop display.
Cake tins into a tiered stand
Make use of an unused set of cake tins by DIYing them into a tiered stand. This works best when you have three, round pans of different sizes and stack them on top of each other from largest to smallest. Use an old set of candlesticks to support each tier by creating a pole that runs through the centre of each tin. Perfect to use as an afternoon tea stand, a dining table centrepiece for your condiments or even as a bathroom caddy.
Tin cans into a cutlery stand
Aside from planters, tin cans are also great for storing your kitchen utensils. Like before, clean, strip and sand down your tins and spray paint for a handy place to keep your cutlery.
Carpet into coasters
If you’ve recently re-carpeted your home, you might be wondering what you can do with the cut offs and leftover fabric. Trim them into small squares and use as coasters. Not only will they protect your surfaces from any dreaded mug and glass marks, but they’ll match your carpets too.
Organisation upcycling ideas
An ice cube tray for makeup
Makeup organisers can be expensive and are often made out of plastic that can harm the environment, so try using an ice cube tray that you probably already have in your fridge. The tiny ice compartments are a convenient size for keeping your individual eyeshadows organised.
An old spice rack for nail polish
Show off your nail polish collection with an old spice rack. It’s the perfect size to keep your little bottles of varnish neat and tidy, and allows you to see exactly what colours you have.
Turn spoons into hooks
Got a new set of cutlery and not sure what to do with your previous set? Save your spoons and turn them into hooks. Flatten out the curved part of the spoon, and curve the handle upwards into a hook shape. Screw your flattened spoons into a mount, or plank of wood, and hang for an easy and affordable set of vintage-looking spoon hooks.
Door knobs into hooks
If you don’t have a set of spoons but you want to try out our previous upcycling idea, you can achieve the same effect with door knobs instead. If you’re switching up your door knobs, save the old ones and mount them on the wall to use as hooks.
A cling film box into a washi tape dispenser
Cling film - a kitchen staple in every household - is ideal for organising washi tape. Save the box and the empty roll once you’ve finished with the actual film, and thread washi tape onto the wooden spool. This works with tin foil containers too.
Shoe boxes into drawer organisers
Before you recycle your empty shoe boxes, consider this upcycling idea that’s great for organising your drawers. Use the base of the box to create a compartment in your drawer, and fill with all of the things you want to keep together. Store socks, electronics, wires, makeup, stationary and more. Keep on adding more shoe boxes to make more compartments that tessellate together.
A muffin tray for your stationery
A muffin tray is a great alternative for a stationary organiser. Place inside your desk drawer and use each muffin compartment to house paperclips, push pins, staples, elastic bands and more. The tray keeps everything nicely separate so you can spend less time searching for what you need, and more time on being productive.
Tin cans into pencil pots
If planters or cutlery holders don’t take your fancy, try using your tin cans as pen and pencil pots instead. Paint them with chalkboard paint and use chalk to label each tin with what it’s for.
Garden upcycling ideas
Old pallets into garden furniture
There are plenty of wooden pallet upcycle ideas that you can experiment with, but this is by far our favourite for making the most of your outdoor spaces. Stack your old, empty pallets into garden benches, loveseats and tables. Secure into place once you’ve assembled them into the shape that you want, and throw over some soft blankets and cushions for added comfort.
CD rack into flower boxes
Does anyone even use CDs anymore? Probably not. So why not try this upcycling idea to repurpose your old CD tower into a garden flower box? Empty your CD shelf and give it a fresh lick of paint. Turn it on its side and use each of the compartments as a flower bed to add some bright blooms to your garden.
An empty milk carton into a watering can
Why go out and buy a brand new watering can when you can upcycle one? Once you’ve finished with your milk carton, carefully poke some holes through the cap to make your own watering can.
A tyre into an outdoor planter
Save your old car tyres for this garden upcycling idea. Spray paint and fill with your favourite flowers for a colourful outdoor display. Stack into an artful arrangement, or hang vertically for a unique plant basket alternative.
Wooden spoons into garden plant markers
If you struggle to differentiate your plants, you’ll love this garden upcycle idea. Rather than purchasing brand new plant labels, use old wooden spoons instead. The long, wooden handle is the perfect shape and size to bury in soil, and the flatter part of the spoon can be customised however you like. Paint it in bright hues if you love to colour coordinate, or use a marker pen to write on the spoon and label up all of your plant beds.