Upcycling - ways to save money

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Upcycling - ways to save money

With growing concern about the environment and the return of old maxims, such as ‘Make Do and Mend’, people now look forward to finding ways to save money, and be green at the same time. As a consequence, upcycling has become a popular new trend during 2013, enabling people to give their home a truly unique look.

Image credit: franckito / 123RF Stock Photo

Upcycling – what is it?

Not to be confused with recycling, upcycling is taking of old items that have fallen out of use or have served their original purpose, such as pieces of furniture or smaller items, and giving them a new function or appearance. A milk jug can, therefore, become an attractive vase, and a hardback book can be fixed to the wall to become a floating shelf.

How it can save money when decorating

There is always some cost involved when decorating a home, but with upcycling, the cost can be reduced. In fact, much of the cost becomes only the labour involved - the time it takes to get something out of an old piece.

For example, by scouring antique or charity shops one could discover some vintage style fabric at a remarkably low price, which could look as it had cost a fortune when it has been used to re-upholster dining room chairs or turned into curtains. A large piece of early 20th century furniture, such as a chest of drawers, which has seen better days, could be given a remarkably modern look by being sanded down and painted, either in a solid, plain colour, or in a jazzy pattern. All it has taken to achieve this unique look is some time and a little paint.

Upcycling also helps the environment. Rather than throwing out items that would then end up on landfill sites, upcycling re-uses existing pieces and, therefore, cuts down on waste. Reclamation yards are a fantastic example of this, and they are a terrific place to find some cheap and original pieces that can be individualised. Shutters, increasingly popular as window dressings, also make funky and stylish wall decorations and furniture.

For example, painted shutters can be hung to serve as an interesting spot to slip post and other paperwork into, or to serve as a noticeboard. Affix hooks to them, and they can become a coat rack or an utensil holder. Fix several of them together to create a kitchen island or trolley, or tie legs to them to create a table.

Smaller projects

If these types of projects seem a little too bulky, then there are plenty of smaller items around the home that can be upcycled.

Consider all those empty jam jars and baked beans tins that would otherwise end up in the bin. Remove the labels and they will serve as handy pots, fit to hold pens and other stationery items, or ideal for use in a craft room, holding sequins, buttons and ribbons.

If there is a bookcase or dresser that is looking a little old fashioned or even just tired, spruce it up and modernise it by papering the interior with ordinary patterned wallpaper. 

If there are some old leather hardback books beyond repair, cut off the spine for use as bookmarks.
With some imagination, items that would normally be discarded can be turned into objects that have a real use in the home and garden.

Author: Victoria Jones

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