From Trash to Decorating Treasure

Author: Alecia Pirulis


Stop – before you toss aside that glass bottle/wood pallet/paper bags … look at it again. Could you turn it into something else? How about the base for a lamp? A shelf? Luminaries?

Upcycling is a fun way to reuse something you would normally throw out or put in the recycle bin. And you can decorate your entire apartment with upcycled items – really! Upcycling saves money, is great for the environment, and gives you terrific “I-made-that” bragging rights.

First, gather some materials. Depending on what you want to make, the supplies you need will vary. But you’ll probably want paints, wallpaper samples or scrapbooking paper, scissors, wood glue, a hot glue gun, a hammer, and some nails.

Next, start rummaging. Your recycling bin is a great place to start, but you can also find items at garage and rummage sales. Also, ask warehouse stores, liquor stores, and large discount stores for pallets and crates. Craigslist has a “free” section that is also worth checking out. (It isn’t “junking.” It is hunting for treasure to enhance the décor of your shabby-chic apartment.)

Here’s what to look for:

Old drawers – these can be converted into beautiful trays for your coffee table or ottoman. They can be painted and arranged on the wall as great shelves. Add some casters and turn one into a rolling “garden” cart for your patio. They can be used as storage bins in the kitchen or office. Use just the drawer front (with knobs) to hang on the bathroom wall as towel hooks. You can even use an old drawer as a flower planter.

Pallets (watch out for anything made from pressure-treated or fumigated wood) – clean pallets are amazing – set several together on the floor as a bed frame (the openings can be used for storage). Hang one on the wall as a “message center.” You can even make a coffee table (or a chair) out of pallets.

Glass jars – don’t throw out glass jars! They make great vases (even left plain – but you can add a pedestal, paint it, or wrap it with yarn). They can also be used as candle holders, soap dispensers, turned into the base for a lamp, and used for storage (paint on a “label” with chalkboard paint).

Wine crates – these are beautiful, even without a label. Wine crates make great shelving. Put several together for a custom bookcase. Add wheels to a wine crate for a rolling side table. Stack several together and use a tension rod to hang a curtain in front – perfect for concealing clutter.

Old wooden ladders – The shabbier, the better! Use an old ladder propped against the wall for blanket or towel storage. Turn it into a planter holder on your patio or deck. Try converting it into a bookcase in the living room. Hang it from the ceiling in the kitchen as a pot rack.

With a little creativity, you can give new life to everything from old garden rakes to cast-aside window shutters to long-forgotten doors. What are you waiting for? Start junking (I mean hunting for great decorating treasure)!