When you are looking to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle, recycling and reusing old items should be one of the first things that come to mind. You can do a whole lot more than putting paper, plastic, glass, and aluminum in your recycling bin, though. Take it to the next level and repurpose large items that you were planning to discard, turning them into something you will use and enjoy. Each of these upcycling projects saves items from going to the landfill while also adding beauty to your life.
1. TV cabinet fish tank
An old TV cabinet probably won’t be of much use to you for entertainment, but it can make an eye-catching home for a tank of fish. Remove the TV and electrical components from the back of the cabinet, and then fill that space with a fish tank in place of the TV screen. Depending on the design of the cabinet, you may want to detach the top and mount hinges to make it easy to open and access the top of the tank. Guests will do a double-take when they first visit your home and realize that you have real fish swimming around in your TV!
Photo Cred: -fiction-
2. Suitcase end tables
Old suitcases take up a lot of space in your home and storage space, but if you have a new rolling suitcase, your old ones probably don’t get much use. Turn traditional suitcases with flat sides into end tables with just a little bit of work. Just glue four legs to the bottom of the suitcase, or if you have an old end table or stool, cut the legs a bit shorter and glue the suitcase on top. As an added bonus, suitcase end tables can store items inside — though if you do this, you probably won’t want to keep a lamp or any other large items on top of the table permanently.
Photo Cred: Staci
3. Chandelier planters
If you are replacing a chandelier or have an old one gathering dust in your garage, this is the perfect foundation for a beautiful hanging planter. Just cut away the wiring on each arm of the chandelier and glue a small pot onto it. Hang it from a tree and spray paint it with a few coats of a bright color. When the paint has dried, fill each pot with dirt and plant your favorite spring flowers in it for beautiful splashes of color.
Photo Cred: Roeshel
4. Picture frame serving tray
Hanging new art in your home is one of the fastest ways to get a quick new look, but then you are left with old art and frames that you may not know what to do with. If you have a frame you love that you didn’t end up using for any of your new art, keep it as a serving tray. Just put a piece of solid colored or patterned scrapbook paper or fabric in place of the art. Then remove hooks and other hanging devices from the back of the frame and add drawer handles on top or rope handles on the ends.
Photo Cred: Nicole Perry
5. Sunburst mirror
Statement mirrors are all the rage these days, and you can turn a plain round mirror into a beautiful sunburst mirror with a simple upcycling project. Start by gathering twigs and small branches that are mostly straight and cutting them to approximately the same length — although varying the lengths by an inch or two can add visual interest. Spray paint the twigs in the color of your choice, ideally choosing a shade that will be a strong contrast to the wall where you plan to hang the mirror. After the twigs have dried, hot glue them around the edges of a round mirror to create your homemade sunburst mirror.
Photo Cred: Rebecca T-S
6. Shutter headboard
Repurposing used building materials as home decor is an ideal way to practice sustainability on a large scale. Shutters are especially well suited for recycling because their pattern and texture offer a lot of visual interest, especially when they are repainted in a striking, bright color. Spray paint is the ideal way to get an even coat of paint or two on shutters, or you can leave them as is for a more rustic look. Then mount several shutters on the wall at the head of your bed for a headboard that is both charming and modern.
Photo Cred: swgn
7. Ladder bookshelf
You’ve probably seen upright ladder-style leaning bookshelves, but there’s a totally different approach that allows you to reuse old ladders instead. Create a long wall-mounted bookshelf out of a wooden ladder, which gives you lots of compartments for organizing your books. Just mount brackets on the ladder and install it against your wall, leaving a gap of a couple inches between the ladder and the wall so the books will have room to balance. If you’d like to refresh your ladder with a coat of paint before mounting it, that’s an option as well.
Photo Cred: Ernie low