The new old: 11 stunning upcycling projects


With industrial, retro and vintage styles in vogue comes a revival of a quirky concept in interior design: upcycling. Never heard of it? It’s well worth looking up! With upcycling one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

How many things do we throw out every day without thinking of what we could turn them into? As a society we tend to replace everything with new and always buy, buy, buy without a second thought.

Yet the most unique, creative and charming pieces can’t be bought. They can be cleverly reimagined and transformed into something really beautiful.

Replace your guests' ‘oh hey, I have that too!’ comments with ‘oooooh where did you get that?’ and enjoy their amazed expressions when you tell them you made it yourself…out of an old door!

Now, there is DIY and DIY. Upcycling can be as simple as hanging something which is made to be sat on or store things in, or taking a couple of hours to give something a lick of bright paint and adding some patterned wallpaper to furnishings, to a full-on, whole-weekend, power-tools exercise in carpentry.

To save you from frustration and headaches, before you start make sure you do your research, watch online tutorials or pay close attention to the progress photos in the how-to guide. Also make sure you're familiar and comfortable with the tools you'll be using (or ask a handy friend for some help and make a fun day of it together).

Check out some amazing ideas below for upcycling to inspire you to get started on a DIY décor project of your own this weekend!

1. Timber beam pendant light.

This gorgeous timber pendant, for example, used to be a beam above a client’s doorway. The wall was knocked down and the beam was kept for this repurpose. All it needed was electrical wiring, a bulb, and heavy-duty chains to hold it up, and they now have a unique one-off custom made pendant light above their bathtub!

2. Construct a classy birch-log coffee table.

3. Repurpose old luggage into a cosy spot for your furry friend.

4. Reimagine an old door 'frame'.

Image: Photog Mommie

5. Transform bed slats into a hanging storage solution.

6. Give tired drawers new life as funky floating shelves.

7. Create industrial style wire basket pendant lights.

8. Refashion a globe into a lamp shade or two.

9. Makeover shabby furniture by papering it with newspaper for a cool vintage look.

10. Put together a novel bedside table. 

Image: Sanna & Sania

11. Arrange an array of trays into a lively artwork.

What better DIY is there than one you don’t need a how-to for? Both the tray feature wall and bedside book table are stunning features and could not be easier to execute and put your own spin on!

Lastly, when considering upcycling projects remember to draw the line between quirky and tacky…that line usually sits just before beer-can-furniture!

Image: Pinterest

Image: Pinterest

For more DIY home decor inspo check out these eight crafty DIY projects and these damage free DIY decor ideas for renters.

Author bio:

Alana O Interiors is an Interior Design business based in Perth, WA. Interior Design was a passion from the start so Alana dedicated herself to the industry for the last 9 years and started her own business in 2010. Whether you’re building, renovating the entire home, or simply need a hand with a room or two, your project will be treated like it’s her own, with all the care, passion and attention to detail it deserves.

Alana has access to an extensive database of suppliers all around Australia (some also in New Zealand), so her services are not restrained only to WA. Her e-Design service has been successfully applied to interstate clients as well, who were thrilled with the selections!

Vintage? Retro? Scandi? Contemporary? Or perhaps a mix of the old and the new? Anything is possible when you’re in capable hands! Alana believes every home has the potential to look and feel fantastic, so no matter how big or small….. why settle for anything other than your dream?

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