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Upcycling Furniture for Your Home

They say that home is where the heart is, and truly you can feel at home anywhere as long as the people you care about most are there with you. But you are also an individual, and wanting your home to reflect your personal taste and style is nothing to be ashamed of. You are also an eco warrior, and environmental sustainability will always trump style in your master list of requirements. So what if you could have both? Everyone knows about recycling at this point. Those separate cans for paper and plastic we see in every coffee shop and on the corner of many streets in forward-thinking towns keep that focus happily front and center. But recycling is limited, in that old items are broken down and lose something of their former selves in order to become something new. For example, plastic bottles used for soda must often be used differently the next time around. Upcycling is a more modern concept, but one that offers a ton of opportunities for interior design. Basically, upcycling takes a used item and repurposes it without changing what it is at its core. And it’s become a simultaneously trendy and environmentally sustainable choice for furniture.

First off, you’ll have to be willing to hunt around a little bit. Basically what you’ll do is find household items that are being tossed out or offered cheaply at yard sales and think up ways to give them new life. But sometimes all you need to do is rescue a weathered piece of furniture. People often sell old pieces that don’t exactly rate as ‘vintage’, and are just worn out. If they are structurally sound but just need a bit of TLC, you can provide it. Consider taking a traditional piece of furniture and giving it a modern and fun paint job. Look for unique colors, and always try to find natural paints as well. You can even breathe new life into a piece just by replacing the hardware.

In other situations you will be using pieces in entirely new ways. For example, you could actually turn an old door into a table. Basically, find a door that’s being tossed out, sand it down and paint it a color you love. Remove the hardware, and lay it across two old sawhorses. With a bit of sandpaper and some color splashes you’ve got a great table that all visitors will love. Finish it off with mismatched chairs bought at yard sales. Just paint them all the same and it will look amazing.

When it comes to couches and chairs, most people look at worn or sagging upholstery as a reason to toss that piece to the curb. The savvy upcycler knows all that needs is a bit of creativity. Reupholstering old furniture isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but you can certainly find several online tutorials that will walk you through it. Again, have fun with mixing traditional shapes with modern upholstery. Those upcycled pieces will always give a room a distinct personality, and you’ll find guests fighting over who gets to sit there!

Another great approach to upcycling is to repurpose an old piece that doesn’t have a practical use anymore. There are many old pieces of furniture still out there that people just wouldn’t use in their house today. For example, before washers and dryers people used washstands to bang out clothes and fold them up. You can turn a washstand into an amazing island for your kitchen with some new paint and an upgraded finish. You’ll find all sorts of pieces like this at the big flea markets. And don’t forget to check out estate sales. You’ll often find incredible indoor and outdoor furniture from all sorts of decades that people will think you invested heavily in. But upcycling is the real secret!

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of and I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.

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