Budget Living

Upcycling for Beginners: A Simple Guide To Help You Get Started

Whether it’s a full renovation or just a seasonal refresh, repurposing & upcycling old items is a definite money saver. The best part about upcycling is that there are absolutely no limits. You can go as far as your creativity will allow, creating one-of-a-kind pieces all your friends will want. We’ve created this graphic to guide, inspire and help you get started. Enjoy!

Read more: Expert upcycler Max McMurdo’s top upcycling tips

upcycling for beginners graphic

What household items can be upcycled?

Upcycling for beginners: furniture

Old and outdated furniture is the most obvious household item that can be upcycled. Whether it’s an old sofa or chest of drawers that could do with a lick of paint, there is always something you can do to bring well-loved furniture back to life.


Unused tools such as wrenches, as well as cutlery, can be bent and used as coat hooks, creating a really quirky point of interest in almost any home.

Photo frames

If you love the latest flair for copper touches in living spaces, a coat of rose gold paint on your photo frames is an easy way to follow this popular trend. If, however, you don’t have photos to fill them, you could even upcycle them into unique serving trays.


Whether wire, rattan or wicker, baskets can be multi-purposed in a number of ways. Flip a large wire basket over and find a nice table top to create an interesting accent table or stool, or use smaller wire or woven baskets to create lampshades.


Why not repurpose old doors by painting them and sanding them down to make a rustic, shabby chic coffee table? Or you could try taking out the centre and replacing it with a mirror; this would be a great feature piece for any bedroom.


It is safe to say every household has more vases than they really need. By spray painting them in colours of your choice, they can be used to decorate bookshelves, coffee tables and fill dead spaces within your decor.

Where to source upcycling treasures


Before spending any money, always put the word out to family and friends to see if they have any unwanted items you could upcycle. You’ll be amazed at just how much one person’s junk is another person’s treasure!

Everyday items around your house

Another free option is to look at everyday items around your house. Mismatched plates can be turned into wall art, mason jars can be repurposed to create a chandelier and leftover wrapping paper can be used to line the back of bookshelves, drawers, and even make pretty artwork in picture frames.

Charity/antique shops

Going to antique and charity shops can feel like a treasure hunt, where distinguishing the real treasures from the junk is the real fun! Be savvy when it comes to looking round these shops and make sure you look past the aesthetic marks on furniture. Remember stains, ring marks and dirt can all be removed with a lick of paint!


Auctions can be great fun, but make sure you set yourself a price limit before you go. It’s always handy to have a walk around before the auction, so you can pick out any suitable items and decide how much you’re willing to pay.

Discount shops

Pound shops are great for upcycling projects. Photo frames, wire baskets and mason jars are all easy to find items which can be given a fun update for your home. Add a bright pop of colour with paint or spray them with an on-trend rose gold finish to create a quirky and inexpensive design feature.

Materials and tools you will need

Paint/primer/paint brushes

A bold colour can make a simple piece of furniture a statement feature in your home. Keep costs low by using leftover paint you already own, and find cheap primers and paint brushes at your local DIY shop.

Painters tape

To create a geometric design on your upcycled pieces, make sure to use painters tape to block off any areas you don’t want painted

Power drill

Great for adding decorative door handles, hanging shelves on the wall and creating extra storage space in your cupboards – a drill is a necessary tool for any upcycling project.


Visit your local craft shop to find cute pom-poms, decorative trims, buttons and door knobs to dress up your upcycled furniture. To really save on money, why not take the trim off an old cushion and give it a new lease of life on plain curtains or plant pots.


It’s important to remember to finish off your new piece of furniture – whether that’s with finishing wax, clear topcoat spray or polyurethane, it’s crucial you protect the finished piece with a good quality topcoat.

The benefits of upcycling

Reduced household waste

Saves money

You create one of a kind items

Reduced use of already limited natural resources

You can earn money by selling your upcycled items

Encourages creativity and old school craftsmanship

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