I have always loved making upcycled decor because it speaks to the frugal person in me as well as my creative side. I’ve gathered 20 upcycled decor ideas from past projects I’ve done over the years that I hope will inspire you! If you’re wanting to see more, then hop on over to the second blog with twenty more ideas.
In no particular order, here we go!
1. Old shovel handle cup holder
The first of 20 upcycled decor ideas was a creative way to keep broken old shovel handles out of the landfill. The handles sit on a 1×4 board base with square flat wood feet to add extra balance. I used 1/2″ wide flat metal to make the hooks and bent it by hand in a vice in the shape of a J. I sanded the sharp edges and then drilled holes in the hooks to attach them to the shovel handle.
2. Large metal butterfly-turned rustic wall mount holder
This butterfly initially came from a dollar store in the garden section and was in my mom’s recycle pile. I painted it white and attached it to a rustic box with hooks. It makes a unique piece of upcycled decor.
3. Upcycled rustic mirror with spoon hooks
When it comes to upcycled decor ideas, nothing is ever ruled out. The mirror came from a local thrift store, and the wood was from old pallets. I flattened and bent used spoons to turn them into quirky hooks.
4. Bathroom shelf inspired by a metal insert
This was one of my favourite upcycled decor ideas. A friend had given me a beat-up, falling-apart small door with a metal insert and said, “See what you can make from this!” Challenge accepted! I dismantled the cheap wood around it and built a new door. From that, I created the bathroom shelf to fit the size of the door. The dowels are old broom handles. I didn’t have small enough hinges, so I cut down a larger size and antiqued them using paint and a heat gun.
5. Dollar store hooks upcycled into a beachy shelf
There are many great things to be found at a dollar store, and these hooks are one of them, even though these particular ones were given to me. Once people know you like to upcycle, they think of you before chucking things. I picked them up years ago and turned them into a one-of-a-kind rustic beach-inspired decor with hooks.
6. Picket (fence) fish
Yes is always the answer when someone asks me if I want old fence boards! In this case, a friend took down an old picket fence and asked if I’d like some of the old wood for upcycled projects. I want to say I noticed that the pickets’ tops looked like fish, but it was my friend. I was already making fish similar to this, so it was exciting to have a new “pattern.” Not everyone is so lucky to have old picket fences, so I did a Picket Fish tutorial on them, complete with a free pattern to copy the picket.
7. Picket (fence) tote
I love taking something basic, like a tote, and adding a new twist using upcycled parts. In this case, I took part of the picket fence and added more wood to make it wider. I had leftover wood appliques to give it a vintage look. On the ends, I took old dowels cut to 1/2″ long and glued them beside the pickets. The handle came from an old broom. If you ever find wooden broom handles at a thrift store or garage sale, grab them!
8. Spindle planter upcycle
I love upcycling using spindles. Add a bowl to it, and you have another one-of-a-kind planter! These bowls were plastic, so I drilled a hole in the bottom, glued them with epoxy and followed with a screw for extra support. I applied a couple of layers of whitewash to the bowls to make them look less new. I opted to turn them into a faux planter, using my fantastic recipe for fake dirt.
9. Shabby chic wall decor
Would you believe they were a bright pink when I picked up these plastic plaques in a second-hand store (without the wood)? As awful as they looked, I saw potential. Two coats of white paint and distressing solved the pink problem. Old boards were also painted white and distressed. Next, I attached the plaques to the boards with screws, drilling a pilot hole first to avoid cracking. This upcycle idea turned out beautifully!
10. Handmade handles from upcycled pieces
Making your own handles saves money, especially if you incorporate upcycling but also sets your trays apart from others. These handles were made from 3/16″ round stock metal and an old broom handle. I used heavy-duty bolt cutters to cut the metal. Next, it went into a vice and bent using a hammer. It’s very low-tech, but it works! The wood has holes drilled into each end about 1 inch deep. Once the wire is bent, I use a 5-minute epoxy to attach the metal to the dowel.
11. Spindle and coat hanger handles
Can you get any more upcycled than tray handles made from an old chair spindle and a coat hanger? These gorgeous handles resulted from playing around with handle ideas one day. I took old chair spindles and cut them to about 3 inches. The size depends on how big the tray is. Drill a hole about 1 1/2″ deep for the coat hanger to fit into. For these, I cut the wire into two strips; each bent in two different directions. I marked each one at intervals before bending to help keep the bends consistent. Once I had made four, I trimmed the ends to be the same size. To bring out the beautiful chippiness of the spindle, I added a wash of blue paint, wiping it off right away, followed by a couple of coats of whitewash.
12. Upcycled Small catch-all tray
Sometimes inspiration doesn’t happen right away. I had made this spindle with the glass knob and then put it aside, not knowing what I wanted to turn it into. The small metal cake tin was from a different project gone wrong. When the two came together, I was in love with the result! In order to attach the spindle to the tin, I drilled a hole in the tin as well as a pilot hole in the bottom of the spindle so it wouldn’t crack. I also used some epoxy to glue it before I added the screw. The little feet were pieces of wood cut down and attached using a 5-minute epoxy.
13. Wood block planter
When my son moved into his new home, he needed decor, so who better to help him than me, his mama? He loves modern mixed with my handmade decor. The fact that I make it for free is a bonus for him! He loves whites as much as I do, so we blended white with warm wood for this project. The “planters” on the shelves are leftover posts I sliced in half with drilled holes in the top to fit the faux greenery. The secret to making a planter like this is hiding part of the top so you don’t see the stems coming out of the drilled hole.
14. Wallmount upcycling project
This gorgeous, unusual-looking candle holder began as a gold frame and a black metal candle holder. Finding two things that fit so perfectly together, like these, doesn’t come along very often. I painted them white, distressed them both, then attached them with screws.
15. Barnboard shelf with upcycled hooks
Hooks like these are hard to find, and if you do, they aren’t cheap! I got these from a shelf marked down at Winners because it was broken. Score! The barnboards aren’t barnboards at all. I just distressed the boards using a black water wash followed by a whitewash. The corbels were made using a jigsaw. This turned into a very affordable project!
16. Bathroom hooks from an upcycled plastic fence
Okay, just for the record, these don’t have to be bathroom hooks, but I needed to give them a name! The texture came from that cheap plastic fencing from the dollar store. It’s much simpler to paint and distress the boards and the plastic piece separately and then attach them. While drilling the pilot holes into the plastic, gentle pressure will ensure it doesn’t crack.
17. Flat rocks with sayings
Years ago, my brother gave me several square tiles of flat rocks he had used in his shower. I had no idea what I would use them for until one day, inspiration hit, and I knew just what to do with my upcycled idea. The transfer was done using an inkjet printer and wax paper transfer and finished with a clear matte spray. If you’d like the tutorial, I have it here. I recently found some at a thrift store, but they were too dark to print on, so I plan to paint them a light colour first.
18. Coat hooks
This coat hook started as a (free) brown skinny cupboard door just under 5 ft long. After painting and distressing it, I added the hooks. These were new, not upcycled, and I wanted them to look older, so I painted them white (do you see a theme here? Lol.) To hang it, I marked where the studs were on the wall and attached it to the studs.
19. Vintage-inspired medicine cabinet
I love making vintage-inspired decor. For number 19 of my upcycled decor ideas, I was inspired by my friends’ vintage medicine cabinet. I took one of my thrift store mirrors and gave it an antique look to get this look. Once I had the frame done around it, I built the cabinet to go with it. The hooks below came from one of those accordion-type wood hooks, and the corbels were made using scraps of a 2×4. To get a chippy paint look, I used a black water wash on the raw wood, then a thick layer of white paint and a heat gun to make the paint bubble. Once the paint dried, it was sanded. All in all, I loved how old it looked.
20. 2×2 People
This was a fun interactive upcycle project with my 2-year-old granddaughter and the last one of upcycled decor ideas. I used scraps of 2x2s along with baby socks she had outgrown. She told me what she wanted to do, and I made it happen, except for the mouth; she drew those by herself.
Are you still here? Thanks for making it through to the end of my 20 upcycled decor ideas!
The above is a sampling of upcycled decor I’ve made over the years. You can also find more upcycled ideas with tutorials or look at some rustic decor projects you can make. My website is new, and I’m working hard to get new weekly tutorials for you.