Upcycle Closet Clutter: How To Make Amazing Home Decor From Your Old Stuff

Kathy Owen
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Upcycling clothing and accessories into home decor is a nifty way to express your creative soul and save on household costs. Check your closet for outdated or unused things you can recycle or repurpose into something extraordinary. 

Repurposed home decor will reflect your unique personality and may remind you of a fond memory or a special moment. Frame a favorite concert t-shirt and hang it on the wall or reuse an old jean jacket to cover a chair seat.

Upcycle a tote bag by propping it beside your reading chair and filling it with magazines and novels.

That old stuff takes up needed space in your closet, and it would be wasteful to throw it out. Create something great. The list of items you can upcycle into home decor is endless.

Upcycle Things From Your Closet

Upcycling Closet, Recycling
Image Credit: stock_colors via Canva.com
Belts

Ordinary brown or black belts can be made into handles for boxes and trays. Colorful belts can be glued around a vase or old tea kettle to create flower containers. A flexible braided belt makes an excellent curtain tieback. Repurpose multiple belts and weave a chair seat. Hang a wreath for the front door with a belt.

Boots

Rainboots make great planters, or hang them on a door as part of a wreath. Fancy cowboy boots make unique umbrella stands or magazine holders. Fill a pair of work boots with rocks and faux succulents.

Handbags

Fill a purse with flowers and hang it on the front door as a wreath or set a large tote bag beside your favorite reading chair and fill it with magazines and novels. Upcycling only sometimes involves recreating an item.

Sweaters

Remove the sleeves from a sweater, pull them over a couple of terra cotta pots, and recover a pillow with the body of the sweater. Wrapping plastic pumpkins with sweater material is a quick DIY.

Scarves

Wrap a seasonal scarf around a foam wreath form or a grapevine wreath. Tie several scarves together to make a garland. Make wall art by wrapping a scarf around a canvas board.

Umbrellas

Fill a closed umbrella with faux flower stems and hang it from the front door. Switch out a lampshade with an umbrella for a fun look, or upcycle the umbrella canopy into a hanging light fixture.

Jewelry

Wrap a necklace around a small glass bottle or glue small earrings and pendants to mason jars. Mount jewelry in various shapes onto framed fabric. Hang large jewelry pieces from the Christmas tree with bits of ribbon. Glue a few beads to a bookmark or furniture knobs with floral pins. Create pretty magnets using rhinestone jewelry.

Skirts & Dresses

Fabric can be used to recover chair seats and throw pillows. Make a rag garland to hang on the fireplace mantel or from a curtain rod. Sew a curtain valance. Make a lining for a basket or suitcase.

Jeans

Denim can cover a wreath form, lamp shades, chair seats, pillows, etc. Use denim to wrap gifts and make fun gift tags. Cut thin strips and tie them around a wreath form.

Hats

Great for hanging on the wall alone or in a grouping. Replace a dated lampshade with a straw hat. Use as a base for a gift basket or to store personal items in a guest bedroom.

Buttons

Remove buttons before discarding old shirts and jeans. Reuse the buttons to make snowmen ornaments and miniature trees. Greeting cards saved for sentimental reasons can be recycled into framed art and adorned with buttons.

Reasons for Upcycling

Upcycling Packaging Strap Materials
Image Credit: Gary Webber via Canva.com

There are many reasons to upcycle items into new decor you no longer need. Saving money is a good reason, but it may not be the best reason.

Upcycling is good for your health. Getting creative and focusing on DIY projects helps to unwind and relieve stress at the end of the day or after a long work week. Realizing you gave a second life to an item you planned to throw away leaves you feeling good.

Instead of condemning your old stuff to rot in landfill, you are giving it a new lease of life. You are also shrinking your ecological footprint and relieving the Earth from having to absorb more human waste.

Just looking at the new projects you create to decorate your home will bring a smile and give you a sense of accomplishment that can’t be beaten.

Upcycling Necessities

Upcycling Zero Waste Ideas
Image Credit: titilalucida via Canva.com

Keep a stock of these items, and you will always be prepared to create simple DIY projects using your old stuff.

Mod Podge

The basic formula will work to adhere fabric or paper to your project.

Spray Paint

There are regular spray paints and special paints such as metallic finishes, hammered finishes, neon paint, camouflage, stainless steel, and more. There are also sealers, primers, and indoor or outdoor formulas.

Magnets

Available in different strengths, the minimum power of grade 6 is best when making refrigerator magnets.

Artificial Flowers

Find the best prices for artificial flowers at thrift stores, flea markets, or dollar stores. Keep a stock of seasonal flowers on hand.

Twine

Purchase jute twine in 3 different weights or thicknesses.

Basic Tools for Upcycling

Upcycling Tools
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Homeowners should have a chest or bag filled with essential tools to do simple projects or minor repairs.

Glue Gun

Glue guns come in mini and regular sizes. The mini glue guns are hard to work with because of their size. You can also buy battery-powered glue guns, and you don’t have to deal with cords getting into your workspace.

Heavy Duty Stapler

Desk staplers will only do the job for some DIY projects. It would be best if you had a heavy-duty stapler.

Drill

An inexpensive cordless drill will work great for most small projects.

Sander

A ¼ sheet square palm sander is perfect for DIY projects.

Basic Hand Tool Set

An essential tool set includes flat tip and Phillips head screwdrivers, Allen wrenches, pliers, and a hammer. Larger tool sets will consist of scissors, box cutters, a tape measure, and maybe a drill driver.

More Items You Can Upcycle

More Things You Can Upcycle
Image Credit: Roger Browns from Pexels via Canva.com

You can upcycle just about anything. Repurpose, reuse, or remake the following items.

Plastic Bottles

Fill recyclable bottles with water and freeze them to make inexpensive ice packs. Use them as vases or table centerpieces. Cut the tops off and remake the bottom as a holder for pencils or crayons.

Food Containers

Plastic fruit containers, cartons, and stainless steel food cans can be reused as flower planters, containers for artists’ brushes, and fairy gardens.

Linens

Use old sheets, curtains, or shower curtains, to recover chair seats and throw pillows. Make a rag garland. Mod Podge the fabric to flower pots or furniture. Stretch pretty curtains over canvas boards to make wall art.

Shipping Boxes

Paint cardboard boxes or cover them with fabric to reuse as organizers or storage bins.

Other Sources of Items to Upcycle

Flea Markets

Shop local flea markets for wood items to paint or decoupage, lamps to spray paint, and pots and pans to upcycle into planters.

Thrift Stores

An excellent source for old linens and fabrics to make window treatments. Also, a good resource for photo frames to reuse as wall decor.

Junk and Salvage Shops

Look for rusty outdoor items to upcycle into planters and garden art. A good source of architectural pieces and reclaimed windows often used as wall decor.

Local Estate Sales

You can find interesting vintage items or antiques at estate sales to renew and display in your home. The estate sale usually lasts three days; the last day is the deep discount day.

Online Websites

Find local sources of things to upcycle on the internet. Sites like Facebook Marketplace, Freecycle, and social media platforms often list pieces for sale that would be great for upcycling. Sometimes, owners will give the items away.

Do you need more ideas on what to recycle or additional repurposing ideas for your old stuff? Perform an internet search with your keywords, study home interior design magazines, peruse shop displays, and look at Pinterest pins. These are excellent sources for color schemes and design ideas.

How do you put together your upcycle project once you have the idea? There are many tutorials on how to upcycle just about anything on YouTube, DIY Blogs, and home improvement websites.

Upcycling is a fantastic way to reuse or repurpose old clothing and unused items around the home. Not only is it a budget saver, but upcycling or repurposing is also a great way to show off your style and creativity with new personalized decor. You may have discarded items in the past you now wish you had saved. Before you toss anything into the garbage can or donate it take a second look and consider the possibilities for upcycling it into fantastic decor for your home.

This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.

Author

  • Kathy Owen

    Kathy is the founder of PetticoatJunktion.com, a home décor blog focused on repurposing and upcycling furniture, old hardware, rusty stuff, thrift store finds, and just about anything, into unique home décor. She shares complete tutorials on painting furniture and reinventing her found items. Kathy’s projects have been featured on the Home Depot Blog, Plaid Crafts, Behr Designer Series, and in numerous magazines.

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