Upcycle It! Repurposing old furniture

April Kennedy April Kennedy
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For some students in times past, the humble crate was a long-standing furniture item. These days, picking up a crate and turning it into a new side table is called Upcycling.

While we may sound a little cynical about the trendiness of the term, the concept is nothing to be sneered at. Upcycling is a form of recycling items by modifying unused items and repurposing them as furniture or decorations. It's obviously green, environmentally efficient and if you do it right, quite cheap.

But the trend has become so widespread, that it's developed a high level of sophistication far, far beyond our humble crate days. Pre-loved objects have a history and personality lacking in newer items and somehow this quality infuses upcycled furniture with a very particular aesthetic that's quite beautiful.

Come with us to have a look at a few cool upcycling ideas.

Palettes are very versatile

 Household by ECOdECO Mobiliario
ECOdECO Mobiliario

RUSELL mesa palets. 120x47cm, 1 altura

ECOdECO Mobiliario

The humble palette is an old mainstay of recyclers and upcyclers. Palettes are often free and very sturdy. They are often repurposed as outdoor furniture because they can handle the elements. However, one common issue is that they have extremely rough finishes that can take a very long time to sand down. One great workaround is to create a coffee table from a couple of palettes and then lay a thick plate of glass over the top for a smooth effect.

Container home

Shipping containers are some of the sturdiest constructions around. They are also some of the easiest to convert into beautiful, minimalist homes. The frames are very solid, so a simple angle grinder is used to simply cut out holes for the windows. Many choose to remove an entire wall for a modern, sophisticated feel. For a really ambitious project, stack a whole series of them together.

Bookcase on wheels

For some serious industrial chic, check out this bookcase on wheels. It's basically an old industrial barrel container that has been mounted on wheels, cut in half and fitted out with some shelves for your books. To finish the funky effect, the exterior has been painted a great lime green.

New paint can already make a difference

Many of us have come across a beautiful second-hand lamp or chair at a weekend market and wistfully fantasised about taking the time to restore it. In the end, reality sinks in and we move on to something else less time consuming. But furniture restoration doesn't have to be a big event. Often, a simple coat of paint can make a big difference. To really amp up the effect, add a big, thick lacquer in a bold bright colour for a fresh contemporary look.

Vinyl Bookends

No matter how much you (or maybe your grandpa!) might love beautiful old vinyl records, even the biggest aficionado has to admit that they aren't much use once they've been severely scratched. These days you can still find old records in markets and they make a great, unique bookend once they've been mounted on a wooden shelf.

Time for Tea!

For our last upcycling idea we're going to discuss these gorgeously quirky inverted teacup lights. The designer Lieselotte design focuses on found objects and treats each porcelain teacup by hand. While once these object may have been dismisses if they didn't belong to an entire set, these days the unique nature of each teacup is a part of the eclectic look.

If you are interested in eco design, you would love this Ideabook Quirky cardboard furniture.

What do you think of upcycling? We'd love to hear in the comments below!
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