For many of us, the beginning of the pandemic was filled with closet cleanouts, deep cleaning and going through the old junk drawer. Recently, I have found that I have too much stuff, but it’s stuff I am also not fully ready to part ways with. I have been looking for ways to repurpose the things I need, but don’t regularly use. Here are a few easy ways to upcycle and repurpose the random, but necessary things we have laying around the house. 

Tips for beginners: 

- Preparation is the key to success when it comes to upcycling. The best way to ensure you get your desired results is by planning ahead and making sure you have all of the necessary tools and materials. 

- Think outside the box when it comes to repurposing old furniture and other items. There is no right or wrong way to repurpose something, so get creative with methods and resources.

- Mistakes are not always a bad thing when it comes to upcycling. Sometimes they can give your project more character, or serve as a learning opportunity for future projects. 

- Most importantly, have fun! Upcycling should be a creative and fun opportunity for adding some spice to your home in an environmentally friendly way and without breaking the bank. 

Repurposing the clutter:

As a college student who does NOT like to cook, kitchen tools like a cheese grater, strainer and 11 extra spoons are just collecting dust in my cabinets. 

  • If you’re someone who likes to accessorize with jewelry, turn your cheese grater or strainer into an earring or necklace holder. This will keep your jewelry and accessories more organized and accessible while repurposing those kitchen items you rarely use, or maybe even have multiples of. 

  • Turn extra silverware into key or lanyard hooks. Warm the metal utensil over a flame of some sort and curl it into a hook-shaped holder. Then, by finding an old piece of wood (which can be found on hikes, reclaimed wood stores, or in “free piles” around town) nail the softened metal to the wood, and voila! You have a quirky new key holder. 

Room makeover: 

If you go on Pinterest right now, most bedroom aesthetics are white or neutral in color and very minimalistic in style. Growing up (unless you were ahead of your time) I bet most people did not have this aesthetic. So, as we go to college and often outgrow our childhood bedrooms, replacing the furniture can be expensive.

  • Paint your old dresser. Paint it white, light blue—whatever fits the new style you are going for. This will save you money and the hassle of figuring out how to move your old dresser out of your home and the new one in. 

  • Mix-and-match cabinet or dresser knobs from around the house, or even trade with a friend for a funky take on your old dresser. 

  • Use old mugs, cups, or jars to house your random knick knacks. This can help declutter your room. If the jars are clear, consider painting them to keep with the “zero clutter” theme. 

Shelving it:

Throughout our lives, many of us have collected random small bottles of paint for school projects or small craft ideas. Instead of buying a new bottle of paint for each craft, finish the bottle on some new upcycled shelves or vases for your home. 

  • Create fun shelves with a pop of color by taking apart, painting, or repurposing old wooden furniture or picture frames. Once you have a loose piece of wood, then you can paint it, color it or create fun designs for when the shelves are hung somewhere around the house.

  • Additionally, put some cute potted plants on the newly reclaimed shelf! Pot plants in old or broken teapots, mugs, cups, or vases. You can paint or design these items as well, or leave them unfinished for a more retro look. 

I hope these quick upcycling tricks inspire you to clean up your living space while helping save the earth at the same time. Some items are hard to part with and upcycling is an easy way to incorporate these items into your home without contributing to landfills. Happy upcycling!