I love decorating with upcycled or repurposed salvaged items, for a number of reasons. First, I love the patina and history of older materials. They have a character from their age and the little dirt and rust on them. Second, they are usually well made – often more well made than newer items. Third, reusing salvaged materials keeps them out of landfills.
What is the difference between upcycling and repurposing? There isn’t much of a difference, actually, but I see “upcycling” as using something old again, but repainting it or cleaning it up first; I see “repurposing” as taking something old and using it in a different way, for something new.
Here are some of my favorite ways to decorate with upcycled or repurposed salvaged materials. For the details on how to make each project, please click on the photo or source link.
Using Old Doors
I love using old doors in decorating our home; they can be reused in so many ways!
I found this old door at a thrift store for $1.99 (!!). I turned it into a sliding, barn-style door for our pantry:
I added casters to the door and installed a sliding track made from pipes. The whole project took me an afternoon to complete, and it solved a big problem in our kitchen (the previous pantry doors swung out into the kitchen, blocking the drawers).
For a teachers’ lounge renovation I did, I turned an old door into a message or memo board.
Just make sure you bolt the door to the wall so that it doesn’t fall over. I added the paper roll on vintage doorknobs, and a vintage yardstick at the bottom holds the paper in place. This would be great in a pantry or hallway, as a way to record grocery or chores lists.
My favorite project of all time, though, is when I made a queen-sized daybed out of old doors.
I couldn’t find a queen-sized daybed that I liked or whose price fit in our budget, so I made one from two solid-wood doors.
Because old doors are made of solid wood, they are great as table tops, as desk tops, even as headboards! You can find old doors at salvage yards, resale shops (like the Habitat for Humanity ReStore), or even at the curb on trash day!
For my top tips on choosing pieces to upcycle or repurpose from flea markets and thrift stores, please see THIS POST.
Using Old Windows
I find old windows often in people’s trash piles by the side of the road. But you can turn them into fun and funky decor for your home.
For example, turn an old window into a dry-erase calendar or memo board:
All you need is some decorative paper (I used wrapping paper), decoupage medium (like Mod Podge) or tape, and D-rings to hang it.
Or use an old window as a frame for art:
Or as art itself:
The arched window on the wall, above, was the door to a cabinet we removed in our old house. It’s perfect as wall art – adding architectural interest to an otherwise big, blank space.
You can find old soda or Coca-Cola crates at flea markets, antique stores, and sometimes thrift stores. They’re great to repurpose for organization. For example, I used one as a spice rack in our kitchen:
The dividers are the perfect size for spice bottles!
I’ve also used one as a craft holder and desk organizer:
I’ve also seen them turned into side tables and footstools by adding legs and a wooden or upholstered top to them!
For more ideas for incorporating inspiring vintage style into your home, see THIS POST.
Tripods into Lamps
You can find old surveyors’ tripods at salvage yards, flea markets, and thrift stores. Turn one into a lamp:
You can find new tripod lamps at major retailers for upwards of $400. But you can make one for about $25! All you need is the tripod, a lamp kit, and a shade.
I’ve made both this floor lamp, above, and a table-top version from a smaller tripod.
Using Cabinet Doors
I’ve found old cabinet doors in our basement (when we moved into our home), at salvage and resale shops, and in trash heaps at the curb. You can turn them into message boards with just a little paint:
Cabinet doors with inset panels work really well for this project, because you can add chalkboard paint or whiteboard paint to the inset area. Add hooks or a ledge for chalk or markers, and you’ve got a great memo board!
I hope this has inspired you to decorate using upcycled or repurposed salvaged items in your home. Get creative with it and think outside the box; a door doesn’t have to be a door! Reimagine it as something else and you can have unique, creative decor in your home!
For more fun and easy upcycling ideas, please see THIS POST.