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50 Incredibly Clever Upcycling Ideas to Try at Home

These trash-to-treasure crafts will turn a regular afternoon into a family-fun day of DIYs.

upcycling ideas

While it's always fun taking a trip to your local thrift shop in search of unique home items and decor, transforming your old materials into new ones can be an exciting experience as well. So to help you turn your trash into treasure, we're sharing these clever upcycling ideas perfect for a day of crafts.

Upcycling is incredibly beneficial for our environment. It helps to lower the amount of discarded materials in landfills, while reducing the need for more to be produced. And from an eco-friendly standpoint, that means reduced air and water pollution as well as greenhouse gas emissions. That's a win for you, your home and the earth.

So whether you're new to upcycling or an expert in DIY home crafts, you'll enjoy our inspirational roundup of DIY ideas (and if you're looking for options specifically related to furniture, browse our roundup of genius upcycled furniture ideas to spark your imagination). From simply turning wine corks into bottle stoppers to transforming an old window into a functional organizer for your home's entryway, the list varies. And while it's great having dad to help with the crafting fun, don't forget to let your little ones dive into their creativity, too.

genius upcycling ideas egg carton
1 of 101
Before: Egg Cartons

You won't believe what you can turn your egg cartons into. It's the perfect decoration for spring.

genius upcycling ideas egg carton flowers
Mike Garten
2 of 101
After: Egg Carton Flowers

While this may seem like a difficult project, the steps are easy enough for beginner crafters to follow (with minimal materials needed).

Get the tutorial »

genius upcycling ideas boring bookcase
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Before: Old Bookcase

If your bookcase is thrifted, boring and worn out, turn it into an eye-catching focal point for your living room or bedroom.

genius upcycling ideas bookcase
Mike Garten
4 of 101
After: Stylish Hutch

You can transform your bookcase into something you really love. All it takes are stylish paint colors or wallpaper. Don't be afraid to mix and match shades for a unique look.

genius upcycling ideas busted armchair
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Before: Distressed Armchair

That tattered chair you've been meaning to throw out can become a great addition to your home with the right DIY imagination.

genius upcycling ideas upholstered chair
Danielle Occhiogrosso
6 of 101
After: Fashionable Seating

Paint the wood frame to save yourself money before taking it for a pro upholstery appointment. You can add vibrant new fabric, while pairing it with a colorful pillow to enhance the design.


genius upcycling ideas white window
Getty Images/ SW Photography
7 of 101
Before: Plain White Window Shutters

If you finally replaced your shutters and are looking for a fun home project to spruce up your space, your old shutters can be assembled into a statement piece.

genius upcycling ideas colorful cabinet
Erika LaPresto
8 of 101
After: Colorful Cabinet

For this project, you'll need your shutters, a measuring tape, four pieces of medium-density fiberboard, bun feet and knobs. Don't forget your preferred color coat to paint it once assembled.


genius upcycling ideas ladder and wood pieces
David Tsay
9 of 101
Before: Ladder and Scrap Wood

For this transformation, you'll need two ladders, a 4-foot wooden rod and two wooden planks (one 4 ½ feet and one 4¾ feet).


genius upcycling ideas clothing rack
David Tsay
10 of 101
After: Clothing Rack

It's amazing what a few wood pieces and a ladder can turn into. You can make this easy-access rack by painting everything (the planks, rod and ladder). Use a drill and screws to attach the planks to the bottom two sets of rungs. Center two pipe brackets at the top of the ladder (on each top rung) before attaching them with screws and sliding the top rod through.


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Before: Wooden Bucket
Cornucopia Brands

Purchase a regular wooden bucket or use one around the house to turn it into a vibrant door display you and your guests can admire.

genius upcycling ideas wooden bucket wreath
Brian Woodcock
12 of 101
After: Wooden Bucket Wreath

Wreaths make beautiful door decorations, especially during the warmer seasons. Fill your bucket with fresh flowers from your garden. You can pad the bucket with paper towels topped with floral foam to give the blooms a longevity boost.

genius upcycling ideas old window shutters
Getty Images/ Nofi Sofyan Hadi / EyeEm
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Before: Old Window Shutters

Replace your old shutters and turn it into a useful organizer for your entryway.

genius upcycling ideas magazine and card rack
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After: Unique Magazine and Card Rack

Refurbish old shutters to hold magazines, newspapers and those holiday cards you want to cherish and display.

genius upcycling ideas sed packets
Getty Images/ John Block
15 of 101
Before: Seed Packets

Don't throw away your seed packets! Collect them throughout the week and save them for a fun DIY decoration.

genius upcycling ideas seed packet wreath
Brian Woodcock
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After: Seed Packet Wreath

To make this wreath, you'll need 12 to 14 seed packets, a 12-inch foam wreath form, artificial flowers and a hemp ribbon. Once you have your materials, attach the packets to the wreath form using straight pins. Then add the ribbon and flowers for color.

genius upcycling ideas dresser
Mike Garten
17 of 101
Before: Plain Flip-Top Dresser

You don't need to buy a new dresser to change the style. All it takes to give yours a fresh look is some paint.

genius upcycling ideas glamorous vanity
Mike Garten
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After: A Striking Vanity

This dresser will become your favorite part of the room. Paint the front drawers in different shades of the same color for a unique design. Keep the stained wood throughout for contrast. And don't worry about buying full gallons of paint, as sample sizes should be just enough for this project.

genius upcycling ideas shabby window
Getty Images/ Tolga TEZCAN
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Before: Tattered Window

You can DIY this six-pane window into a useful message board to stay organized on your tasks for the day.

genius upcycling ideas message board
Mike Garten
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After: Message Board

Use medium-grit sandpaper to remove chipped paint from the window. Clean the panes before adding black chalkboard paint. You can even attach hooks to hang your coats, belts, scarves and other items.


RELATED: 15 DIY Wall Decor Ideas to Instantly Upgrade Any Blank Space

genius upcycling ideas wooden crate
David Tsay
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Before: Simple Wood Crate

You can leave your wooden crate the way it is or paint it for an upgraded look.

genius upcycling ideas wood crate storage
David Tsay
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After: Wooden Crate Storage

Begin by stacking wooden crates in any position you want (vertically or horizontally). Come up with your unique design before using large binder clips to keep them secure. Your new piece can be used to store an array of things. If stacked vertically, make sure to keep larger items away from the top so they doesn't topple over.


genius upcycling ideas wall art
Lindsay Salazar
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Before: Thrifted Wall Art

You can upgrade your thrifted artwork with a creative flair. And the only thing you'll need is paint.

genius upcycling ideas half painted art
Mike Garten
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After: Half-Painted Art

Turn your garage-sale and thrifted art into a dramatic photo wall or display. Paint half of the pieces in your desired color for a creative color-block look.

genius upcycling ideas window frame
Getty Images/ artursfoto
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Before: Wooden Window Frame

Use your old window frame to store real flowers that you've dried and pressed from your garden.

genius upcycling ideas framed plant leaves
Mike Garten
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After: Framed Plant Leaves

Press green leaves before placing them inside a freshly-painted wooden window frame. Hang the frame in your desired spot to admire nature's beauty without having to go outside.

upcycling ideas   cart
David Tsay
27 of 101
Before: Dresser

If you no longer have any use for a basic dresser, it's time to give it a new look.

upcycling ideas   cart
David Tsay
28 of 101
After: Stylish Serving Cart

Leather hardware, brass wheels and a few metal handles can turn your dresser into a chic cart. Whether you use it to prep meals or make your favorite cocktails, the options are endless.

trash to treasure ideas   old table
Mike Garten
29 of 101
Before: Secretary Desk

Sure, a wooden desk is lovely to begin with — but there are creative ways to really make it shine.

trash to treasure ideas - statement desk
Mike Garten
30 of 101
After: Statement Desk

Add a layer of paint, some peel-and-stick patterned paper, and a tassel for a desk that can hold its own as the centerpiece of your space.

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