The term upcycling is making its rounds in social circles as more people become aware of the benefits of repurposing something old into something new. Creativity flows and inspiration surrounds as DIYers search for ways to decorate their homes, cut costs and – most importantly – reduce their carbon footprint.

By using innovative upcycling techniques and ideas, decorating on the dime has become an eco-friendly way to make a powerful statement with unique items that build character in any room.

Here are 14 DIY projects to get you started on an upcycling journey to new décor:

  1. Turn a wire basket into a pendant light. Add some industrial flair to the room by replacing a light shade with a wire basket. Grab a light kit from the local hardware store to build the lighting from scratch or find an old pendant light and modify the fittings to suit the basket size.
  1. Use books to make floating shelves. For book collectors and readers, using favorite books as statement pieces just makes sense. Look for floating bookshelf holders to slide into your favorite titles.
floating shelves
Image courtesy of Austin Kleon.
  1. Transform an old dresser into a television stand. Modify an existing dresser by removing drawers to create space for electronic devices and media players. Slap a new coat of paint on and splurge for unique hardware, and you’ll have a truly one-of-a-kind piece.
  1. Create candlestick holders out of old wine bottles. The bottleneck of a wine bottle is perfect for containing a single candlestick. Rinse out the old bottle, insert a candle into the neck and light the wick for an ambience-enhancing accent piece.
  1. Organize purses and scarves with shower curtain hooks. Use S hooks hanging from a rod in the closet to hold purses and totes. For scarves, pull them through round curtain rings that are secured to the base of clothes hangers.
  1. Build shelving in an old boat. Perfect for a nautical-themed room, locate an old boat and give it new life by turning it into shelving. Shorten the boat to the desired height, measure and install shelving to fit, and give it all a new coat of paint.
  1. Make a magnetic message board with a cookie sheet. Cover a cookie sheet with fabric using a hot glue gun. Hang it on the wall with a collection of magnets ready for your next grocery list.
  1. Bend metal hangers into wall art. Repurpose old hangers by bending them with pliers into varying shapes or meaningful words. They make an excellent gift for brides-to-be who may be changing their name and are looking for a wedding keepsake like this one from Heather Jansen at Mrs. Wigglebottom.
  1. Repurpose a door as a coat rack. Add knobs or large hooks to a recycled door to make it into a perfect place for hanging coats in the entryway.
  1. Plant a garden in a pallet. Locate an inexpensive pallet and modify it to grow herbs between the slats. The pallet garden can be completed horizontally, though the vertical nature of this pallet garden put together by Joe Lamp’l at Growing a Greener World is stunning.
Pallet garden
Image courtesy of Mr & Mrs Stickyfingers.
  1. Use a barrel for a table. Secure a round piece of glass to the top of a whiskey barrel, and you gain a new surface to have tea or play cards. Visit a local winery or brewery to purchase used barrels for the project.
  1. Bow spoons into bracelets. Put old spoons into good use by reusing them to make jewelry. Grab two spoons, bend them into the correct and desired shape of the bracelet, and secure the design with a clasp drilled into the piece.
  1. Turn shoe boxes into drawer organizers. Organize your garage, kitchen or bedroom with shoe boxes that are clearly marked and labeled with the items they are to house. Use them for items like loose nails, rubber bands or socks.
  1. Create a baby mobile out of paper scraps. Cut out circles or build paper airplanes that can then be tied to clear fishing line and suspended from a circular object, like a bike wheel or embroidery hoop over a newborn’s crib.

Upcycling is a great way to learn a new skill, be creative and help the environment by reducing waste. Give these projects a try and you’re sure to come up with something amazing that suits your style and is truly unique.

Feature image courtesy of Stacie

By Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is a writer and blogger with a passion for wellness and eco-friendly living. She has contributed to Earth911, Mother Earth News, The Huffington Post as well as other healthy and green living publications. Follow her on Google+ and Twitter to read all of her latest posts.