Far from the brightly lit design showrooms fully stocked with shiny new furniture, another hot trend is making an impact on the decorating scene. In the practice known as upcycling, everything old becomes new again, and even discarded and broken pieces of furniture can find new life.
Driven by creativity and ingenuity, the upcycling trend has inspired a host of ways to reinvent everything from end tables to armoires. Absolutely nothing is off limits. From old sewing machine cabinets to folding chairs, items once destined for the scrap heap are now becoming the focal points in trendy rooms.
Buoyed by interest from websites that promote DIY projects and offer ideas for reimagining existing items, upcycling has spawned thousands of home projects and ushered in a new era of green businesses.
“I think people appreciate the value of something that’s handcrafted,” says Don “Shorty” Glenn, owner of Shorty’s Upcycling Studio, which opened in May 2016 in Thompson, Manitoba. The studio specializes in furniture and accessories made from old and discarded items. “Right now, there seems to be a shift in society where people are going back to using what’s available to them, as opposed to buying everything new. We like to think of it as a way to give waste materials a new lease on life.”
Rethinking Home Design
For Glenn, upcycling has included repurposing a wire spool into an end table and transforming a common wood pallet into a chest. He has also turned ladders into kitchen pot racks and picture frames. “Upcycling can be very personal, and it’s easy to make items that express your design style,” he says. “It doesn’t matter if you prefer modern, rustic, or whatever; it’s just such a flexible medium to express yourself.”
Upcycled furniture has become so popular that it’s easy to find inspiration online or even in your own home. Looking at furniture differently is the first step toward giving it a makeover.
“Our motto is ‘Re-imagine, Re-design, and Re-invent,'” Glenn says. “Right now, I think upcycling is redefining what it means to recycle.”
Sandy Spain, an artist and designer in Nashville, Tennessee, says upcycling offers the freedom to rethink traditional settings. “Who says you have to use a dresser in the bedroom?” she asks. With a fresh coat of paint and some minor alterations, the options for using that dresser expand to virtually any room in the house. “You can take a chest of drawers and move it into another room, use it in the kitchen as a credenza, or put it in the dining room as a sideboard.”
Looking at your furniture differently is the first step in upcycling. “You don’t have to be locked in to using furniture in a certain way.”
Unboxing a New Look
One of the great things about upcycling is you can start with small projects and work your way up to bigger projects as you gain more confidence and experience. Shopping a clearance center such as a CORT Furniture Clearance Center is one way to ensure that you are getting a quality piece of furniture that is ready for a new life. A few popular DIY ideas include:
- Turn an old dresser into a cool portable bar. Make it an outdoor beverage station that’s perfect for those hot summer days, or use it as the focal point in your home’s entertainment area.
- Give an old piece of luggage new life by adding a set of legs and turning it into a retro end table.
- Freshen up an outdated filing cabinet with a touch of paint, a wooden butcher-block top, and wheels to create a rolling kitchen cart that has plenty of storage and many different uses.
- When you’re ready to replace an old wooden side table, turn it into a great hideaway for your pup. Add some paint and a pillow, and your four-legged friend will thank you.
- Reinvent an old dresser as a bathroom vanity with a distinctive look and ample storage space.
“There’s really no ‘wrong’ way to do it,” Spain says. “It’s really about finding inspiration and then using your own creativity to make something that is truly unique.”
There are plenty of places to find that inspiration. From DIY craft sites that provide step-by-step instructions to businesses like Shorty’s that take care of the project for you, there’s a way to get it done. “There’s a lot of creative freedom in imagining something new out of something old or discarded,” Glenn says. “It’s always a fun surprise to see the end result.”
As you create a new look for your room, CORT Furniture Clearance Centers are available nationwide to help you find great bargains on quality pieces. Shop for everything from gently used furniture to home accessories to complete your new look.