Upcycling Ideas for Apartment Spaces

Image courtesy of maidenjane.com

One of the hottest decorating trends at the moment is “upcycling” – where you take an item that you, or someone else, no longer wants and give it second life with a new purpose. For an apartment dweller, it’s not only economical and environmentally responsible, but a great way to create unique items for your home that are also fun to make.

Raw Materials

There is, of course, a lot of vision and creativity involved in these types of craft projects, but the first step is to find the raw materials and then see the potential in them. Here are some ideas for places to be on the lookout for diamonds in the rough to turn into future objets d’art:

  • Garage Sales & Secondhand Stores – This one is obvious.
  • Dumpster Diving – OK, not really. But you never know what you could find if you just take a minute to circle around to the back of many of the stores you visit regularly. For example, shipping pallets are a staple of upcycling and reclaimed wood projects.
  • College Dorms/Housing – During the time of year that marks the end of school, many college students move out of their housing and decide to simply abandon items they no longer want. Drive by your local student housing at the beginning of the summer and you might walk away with a treasure.
  • Your Own Trash – This is perhaps the most important and economical place for you to look. Every time you go to throw something away, think about alternative uses for it first.
  • The Public Library – Many libraries have old, or even vintage, unwanted books for sale supported by community donations.
  • Craigslist – Never underestimate the power of the freebies section of craigslist.org.
  • The Dollar Store – It’s only a buck, go nuts!


You can find many upcycling project ideas online. Pinterest is a great place to start. Here are just a few of our favorites to get you started:

1. Create a lamp out of a plastic bottle and plastic spoons

Via http://www.handimania.com/diy/plastic-spoon-lamp.html

2. Turn old, vintage books into shelves

Via: http://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/home-improvement/create-book-shelves-00000000035586/index.html

3. Turn old paper tubes into wall art

Via: http://www.vitamin-ha.com/craft-art-and-diy-ideas-18-pics/craft-and-diy-ideas-270/

4. Turn old beer bottles into hip glasses

Via: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2014/02/19/how-to-make-a-drinking-glass-from-a-bottle/

5. Turn an old shipping pallet into a shoe rack


Via: http://palletfurniturediy.com/pallet-racks/diy-pallet-shoe-racks-for-your-storage/

6. Convert an old soda crate into a spice rack

Via: http://ninered.blogspot.ca/2010/04/spice-rack-update.html

7. Create a fish tank or terrarium out of your old computer

Via: http://walyou.com/mac-g4-cube-fish-tank-mod/

8. Repurpose old CD jewel cases into photo frames

Via: http://content.photojojo.com/diy/spinning-cd-photo-frame/

9. Turn an unwanted sweater or other clothing item into a throw pillow

Via: http://maidenjane.blogspot.com/2014/01/how-embarrassing-is-it-for-knitter-and.html

10. Repurpose an old clock and board game

Via: http://1800recycling.com/2011/01/recycle-scrabble-tiles/

There is much more inspiration online, so take a look. And the next time you throw away that old clothes hanger, baby toy or wine bottle, take a moment to think about its hidden potential and let your creativity flow.


Got any tips or ideas of your own to share? Let us know with a comment below.