What is Upcycling?

Honestly, we didn’t know what upcyclying was until a recent Home Staging Project! We had the privilege of staging a newly constructed Net Zero Eco Home, the first of its kinda in Iowa. The builders of the home, Eco Logic Homes, wanted the furnishings that were Green and Eco-friendly. In searching for items to stage the Net Zero house, we came across the term “upcycling” frequently and soon because well versed on the subject.

Simply, upcycling is defined as converting useless products of waster materials into new products or materials with a higher value or quality. For example: using wood from an old barn to create a new dining table:

How does upcycling differ from recycling? That was one of my questions when we first started this staging project. I thought the the terms were interchangeable but soon found out the difference. Upcycling maintains or improves the quality of the material, while recycling (also known as downcycling) reduces the quality of the materials (using high-grade materials to make low-grade materials. For example, when you recycle plastic bottles, those bottles are turned into a lower grade plastic bottle.

Upcycling is important because it creates less waste, reduces your carbon footprint, it is cost effective, and creates the potential to make money from selling your upcycled items.

There are many ways to use upcycled items when decorative your home. The following pictures should give you some ideas. You can also purchase upcycled items from places like Etsy and get more ideas on DIY upcycling projects from Pinterest. Happy upcycling!

Create an accent wall with upcycled, white-washed timber.
Create an accent table from an old wooden beam.
Add leftover fabric to the bottom of a shower curtain.
Use old burlap as fabric to create accent pillows
Use an old wooden window frame as a picture frame
Use washers to create trivets, coasters, or candle bases
Create a serving tray by salvaging a cabinet door, painting and adding hardware
Create bar stools from salvaged truck springs
Using Jute to accent existing pieces. Jute is a very affordable, natural fiber found in craft stores in different thicknesses and colors
Adding leftover fabric to pictures frames to create accent artwork