Chances are, you most likely have something laying around your home that you don’t use anymore but you can’t quite get rid of. It could be an old suitcase stuffed in an attic or a rickety ladder that you don’t use but it may come in handy someday so it sits collecting dust. It could have sentimental value attached, or you could hoard in extreme cases. However, repurposing ideas with a little creativity can give new life to these items.
Besides being useful again, these repurposing ideas can add a creative punch to your space. You also save it from the trash, so it’s a double win. If you’re curious on how you can repurpose your everyday items, we’ve pulled together several excellent ways to repurpose that you can use to upcycle your old items below.
1. Ladder Into a Bookshelf
There comes a time when old ladders simply aren’t safe to climb and stand on anymore. However, their sheer size can make them difficult to get rid of, even if they’re wooden. The good news is, you can repurpose them that turn this worn-out ladder into a functional and beautiful piece you can enjoy for years to come. What’s more, you can even put the old ladder in a corner to take advantage of often wasted space.
All you’ll need for this upcycled idea is an old ladder, mounting hardware like brackets, and books. To make this project, you’ll be hanging your ladder horizontally on your wall. So, decide where you’d like to hang it and use a stud finder to find secure spots to attach your brackets. You’ll need around eight L-brackets that are six inches by 1 ¼ inches. You’ll use three-inch screws to mount the brackets. Hang the old repurposed ladder on the wall, and secure it in place with ½-inch screws. To finish, add your books.
You can use either old metal or wooden ladders for this to make a stunning bookshelf.
2. Cupcake Stand Out of China
If you bake, you want a pretty way to display your cupcakes. If you don’t have a cupcake stand, you can repurpose old china and make one using this. All you’ll need to complete it is a few old pieces of china like a teacup and a plate. The old china don’t even have to match, and you can paint them whatever color you like. You’ll also need glue to attach your two old pieces together.
To start, decide if you’d like to paint your cupcake stand or leave it as-is. Flip your teacup so it’s upside down with the wider lip facing the ground. You’ll add your old china plate to the top of the cup, securing it in place with your glue. Leave it to dry for at least a few hours. That’s it. This new repurposed stand is now ready to go and hold your cupcakes.
If you want to create a larger cupcake holder, you can use a larger glass between the layers instead of a teacup.
3. Picture Frame to an Earring Holder
Once an old picture frame breaks or the glass cracks, what do you do with it? Most people would throw it out. However, you can repurpose the old picture frame and this will help you breathe new life into your old picture frame. You don’t need a lot of materials for this project once you get the picture holder. You’ll need a stapler, staples, and wire. You can have it standing up and leaning back against a wall, or you can hang it.
To start, make sure there are no sharp edges left on the old frame. You can paint it if you want, or you can leave it as-is. Measure two or three lengths of wire so they stretch across the empty frame. Leave enough overlap that you can staple them in place. Decide if you want to or three rows based on your earring length and the frame size. Staple the wire into the back of the frame so it runs across the open part of the interior of the frame. Add your earrings by looping the clasps over the wire. If you want to hang it, you can hammer a nail into the wall and hang the new repurposed frame on it.
The larger your earrings are, the fewer layers you’ll be able to add to your picture frame or they’ll tangle.
4. Basket to a Recycling Center
If you have any old wicker baskets with lids around and you’re not sure what to do with them, you can actually repurpose those baskets. You’ll need the basket, stencils, tape, spray paint, and a liner to protect your basket from the cans or plastic bottles you put into it.
First, tape your stencil on the front of the basket. You want to create your house number. Once it’s on, use your spray paint and fill in the stencil. You may want to put something behind it to catch the splatter that makes it through the wicker. Allow it to dry for a few hours and touch it up as needed. Line the interior of the basket with your bag. That’s it. Your repurposed item is ready. You’re now ready to start recycling. Swap out the bag when it’s full.
You can divide your recycling container in half if you have a large enough basket to have one side for plastic and one for aluminum.
5. Cell Phone Charging Station from a Lotion Bottle
If you have a short charging cord for your phone, you know how difficult it can be to stretch and reach a power source. Luckily, you can repurpose an old lotion bottle into a charging station. You’ll need a lotion bottle (baby lotion bottles work well), xacto knife, modge podge, sandpaper, and fabric. To start, draw on the shape you want to cut out.
Cut halfway down on the front of the lotion bottle. The backside of the lotion bottle should curve up so it’s higher than the front of the bottle you already cut. The back should go almost to the top of the bottle. Cut a square out of the back of the lotion bottle near to top. This is where your charger will attach to the outlet. Use your sandpaper to smooth out any rough edges. Cut a piece of fabric that’s large enough to wrap around the whole basket with a small overlap.
Turn the phone holder so the front is facing you and add a layer of modge podge. Carefully apply the fabric and smooth it out. Add more modge podge to the sides and back of the holder and follow it with fabric. Trim around the edges of the container to get rid of the excess fabric. Apply a layer of modge podge over the fabric and let it dry. You’re now ready to use this repurposed lotion bottle to charge your phone.
This lotion bottle is large enough to hold a host of different smartphones.
6. Bird Bath from Planters
If you have cracked terra cotta planters and a large saucer, don’t throw them away. Instead, use this idea to turn them into a bird bath. You can make this bird bath as large or small as you like, depending on how many planters you have. You’ll need paint, clear sealant, and Gorilla glue as well. Start by deciding how many planters you want. They should be different sizes so they stack up.
Paint each planter however you’d like. You can do patterns, colors, or make it one solid color. Apply two coats of paint and let them dry at least an hour between each coat. Apply a layer of clear sealant and let it dry. Set the biggest container on the bottom of the pile and slowly stack the rest of the pots on top. You can apply a layer of glue where they meet to hold them steady. Paint the saucer and seal it with your clear sealant. Glue the repurposed saucer to the top of the stack and glue it into place. Fill the repurposed saucer with water.
As long as you keep your bird bath full, you should enjoy birds stopping by all year round.
7. Teacup Planter
Succulents do very well in small planters, and what better planter can you get than a teacup. They have pretty patterns, shine, and look gorgeous as a centerpiece. This takes the teacups and lets you transform it into a small planter. If you don’t have real plants, you can add fake ones or flowers to create an eye-catching display.
Get your teacups and saucers. You’ll need glue, potting soil, pebbles, and succulents too. Glue your teacup to your saucer and let it dry. Once it’s dry, add a small layer of pebbles into the bottom of the teacup before apply a layer of soil. Put your succulent into the cup and fill it with soil until you cover the plant’s roots. Lightly mist the plant. There is no drainage hole, so be careful how much you water the repurposed planter. Watering it too much can lead to root rot.
These repurposed teacup planters can easily turn into an eye-catching centerpiece with very little effort on your part.
8. Jewelry Magnets
When your jewelry breaks or you lose part of a set, you’d either leave it sitting in your jewelry box or throw it away. This breathes new life into this worn-out jewelry by turning each piece into a pretty magnet. All you’ll need for this project is the jewelry pieces, magnets, and glue. If you have several little pieces, you can get mirror pieces with magnets on the back.
For the bigger pieces, add a dot of glue and apply the magnet to the back of the jewelry. Let it dry and it’s ready to hang on the metal surface. For the smaller pieces, you can arrange them however you like on the mirror pieces. When you have your design, glue them into place.
These jewelry magnets are an easy way to brighten up your kitchen or office.
9. Cup Bird Feeder
This is another idea that involves using a larger saucer or small plant with a cup, glue, and twine. When you finish with this project, you’ll have a whimsical bird feeder that will attract the birds to your window or balcony. You do want to make sure the cup and saucer is clean and dry before you start because the glue won’t stick well if it’s not.
Glue your teacup into the center of the plate or saucer on it’s side. The birdseed will look like it’s spilling out of the cup onto the saucer when you finish. Take your twine and measure out four pieces of the same length. Mark four equal areas on the saucer around the outside. If it’s not balanced, your bird feeder won’t sit level when you finish.
Tie all four pieces of twine together on one end. For this, the other end of the twine will attach to the bottom edge of your saucer with a dot of glue. Hang it up in your window or on your porch. Carefully add birdseed around the repurposed cup on the plate and add a pile in the cup. Wait for the birds to come around.
This simple bird feeder will keep the birds coming to your yard all spring and summer.
10. Colander Lights
If you have older metal colanders in your cupboard or pantry, this easy repurposing idea will help you use them again. You’ll need some paint, hammer, nails, and battery-powered string lights. You will attach these colanders to the wall when you finish, so you may want a thin felt to line the rim with to prevent it from scratching the wall.
To start, paint the colander with whatever colors you like. Flip it around so the open part is up and cut your felt into a thin strip. Glue the strip of felt around the rim of the colander to prevent it from scratching your wall. Add your battery-operated string lights into the colander. You can wire them in place using floral wire if you’re afraid they’ll move. Just run the wire through the holes in the colander and wrap them around the lights. Add a nail to the wall and hang your colander. You can add two if you want it to be more secure. The holes in the colander will create pretty patterns when you use this.
A metal colander will add a rustic look to your room when you hang them up.
11. Muffin Tin Craft Organizer
Muffin tins are very bulky, and they take up a lot of space if you don’t use them a lot. This simple repurposing idea lets you upcycle your muffin tin into a handy organizer. You can use it for your craft items like pins, buttons, beads, or paper clips. You’ll put one item in every well to keep them separated and in easy reach.
If you’d like to paint it, you can use an enamel spray paint and give in two or three light coats. You can seal it with a clear sealant to make the paint stick and prevent chipping. This works well with the plain metal muffin tin too. If your muffin tin has holes on each end, you can add wire to create a handle and make it easy to carry.
Muffin tins can double as a snack container for small kids to keep their snacks separate.
12. Washing Machine Drum Fire Pit
If your washing machine breaks, this will help you upcycle the drum in the washing machine. All you’ll need for this chic fire pit is an old washing machine drum and heat-resistant paint. You can create feet for it out of metal scraps and weld them on if you like, but this is completely optional. It works just as well set onto a dirt ground with a few rocks piled around it to hold it up. The holes provide a way for oxygen to get to the fire to feed it, and it creates a pretty light show.
To start this, you’ll have to pull the old drum out of your washing machine. Many of them just require a few screws to be undone before it’ll pull out. Rinse the drum out with the hose to ensure there are no debris or dust left. Once it dries, give it two or three coats of the heat-resistant paint. Allow each coat to dry before you apply the next, and make sure you paint both the inside and outside. Once it dries, move it to wherever you’d like to have your fire. Fill it with wood and light it.
The washing drum will help to contain the fire and keep it going for hours because the holes feed it necessary oxygen.
13. Suitcase Into a Pet Bed
Your furry friend should have the best bed possible, and this repurposing idea turns a vintage suitcase into a stunning pet bed. You’ll need a vintage suitcase, your pet’s favorite blanket, or a pillow with a waterproof case. Accidents happen, and you want to make it as easy to clean as possible so you don’t have to throw it away.
To start this, separate the top from the bottom of the suitcase. You’ll only need one half unless you want to make two pet beds. Clean out the suitcase and let it dry. Lay the suitcase where you’d like your pet’s bed to be. You can add your pet’s favorite blanket to the bottom of the suitcase, or you can tuck their pillow with a waterproof case in. Introduce your pet to their new bed and see how they like it.
This chic pet bed is easy to pack up and take with you when you go on adventures with your pet.
14. Silverware Into Plant Markers
Your silverware will eventually wear out, but you shouldn’t toss it away when it does. Instead, use this to turn the silverware into a plant marker. All you’ll need is the silverware, paintbrushes, and paint. If you want stencils, you can use them to write the names on the silverware.
Give your silverware a quick wipe down and let it dry. Get your stencils and carefully write your plant name on each one. You can paint a small picture of the vegetable if you don’t want to write. Let it dry. It’s a good idea to apply a layer of clear sealant to make your paint last longer. Stick the handle of the silverware into your planter with the main portion sticking up.
Slightly rusted or tarnished silverware give a rustic charm to these plant markers.
15. Stemware Plant Light
Anyone who has wine glasses knows how easy it is to accidentally snap the foot off the stem. When this happens, you’d usually toss the stemware away. However, this will transform your broken stemware using a small tea light. If you’re crafty, you can paint a pattern on the body of the glass. Just make sure you don’t put it on the inside because it could catch fire.
Get your broken stemware and gently push it down in your planter to your desired height. Slip the tealight into the bottom of the steware’s body. Carefully light the tealight and let it burn. With this, you do want to make sure the tealight doesn’t accidentally flip over. This is why it’s a good idea to use slightly wider stemware.
This eye-catching light in your plants can come in any glassware from wine glasses to margarita glasses.
16. Utensil Holder from a Rake
Garden rakes have very hard metal teeth that are evenly spaced out. Once the rake snaps, it’s almost impossible to fix it. Instead of throwing it out, use this to reuse the head of the rake to hold your utensils in your kitchen. You’ll need a rake head, utensils, hammer, and a long nail.
Once you separate the rake head from the handle, give it a good wash. You want to make sure there’s no dirt or debris clinging to the teeth. If it’s scuffed and scratched, you can repaint it. Find a spot on your wall that has a stud. Drive the nail into the wall using your hammer. This is what you’ll hang your rake head on. Add your utensils to the teeth of the rake. Ideally, it’ll be out of your way so you don’t accidentally run into it.
The thick teeth on this garden rake makes it sturdy enough to hold larger utensils.
17. Toilet Paper Rolls Into Wall Art
You can use toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls to create this wall art. To make this, you’ll need several toilet paper rolls, spray paint, glue, scissors, nails, hammer, and bobby pins. Cut 12 thin strips out of each toilet paper roll. The thicker you cut the “petals,” the more it’ll stick out from the wall. It’ll take five strips to create one flower, so you’ll need a lot.
Apply a dab of glue to one end of the petal and stick two together. You can use a bobby pin to hold them secure until the glue dries. Once you’re satisfied with how it looks, it’s time to spray paint them. Make sure you cover every inch of each flower you create. Glue the flowers together into any pattern you like. Put a few small nails into the wall and hang your creation up to admire.
Paper towel holders make a quick and easy decorative wall art, and you can make it trail all along your wall and ceiling.
18. Shower Curtain to Play Mat
The final idea on our list involves a shower mat and paint or markers. You can involve your kids in this project too because it’ll be for them. Once your shower curtain rips, there’s not much you can do to fix it. So, upcycle it instead. Start by carefully removing the shower curtains from the rings and laying it flat on the floor where your kids can get it.
Give your kids the paint or markers and let them create their own play mat. They can add roads, buildings, and anything they’d like. They can use this mat over and over for their imaginative play, and you can use this several times with different shower curtains as they wear out.
The shower curtain gives your kids plenty of room to explore their creativity without getting paint or marker on your flooring.
These 18 repurposing ideas allow you to breathe new life into your worn out projects. Try one or try them all and see what you can do with the items in your home. You never know, you may even surprise yourself.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.
Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts
As an expert in repurposing and upcycling, I have extensive knowledge and experience in finding creative ways to give new life to old items. I have a deep understanding of the principles and techniques involved in repurposing everyday objects, and I have successfully implemented many repurposing projects in the past. My expertise extends to various areas, including repurposing furniture, household items, and even outdoor structures. I have a thorough understanding of the materials and tools required for each project, as well as the step-by-step process involved in transforming old items into functional and beautiful pieces.
Concepts related to repurposing ideas
To fully understand the concepts discussed in the article, it is important to be familiar with the following terms and ideas:
Repurposing: Repurposing involves taking an item that is no longer used for its original purpose and finding a new function or use for it. This can involve modifying the item or combining it with other materials to create something entirely different.
Upcycling: Upcycling is a form of repurposing that focuses on transforming old or discarded items into something of higher value or quality. This often involves adding creative touches or design elements to elevate the item's aesthetic appeal.
Sustainability: Repurposing and upcycling are both sustainable practices that promote environmental consciousness. By reusing and giving new life to old items, we reduce waste and the need for new production, which helps to minimize our impact on the environment.
Creative Punch: Repurposing ideas can add a creative punch to your space by introducing unique and visually appealing elements that reflect your personal style and creativity.
Functionality: Repurposing allows you to make old items useful again by giving them a new purpose or function. This not only saves them from ending up in the trash but also adds value to your space by providing functional solutions.
Materials and Tools: Various materials and tools are involved in repurposing projects, depending on the specific item and desired outcome. Common materials include old ladders, china, picture frames, baskets, bottles, planters, and more. Tools such as screws, nails, glue, paint, and brushes are often used in the repurposing process.
Safety: When repurposing items, it is important to prioritize safety. This includes ensuring that items are structurally sound and suitable for the new purpose, using appropriate tools and materials, and following proper installation and mounting techniques.
Creativity: Repurposing allows for creative expression and problem-solving. It requires thinking outside the box and finding innovative ways to transform old items into something new and exciting.
By understanding these concepts, you will be able to appreciate and implement the repurposing ideas discussed in the article more effectively. Repurposing not only allows you to give new life to old items but also provides an opportunity for creativity, sustainability, and functional design in your home or space.