Upcycled Furniture: Top 5 Ideas Using Recycled Material

Upcycled furniture is a hot trend. Upcyclers create a new, one-of-a-kind piece, and they help save the planet by doing it. Get started with these ideas.

Do you know what Upcycled furniture is?  You should as it is one of the hottest furniture trends.  Upcycling is the process in which you take old or discarded materials into a new usable product.  The difference between upcycling and recycling is substantial.  Recycling takes consumer materials such as plastic, paper, metal, and glass and breaks them down so that they can be made into a new consumer product (usually of lesser quality). When you upcycle an item you aren’t breaking down ant materials, just purely refashioning it.  Have you ever watched the show “Flea Market Flip?”  The show is a competition about upcycling.  But, upcycling is does have environmental benefits like recycling because it saves or removes materials from the waste system.

If you want to be the coolest kid on the block (and who doesn’t?) turn on your creativity, scan the thrift stores, your garage or the junkyard and make something awesome and unique from all that old beat-up junk.  Making upcycled furniture doesn’t always have to be a huge challenge, try these top 5 furniture ideas using recycled material.

1.) Breakfast at Tiffany’s Couch

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Photo credit: improvisedlife.com

One of the greatest repurpose ideas for furniture is Holly Golightly’s couch in the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” Ahead of its time in recycling (1961), Holly’s couch is an old claw-foot bathtub with the front cut out and pillows added for seating. As budget as it sounds, you can imagine how much a claw foot bathtub couch inspired by one of the most famous movies, will cost you. There are lots of old claw-foot tubs around that can’t be used for baths anymore. What could be more luxurious than upcycling one into a sofa? Such a project is definitely not a one-person job; moving a bath yourself is not ideal.

Firstly, it makes no sense to buy a new claw foot tub so have a look on Craigslist to find a used tub. The condition of it doesn’t matter too much, as long as there aren’t any cracks. Once you have your bath, outline a cut out on the edge of the bath. Then slowly and carefully cut it out with an angle grinder. You’ll then need to sad down any rusty areas and thoroughly clean the tub in preparation for paint. Paint the outside and inside of the bath with enamel-based paint. Cut out a foam cushion and sew a chosen fabric on to the cushion. And you’ve got yourself some upholstered furniture.

For detailed instructions take a look at this. Or use this useful Youtube video to help:

2.) From Crib to Bench

Upcycled furniture

Photo credit: farmfreshvintagefinds.com

When your baby has finally outgrown the crib and now it’s just taking up unnecessary room in the garage. You need to cut it in half and make a bench out of it. Those vertical bars on cribs make beautiful, antique-looking back and sides for the bench. You can even cut down and recover the crib mattress to make a comfy cushion. Your bench will be the envy of all your parent friends. There are so many ideas of ways to transform your used crib and many tutorials specifically on how to change a crib into a piece of furniture that fits perfectly into your home. This tutorial focuses on making a bench from a crib and this tutorial is how to turn a crib into a chair.

Upcycled furniture

Photo credit: farmfreshvintagefinds.com

Bathroom Medicine Cabinet

upcycled furniture

Photo credit: apartmenttherapy.com

Got an old suitcase that won’t quite make the cut as your holiday luggage holder? Well take your old hard-sided suitcase down from the attic (you know the kind, those old flat ones) and turn your suitcase into upcycled furniture.

To turn your suitcase into a medicine cabinet, you’ll first need to clean it up. Peel anything that’s flaking off and rub it down with soapy water. Line it with cardboard and glue a large map on the inside to maintain a travel theme. Cut planks of wood to fit inside the cabinet and screw the shelves in. Mount your creation and take a step back to look at your new upcycled furniture.

Living Room Display Case

upcycled furniture

Photo credit: addicted2decorating.com

Got any set of old windows hanging about? Because they make for great upcycled furniture; bathroom cabinet, coffee table. One upcycled design that would give a unique setting to your favorite books is a display cabinet made out of old windows. Since window glass is hard to recycle in the traditional way, making this project would do the earth a good turn. You can also use the legs from broken chairs or tables on the base of your window display case.

If your old window collection is limited, you can make a normal cabinet with the old windows as the door so the cabinet still has a rustic feel.

Kitchen Island from a Dresser

upcycled furniture

Photo credit: hallmarkchannel.com

The kitchen is the heart of the home. It has to be perfect but why does that mean you have to pay thousands and thousands. If you have an old dresser or find a great looking one on Craiglist, it can be made into a kitchen island of your own design. Rustic, brightly colored or a simple white, whatever you decide, you can make upcycled furniture that belongs in your kitchen. This is a pretty simple upcycle; a countertop wider than the dresser, is affixed to the top and you have extra storage, eating or food-prep space and a unique piece of furniture. To make it extra special, repurpose an old door or table top for the counter.

Here are a few helpful tutorials so that you can create your own kitchen island:

Or if you prefer a Youtube video: