The Ultimate Guide to Upcycling for Interior Design
Britain produces around 280 million tonnes of waste every single year, as people cast off their unwanted items that may still be perfectly functional in order to replace them with bigger, better, newer versions.
Both upcycling and reclamation work to reduce this wastage – either as a primary driving factor or a passive by-product, by reusing items that would otherwise rot in a tip somewhere.
Why upcycle or reclaim?
Apart from the hefty environmental impact of all this waste, which we can reduce by being less casual about throwing things away, both upcycling and reclamation allow us to create individuality in our homes. A chest-of-drawers that you’ve saved from the tip yourself, sanded, repainted, and installed in pride of place in your home, can never be reproduced: reclaimed and upcycled interior design features are often one-of-a-kind. And if you enjoy being creative, upcycling especially can be a great outlet, as you innovate to repurpose unwanted items and put your own spin on their appearance.
Reclaimed items are also great for adding historicity and authenticity to a space – a 100 year-old front door and reclaimed antique tiles around the fireplace can never quite be matched by a modern shop-bought equivalent in terms of the atmosphere of age and impression that they create.
The difference between upcycling and reclamation
Although reclamation and upcycling are pretty similar in both cause and effect, there is an overall distinction that we can draw between them. Where reclamation is generally the use of furniture and building materials that have been salvaged from previous buildings and brought to salvage yards to be sold and reused, upcycling takes an unwanted item and changes its purpose or its appearance to make it derisible and useful again.
The rules of upcycling and reclamation
Rotten wood, soaking wet sofas, crumbling tiles, and woodworm infested furniture are all no-nos. Make sure that the pieces are in good enough condition to stand the test of time.
Make sure that the pieces you claim for upcycling and reclamation are actually up for grabs before helping yourself!
Safe and hygienic
Any sharp edges, potential infestations, and other potential sources of harm need to be dealt with immediately.
Fit for purpose
Don’t pick up stuff for the sake of it – choose items that fit a need, and use them accordingly.
Trial and error
If your first attempt doesn’t work, simply try again. The process of exploring the best route to success is most of the fun!
Some upcycling ideas to get you started
Decoupage flower pots
Take unwanted receptacles like tin cans, plastic buckets and glass jars, and cover them with interesting materials like discarded fabrics, wrapping paper, pages from old books, or sheet music. Coat with decoupage varnish or simple glue for an interesting and stylish addition to any kitchen windowsill.
Wooden pallets reimagined
Wooden pallets are one of the greatest base materials for handy upcycled furniture. Try making a planting station for kitchen herbs, a wine rack, a shoe rack, or even a children’s wendy-house with these versatile objects.
Utilising ceiling space
Sand and paint an old wooden ladder, then hang from the ceiling to create a laundry drying rack, pot and pan storage area, or herb and spice rack.