Make do and mend: our favourite ways to give old things a new lease of life

Feeling crafty? Check out these brilliant and easy upcycling ideas with basic items from around the home.

Updated 11 September 2019

glass pots with spices and plants

From chipped china to too long curtains and from empty wine bottles to unloved stools, it’s time to get creative and give your tired homewares a new lease of life. With a little bit of perspiration and plenty of creative inspiration, your house will be transformed in no time.

Easy upcycling ideas for your old mugs and china

We all have that kitchen cupboard overflowing with mismatched mugs and broken china, desperate for a de-clutter (sigh). And if you’re looking for easy upcycling ideas, we reckon your unloved mugs are the superheroes of upcycling; ideal for getting your home organised. Firstly, get your mugs sparkling by sprinkling a little baking soda onto the bottom, adding just enough water to form a paste, and scrub. Then, simply rinse and wash. If this still doesn’t fix the more stubborn stains, check out our guide on how to clean porcelain.

That beloved but chipped ‘I heart NYC’ mug and the old vintage china can be easily fixed by mending the pieces with two-part epoxy adhesive. And both make handy storage for collections of little things you have cluttered around the home. Stick one on your desk for your pens, use them in cupboards to hold your craft supplies or the kitchen for your utensils. Mugs also make for a practical pet food scoop.

From old mug to new plant home

One of our favourite ways to reuse your old mugs is as a home for your house plants. Simply add a layer or two of small stones or pebbles to the bottom, add some compost and pot in your plants.

Great upcycled crafts with wine bottles

Next time you have a dinner party, consider holding on to a couple of wine bottles. You can easily turn them into pretty decorative vases by decoupage – cutting out pictures, or using scrap pieces of wallpaper and gluing them to the bottle. First, you’ll need to remove any labels. Once you’ve done that, prep them by swabbing them with some rubbing alcohol, and make sure to let them dry completely. Using a foam brush apply some Mod Podge onto a piece of white paper. Wrap the paper around the wine bottle. Spread some more Mod Podge over the top of the plain white paper after it is fixed to the bottle to ensure it stays put. Then be as creative as you fancy with the décor. How about a montage of pics from your memorable trips? Or magazine cuttings of inspirational quotes?

For a show-stopping centrepiece, paint a few bottles of different heights and shapes in the same or in complementary colours and add a few bits of foliage.

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Top tip: For adding ambience to the home, wine bottles also make excellent candlestick holders. Just make sure that the candle holds firmly inside the bottle’s neck.

Upcycled furniture: from wooden stool to pretty plant stand

When it comes to upcycled furniture ideas, that unused wooden stool turned clothes horse is the perfect candidate for upcycling; A few hours of graft and a splash of furniture paint can transform it into a gorgeous plant stand and perfect accent piece in a living or dining room. If your stool is varnished, you’ll need to sand and prime first, but if it’s clean and unvarnished then your transformation will be super quick (for more, don’t miss our guide to fixing up old furniture).

Originally published 11 September 2019