With it being Earth Day, I’m devoting today’s column to upcycling… a fun and creative way to repurpose and refurbish trash bound or found objects (objet trouvé). It’s a trendy phrase in the DIY realm these days, but in the garbage world, the term popped-up back in the 90’s to describe converting old product into something of better use, quality, or environmental value. It’s the opposite of downcycling where used products are recycled into something of lesser quality or worth.

I love, love, love to upcycle things and would like to share several upcycle ideas with the hopes that it will inspire a weekend project. I have to thank Patti, my boyfriend’s mom, a queen upcycler, whose work is featured in some of the following pics.

Rustic Window Wall Art

Hang the window as is, or screw a planter box or shelf to it. Paint and decorate it as earthy or funky as you want. Arrange several of them together for a cool wall grouping. It works for interior or exterior design. Special thanks to my boyfriend’s pop, Larry, for his awesome Buddha Beer caricature, lettering, and design (see lead photo).

Old Wood Door Table Top

My boyfriend’s mom simply screwed (from underneath) this vintage alley-find door onto an old pedestal base whose original top lost its umph. She sanded then stained and sealed it in a rich walnut color. She works shabby chic like a pro!


Broken Concrete Fountain Candelabra/Planter

I love the romantic look of this Grecian fountain statue. The one photographed was donated to me, and although I could have repaired it (it was cracked and the pump died), I didn’t want to run electric to the corner of the yard where I planned to have it placed. I added some plants, floating candles, etc. and turned this broken old girl into a sexy new number.


Vintage Suitcase End or Coffee Table

Vintage suitcases have such character! If you don’t have one in your basement, they’re easy to find in thrift stores. Depending on the look you want, paint or polyurethane it, then fasten wood “bun feet” at each corner. All kinds of furniture feet are available in places like Lowes or Van Dyke’s Restorers, and many come with pre-installed screws for fast and easy installation. You can also stack suitcases, securing them together, to get the height you want.

vintage luggage

Old Wall Cabinet Potting Table

Another one of mom’s ideas, take an old cabinet, remove the doors and screw a recycled wood top on it to make a large, tough, and secure work surface. Use the open shelves to hold pots and tools. It’s a great looking addition to shed or against a garden wall or fence.


Color Crafted Chest of Drawers

A beat up chest of drawers in a Goodwill store is really a treasure chest of endless possibilities! Imagine one in a girl’s room painted with bold light blue and white stripes, and on the drawer faces, large fuchsia flower decals. Or picture a drawer chest in a foyer painted high-gloss white with black-stenciled filigree flowers “growing” up the sides and black wrought iron drawer pulls.


Upcycling projects will make you smile for a few reasons: they’re fun to create, will give you a sense of accomplishment, and it feels good to know that you’ve helped lessen the load in a landfill.

So go on and UP YOURS!

Norma sig

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Fix-It Friday is an exclusive Women You Should Know® editorial series authored by seasoned veteran of home improvement, Norma Vally, the former host of Discovery Home Channel’s series “Toolbelt Diva” and a show on Sirius Satellite Radio by the same name. The weekly column is designed to inspire women – weekend warriors, aspiring handywomen, and even seasoned DIYers – to take on home repairs and maintenance projects with confidence and gusto.