Trash to Treasure: Yard Sale Finds to Snag and Upcycle!

Upcycling is a great way to repurpose old things and give them new life. Here are some fun upcycling projects you can do that are friendly on your wallet and the planet!

By Amy Leigh Brown

 

I am sure you’ve heard the phrase “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” but have you ever actually bought something used from a yard sale, thrift store, or the like, and created something totally new with it? This process is more commonly known as upcycling, or creative reuse. Let me show you some beautiful works of art you can create from used old stuff that’s easy to find.

 

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Picture Frames

This is quite possibly my favorite upcycling project out there! Picture frames are a common yard sale item. You know the ones I’m talking about – old, outdated, scratched up, sometimes even missing the glass pane. Although these may look like junk, there are so many opportunities for upcycling with old picture frames.

 

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Try painting a frame (wood, plastic, or metal) using chalk finish, acrylic craft paint, or spray paint. Don’t like this idea? Try washi tape, or another form of decorative tape. Have fabric lying around? Take strips and wrap it around the frame for a fun crafty look! More ideas include:

 

  • Jewelry holders
  • Dry erase board
  • Monogram vinyl decor
  • Serving tray

 

Although there are no guidelines to which frames to look for, wooden frames are much sturdier than the cheaper metal frames. Just take into consideration what type of project you have in mind. Many times you can find old wooden frames with fun decorative borders. These can make your project look extra stylish! 

 

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Tip: Take care when cleaning older frames. Watch out for splinters and look for any chips in the glass. Discard any broken pieces that could injure someone.

 

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Furniture

Interior designing with upcycled furniture is a great way to bring new life into your home without spending a lot of money. You can often find bedside tables, bookcases, or desks at garage sales or thrift stores on the cheap. They can be brought back to life easily with a fresh coat of paint and new hardware.

 

Here are some tips to keep in mind when buying furniture pieces to upcycle:

 

  • Be sure you have a large enough space to take the furniture apart and paint it. A well-ventilated area is recommended because you’ll likely need to use multiple coats of primer, paint, and then sealer. All those fumes could be harmful in an enclosed space.
  • You may need to purchase all new hardware for the furniture, or you can try to salvage the existing hardware and give it new life using a coat or two of spray paint.
  • Always use a sealant such as wood sealer. It will help protect the furniture from water damage and scratches, and preserve all the hard work you just put into making your new statement piece!

 

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Wooden Shelving

As with upcycling larger furniture pieces, taking old shelves and making them new again is a great way to spice up your décor. Shelves can be used in any room, and help to open up floor and desk space. I recently upcycled two shelving units I found through thrift stores, and people keep complimenting them. They brought new life into my craft room, and help with organization and displaying décor pieces.

 

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These projects take hardly any time at all, and the only items I used were acrylic craft paint and a paintbrush. These old shelves went from simple to stylish in just two coats!

 

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Wicker Baskets

Wicker baskets can serve many different purposes: decoration, holding napkins or condiments for a dinner party, storage solutions…. The list goes on! One of my all-time favorite ways to upcycle a wicker basket is to use spray paint. It makes for a quick project that will look great no matter what you use it for. Wicker has a tendency to absorb spray paint though, so be sure you have plenty of spray paint on hand when starting this project.

 

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Glass Jars and Bottles

Mason jars have hit the mainstream by storm. Almost everywhere you look you can find farmhouse-inspired décor, and mason jars are a signature piece of this style.

 

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A few simple ideas for glass jars/bottles:

 

  • Candleholder
  • Flower vase
  • Soap/lotion dispenser
  • Herb garden pots
  • Table centerpiece
  • Holiday mantle décor
  • Utensil holder

 

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Tip: Most any glass jar/bottle will do for these projects, but be careful if you’re upcycling mason jars to use as drinkware. You don’t know what the jar was used for before, or what was stored in it over the years.

 

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What items have you upcycled for your home? Please share any tips or tricks you have in the comments. We would love to hear from you!

 

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Images used with permission, courtesy of Amy Leigh Brown and Vanessa with TRex Frames

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