Jessica | Balsam Hill Designer

Upscale Upcycling

Upcycling is a practice that is becoming increasingly popular among environmentally conscious groups and individuals. While recycling, on the one hand, is good, it involves breaking down something into articles of lesser quality—a process that consumes precious energy and resources. On the other hand, upcycling is about transforming a used or disposable item into a new and desirable product of higher quality.

Many artists, decorators, and designers have utilized upcycling to create exciting new products that are both fashionable and eco-friendly. Join us in celebrating Earth Day with these inspired upcycling ideas.


ecram1 flickr
Photo by ecram1 via CC BY 2.0

1. Tea cups


If your favorite teacups have lost their saucers or gotten chipped, don’t throw them out just yet. Instead, transform them into beautiful candle holders to enjoy in your home or give as special gifts.

Making teacup candles is easy and requires only a few items like soy or bees wax and candle wicks. Add fragrance oils like vanilla, lemon zest, or lavender to make your candles smell even sweeter and more irresistible. Clara Bows shows you how to make these adorable candles in a few simple steps.


Apron by Retro Revival Biz

2. Old clothes


Rather than tossing out that old or worn-out men’s shirt, refashion it into a stylish apron.

A large dress shirt, some pretty lace and trim, and basic sewing skills are mostly what you’ll need to make a fun, pocketed apron for the kitchen, garden, or art room.

Unleash your creativity by mixing and matching materials and patterns to make lovely upcycled aprons like the one featured here on Retro Revival Biz.



3. Mason Jars

Jinx! flickr
Photo by Jinx! via CC BY 2.0


Charming and versatile, mason jars come in various shapes and sizes and can be upcycled into so many things. They can be used as tumblers, candle holders, soap dispensers, and even as quaint sewing kits. I even use them as a coin jar and a container for my Prisma pens.

When painted in pastel colors, decorated with lace, or covered with magazine pages, decorative mason jars add a rustic appeal to cottage-styled rooms or home. Unadorned, a mason jar makes a simple yet romantic vase when filled with fresh spring flowers.




4. Old books


e-reader cover by Creative Upcycling

Avid book-lovers who have made the leap from paperbacks to e-books will love this simple project.

Do you have a worn-out copy or duplicate of your favorite book? Then use the cover to create a unique and nostalgic case for your e-reader, like this one from Creative Upcycling.




5. Old luggage

suitcase bed (2)
Photo by Hey Paul Studios via CC BY 2.0


Even our furry friends can benefit from a little clever upcycling. Vintage suitcases can be made into a comfortable cot for your adorable pet to snuggle in.

Kristina from The Purple Pea demonstrates how an old-fashioned suitcase, paint, and some fabric can make a delightful little bed for her pet cat, Kenya.

Try your hand at the chic and sensible art of upcycling and help create a greener world this Earth Day.


About the Author
Inspired by my passion for the visual arts and my years of experience in the field of design, I enjoy a life of style and artistry. I am a devoted follower of minimalism and I believe in the marriage of form and function. I try to live by these principles, from my subtle but classic fashion sense when it comes to clothes and jewelry, to the various projects I manage and work on in my professional career Influenced by the refined grace of Coco Chanel, the timeless beauty of my favorite city, Stockholm, and the new ideas and trends I read from design books, I try to infuse my life with elegance and sophistication. Join me on Balsam Hill’s blog to get my tips and advice on home design and personal style.

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2 thoughts on “

Upscale Upcycling

  1. Pingback: My Balsam Hill Home: Stylish Coffee Tables | Balsam Hill Artificial Christmas Trees Blog

  2. cindy molitor

    I stumbled upon your blog post this morning (better late than never!). Thank you for showcasing the apron I made from my husband’s old work shirt. I love using old or found objects and items and reimagining them into new and beautiful things!