Upcycling: A Rewarding and Productive Hobby - The Solihull Observer

Upcycling: A Rewarding and Productive Hobby

Solihull Editorial 7th May, 2024   0

Upcycling, or turning discarded objects into pieces with a higher aesthetic, practical, and/or financial value, has been growing in popularity for years now.

However, it’s more than just a trend — it can be a highly rewarding and productive hobby.

Contrary to the overconsumption that is promoted so heavily in the modern world, upcycling is a way to practice sustainability, resourcefulness, and a more conscious way of living. What’s more, it gives you the option to be creative and personalise your household items. This article will explore the benefits of upcycling, and some ideas to spark inspiration.

What Can You Upcycle?

The list of items you can upcycle is almost endless, but here are a few popular examples.


Regardless of their material, sofas are prone to damage and wear and tear over time. Fabric sofas are vulnerable to spills and stains, and leather sofas vulnerable to discolouration from sunlight. Although durable, leather sofas can also become torn and are commonly discarded as a result.

Thankfully, you can rescue reupholster an old, damaged sofa and make it as good as new. Fabric can be replaced to create a new function and aesthetic, and you can even repair a torn leather sofa with specialised adhesives. An old leather sofa can be brought back to life by repairing any rips or tears, and applying conditioners to restore flexibility.

Wooden Pallets

Wooden pallets are versatile and easy to acquire, making them great for upcycling into furniture pieces. For example, you can turn pallets into a coffee table by stacking them and adding a smooth surface such as glass or plywood.

Pallets can also be dismantled and their individual planks repurposed as shelves, These shelves can be mounted vertically or horizontally on walls to provide a space for storage and display. You can also turn pallets into outdoor furniture such as benches, lounge chairs, and vertical gardens.


Old doors present a unique opportunity for upcycling, and can be repurposed in various creative ways. One popular project involves turning old doors into headboards for beds, for a vintage, eye-catching look. For a weathered look, you can leave the door’s original finish, or you can add a new finish to match your bedroom’s decor.

Tables are another piece of furniture that old doors can be fashioned into. The simplest way to do this is to add legs or a base to the door and cut it into your desired size. The door’s surface can add character to the piece, and you can even add glass inserts or other types of decorative hardware.


Vintage suitcases have a distinctive, evocative look that makes them excellent for being upcycled into unique furniture or decor. You could repurpose a suitcase into a cosy pet bed by removing the top lid and adding a cushion or mattress inside.

Suitcases can also be used as decorative accents like shelves or side tables when opened and turned onto their side. You could even repurpose suitcases as planters for greenery indoors or outdoors.

The Benefits of Upcycling

Upcycling is a valuable way to spend your time for multiple reasons. Like recycling, it reduces waste, diverting old items from landfills and minimising the environmental impact of manufacturing and disposal.

There can also be significant economic benefits — by repurposing old items instead of buying new ones, you save money. You could even make money by selling upcycled items — many people make a living from upcycling!

When communities embrace upcycling through initiatives like workshops, swap meets, and online communities, local economies can be stimulated and sustainable practices promoted. This can help foster social connections where skills, ideas, and resources are shared, and community bonds strengthened.

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of upcycling initially is the opportunity to be creative and personalise an item, whether it be household furniture or old items of clothing, to your exact personal tastes. If you have bought a product that’s slightly different from what you wanted, you can transform it to suit your exact specifications. You can even combine objects and materials to create bespoke pieces for your home, or for your loved ones as gifts.

Getting Started With Upcycling

Upcycling projects vary in difficulty and financial investment. Thankfully, you can start out with small, straightforward projects while you learn the ropes, before building up to more elaborate and ambitious projects. With upcycling, the possibilities are almost endless.


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