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A Beginners Guide to Upcycling

Every day, we throw away tonnes of things – things that we no longer have a use for and that we consider to be rubbish.

But what if they aren't? What if you could turn an old suitcase into a unique bed-side table? Or a plain wooden box into a cute bird feeder that doubles as a charming garden decoration?

Well, that’s the magic of upcycling. Let's go back to basics and take a look at what upcycling is...

What is Upcycling?

Upcycling is an art, craft, and for many, a way of life.

Upcycling means taking old objects that you consider throwing out and giving them a new purpose; a new lease of life. These objects can be anything from empty containers to antique furniture, and imagination is your only limit when it comes to transforming them into their new being.

Sometimes, a fresh lick of Frenchic or Fusion Mineral paint is enough to bring an old and dusty piece back to life. Other times, seemingly broken or unusable objects may need a bit more work to be reinvented. But the result is always worth it. In a world of cheaply made, mass-produced products, upcycled items tells a historical story and can give your home a unique look.

Here at Bonnie Wee Designs, our headquarters is our Helensburgh based home. And in our home, we have lot's of wonderful pieces that I've upcycled myself. Pieces that I intended to sell but fell in love with...oops!

5 Benefits of Upcycling

Upcycling first started out as a quirky hobby for many, and it turned into a megatrend. It’s definitely refreshing to see so many people discovering upcycling and even experimenting with this craft because the end result is not only an item that looks beautiful, but comes with a host of great benefits.

  1. Upcycling reduces landfill waste and prevents the depletion of natural resources.

  2. Upcycling celebrates handmade, artisan work.

  3. By upcycling, you support your local community through saving items being wasted.

  4. Unlike mass-produced items, upcycled items are unique and always have a beautiful story behind them.

  5. Upcycling saves you money. By purchasing an upcycled item or upcycling it yourself, you can spend less than you initially planned on a new product.

How to Upcycle

Although upcycling can be quite intimidating for a beginner, you don’t need to be an expert artisan to get started. Even something as small as repurposing old candle jars and transforming them into little plant pots is a great way to start.

If you want to take things to the next level, you can look for old objects that are gathering dust in your garage or go to charity shops to salvage beautiful vintage items such as furniture, paintings, containers, and suitcases.

Then, depending on their condition, you can decide how you’ll use them. For example, an old table that’s still sturdy and strong can still be used as a table. You then need to:

  • Clean the piece with sugar soap to remove grime and dirt

  • Sand the furniture down ready for painting

  • Choose your favourite furniture paint and brushes (Dixie Belle and Rusto-leum are quite popular)

  • Get to work! When painting furniture apply only very light strokes. It may look streaky at first, but the trick is to build it up.

If a pre-loved piece is too old or damaged to be used for its original purpose, you can still find a creative use for it. For example, a wooden ladder that’s no longer sturdy can be upcycled as a plant display for your garden, and, in addition to looking rustic and welcoming, it also saves a lot of space by offering vertical storage - win- win!

I love upcycling, so watch this space for some new pieces coming soon.




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