Summer Upcycling Ideas

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If you missed your chance to do some spring cleaning, there’s still plenty of time left this summer to go through your old things to get clear up some space and upcycle some items. 

Going through old things and cleaning up can present many new opportunities to decorate and make changes. 

If you can find ways to reuse and upcycle some of those old items that you might otherwise throw away, then you can improve your living space without spending too much money in the process.

Old Clothes
If you’re the type to change your wardrobe with the seasons and the years, you may be pouring a lot of money into your wardrobe without getting much of a return. Generally you can’t get much when selling clothes. Instead, try turning old clothes into new things to reuse.
  • Turn old T-shirts into bags for the grocery store or gym with just a few quick snips. Cut off the sleeves and the collar to make straps. Turn the shirt inside out, sew the bottom together, and turn it right side out. Or cut the bottom into strips to tie together.
  • Use old swatches of fabric to make flag banners for the garden or living room.
  • Use fabric-like wallpaper on the inside of dresser drawers, cabinets, shadow boxes, or bookshelves to make them a little more colorful.
  • Sew the ends of T-shirts closed on the inside and turn right side out to make new pillow cases.
  • Cut off about a foot at the end of the legs of the bottoms of jeans. Turn inside out, sew together the end, and turn it right side out for some handy storage baskets. Hang them in the bathroom, kitchen, or closet for some quick storage.
  • Cut old clothes into strips and weave them together to make pot holders, place mats, or rag rugs.

Old Pots, Pans, Buckets, and Shelves
Think of the storage possibilities! These kinds of old items can be easily repurposed to make fun, new storage and display solutions.
  • Use old pots, buckets, Tupperware, tea pots, or mugs to house your favorite summer flowers. Order them online to save you time. If you are growing your own, keep in mind that the plants will need a way to let water drain, so make sure you drill holes in the bottom of whatever “pot” you use.
  • Use shelves from old bookshelves or old cabinets to store other things. Hang an old dresser drawer in the bathroom to hold cosmetics, or in the kitchen to work as a spice rack. Stack an old bookshelf with baskets and other storage containers and use it for the kids’clothes and shoes, toys, or odds and ends in the basement.
  • Use an old stepladder, stools, or chairs to stack and stagger plants to make sure they all get enough sun. This is especially useful if you live an apartment where access to sun for your plants might be limited.

Old Books
Turn old books into decorations around the house:
  • Use the pages to make rosettes for a bouquet for the bathroom or kitchen table, or string them on a ribbon for a garland in the living room.
  • Get a few small squares of glass and ceramic tile from the craft store. Paste squares of pages in between the ceramic and glass to make coasters.
  • Use pages as collage material to decorate cabinets, desks, drawers, and display bowls.
  • With a little bit of time and diligent gluing and cutting, you can turn old hardcover books into storage boxes. Keep a few on the shelf for little items to be hidden from plain sight.

Other Odds and Ends
  • Save old bottles and jars to use for flowers, pencils, buttons, or other storage. Cover them with tissue paper, book pages, fabric, or a light layer of paint to mix up the look. Or keep them plain.
  • Glue old safety pins at the bottom of a cork board, white board, book shelf, or desk for a way to quickly hang up photos and important papers you don’t want to lose.
  • Use old picture frames or boards to make a key holder by the door. Get a few screw-in hooks or even use old nails for key holders. Decorate with a coat of paint or other little items to make it special.

The best way to get that fun DIY look on a budget is to use the items you already have. As you go through the house during the summer to clear up space, look with a sharp eye to find items that, with just a little bit of creativity, can be repurposed to make something fun and interesting.


  1. This will be the best part of moving...being able to once again clean out the clutter and get rid of things we don't need!


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