5 DIY Ideas to Upcycle and Upgrade Your Home Decor

For me, nothing is more satisfying than coming home to several rooms full of stories. A few framed concert posters conjure up musical memories and good times had at various times in my life. My grandfather’s coffee mugs remind me of drinking hot chocolate as a child. And a lampshade I bought at a second-hand store while on vacation will always make me think of that amazing two-week road trip.

I feel the same about items I happened upon, fixed up and made my own. Not only does taking the upcycle approach give me creative satisfaction, but there is always bound to be a story or two behind that special something you repurposed yourself in order to turn your home decor up a notch.

Here are five ways I turned old stuff into useful pieces that reflect my personality more than anything bought brand new.

suitcase end table DIY

The Suitcase Side Table

Knowing my adoration for all-things nostalgic, a friend of mine dropped these beautiful vintage suitcases off at my house one day a few month back. Seeing them stacked one atop the other gave me the idea to leave the vision of beauty just as it was. I simply moved the cases to the corner and gave them a purpose as a cute little table. It looks so perfectly placed, and I feel lucky that this quirky decor fell into my possession so effortlessly. Not only does it echo my love for ancient things, it could also easily play into my penchant for packing my bags and setting off to far-flung places.

upcycle diy drawer shelf

The Drawer Shelf

A recent visit to a home furnishings thrift store left me pondering all the possibilities of discarded parts, like this drawer. There it sat, without a chest, and I wondered what could possibly become of it. An afternoon later, after sanding, priming, painting and collaging it, the drawer had become a shelf and part of my kitchen decor. I even found a pretty glass knob to finish it off before making it the latest in my collection of quirks. With my grandparents’ old salt-and-pepper shakers there to give it purpose and an old French advert found at a Parisian flea market to give it sentiment, it’s a much-loved piece with a story or two to tell.

diy upcycled shutter shelf

The Postcard Shutter Shelf

Another perusal around the resale store and I happened upon some shutters I knew I could repurpose somehow. Upcycling these shutters took no time at all. I strung some twine through the vents to let it hang from a nail, and now it’s sitting pretty in my home office. Though it could be used for mail, photographs, or cool flyers, I found the shutter to be the perfect spot for these vintage postcards I found one day during a dig at a thrift store. They’re all from England and date back nearly a hundred years, and they add just the right quaint touch to this old shutter — not to mention the ideal ambience for this nostalgia obsessive.

DIY art deco mirror

The Roadside Art Deco Wall Decor

In my circle, I’m known for having a special knack for finding roadside treasures by accident. While seeking out one-man’s trash on a regular basis sounds like fun, I simply need to do nothing more than walk my dog. In those half-hour strolls, I’ve brought home the perfect antique coffee table, a box full of vintage linens and doilies, a pretty painting, and the list goes on. However, the best deal to this day is this art deco mirror wall shelf. It was a little worse-for-wear, but a little sanding and a fresh coat of bronze paint brought this beauty back to life. Now, it’s also perfect for holding little knickknacks picked up here and there. Next time you stumble upon a seemingly useless load on the curbside, imagine it with a little TLC and maybe it’ll wind up as your next conversation piece.

home decor DIY

The Window Pane Wall Art

During yet another dog walk, I found this old, glassless window pane lying curbside, ready for the garbage truck to take it away. But rather than dismissing it for junk, I imagined it could become a cool piece of wall art. With this roadside gem, I decided not to repaint it. Instead, I embraced its rustic charm and did nothing more than give it a good wipe-down with a wet cloth. From time to time, I envision placing a carefully curated set of photographs within the squares, but then its simple bareness is lovely, too.

Have you come across a special something you could turn into home décor?

Kelly Rae Smith writes about thrifting, crafting and home décor for eBay, where you can find inspiration for your own wall décor ideas.


Kelly Rae Smith

Kelly is a music editor, vintage seller and lifelong crafter who you can follow on Twitter here.