Design & DIY

Upcycling for eco-friendly cottage design

Photo courtesy of Frugalligance.

Upcycling isn’t a new phenomenon; it’s actually been done for ages. In fact, I come from a long history of upcyclers, but I’m proud to say that we have become slightly more sophisticated. We’ve come a long way from the days when my grandfather would duct tape a piece of foam to the bottom of a vibrating fan and say, “It’s even better than before, toots!”

Upcycling is basically taking something old and perhaps non-functioning and turning into something new and stylish. (Though not in my grandfather’s case, of course!) It can be as simple as taking an old, dull cheese grater and flipping it on its head.

Upcycling can also be a little more involved, like getting some mirror custom cut to fit into some vintage tennis rackets.

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It can also be taking random pieces of furniture that you find throughout the cottage, painting them all the same colour, and creating an entirely new room without purchasing a single product (well, except for the paint and brushes, if you are going to be specific).

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One of my favourite ideas, which can be found on countless websites, is turning old pallets into furniture and decor. You can find instructions for beds, chairs, bookshelves—it’s endless! And the best part is that they’re free. If you go to any classifieds website, you will find people and companies giving them away. And you are saving them from a landfill or similar fate.

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They make great feature walls or headboards. Just make sure you splurge for some Euro shams—rough palette boards aren’t that comfortable to lean against when reading.

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Truly, the ideas are endless. I could go on and on about this topic, but instead I’ll pass along some great ideas I found that would be easy to conquer while sitting on the cottage veranda and watching the sunset. And the best part? They hardly cost a cent—to you or the planet.

Make pillows out of an old stained blanket (I suggest using the unstained part):

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Make a laundry hamper from vintage screens:

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Build shelves from the drawers of an old, broken dresser:

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Turn an antique dictionary missing pages into wallpaper:

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Take a basket that can no longer lug stuff around effectively, and hang it in the bathroom for additional towel storage:

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I hope this has inspired you to take a second look at some of that old junk sitting around your cottage waiting for a new purpose. Often, you can do your wallet and the environment a favour and find new life for something old. The idea certainly isn’t new, but there are so many online resources that can help provide the inspiration. I’m just relieved for your sake that my Grandfather didn’t have access to the Internet in his time to share his upcycling wisdom. You have been spared the magnificence of duct tape and the how-to instructions for sewing the sole of your shoe together with high gauge wire. Have a great Earth Day—upcycle it to a year!