DIY Projects that Turn Trash into Treasures

Unique ways to turn common household items into new and exciting goods



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As the world shifts towards more sustainable methods of consumption, upcycling household goods has gained traction, affording people the luxury of obtaining a new item without the environmental impact or cost of purchasing it brand new.  

Upcycling allows you to take unused things you already have that are oftentimes broken, outdated, or out-of-use, and repurposing it to give it new life. Upcycling and DIY (do it yourself) are becoming more popular as many people are opting out of buying new industrial or factory-made goods, which are often transported long distances, break easily, and have little character to them. 

Upcycling, on the other hand, saves money, fuels creativity, and reduces waste. So, whether you’re looking for a new hobby, a new bedside table, or if you just don’t want to throw away that lucky pair of jeans that don’t fit anymore, upcycling is for you!

Check out these ideas on how to upcycle common household items: 

T-shirts into pillow cases, planters, and more

We all have old t-shirts lying around that we haven’t worn in years but refuse to throw out. HGTV has put together a list of fun ways to turn them into practical and artistic contributions to your home. Whether you’re looking to make something easy, like a reusable produce bag or leg warmers, or something more challenging, such as a rug or hanging planter, these ideas will surely inspire you.

Aluminum cans into candle holders, jewelry, cookie cutters, and more

Whether from carbonated beverages or canned food, aluminum cans can be found in almost any pantry. Instead of sending them to the recycling bin, use these cans to make planters, keychains, Christmas ornaments, and a ton of other artistic and practical goods. Instructables Living has a step-by-step tutorial to turn aluminum cans into elegant lanterns for stringed lights. The project takes around six hours to make 20 covers.

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Wooden chairs into dog feeders, coat racks, and more

Old wooden chairs have a certain character to them, and are therefore the perfect household item to upcycle. DIY & Crafts has put together a list of various ways to upcycle wooden chairs, whether from Crate & Barrel or your great aunt’s front yard, repurposing these classics can add a vintage and earthy look to any room. Some great ideas include upcycling them into: shelves, benches, coat racks, accessory holders, and swings

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A Crib into a craft’s table

As every toddler eventually outgrows his or her crib, repurposing it is a fantastic way to keep it around for a little longer, while putting it to great use. A Little Learning for Two has a step-by-step tutorial for converting cots and cradles into the perfect craft table for your artistic toddler. This project is particularly inspiring because it upcycles a household good synergistically with your toddler’s development.

Suitcase into a coffee table

Suitcases or trunks are valued for their ability to store goods for travel, but their limited use means that when they break, they are often tossed out without thinking twice. Next time you come across a vintage trunk or broken suitcase, instead of throwing it out, consider turning it into a coffee table, which the DIY Network explains in a straightforward tutorial that requires just a few standard tools.

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Wine corks into games, pinboards, trivets, and more

Wine corks are accessible, easy to play around with, and extremely practical making them one of the best items to upcycle. Keychains, wreaths, trivets, and pin boards are just some of the great objects you can make out of these wine byproducts. Tip: have your friends save some corks and then make them a gift out of their very own “trash”. Find more DIY cork options and tutorials at Fabulessly Frugal.

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Toilet paper into organizers

Very few people associate toilet paper with organization, but with a touch of upcycle magic, these disposable rolls can organize your work desk or art supply closet. Organizing cords and cables is a particularly popular way to upcycle toilet paper rolls, since charges and wires sit perfectly inside these tubes. WikiHow has an easy step-by-step guide to show you how these cardboard leftovers can upgrade your wire storage.