You know how the saying goes: reduce, reuse, recycle. Well, what about doing all three at once? Upcycling does just that.

By taking otherwise useless or broken objects and repurposing them into functional furniture, art, or garden decorations, you’re reducing the number of new items you’d buy, you’re reusing perfectly good materials, and you’re recycling whatever material you can’t use.

At Insteading we are all about minimizing our waste and being resourceful, and upcycling is a huge part of that. So whether you’re creating art out of used tires or turning an old, dilapidated swing set into a new chicken coop, we’ve compiled some great projects to keep you busy all year!

Recent Upcycling Posts

  • cat on kitchen countertop

    20 DIY Countertops For Your Kitchen Remodel

    When you first bought your house, the kitchen might have been the selling point. You loved the open layout, the large island for entertaining guests, the wood floors, and the sleek countertops. Then 10 years later, you find yourself wondering what happened to that gorgeous kitchen you fell in love with. Though there might be […] More

  • plastic bottle christmas tree

    Try An Eco Friendly Christmas Tree

    Upcycled, recycled, reused eco-friendly Christmas trees are a sustainable alternative to chopping down a living tree or buying a tree that’s been chopped down and shipped to you. Christmas tree farms are a classic example of monoculture, where a single crop is cultivated in a wide area. Row after row of similar trees does not make for a […] More

  • bookshelf with ivy growing on it

    DIY Bookshelf: The 22 Best Projects To Try

    If you’re already a DIYer, then you know the satisfaction that comes from creating something with your own hands. It’s especially gratifying when the project isn’t terribly complicated, and let’s be honest, there’s an added bonus if we can save a little money. Bookshelves are an excellent DIY project because there is an endless number […] More

  • colored pallets

    Pallet Garden: 19 Ideas For The Ultimate Upcycle

    Pallets are more than “having a moment”. They’ve made their way in and onto nearly surface imaginable. From furniture to shutters, to walkways and light fixtures, pallets are one of the best upcycling opportunities around. And you can often get them for free. Not only are pallets an eco-friendly option, they have many, many uses. […] More

  • dresser drawers

    How To Upcycle Broken Dresser Drawers Into A Shelf

    My brother had a dresser he was looking to get rid of. It was no longer usable … as a dresser that is! I could see the DIY potential, so I upcycled and repurposed what I could salvage and made some shelves for the kids’ playroom. This project is super simple and doesn’t require too […] More

  • pallet garden with flowers

    35 Awesome Pallet Projects

    Whether it’s because they’re an affordable option or they provide a rustic feel, pallets have become increasingly popular as a source of material for DIY projects. They can be adapted in the most simple or complicated ways, making them a great option for DIY newbies and veterans alike. With pallet chairs to pallet wall art […] More

  • Installing An Interior Barn Door

    There’s something mesmerizing about a heavy door gliding silently on a steel track, especially when it’s indoors. We're loving the reclaimed wood sliding barn door in @loverdreamerathome beachside abode! The flooring is QuickStep Eligna Wide laminate in Caribbean Oak Grey and the carpet is Pavetta Stainmaster in colour 'Ixora' ? #FlooringXtra A post shared by […] More

  • How To Build A Headboard

    Your bed is your second home—a place where you’ll spend one-third of your life dreaming up your next DIY project. The bed is your safety zone, a lovers’ sanctuary, a creative child’s train, boat, or horse-drawn chariot. Yet, a bed is also just a soft and characterless loaf in need of textiles and furnishings to […] More

  • a complete vintage book succulent planter

    How To Make Succulent Planters From Vintage Books

    It’s hard not to love succulents—so much that they deserve a beautiful planter. Succulents are low maintenance, hardy, and look gorgeous. But they are also an incredibly odd bunch, coming in more shapes, colors and sizes than the cars on our roads. It’s for this reason that they deserve a pot that matches our love for […] More

  • Kitchen Stools

    To have a nice island or snack bar, you’ll need different seating than traditional dining areas, namely, kitchen stools. The stools you’ll want depends on your style, the size of the space, and the functionality required. Happily, you can now pick from an amazing array of stools. Let’s take a look at a few. Our […] More

  • kids playing with make100 sarmiento toys

    Make/100 Upcycled Wood Toys

    Two sisters from Buenos Aires who grew up among woodworkers at their grandfather’s shipyard have created these awesome wood-block toys, now for sale on Kickstarter. The wood comes from a eco-friendly (and cheap) source—the scrap pile of renowned furniture designer Alejandro Sticotti. Pieces of sustainably-grown pine, lapcaho, petiribí wood that weren’t lucky enough to become […] More

  • wood hose caddy with planter

    Planter Box Plans

    Create a true gardenscape by moving your plants beyond the pot. Create your own planter boxes with these free online designs. I searched the internet to try and find a planter box to match just about any urban homestead and found some really great projects. Planter Box Plans for All Kinds of Homesteads Carpentry projects […] More

  • Outdoor Patio Furniture

    More people are choosing to spend their limited leisure time with Mother Nature, in the form of backyard living. Enjoying our backyards has long been part of sunny summer days and crisp autumn nights, but now, we’re extending more of our indoor living activities into the outdoors. Things like outdoor kitchens and bars, televisions, furniture […] More

  • VHS Tape Art

    VHS, Cassette Tape & Video Tape Art Zilvinas Kempinas – ’02’ Video tape loop, electric fan. Installation Spencer Brownstone Gallery 2007. www.spencerbrownstonegallery.com Zilvinas Kempinas – ‘Tube’ Venice Biennial – 2009, magnetic tape, plywood. One walks through the center of the installation. www.spencerbrownstonegallery.com Zilvinas Kempinas – ‘Columns’ Vertically streched video tape, plywood, nails. Installation Spencer Brownstone […] More

  • Bottle Cap Art

    Ideas are cheap, art materials are expensive. One artist didn’t get his start until he was able to find plastic bottle caps he could use for free. The Plastic Bottle Cap Art Of El Anatsui El Anatsui was born in Ghana before its independence in 1957, but since 1975 he has lived in Nsukka, Nigeria […] More

  • Dale Wayne

    The amazing Dale Wayne turns plastic bottles into shimmering joy… Plastic Bottle arrangement, close-up. The plastic bottle wreath Dale made for her mom & dad. dalewayne.com First Place at the Festival of Trees, Orlando Museum of Art, 2011.  Dale conceives a large project, then asks the community to assist as to craft skills. Students from […] More

  • Tire Art

    Over 1 billion tires are manufactured annually, made of synthetic rubber, natural rubber, carbon black, polyester fabric, and steel wire. Tires stay in the environment a long time. Green-thinking artists are doing something with them. The Best Tire Art Tire Frame by Chakaia Booker Pic: newcambridgeobserver.com chakaiabooker.com Male Torso that left his path by Chakaia […] More

  • Recycled Glass Art

    Repurposed glass dishes become an apple tree. By Alison Fox. alisonsstainedglass.com Repurposed glass. “A Sprite’s Garden” $595, 28 x 15″ By Alison Fox.  alisonsstainedglass.com ‘Downtown’ 27″ x 20″ repurposed glass. By Alison Fox. alisonsstainedglass.com Glass dishes and vase. By Alison:  alisonsstainedglass.com A geode path with carnival glass, depression glass, a lamp base and a unique blue furniture coaster. 22″ […] More

  • Upcycling Dinner Plates And Old China

    Reuse of old plates, china, porcelain, and dishes. Yvonne Ellen homeware. Yvonne paints or decals contemporary and quirky illustrations on vintage plates and other china. Each piece is original and no two designs are alike. www.etsy.com Yvonne Ellen homeware. www.etsy.com Yvonne Ellen homeware. Antique plates with decals. www.etsy.com Yvonne Ellen homeware. Combining vintage items with contemporary […] More

  • Recycled Glass Bottles

    Much of the glass we throw out is not recycled because different glass has different melting points and recyclers only melt the most common containers. Artists use old and new glass to create unique pieces of home decor. Glass Bottle Windows Hanging window composed of serving plates, wine bottle bottoms, stemware bottoms and faceted stained glass […] More

  • Art From Old Books

    Many old books simply get thrown out—even by libraries. Artists have found a better second life for unwanted books. Jonathan Callan of London – The Defrauder. joseebienvenugallery.com Jonathan Callen uses large screws to hold the books together. joseebienvenugallery.com Jonathan Callen – The theoretical assumptions of management, 2008. Bio:  www.artnet.com  Kudlek van der Grinten Galerie. Cara […] More