Make Do and Mend: Upcycling Ideas

Today’s guest post looks at some great ideas for the ever popular upcycling. Enjoy!

Just as the theme of vintage has grown in popularity of late, so too has the 40s theme of make do and mend, or upcycling. If you’re not familiar with the concept, upcycling is a way in which to give an item which is no longer being used a new lease of life which in turn increases the value of the item. Whether you choose to upcycle in order to make a little extra cash,  the possibilities are endless, it’s all about seeing the possibility in something that may seem like a piece of rubbish to someone else. From turning broken china into jewellery to using old light bulbs as vases or candles, there really is no end to the things you can upcycle, here are just a few things you can do to make do and mend.

mason jars

Vintage Books as Shelving

Shelving is a fantastic storage solution and something we all use within our homes, but so often the shelving available to us can be unattractive and drab. For smaller items, vintage books are a gorgeous alternative, especially those with beautifully decorated front covers, and the best part is, they are frequently cheap and easy to source from your local charity shops or carboot sales. Simply attach a set of brackets to your wall and place the book on top.

Jam Jar Tea Lights

Jam jars are something we all have, but so often we find very little use for and frequently end up sending to be recycled. There are some simple alterations you can make to jam jars, which require very little time or money to do, and the finish product can be saved to use within your own home, or sold at craft fairs or via online sale sites. Simply paint some glue to the outside of your jar and wrap around some vintage (or modern) lace, making sure the lace is wrapped tightly and the ends are glued down securely. Once dried, you add a tea light to the jar, and there you have it, a gorgeous candle lit lamp with minimal creativity required.

Rejuvenate Furniture

If you’re a regular attendee of car boot sales or house sales, or if you’re an avid eBayer, you’re bound to stumble upon run down furniture in dire need of a bit of TLC. You can often pick up shabby looking furniture at a low price, or better yet, free if you’re willing to drive to collect it. Although giving furniture a makeover may seem like a daunting task, it couldn’t be simpler and often the pieces you come across will only need a quick sand down and a lick of paint. If you’re looking for the perfect piece of furniture for your home, upcycling could be the easiest way for you to do so whilst still incorporating your chosen colour scheme. Of course, some pieces will be trickier to alter than others, so if you’re yet to try your hand at one of these projects, start small and work your way up.
When it comes to upcycling, the possibilities really are endless and there is something for everyone to try their hand at – no matter how creative you may or may not be. If you want to know more, there are plenty of easy to follow guides on the upcycling process available for free online.


Image Credit

Jen Stanbrook
Jen Stanbrook

Jen is an award winning digital publisher and has been creating interiors and home decor content for over 10 years.
She has an insatiable love of home interiors, has worked with hundreds of brands, and currently supports many bloggers within the creative industries to share their expertise through writing.
She spends most of her time in her little garden office pod, has 2 daughters and 2 (fighting) cats.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Instagram


  1. Linda
    December 14, 2014 / 1:54 pm

    You are so right Jen! I love upcycling furniture that I’ve found at yard sales for next to nothing. It’s so satisfying to take someone else’s junk and turn it into something beautiful!

    • Jen Stanbrook
      December 15, 2014 / 11:12 am

      Oh I couldn’t agree more Linda, I just wish I had more time to do it!

  2. Amanda
    December 24, 2014 / 8:45 am

    Lovely ideas. I’m just about to strain my sloe gin for Christmas, and when I saw the colour of it in the recycled jars, I am now tempted to have it on display…beautiful ruby reds.

  3. Cathy
    December 25, 2014 / 9:21 pm

    am a great fan of car boot sales and am always coming across things. Everything is recyclable as perfectly explained here. Thanks once again !

    Ps: Of course you can find the time Jen !

  4. Becky
    January 9, 2015 / 3:11 pm

    Love a bit of upcycling

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