Reduce. Reuse. Upcycle!

Decluttering is all about ridding your home of useless items that are taking up space. But what if you could repurpose a few of these items to become useful in your home?

Before you let go of the heaps of wine corks or stacks of paint chips, try any of these 19 creative ways to upcycle those items you were just about to toss --- courtesy of MakeSpace, a full-service Manhattan storage company that also serves customers in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, DC.

1. Jeans to Bib (Simply Sewing Magazine)

We’ve all got a pile of old jeans that are out of style, no longer fit, have been worn beyond repair, or are a mysterious combination of the three.If your first instinct is to throw your denim directly in the trash, stop right there: You’d be contributing to over 13 million tons of textile waste that gets discarded every year. 

Instead, turn those jeans into bibs for your baby (or for anyone else’s baby; they make great gifts or donation items). They’re durable, easy to clean, and give your jeans a second life while preventing a pureed pea disaster all over your child’s shirt. 

2. Calendar to Envelopes (Simply Rebekah)

The year 2004 came and went, but for some reason, you’re still holding on to that year’s wall calendar. Why not repurpose each month’s image into a colorful homemade envelope?
All you need are scissors, tape, the calendar, and Simply Rebekah, who already did the homework for you: How to Make Envelopes Out of Wall Calendars

These large, sturdy envelopes are great for sending birthday cards, the dates of which you remembered even without the calendar. See? You didn’t need to be holding onto it, after all.  

3. Sweater to Winter Hat (A Beautiful Mess)

Discovering that your favorite sweater was the victim of moths can be a real bummer. But there’s no reason to trash it just yet.

If you’re stocked with unwearable knits and low on cold-weather gear, turn those old sweaters into cozy hats. With the optional addition of a pom pom on top, you’ll be reusing them in the most adorable way possible.

4. Liquor Bottle to Soap Dispenser (The DIY Playbook)

The party ended, but you held onto the empty liquor bottles because they had such lovely shapes that you knew you’d use them for something.

That was a year ago.

Put the loveliness on display with a DIY that will relieve you of the clutter while sprucing up your bathroom decor. These Patron bottle soap dispensers will look way better next to your sink than they did in the corner of your storage closet. 

5. Book Pages to Gift Tags (POPSUGAR)

There are so many options for giving books a new life that the idea of throwing them out should never even cross your mind.

Share your literary fortune with others: Create gift tags out of the pages. 

Christmas gifts could feature tags made from A Christmas Carol. A child’s birthday present could feature well wishes written on a tag from a bookshelf staple like Charlotte’s Web.

For Valentine’s Day, you could create tags for your loved ones from pages of romantic classics like Pride & Prejudice or Wuthering Heights.   

6. Toilet Paper Rolls to Favor Boxes (POPSUGAR)

Wedding planning is the perfect excuse to start browsing your home for budget-friendly reception decorations.

While guest favors can be expensive, there is a solution:

Create favor containers out of toilet paper tubes. Yes, this sound ridiculous. But they’re also super easy to make, look fabulous (thanks to some sophisticated touches), and can be filled with whatever you choose.

7. Straws to Travel Packs (POPSUGAR)

Ever wonder why packs of plastic drinking straws seem to multiply on their own in a cabinet, yet are never readily available when you’d like to drink without ruining your lipstick?

You’ll be glad they do the next time you’re going on a quick weekend trip. Pack single servings of your toiletries (like toothpaste and moisturizer) into straws. Then safely seal them with pliers and a lighter. 

Your travel bag will be lighter, your straw supply will dwindle, 
and you won’t risk arriving at your destination with fresh mint-scented clothes covered in spilled shampoo.

8. Paint Chips to Confetti (The Life of Jennifer Dawn)

Raise your hand if you initially planned on painting your living room bright red. Then forest green. Then navy. Then finally settled on Benjamin Moore Rich Cream.

Well, you likely have a stack of colorful paint chips taking up precious drawer space.

Totally decluttering your home is reason enough to party. And with the holidays fast approaching, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to sprinkle this homemade paint chip confetti on every tabletop you can find.

Simply grab your paint chips and a hole puncher, and clip away at different colors until you have enough festive cheer to scatter around. 

9. Office Supplies to Wrapping Paper (POPSUGAR)
A leftover roll of Kraft paper is the holy grail of “junk” finds when clearing out excess stuff. It can be used as a table runner, DIY lunch bags, decoratable placemats, and much more.

One of its more simple uses is as customizable wrapping paper. It’s fun to wrap gifts in the plain brown paper and let your kids have a decorating frenzy with markers, stickers, and ribbon.

For a decluttering double-whammy, clear out your extra office supplies and decorate the Kraft paper with reinforcements and sticky notes. You can create original designs for way less than the cost of store-bought wrapping paper.

10. Wine Corks to Coasters (Mom4Real)

Maybe you’ve seen the hundreds of wine cork crafts blanketing the internet. Maybe you saved all of your corks over several months with the intention of making one of those crafts (specifically, the cork-top coffee table).

Instead of waiting for the perfect time to tackle such a project, turn those corks into coasters. You’ll save time and the tops of your tables.

11. T-shirt to Yarn (Craft Passion)

A collection of old t-shirts + a talent for knitting = upcycling heaven.

Repurpose the tees into balls of yarn. They’re perfect for making soft crochet baskets, stool covers, rugs, or macrame plant holders. These homemade decorations will give your newly-cleared-out space a touch of hygge comfort. 

12. Cheese Grater to Earring Holder (Turning the Clock Back)

Even though you replaced your handheld cheese grater with an electric version long ago, the original has stuck around in the “just in case” pile.

Pat yourself on the back for having the foresight to keep it around for this simple yet brilliant upcycling project:

All you have to do is spray paint the cheese grater and add adornments like pearl feet and paper flowers.

13. Wooden Spoons to Garden Markers (Bless’er House)

Fact: If you’re buying wooden spoons by the 12-pack, you’re probably doing a ton of cooking every day.

Also fact: If you’re buying wooden spoons by the 12-pack and that 12-pack is still sitting in your pantry unopened, you probably don’t need that many wooden spoons.

It’s time to stir things up. Repurpose them into garden markers for your vegetables, herbs, and flowers.

They’ll add a natural, vintage touch to your garden and help you finally figure out which one of those plants is basil and which one is oregano.

14. Door Knocker to Drawer Handles (HGTV)

A new home is meant to be a clean slate. There’s just one problem:

Like the monster from It Follows, life-ruining clutter follows us from one home to another.

Not anymore.

Slay clutter, starting with the door knockers from your old home.

Instead of saving your old door knockers only to eventually toss them into a junk pile, convert them into vanity drawer pulls that make reaching for spare toiletries all the more interesting. And loud, definitely loud.

15. Cookie Sheets to Magnetic Memo Boards (Brit + Co)

If your supply of scuffed, scratched, and rusted cookie sheets could use an update, feel free to take this crafty organization tip as permission to buy new ones.

Apply a few coats of spray paint and add some cute magnets to give your cookie sheets a second chance as cool magnetic memo boards.

Keep the boards in your kitchen as a command center for the family. Or bring the boards to work so your coworkers can marvel at your DIY and to-do tracking prowess.

16. Coffee Cans to Wine Rack (Brit + Co)

Too much wine and not enough places to store it? This is a very fun problem to have.

Grab those large leftover coffee cans you’ve saved and give them an unexpected pop of color with some paint. After some strategic super gluing, you’ll be surprised at how simple this coffee can wine rack hack was.

You might also be surprised to realize you’re buying more wine just so you can create more storage solutions for your stash.

17. Crayons to Candles (Brit + Co)

A few crayons break and suddenly an entire pack “needs” to be bought. Multiply this by six years of grade school (and multiple kids) and we might have an idea of what your stray crayon supply looks like.

Make your home a little more colorful and bright with color block candles made from crayons. A box of 64 crayons will allow you to create color combos that match every room’s decor.

Pro tip: Stir essential oils into each votive so it doesn’t smell like kindergarden every time you try to set the mood.

18. Tea Towels to Pillow Shams (CountryLiving)

You’re more of a grab-a-latte-on-the-go kind of gal, so you’re probably not using your collection of vintage tea towels for drying your expensive 

You’re more of a grab-a-latte-on-the-go kind of gal, so you’re probably not using your collection of vintage tea towels for drying your expensive china set.

Free them from storage, put them on display, and give your home some antique flair with DIY tea towel pillow shams. They adapt surprisingly well to various interior design styles while subtly sprucing up your furnishings. 

19. Luggage Rack to End Table (Mod Podge Rocks)

Been awhile since your out-of-town friends last visited?

In addition to guilt-tripping your friends, persuade your guest room luggage rack into becoming a new end table, like this one from Mod Podge Rocks. An old cabinet door, a few nails, some paint, and a coating of epoxy resin are all you need for making new furniture. For making new friends, there’s always Bumble BFF.


Hi Everyone,
Here's an article I wrote for Box Butler, a concierge storage service company. It’s about staging your home for sale while living there.