Inspirational ideas for your next upcycling project

Renovating and need some inspiration? Houzz and Pinterest are great online sites to draw from. We've reviewed some books that you might also like to look at.

Finding inspiration for your next upcycling project is easy to come by.  There are so many interesting sources, from Pinterest, Houzz, magazines, blogs and books.

Below is a review of 4 books that we've recently added to the library.

This Old House: Salvage-Style Projects

by Amy R Hughes

From Amy's introduction I'm hooked on this book. It is a treasure trove of ideas and know-how which will help both the novice and more experienced upcycler.

The content is broken down into 4 main sections:

  1. Getting Started
  2. Creative Reuse Projects
  3. TOH Reader Projects
  4. Ideas for Interiors

The first section has a nice short overview of shopping for salvage and setting up a workshop.

The projects are interesting and have step-by-step photos to guide you along the way. The items she uses are not those lying around the house, but items you would find in a salvage yard.  She outlines the supplies needed for the projects and has tips outlined along the way for each project. 

So I'm now eager to starts some projects... perhaps the faucet handles to make a towel rack or wooden corbels to make a bedside table.

Highly recommend.

Restore. Recycle. Repurpose. {create a beautiful home}

by Randy Florke with Nancy J Becker

This book is slightly deceiving with it's title. I expected a book with lots of projects, instead I was delightfully surprised to find an intelligent book that looks at how you can restore, recycle and repurpose throughout the whole of the house. It's focus is more around sustainable living.

The contents are divided into around 9 sections.

  1. Defining Green
  2. Entryways
  3. Kitchens
  4. Living Rooms
  5. Bedrooms
  6. Bathrooms
  7. The Home Office
  8. Outdoors
  9. Living Green.

The first section, Defining Green, is really a glossary, which I found extremely useful, before delving into the chapters. 

The following chapters are laid out beautifully with little asides, such as 'did you know' and 'Grandmother's tips'.  The photos are of rooms I would love to live in. They feel like real rooms and not just a stage setting.

This is not a 'pick a project and have a go' sort of book. It is a wonderful source book of ideas, which I will sit down with when I have a cup of tea, dip into and look at my home with fresh eyes. One of my favourites. 


Ideas for Creative Reuse 

by Garth Johnson

This book reflects Garth's background as a studio artist.  If you are just looking for visual inspiration then you may want to consider it.

This is a book of photos, not words and instructions. There are just over 290 pages and 1000 photos of projects. Apart from a short introduction, covering some of the history of reuse/recycling, the only other words are the names of the contributors and photographers.

He has divided the types of projects into 6 categories:

  1. Paper, Collage + Assemblage
  2. Couture + Soft Goods
  3. Jewelry + Adornments
  4. Greek Craft + Man Craft
  5. Housewares + Furnishings
  6. Art, Interiors + Installations

There is a real mixture.  I love most of the 200 or so photos in the houseware + furnishing chapter.  Some you will have seen before on sites such as Pinterest, but others (such as the shopping trolley cum seat) are completely new to me. Some of the projects are stunning, some weird and some ... well I just don't get.

If you are looking for a beautiful book to flick through, then I think it's well worth it.  If you are searching for more practical inspiration (and some instructions) then this is not the book for you.


Upcycling: create beautiful things with the stuff you already have

by Danny Seo

Danny Seo is a well known face to those in the US of A, but an unknown to most outside of that country. Personally, he will stay that way if this is the quality of work that he espouses.

The content is divided into 5 chapters:

  1. Upcycling Ideas for Decorating
  2. Upcycling Ideas for Entertaining
  3. Upcycling Ideas for Giving
  4. Upcycling Ideas for Kids
  5. Upcycling Ideas for the Great Outdoors.

I just didn't find many of his ideas inspiring. One project is blowing up your child's drawings and framing them. Really! Don't think there are many parents out there who haven't done that before. As for using the stuffing from pillows to make hanging clouds for your ceiling, it's cute but just not practical.

That's not to say that the book isn't nice to look at - it is. Many of the photos are beautifully styled. There is one project per double page spread, with a section on the supplies needed, a brief blurb on why he thinks it's fabulous and a very short "how to".  Which is an improvement on the previous book. He includes a section of general tools for upcycling, which would be useful for a person who has never done any craft work. Many of the projects do use items that are around the house and don't require much expertise - a big plus for many people.

I do like the CD Jewel Case Frames and the Leather-Belt Doormat. The Chinatown Tote-bags Floor Cushion is a novel idea for those with young children - easy to clean up any spills.

For those that love Danny Seo, then you will probably enjoy the book.

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