21 New & Pretty Uses For Old & Ugly Things

21 New & Pretty Uses For Old & Ugly Things

Upcycle time... if you have tired ugly household objects that you just don't need anymore, first check that you can't turn them into pretty new things! I've put together a list of 21 clever ways to upcycle your old stuff, including a book into a safe, a ladder into a bookshelf and plastic bags into a skipping rope.

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1. DIY teacup candles

DIY Teacup Candles
How pretty you are!

Old teacups are very pretty, but how often do you use them? If you have some that you can't bring yourself to give away, then turn them into DIY Vintage Teacup Candles from Heygorg.com. This beautiful blog has all the instructions you need to make your own.

2. Make a cutlery caddy out of old tin cans

Cutlery caddy
Such a lovely addition to any kitchen

What a brilliant use for old tin cans from Madamecriativa.com.. Follow the instructions (scroll down for the English translation) to find out how to make them. They'll be too pretty to hide away in the cupboards, you'll want to display them where everybody can see!

3. Knot headbands from old t-shirts

Which will you pick?
Which will you pick?

We've all got old t-shirts in the back of the cupboard, so why not use them to make a pretty new knot headband. Thegirlinspired.com has all the steps you need to make your own.

4. A tiny terrarium from an old lightbulb

A magical little world
A magical little world

I've always been a fan of terrariums but have never tried it out myself. Thehipsterho.me have a guest blog about how to make your own, in a light bulb. It's super cute - miniature worlds are always so beautiful to me!

5. Make a book safe

Book safe
What will you hide inside?

Follow this instructional video by Lindsay Weirich on how to make a book safe. You can use it to hide items in the home! All you need is an old hardcover book, white glue, a craft knife and some waxed paper.

6. Upcycle wine bottles into garden edging

Glass bottle edging
But I need another bottle for my garden!

Get creative in your garden by pushing old empty wine bottles into the ground. When it's sunny, the light will shine on them and they'll look beautiful! Choose different colours of glass to add a variety of colours.

7. Make ladder bookshelf

What a great project
What a great project

Dandelionexpress.wordpress.com have put together some wonderful instructions on how to make this beautiful bookshelf from an old ladder. Please be aware you'll need lots of patience to complete this project.

8. Make a lantern out of an old can

Who knew you could make these?
Who knew you could make these?

Recycle those old drink cans into a lantern - check out this modern version of a paper lantern at Instructables.com. You can check out this and more in my blog post on 19 delightful ways to use the humble tealight.

9. DIY cork stamps

Smarten a handwritten letter up with these stamps
Smarten a handwritten letter up with these stamps

If you like your wine (and I do) then you're bound to have a whole load of corks. Using a good craft knife and a pen you can make your very own textured wonderful cork stamps. Sweetspotcards.com have created a very helpful blog post detailing everything you need to make your own.

10. Upcycle old tea tins for growing herbs

They look pretty nifty, don't they?
They look pretty nifty, don't they?

Have you got some old tea tins kicking around? Grow herbs in them! All you need is a sunny windowsill, soil and seeds.

11. Make a Domino clock

Tick tock, tick tock
Tick tock, tick tock, goes the sound of your new Domino clock

Love games? Always know when it's time to play with your very own Domino clock. Check out how to make your own by following the instructions at Sadieseasongoods.com.

12. Use an old ice cube tray as a seed starter kit

Seed starter tray
What seeds will you grow?

If you want to grow some seeds then use that old ice cube tray. You need a drill, seed-starting soil and your chosen seeds - got that? Great, now head to Mrbrownthumb.blogspot.co.uk for the rest of the instructions. Want to read more like this? Head to my blog post on 21 exciting ways to use an ice cube tray.

13. Peg magnets

Peg magnets
So pretty!

ThehappyDaisy.blogspot.co.uk have a simple DIY project old pegs that you'll LOVE! They're so pretty and useful, I can't wait to try making them for to stick on the fridge.

14. Make a skipping rope from old plastic bags

Skipping rope
What a sweet project for summer

Childhoodlist.blogpost.co.uk can tell you how to turn some old plastic bags into a jump rope! There are lots of surprising things you can do with plastic bags, if you want to know more check out my 39 unexpected ways to reuse plastic bags.

15. Guitar shelf

Guitar shelf
Something a little different

Using an old acoustic guitar, wood and some other bits and bobs you can make yourself an exciting guitar shelf! Follow the steps at Instructables.com.

16. Turn old wine bottles onto a chandelier

A great talking point for your kitchen
A great talking point for your kitchen

You can use old wine bottles to create something pretty spectacular to be hung in your kitchen or dining room. Follow all the steps at Diynetwork.com and everyone will know where you got your new chandelier from.

17. Turn old drawers into shelves

Drawer shelves
What a smashing idea!

So you're throwing away that old mini chest of drawers, but before you do, why not fix them to the wall? They'll make super-creative wall shelves. Fill them with anything you want.

18. Bunting made out of old denim

Demin bunting
Edgy bunting!

Follow the instructions from Nany Straughan from Theguardian.com and make denim bunting - something a little bit different to the usual flowery bunting you see everywhere.

19. Paint colour swatch bookmarks

Paint colour swatch bookmarks
A neat easy project that anyone could do

Do you read a lot? This is such an easy but great idea from Howaboutorange.blogspot.uk. If you have some old paint swatches in your drawers, then poke a hole in them, tie some string through and you've got yourself a bookmark! If you haven't got any, get yourself to a big DIY shop and grab a few. They'd make cute Christmas gifts too.

20. Bags for all your fruit & vegetables

Shopping bags
10,000 apples please

An easy project for you to do (and it will save you money on plastic bags) - make an eco-friendly produce bag, as shown on Popsugar.com. You don't need too much to make it, just a pencil, ruler, scissors a dish towel or old t-shirt and a needle and thread.

21. Twine holder made from an old jar

Twine holder
Organised AND pretty!

Acasarella.net have created an amazing storage solution for you made from an old Mason jar. This is a great use and you can see more at Anushka's blog on 57 exciting ways you can transform empty jars.

Which project would you like to try your hand at? Let us know in the comments below.

Colleen B


Lifelong biscuit addict. Obsessed with recipes, cooking & eating. Slightly lazier than the average bear, so likes writing about life hacks & discovering the quickest / easiest way to do things.

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  1. Author Debra on July 28, 2016 at 9:43 am

    I also use cups that have broken handles as mini plant-pots, and laddered tights are great for tying up saplings and plants.

    1. Author Colleen B on July 29, 2016 at 8:58 am

      Those are some brilliant uses, thank you Debra.

  2. Author Maureen falconbridge on July 29, 2016 at 9:16 am

    Some brilliant ideas I will try the candles in cups thanks what is best to clean inside a kettle thanks again??

    1. Author Colleen B on July 29, 2016 at 3:58 pm

      Thanks Maureen, we'll look into the kettle cleaning for you!

    2. Author Gail Stickland on July 29, 2016 at 8:35 pm

      Vinegar will clean lime scale from a kettle. Just sprinkle enough in to slosh around base and sides. Leave for 15 mins and then give the kettle a good rinse out. Cheap and it works.

  3. Author ANNE BARRATT on July 29, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    Use washing liquid and conditioner lids to put on top of your garden canes - so you don't poke your eyes out, or get splinters.

    1. Author Colleen B on August 2, 2016 at 10:57 am

      That's a brilliant tip Anne, thank you!

  4. Author Jan P on July 30, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Hi Have you tried lemon to descale the inside of a kettle?

  5. Author Mary WALKER on July 30, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    I have an abundance of biscuit tins what can I use them for

    1. Author Colleen B on August 2, 2016 at 10:56 am

      Hi Mary - you could refill them with delicious homemade biscuits... you can also use them to give craft materials a home, buttons a home, organise your pen collection, first aid kit, dry goods storage (tea bags, flour), store measuring spoons - there are so many uses for them!

  6. Author theresemeagher on February 13, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Interesting - use of goods - very ecofriendly..

    1. Author Colleen B on March 2, 2017 at 3:21 pm

      Thank you Therese, glad to hear you like our blog!

  7. Author susan bowden on February 13, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    You can use egg cartons for plant starter kits, too. If you use the cardboard ones you can plant out the whole thing without having to empty it first as it will disintegrate in the ground.

    1. Author Colleen B on March 2, 2017 at 3:19 pm

      What a brilliant idea, thanks for sharing Susan!

  8. Author Carole Dunn on February 13, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    I've used the jam jars for string. Stops it getting tangled up.

    1. Author Colleen B on March 2, 2017 at 3:19 pm

      That's a great idea, thanks for sharing Carole!

  9. Author Sarah Ball on February 17, 2017 at 12:27 am

    Would love to try the light bulb terrarium what a great idea and so cute . Really impressed by this!!

    1. Author Colleen B on March 2, 2017 at 3:18 pm

      Hope you enjoy making yours Sarah - we'd love to see a photo!

  10. Author Kerry Sneddon on January 21, 2018 at 1:12 am

    tiny cute terrarium hope its not to tricky... Got a chest off Drawers and tired of them looking dull well change them in a new look in 3 so simple steps have paint lying around from decorating grab them & wallpaper that you love and have left overs grab them too paint any detailed parts off your unit brighter the better & measure the front off your drawers on the paper cut it out & paste them together & buy new handles for them any kind any style

    1. Author Stephanie C on January 24, 2018 at 9:28 am

      Hi Kerry. The terrarium is really easy - I'd definitely recommend giving it a go! :) I LOVE the sound of your drawers. They sound really unique! We'd love to see a picture. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Author Betty crocker on August 28, 2018 at 10:27 am

    Awesome ideas. Thanks for sharing. I found another post, they have some old t-shirt uses could anyone tell me will it work?

    1. Author Joanne A on August 28, 2018 at 10:29 am

      You're welcome, Betty! We'd love to hear the ideas you found if you don't mind sharing.

  12. Author CAROLINE JAMES on September 26, 2018 at 9:35 am

    I use steradent for cleaning stains from my cups. Just put one tablet in each cup and fill cup with hot water then leave for 2 hours and then give each cup a good rinse and presto clean stain free cups.

    1. Author Joanne A on September 26, 2018 at 12:27 pm

      That's a fab tip, Caroline!

  13. Author Sandra on February 24, 2020 at 1:01 pm

    Some great ideas but idea no 10 should read "old tea tins lying around the house, not laying around the house"

    1. Author Joanne A on February 26, 2020 at 4:54 pm

      Thanks for the feedback - and good spot! All fixed now :-)

  14. Author Li on February 25, 2020 at 2:23 am

    have done no 2 the cutlery, just would not put them they way you do since that means everyone touching the part that you use to eat, I have put them upsidedown much safer and much more hygienic.

    1. Author Joanne A on February 26, 2020 at 11:19 am

      That's true, Li! Though you would need to clean them out often to ensure no dust settles in the bottom.

  15. Author Jacky Montgomery on February 25, 2020 at 12:30 pm

    Damn I wish I'd seen this before I threw those old drawers away !!!!

    1. Author Joanne A on February 26, 2020 at 9:45 am

      What a shame, Jacky! Maybe you can pick some up from a charity shop?


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