New Uses for Old Things

With the passing of the holidays and the start of the New Year, many of us find ourselves wanting to do a little household tidying. Do you have a closet filled with items you no longer use? If you’re like us, it may include things like a box of faded t-shirts, a cache of cassettes with music from the 80s, and a few offbeat tchotchkes rescued from the second-hand store. Before you pull out those garbage bags, take a peek at all of the things you can do with your long-lost treasures. All it takes is a little inspiration to turn these seemingly useless objects into exciting conversation pieces of creativity.

Use this list to find 50 upcycling ideas to get inspiration to start a project of your own. You may be surprised at how much fun it is to reinvent products and imbue your favorite things with new life.

1. Turn Adult Socks Into Toddler Leggings

Baby Pants

Adult socks can find a new use as toddler leggings. Sew 4 Bub provides step-by-step sewing instructions to make these pants for your little one. Don’t let a little sewing scare you. It doesn’t require advanced sewing chops and the process is a lot faster than it looks. Get the instructions for Toddler Leggings.

2. Use a Cassette Case to Hold a Gift Card

Card Box

Chances are, you no longer have much use for that stack of old cassette tapes, let alone the cases that hold them. But, did you know they are the perfect size for holding gift cards? The next time you need to wrap a gift card, try this clever tutorial from Mod Podge Rocks. With any luck, people won’t even recognize the original container. Get the instructions for a Cassette Tape Gift Card Holder.

3. A Dish Rack Makes a Handy File Folder

Dish Rack

Refurbish an unused dish rack to organize file folders on your desk. Brenda of Cozy Little House customizes tab folders to match her red dish rack. You’ll be surprised at how naturally this piece of kitchen equipment can fit into your home office. Get the instructions for a Dish Rack File Folder.

4. Transform Eyeglasses Into a Photo Frame


Don’t toss last year’s eyeglasses! Take a note from Ashley’s Thrifty Living and repurpose them as adorable photo frames. Ashley used three pairs of glasses to frame six photos by arranging them in a shadow box. Complete this clever DIY project and display memories that stand out on the shelf. Get the instructions for Eyeglasses Photo Frames.

5. Restore Aged Windows to Display Art

Window Display Case

If you’re one of the rare few who happens to have an old window lying around then you’re in luck! Lynn of Shabby Story shows how she used a reclaimed window to add character to her home. The end result is gorgeous! Get the instructions for a Window Display Case.

6. Create a Sewing Kit from an Eyeglass Case

Eyeglass Case Sewing Kit

Turn your old eyeglass case into a practical sewing repair kit. Follow this tutorial from Tea Rose Home to put a new cover on the case and add a pincushion that fits inside. Create multiple kits and store them around the house, in your car, or even in your purse for those fashion emergencies. Get the instructions for an Eyeglass Case Sewing Kit.

7. Gather Vintage Brooches for a Bouquet

Brooch Bouquet

Old, broken pieces of jewelry and brooches seem to pile up in our jewelry boxes over time, without us even realizing it. It’s time to dig all of those out. Shannon at Fancy Pants Weddings shows a beautiful new use for those pieces by introducing the brooch bouquet. If you’re looking for a spin on a traditional Wedding bouquet, these brooches can be combined with real flowers too. You could even have your something old, new, borrowed, and blue all in one crafty and beautiful bouquet. Get the instructions for a Brooch Bouquet.

8. Repurpose Telephone Handsets as Bookends

Telephone Bookends

Many folks have ditched their landline for a cell phone. If you’re one of them you might have an unused telephone or two lying around. Take a tip from A Beautiful Mess and use them to make adorable bookends. This project doesn’t take a lot of materials or effort, and you’ll love the way old books and old technology can live together in harmony on your shelf. Get the instructions for Telephone Bookends.

9. Reinvent Toilet Paper Rolls as Art

Paper Roll Art

Save toilet paper rolls and set aside some time with the kiddos to create this fun art project from Growing Up Creative. Who knew there could be such a high-end use for something as simple as a cardboard cylinder? You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how beautifully these turn out. Get the instructions for Toilet Paper Roll Art.

10. Fashion a Produce Bag Into a Beach Tote

Produce Beach Bag

While it’s not necessarily a new use for a produce bag, this reconstructed beach bag is certainly a good example of how to extend the bag’s use. The Adventures of Giddy Giddy demonstrates how to sew a produce bag to the bottom of a canvas tote. This gives the original tote more space and eliminates the problem of all that pesky sand getting into the bottom of your bag. Get the instructions for a Produce Beach Bag.

11. Use Mascara Brushes for Cleaning

Mascara Brush Cleaner

When you finish a tube of mascara, it’s easier than you think to find a second use for the small brush. After a thorough cleaning, the brush has many uses, as A Thrifty Mrs. points out. A mascara brush is small enough to get into the tiniest nooks and crannies of intricate jewelry and any other hard-to-reach spots. Get the instructions for a Mascara Brush Cleaner.

12. Turn a Bundt Pan Into a Whimsical Pumpkin

Bundt Pan Pumpkin

There are many clever ways to reuse old things for seasonal decorating. In the fall, Denise on a Whim suggests making an old Bundt pan into an adorable pumpkin. It’s a table centerpiece that your guests will love, and all it takes is some paint, glue, twine and wire. Get the instructions for a Bundt Pan Pumpkin.

13. Sew a Cable Knit Sweater to Make a Pillow

Cable Knit Sweater Pillow

When you have sweaters that you can’t bear to let go of, you’ll be glad that we found this blog post from Infarrently Creative showing how to turn a sweater into a pillow. Upcycle a couple of cable knit cardigans and you’ll look at old sweaters in a new light! Get the instructions for Cable Knit Sweater Pillows.

14. Makeover a Camera Strap with a Necklace

Camera Strap Necklace

Give your camera a personal touch by combining a delicate necklace with a statement brooch. Karisa of Clever Thursday shows how to add vintage flair to a strap by incorporating old jewelry. It’s a beautiful use for a necklace that you don’t wear very often but is too pretty to throw away. Get the instructions for Necklace Camera Straps.

15. Revamp a Sweater Into a Cardigan

Cardigan Sweater

If you’ve outgrown a pullover sweater that still has plenty of wear left, don’t toss it in the donation bin. The bloggers at I Am Momma Hear Me Roar take savvy seamstresses through a step-by-step process for converting a pullover sweater into a fashionable cardigan. Get the instructions for Sweater Cardigans.

16. Take a Shoe Box Lid and Turn it Into Art

Shoebox Lid Art

Have a blank wall in dire need of a makeover? Consider using the lids of old shoeboxes as “canvasses” for some collage artwork. Check out the chevron pieces Spunky Junky built. They’re incredibly stylish, and no one will have any idea that these are just new uses for your old shoeboxes! Get the instructions for Shoe Box Lid Art.

17. Repurpose a Paper Towel Rack to Store Bracelets

Paper Towel Bracelet Holder

Stowing bracelets away in a drawer is messy, and it’s likely that those at the bottom will get far less use than those within eye sight. Follow the tutorial on All Things Katie Marie’s and repurpose a paper towel stand to display bangles and bracelets. The entire collection will be visible at a glance and you’ll wonder how you ever got along before. Get the instructions for a Paper Towel Bracelet Holder.

18. Transform a Necklace Into a Headband

DIY Necklace Headband

Natalie of Creme de la Craft demonstrates another new use for old necklaces. She adds hair ties to make cute headbands. This might not be the easiest DIY project of the bunch, but it definitely has one of the most elegant payoffs. Get the instructions for Necklace Headbands.

19. A Photo Frame can Become a Beauty Tray

Photo Frame Tray

Spruce up your vanity with an old photo frame. All it takes is some paint and an artistic print to carry out C to C’s simple DIY project. Even if you don’t have a space dedicated to makeup and perfume, this tray can serve as a portable vanity to take supplies from bedroom to bathroom and back again. Get the instructions for a Photo Frame Beauty Tray.

20. Stack Baby Food Jars Into Hot Cocoa Snowmen

Hot Cocoa Snowmen

Save a few baby food jars to make these adorable hot cocoa snowmen. Haley at Hammer and Thread shows that it doesn’t take much to create these excellent decorations. Just fill up one jar with mini marshmallows and another with hot cocoa mix. Use some paint and small scraps of fabric to bring the snowman to life, and you’re done! We’ve even seen versions with a third jar filled with holiday candies, so the customization is up to you. Get the instructions for Hot Cocoa Snowmen.

21. Upcycle a Bread Box Into a Charging Station

Breadbox Charging Station

When there is no longer a use for a breadbox in your kitchen, transform it into a charging station for all of your personal devices! Use Gabriel’s Good Tidings as a guide to create one for your own home. Use it in your kitchen or on your nightstand for a clever way to conceal those unsightly phone charger cables. Get the instructions for a Bread Box Charging Station.

22. Use Mason Jars as Portable Salad Containers

Mason Jar Salads

Finally put that collection of old jars to good use! Julia of My Food and Other Stuff shows how to make a week’s work of healthy salads in easy-to-tote jars. She has a Mason jar salad cookbook coming out soon, but you don’t have to wait to start making these delicious lunches. Get the instructions for Mason Jar Salads.

23. Revamp Flannel Pajamas Into a Chic Scarf

Flannel Scarf

If you’re looking to get rid of some threadbare flannel pajamas, try reworking them into a trendy scarf. This tutorial from Brittany Makes uses a few basic sewing techniques to give flannel pants new life. Now, instead of wearing them to bed, you can wear that flannel out on the town. Get the instructions for a Flannel Scarf.

24. Reimagine a Baking Sheet as a Message Board

Baking Sheet Magnet Board

Over the years, many home cooks develop a special bond with their favorite baking sheet. But what do you do when they’ve passed their prime? Lindsey of Mom & Wife put together this quick tutorial for turning an old baking sheet into a cute magnet board. It’s a good size to hang in the kitchen for displaying notes and recipes. As a bonus, consider making some adorable DIY magnets too. Get the instructions for Baking Sheet Magnet Boards.

25. Reuse a Cheese Grater to Hold Earrings

Cheese Grater Earring Holder

Make use of an old cheese grater by spray painting it a new color and using it to hold earrings. The Pink Hammer shows how this old kitchen gadget works as an eclectic display of earrings on a dresser or vanity. Just make sure you clean it first! Get the instructions for a Cheese Grater Earring Holder.

26. Reinvent Newspapers as Gift Bags

Newspaper Gift Bags

Old newspapers can pile up fast. Katherine at Silly Simple Living came up with an alternative way to recycle those old Tribunes. Newspaper gift bags are a charming way of wrapping any present. For a light-hearted spin on this technique use the Sunday comics! Get the instructions for Newspaper Gift Bags.

27. Use Light Bulbs as a Candle Holder

Light Bulb Lamp

If light bulbs don’t top your list of things to save, this beautiful project might just change your mind. These burned out light bulbs still do an amazing job of reflecting light. Camila Fabbri collects old light bulbs in a big vase with a large pillar candle for a brilliant upcycling project that casts a romantic glow. Get the instructions for Light Bulb Candle Holders.

28. Turn Pool Noodles Into Boot Fillers

Pool Noodle Boot Fillers

If you have more than your fair share of boots, you understand how messy they can make the floor of your closet. Boot fillers can be expensive, but take a page out of Angie’s Lookbook and fill your boots with pool noodles for a cheap and effective alternative. Cut noodles to fit your tall boots and marvel at how tidy your collection looks. Get the instructions for Pool Noodle Boot Fillers.

29. Fashion Neckties Into a Statement Necklace

Tie Necklace

Aletha found a brilliant use for old neckties by making them into cute necklaces. It’s not a bad technique if you think about it—buy your hubby ties in prints that you love, and when he gets sick of them, you get a new addition to your jewelry collection! Get the instructions for a Necktie Necklace.

30. Remake a Men’s Shirt Into a Handbag

DIY Shirt Handbag

When the men in your life start to get rid of old shirts, make sure to grab one for this repurposing project! Jembellish walks us through how to create a handbag out of a men’s shirt. What a fun way to add a feminine touch to something with a masculine edge. Get the instructions for a Men’s Shirt Handbag.

31. Display Magazines on Crib Slats

Crib Magazine Rack

When children grow out of their convertible cribs, The Salty Pineapple has a great idea for the pieces. Prop the unused side rail of a crib against the wall to make a magazine rack. If you don’t subscribe to many magazines, this is also useful for storing blankets or scarves within reach. Get the instructions for a Crib Magazine Rack.

32. Roll a Garden Hose Into a Wreath

Garden Hose Wreath

Find a new use for a garden hose by making it into a whimsical springtime wreath. Jill at Create.Craft.Love used a brand new hose for this particular wreath, but that doesn’t mean that your old one won’t work just as well. The grunge can be part of its charm! Get the instructions for a Garden Hose Wreath.

33. Transform Eye Shadow Into Nail Polish

Eye Shadow Nail Polish

Want to match your favorite shade of eye shadow to your nails? Try Never Too Much Glitter’s solution for turning eye shadow into nail polish. Simply grab a bottle of top coat and you’re on your way to true hand-eye coordination. This is also a smart way to make use of a color you love, but don’t necessarily want to wear on your lids. Get the instructions for Eye Shadow Nail Polish.

34. Assemble Old Furniture Into a Play Kitchen

DIY Play Kitchen

This idea is a big undertaking, but the end result is nothing short of extraordinary. Giggleberry Creations transformed a rundown entertainment unit into a play kitchen. A project guaranteed to make some lucky little boy or girl very happy! Get the instructions for a DIY Play Kitchen.

35. Adapt a Vintage iMac Into an Aquarium


These colorful Macquariums designed by Jake Harms are an awesome new use for old iMac computers. It’s the fish tank you never knew you wanted, and a definite conversation-starter. Get the instructions for Macquariums.

36. Stitch a Necktie Into a Stylish iPod Holder

Neck Tie iPod Holder

Here is yet another use for discarded ties. Jessica at Bespangled demonstrates how to take a needle and thread to an old necktie and create a sleek iPod holder. Get more mileage out of dated apparel and travel safely without scratching your iPod. It’s a win-win! Get the instructions for a Necktie iPod Holder.

37. Craft Gift Tags from Old Maps

Map Gift Tags

Use old maps or pages from an atlas to create these charming gift tags. The Daily Bison shares these DIY tags as a way to add a sense of adventure to gifts. Make them extra special by creating tags based on geographical significance to the recipient. Get the instructions for Atlas Gift Tags.

38. Save Shopping Bags to Organize Small Items

Shopping Bag Organizer

Use sturdy shopping bags with cute designs to organize your workspace. Kellie at Le Zoe Musings recycles her favorite shopping bags to organize the wall above her desk. They hide the clutter and it’s easy to find a selection of coordinating colors and patterns. Get the instructions for Organizing with Shopping Bags.

39. Convert a Tablecloth Into a Bib

Tablecloth Bib

Moms will appreciate that these DIY bibs can easily be wiped clean and thrown in a bag for on-the-go convenience. You’ll need some basic sewing skills to carry out Small Fry and Co’s project, but it’s fast and easy. And since you’re working from a big tablecloth, you can easily make several bibs. Keep one in the car, one in the diaper bag, one at Grandma’s, and anywhere else you might stop for a snack. Get the instructions for a Tablecloth Bib.

40. Sew a Pillow Case Into a Cosmetics Bag

Pillow Case Cosmetics Bag

Reinvent unmatched pillowcases as cosmetics bags in this simple tutorial written by Two Cheeky Monkeys. Long after the sheets are tattered and gone, you’ll love keeping a little piece of your favorite patterns with this DIY project. Get the instructions for Pillow Case Cosmetics Bags.

41. Hang a Rake to Make a Rustic Tool Rack

Outdoor Rake Rack

After buying a shiny new rake put the old rusty one to good use hanging garden tools. Natalie at blogs about hanging an old rake on the side of her shed to organize the tools in her gardening workspace. Who said that dirty work couldn’t look chic? Get the instructions for a Rake Rack.

42. Use a Stiletto to Display Jewelry

Shoe Jewelry Holder

Sooner or later you’re going to stop wearing your favorite pair of stilettos. This doesn’t mean you stop loving them, which is why we think this stiletto jewelry holder is a great second life for an old pair of high heels. Susie Homefaker provides step-by-step instructions to make this fancy display for your own bedroom. Get the instructions for a Stiletto Jewelry Holder.

43. Make an Ice Cube Tray Into a Snack Tray

Ice Cube Snack Tray

Help hungry kids hit all the major food groups with this slick use of ice cube trays. Just fill the tiny compartments with perfect proportions of fruits, veggies, candy and other yummy snacks. When Jennifer of Jennifer Bishop Design assembled these for toddlers at her daughter’s birthday party, they were a hit with parents and kids alike! Get the instructions for Ice Cube Tray Munchies.

44. Gather Tin Cans to Store Utensils

Tin Can Utensil Holder

The O’Neil gals of Running with Sisters posted this kitchen project to upcycle tin cans. It’s not the first time we’ve seen food cans used to hold utensils, but the idea of choosing three cans with identical bold labels really makes this project stand out. Keep miscellaneous utensils within arms reach and never rummage through drawers again. Get the instructions for Tin Can Utensil Holders.

45. Makeover a Stool to Store Wrapping Paper

Wrapping Paper Caddy

Wrapping paper rolls are large and cumbersome to store, but not if you have an old bar stool on hand. Christina of 2 Little Hooligans turned one upside down and mounted it on wheels to create a rolling storage solution for wrapping supplies. This DIY project is super simple with a huge payoff—the best kind of project in our book! Get the instructions for a Wrapping Paper Organizer.

46. Stockpile Keyboards to Make Art


If you find yourself getting rid of an old keyboard, save the keys to make wall art. Jeromina at Paper, Plate and Plane used keys to create three-dimensional messages mounted in shadow boxes. This clever art project makes a witty gift for your favorite computer geek. Get the instructions for Keyboard Art.

47. Transform Lipstick Pieces Into Lip Balm

Lipstick Balm

What do you do when your best lipstick is down to the nub? Marie at Baking Chic shares this recipe for making lip balm with leftover lipstick that will moisturize your smackers with just a hint of color. Though it won’t look quite the same in balm form, you’ll get to extend the wear of your favorite shade while keeping your lips healthy with beeswax and coconut oil. Get the instructions for Lip Balm Lipstick.

48. Repurpose Wire Racks for Smart Craft Storage

Lipstick Crate

Cheap wire shelves can have a hard time standing after a while. When that day comes, take them apart and repurpose them into something else useful. Jessica at Mad in Crafts shows how she used the parts from some old wire shelves as hanging storage for craft paint. If crafting isn’t your thing, consider mounting these on the wall to store nail polish instead. Get the instructions for Wire Rack Craft Storage.

49. Reclaim an Inner Tube to Make a Comfy Seat


It might seem crazy, but there is an alternate use for big rubber inner tubes! The bloggers at Remobilia wrapped colorful fabric around a discarded tube, and the final result is a trendy floor seat that would make a lovely addition to any room. If these are comfortable on the water for hours on end, imagine how great they will be indoors. Get the instructions for an Inner Tube Seat.

50. Mount a Wine Rack for Storing Towels

Wine Towel Rack

Even if you aren’t the type to relax with a nice glass of Merlot, this idea may just inspire you to pick up a wine rack. Mount a rack to your bathroom wall and roll up towels for an attractive way to store this bathroom essential. Jena of Cage Free Monkeys gives it a try, with results that are worth replicating. Get the instructions for a Towel Rack.

You don’t have to wait for Earth Day to try a repurposing project. Do something wonderful for the planet and your pocketbook by upcycling something old into something new and fabulous! Do you have an idea for reusing old stuff? Inspire us by leaving a note in the comments.