what is upcycling?

what is upcycling?

up·cy·cle  /ˈəpˌsīkəl/


to reuse something discarded in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original


It's one of my favourite words, and it's a beautiful thing.

We all know recycling is a good thing and we all do it (I mean, I hope so anyway). Upcycling is even better because it involves taking something destined for waste and elevates it into something amazing. 

In my world, that means finding something discarded, broken or unwanted and making into something beautiful that will be treasured. It's my favourite thing to do and something I've loved doing since long before Little Grey Farmhouse existed.

Growing up, my mom used the phrase "packrat" a lot to describe my hoarder tendencies. But even then, certain objects just held a fascination for me especially if they were weird or wonky. I liked hanging on to things that I might not need this second, but there was something interesting about them and I might need them someday.

When I got older and had my own space, thrifting and vintage shopping became my hobbies and passions because not only do you end up with something one of a kind, but these objects just have a sense of history that random items from Homesense just can't compete with.

These days, I spend a lot of time treasure hunting. I totally understand how thrifting and salvaging are not for everyone; I've dug through a lot of mystery piles searching for a diamond in the rough, and it's not always pretty. You have to train your eye to see the beauty in something even before its makeover. That ugly 1980s vase might not look like much now, but if it's got a great shape and you invest some time and effort it could be spectacular. 

But before you get to the fun part there's some dirty work to be done. Oh, the hours I have spent removing labels, cleaning, scraping, fixing, and sanding. Some items need a fresh coat of paint, some need their original finish restored, some need an entire process to turn the item from its original purpose into something entirely different.

A key aspect is giving an item pupose or function. If it looks pretty, great. But if it looks pretty and you can actually use it for something; even better!


I've made new pieces that started life as cake stands, toolboxes, old barrel hoops, filing cabinet drawers, picture frames, and all kinds of weird things and they are always my favourite. It's extra satisfying when someone appreciates and snags one of these one-of-a-kinds that they know literally no one else will ever have.

So recycling: always a good thing. But upcycling is better because not only does it save the object, but it actually leaves the item with more value than it started.

It has a purpose, it has function, and it will be treasured.


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