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Plastic spoons, old car tyres, a discarded cable drum, a wooden ladder; these are unlikely to be the first items that spring to mind when thinking about redecorating your home.

But the upcycling trend is causing many home-owners to look at these items in a new light.

Tyres become funky coffee tables, old ladders become shelves and cable drums become eco-friendly reading tables.


So, what is upcycling?


The term ‘upcycling’ means giving a new lease of life to an item that may otherwise be destined for the bin.   The idea is actively adding value and quality to an item by restoring and re-purposing it. The 'up' stands for 'upping' its value.            


The difference between upcycling and recycling is that when you recycle something the components are usually broken down, and the result is an item of lesser quality e.g. recycled newspaper becoming napkins or toilet paper.


Upcycling has appealed to interior designers all over the world. It’s been embraced as a whole new approach to interior design – adding character, personalisation and conversation to pieces.


The Upcycle Movement


So far, so LA. But this isn’t some marginal East Valley or even East London trend. Lynn Haughton is the founder of The Upcycle Movement, and has been upcycling from her base in Dun Laoghaire, South Dublin for the past two years. She explained to us what it is that makes upcycling so appealing:


"I love going into a home and feeling the character and life of its owner reflected in its interior. For example – I was in a home recently which had beautiful wooden flooring that was made using old pallets. It was lovely to imagine where the pallets may have travelled to and from in their previous life. Perhaps they had shipped cargo right across the world?”


"That’s what I love most about upcycled interior design – each item tells a story as beautiful and as unusual as the finished piece.”


How to explore your upcycling side 


If you are someone who loves a bit of character, a personal touch or a conversation piece in your home, upcycled interiors could just be your new favourite hobby.


Isn’t it exciting to see something that you could just as easily chuck in the bin being repurposed into something useful or decorative?


You can be as simple or as complex with the upcycling. From a plastic spoon to a ladder ViralNova has pulled together ‘30 Brilliant ways to use old stuff you're about to throw away’ for inspiration.


Mismatch and painted furniture have become a big trend lately and furniture painting workshops have been popping up all over the country such as those held by


Haughton advises anyone to give it a try:


“We all have a ghastly table or chair in the attic or in the garage. Why not go and experiment with it? Why not try a bright electric blue or even a blood red and make it a feature piece of furniture? It’s surprising how one upcycled statement piece can lift a whole room.”


Stencilling & decoupage are other techniques that have seen a comeback in a big way. Decoupage is the delicate art of using paper to decorate furniture and add detail to pieces.


Whatever way you decide to dip your toe into upcycled interiors, Haughton’s best advice is to not take it too seriously:


“Whether it's simply painting up your existing dining chairs or even repurposing a dining chair entirely and turning it into a swing in the garden, I recommend having fun and giving it a go and experimenting! By re-thinking what you already have you might surprise yourself with what you come up with.”


Do you have any old teacups? Look at this great teacup bird feeder idea.


Have you given a new lease of life to an old item or have any upcycling ideas? Share them on twitter @Ask123ie with the #123ShabbyChic



Cable drum table and plastic spoon mirror by The Upcycle Movement. Teacup bird feeder sourced from


Roisin Mc Carville

Digital Marketing Executive

Hi I’m Roisin and I’m the Digital Marketing Executive here at We hope you enjoy reading our blog.