Nancy Robards Thompson
Nancy Robards Thompson


Fun, Jaunty Post, Nancy Robards Thompson, repurposing

1 I don't think outside of the box


Years ago,  the word “repurposing” brought to mind the old tractor tire my grandma and grandpa painted silver and placed in their front yard as a planter.  I don’t know if they thought of their tire-turned-planter as “repurposing,” certainly not as “upcycling.”  I can see my grandpa scratching his head and asking, “What the heck does that mean?”  All that mattered was that they had the prettiest petunias on South New Street, and my grandpa was proud that he’d created a cool flowerbed for my grandma to show off her posies. They’d turned a tire into a personal treasure.

In the spirit of that silver planter, here are some upcycling ideas I’ve stumbled across recently. Most of them are more functional than beautiful (sadly, no tires are involved):


3. creative-diy-repurposing-reusing-upcycling-51. TP and paper towel rolls are great for organizing cords and jewelry. When we moved our daughter to college, we used them to keep her long necklaces from getting tangled. It worked!



4. binder clip holds computer cords

2. Binder clips hold computer cords in place when not in use.

5. perfect bagel holder


3. If you brown bag it, CD packages serve as a perfect bagel sandwich holder.





6. lightbulb bud vase
4. Make a bud vase out of a used light bulb by cutting off the end of the bulb and removing the wires inside; fill it with water; set it on a pretty napkin ring and add a flower. Voila!





7. shutter5. Make great use of narrow wall space by converting an old window shutter into a decorative and functional message center/organizer. Secure messages, keys, mail, artwork, photos and school permission slips with clothes pins and it will be easier for your family to stay organized.


8. craft-organizer

6. Silicone ice cube trays make great organizers for your desk, craft room, jewelry or tool box.







9. Cereal-Box-Magazine-Holders-300x225


7. Cereal boxes covered with wrapping paper make pretty magazine holders.





10. rake8. Rake heads display necklaces and keep them from getting tangled.






11. tension rod under the sink

9. Place a tension rod under the kitchen or bathroom sink and hang cleaners from it.






12. chalk holder10. Turn “cup” drawer pulls upside down and affix to a blackboard for a handy chalk holder. 






13. dollhouse storage unit


11. An old doll house makes a unique storage shelf in the laundry or bathroom.






14. royal crown bottle painted

12. Create a vintage-looking bottle. This was a Crown Royal bottle painted (three coats of paint – first, paint it black and then finish with two coats of a sea green color); sand lightly to give it a distressed look.





13. Make a wine cork coaster:  15. wine cork coasterGather enough corks to make the size coaster you desire. Cut a standard-size cork in half so it’s not too tall. Using a hot glue gun, glue the corks to each other in a circular shape. As the finishing touch (and to hold them all together), glue a pretty ribbon around the cork bundle.





16. Altoid tin

14. Have instant fun with a portable magnetic Tic-Tac-Toe game made from an Altoids box.





17. towel rack15. Use a wine rack as a towel holder. Roll the towels and place then where the wine bottles would go.


Do you have any upcycling or repurposing tips or projects? Or what’s your favorite project here? One person who posts will win a book from my backlist – your choice. Can’t wait to hear about your ideas and personal favorites!

24 thoughts on “Upcycling ~ Don’t worry, this is not a post about exercise!

  1. mimi says:

    My mama used a tractor tire as our childhood sandbox! 😀 I use TP rolls to keep the Christmas tree lights organized by strand…no more knots.

  2. Melody May says:

    I actually have a friend that gives new life to stuff. I mean she will hunt stuff out a thrift store. She recently painted a type of drawers and made it into a tv stand. Super cute. I love Real Simple because they have a section for those items in a new way.

  3. Mia Marlowe Mia Marlowe says:

    Such clever ideas, Nancy. If I wasn’t a danger to myself and others when there’s a glue gun in my hand, I’d give some of these a try! LOL.

    I really like the tension rod to hang cleaners from. Brilliant.

  4. Laurie G says:

    My daughter uses hangers (in place of the rake idea) one for scarves and ribbons, another for belts. I gave her a tie rack to hang her necklaces on. She uses the toilet paper rolls for her bracelets. We hadn’t thought about putting the necklaces on the inside.

    I use a large paper clip to hold my house key when I take walks or bike. It attaches to the waist band of my shorts when I don’t have pockets.

    We use a shower pole to hang shirts to dry out above our washer and dryer. One end against the wall and the adjustable end against a cabinet.

    We still have a food tray that we use as a snow coaster.

  5. Laurie G says:

    I thought of a couple more things we reuse.

    Baby food jars! Filled with nails, screws, buttons, safety pins, paper clips. nuts & bolts The different sizes work beautifully. My FIL begged for some for his tool box and work room.

    I a use the large Smuckers strawberry jelly jars. I fill them with shells we’ve collected on our walks along the ocean. They look nice on bookcases on in the bathroom.

    I save cottage cheese containers under the kitchen sink and put bacon grease, chicken grease and the yucky paper towels in the container and throw it away. The cover helps eliminate the odor too.

    I have styrofoam egg cartons filled with my sewing stuff, one filled with different spools of thread another with buttons, snaps, bobbins, pins etc.

  6. CateS says:

    You can use a pop-top from canned soda to expand your closet. Drop the pop-top over the hanger hook.. then you can hang another hanger on the pop-top.

  7. Shana Shana says:

    I am so not creative! It’s always fun to see how others come up with inventive uses for everyday things.

  8. Connie Fischer says:

    I love to copy other people’s ideas because I’m not that creative. Thanks for the tips!!

  9. Anne says:

    In the garage we always have these small plastic boxes that we save and each one is designated for specific nails, and tacks.

  10. ellie says:

    In our computer room we have an area which has boxes of files, and we save for the inserts cardboard backing which can be from cereal boxes or photographs.

  11. JenfromTexas says:

    Personally, I think the wine rack used as a towel holder is beautiful and brilliant. 🙂

  12. diane says:

    I have an old fishing tackle box from my late father which I use and cherish, for odds and ends, elastic bands, coins, erasers, and small buttons, and tiny rings.

  13. Lorelei says:

    Great tips! I doing the tension rod thing under the sink! I’m so practical and need the space!
    You know those long Styrofoams that come in computer or TV boxes? They’re about 4″x4″ width and height and very long? Well, I cut the length to fit the size of my bookshelf and created like a mini shelf in the back, so I can put some paperbacks in the back row (you can see the titles) and then more books in the front! A great way to utilize space and have them still handy. With this, I managed to get rid one of my 2 bookshelves and gained extra space, not sacrificing my books! 😀

  14. Kathryn in Montreal says:

    Love the wine rack/towel holder…

    We re-purposed peanut butter jars for all the different sizes of nails and screws my husband uses. I re-use plastic grocery bags to dispose of cat litter. We compost a lot and are careful about recycling… but I’m just not inventive enough to come up with ideas like those you’ve mentioned (some of which I will unabashedly use at home).

  15. catslady says:

    Oh, people are so clever!! Since we drink a lot of wine, I like that idea of the coasters. I mean my cats can play with only so many corks lol.

  16. I should print this out, because I tend to forget all this cleverness when it comes to my own house. I’ll think, “Wait, I know there was a better way to store these…” and then Google it, and then see something shiny, and then I forgot what I was doing. Thanks, Nancy!

  17. Jo's Daughter says:

    I’m always interested in reusing materials for something else. I recently helped my mom to make some teatowels from a large piece of linnen fabric. Sunlight had faded the material, so using it as a tablecloth was not something we did anymore. We got 14 new teatowels from it and use them every day. I felt so proud of our work that I posted a piece and picture of them on my blog.

    I love the cork coaster, online I saw a picture of a cork heart. You know making a heart shape from winecorks. I’m saving up my corks to make one. But it is gonna take a while, I’ve got three so far. I don’t drink wine you see 🙂

  18. pearl says:

    Bags which are hanging in the garage are very handy for the items which are on counters, or end up falling on the floor.

  19. Such great ideas, everyone! Thank you for sharing!

  20. I am terrible about implementing crafty ideas, but we recycle a lot in my neighborhood. In fact we have more that goes out Ito be recycled than into the trash. Which is a very good thing, I think!

  21. Margo, that’s a great thing! Good on you and your neighbors.

  22. Terri Brisbin says:

    Cindy –

    What great ideas! Thanks for sharing!

  23. Rhonda says:

    I love the idea of the tension rod under the kitchen/bathroom sink! I also like the wine rack used for towels. Wonderful ideas everyone!

  24. bn100 says:

    Using binder clips to close chip bags

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