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Top 5 Upcycling Projects for Beginners that Require Few Skills & Equipment

Upcycling DIY Projects for Beginners finished photos

At Laughing Frog Studio, we love upcycling, in fact we’ve built our business around upcycling – we upcycle vintage silverware into jewelry, accessories, housewares and more. We strongly believe in upcycling as an eco-friendly means to honor the history, quality and spirit of vintage goods. We have invested time and money into developing the skills and acquiring the tools necessary to successfully upcycle vintage silverware into unique upcycled creations.

Infographic Upcycling vs. Recycling


But what about you the beginner? Have you been scrolling through Instagram and seen a really cool upcycling creation and thought “WOW that is so clever and cool! I wish I could do that, but I wouldn’t know where to start.”

Upcycling does not need to be complex or intimidating. Take a deep breath and look around your house! You probably already have stuff begging to be upcycled! Look in the back of your closet or cupboard, and you will find your inspiration. Do you have a box of Granny’s old hankies that have a lot of sentimental value? Maybe you have way too many extra unused kitchen items like canisters and cutting boards! What do you do with them, you can’t just throw them away-that is wasteful and bulky for landfills. You could always donate them, but what’s the fun in that? That’s where upcycling comes in.

Here are our top 5 favorite upcycling ideas for beginners that don’t require any fancy tools or skills.

  1. Upcycling a Canister into a Planter
  2. Upcycling a Spaghetti Sauce Jar into a Chic Canister
  3. Upcycling Wine Corks into a Trivet
  4. Upcycling Vintage Hankies into a Window Valance
  5. Upcycling a Cutting Board into a Serving Tray
  6. BONUS: Upcycling a Drawer into a Wall Shelf

Upcycling a Canister into a Planter

0 skills | 0 equipment | 1 supply - a canister

Upcycling of coffee canister into planter

This upcycling project is great because it brings immediate gratification.

Look in your pantry, you probably have at least one canister that is sitting empty. Grab that orphan, find a houseplant that needs a makeover and marry the two pieces. We used a lidded coffee canister without the lid.

Wash the canister well and then fill the base with pebbles (I literally, went outside and collected pebbles and rocks for this part, no joke) or other coarse materials for excess water to drain into.

Next, carefully remove plant from original pot and set aside. Take the remaining potting soil from the original pot and pour over the pebbles. Carefully loosen the roots of the plant, place in the new receptacle and fill with remaining potting soil.

Be sure to water immediately.

Upcycling a Spaghetti Sauce Jar into Chic Canister

0 skills | 2 equipment (chalkboard paint & painters’ tape) | 1 supply - old spaghetti sauce jar

Upcycling glass spaghetti jars

Who doesn’t have at least one spaghetti sauce jar in the pantry right now? Homemade sauce is the boss, but when in a hurry, that jarred sauce is very quick and easy. But don’t throw that glass jar out when you are finished. It is WAY to useful and can easily be upcycled into chic pantry storage.

Simply thoroughly clean the jar and remove the labels. Prep the surface of the jar for being painted with chalkboard spray paint by masking off a rectangle, or any other shape, with blue painters’ tape – you probably have some in your garage right now! Paint the exposed area, let dry, remove tape and label appropriately with a piece of chalk. Here is a really simple step by step plan.

Upcycling Vintage Hankies into Window Valance

0 skill | 0 equipment | 2 supplies - hankies and a tension rod

Grannie will be so happy to know her hankies will be loved for another generation. This upcycling DIY is super simple the best part is NO SEWING REQUIRED!

Using a tension rod in your window, fold the hankies diagonally over the rod so they create a pointed edge. BOOM you’re done!

Upcycling DIY Vintage Hankie Curtain Valence

Upcycling Wine Corks into a Trivet

0 skills | 1 equipment - screwdriver | 2 supplies - corks and stainless-steel hose clamp

Upcycling Wine Corks into a kitchen triver

Depending on how much wine you drink, ahem, you may or may not be able to do this project. As for me, I drink enough wine to make dozens of these trivets! Ha ha! If you don’t have an abundant supply of them rolling around in a drawer, just call your local fancy restaurant, I am sure they would be happy to bestow you with a bevy of corks.

To do this upcycling DIY project, you simply need aforementioned corks and a stainless steel hose clamp.

What is a stainless-steel hose clamp? Well it’s a lot like an embroidery hoop but its made of metal and is used in plumbing. Come to think of it, I bet if you have an embroidery hoop lying around, it might work just as well!

Anyhow, check out Sadie Seasongoods simple three-step process for making an upcycled wine cork trivet.

Upcycling a Cutting Board into Serving Tray

1 skills | 1 equipment – drill with drill bit | 2 Supplies - cutting board and drawer handles

Charcuterie and cheese boards are simply all the rage right now. The longer they are trendy, the more elaborate they are becoming. As such, some are becoming unwieldy to carry safely. Simply add a set of kitchen hardware handles to these boards and you can now safely carry your beautifully curated charcuterie board with ease.

Upcycling Cutting Board into Serving Tray
This upcycling DIY is super simple but you do need to be comfortable with a drill. If using a drill is something that is in your wheelhouse, you are good to go on this project. Grab an old, unused cutting board from the back of that low, out-of-the-way kitchen cupboard and head to the garage and find a pair of handles from the last kitchen remodel project. Alternately, you can head to goodwill and find an old wooden cutting board and then off to home depot for a pair of drawer handles.

Check out Sadie Seasongoods for the deets on how to make your own upcycled cutting board serving tray.

Dress up your new upcycling DIY cutting board charcuterie tray with Laughing Frog Studio's fun lines of spoon charcuterie/cheese knives, handstamped cheese spreaders and silverware cheese markers.

Upcycling a Drawer into a Wall Shelf

1 skills | 1 equipment – drill & screws | 1 supplies: Old drawer

This upcycling project is a personal favorite of mine! First of all, old furniture tends to be super well made and has loads of personality. Plus, there are so many options for creativity here! You can go as simple as literally removing the drawer from the dresser and hang it on the wall! Or you can paint, distress or add wallpaper to give real pizazz to the piece. Another option is to leave the drawer pull handle on for a real upcycled ingenuity look. Or marry several old drawers together to get an artsy display.

Upcycling Drawers into Shelves
To make your drawer wall shelf, simply find the drawer you would like to use. If it is small enough and light enough, you can simply affix a picture hanging hook to it and hang it on a nail. If the drawer is rather heavy, you will probably want to screw the drawer into the wall studs to insure stability.


See? Like we said, upcycling really does not need to be complex or intimidating. Why not try one of our suggestions right now while you’re feeling inspired. Share your finished creations with us in the comments of this blog post and/or on our Instagram or Facebook pages.

Additionally, we invite you to browse all the fun upcycled silverware creations that we make at Laughing Frog Studio.

Laughing Frog Studio

Matt and Jen Edmondson Owners of Laughing Frog Studio in Cat Spring, Texas

Every creation you purchase from Laughing Frog Studio is made by me or Matt -that’s it! There are only two of us and we employ all of the imperfectly perfect, painstakingly glorious handmade methods of creating. You will receive an authentically unique, beautiful truly handmade, upcycled silverware creation from the two of us that is made with love.

Laughing Frog Studio’s mission is to create high-quality, handmade, unique and one-of-a-kind upcycled vintage silverware jewelry, accessories and housewares that enchant the creative spirit, honor the eco-friendly lifestyle, and spread kindness and a sprinkle of humor as often as possible.

Other Blog Posts:

QUIZ: What Does Your Silverware Pattern Preference Say About Your Style & Personality?

Spoon Rings and Love Over the Ages - A Unique History

Silverplate vs. Sterling Silver? What's the Difference?

Handmade: Made by Hand & With Love






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