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Five upcycling tips for renters

Posted on 2018-08-29

We all want to make our homes more appealing with the best furniture, decorations and trinkets. But sometimes our budgets won't allow us to go out and buy the latest items taking interiors by storm.

That's why upcycling - reusing and reshaping unwanted furniture, turning it into something useful and visually appealing - has become so popular in recent years. Not only does upcycling save money, but it gives you the opportunity to create unique and trendy furniture that will give your home a timely boost.

This type of DIY can also be regarded as environmentally friendly, particularly if you're reusing items which otherwise would have been thrown away.

So how can you improve your rental property with some upcycling? Here's our five tips to get you started...

Use anything and everything

The first place you need to look for upcycling inspiration is your home. The likelihood is there's loads of unused stuff sitting around which would be perfect for upcycling.

Refashioning furniture and old items from your home also doubles up as decluttering - something that we should all do more often.

If there's nothing suitable at home, then you could look to purchase some cheap second-hand items to repurpose. Furniture charity shops, flea markets and car boot fairs are a good place to start.

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If you're looking online, you'll find lots to choose from on Gumtree and freecycle.

Be careful not to spend too much, though, as the whole point of upcycling is to improve your home without breaking the bank.

Start small and work upwards

We're not all DIY experts and that's why - particularly if you haven't done it before - you should start small when upcycling. Updating the smallest ornament or piece of furniture could have a big effect in your home.

It's advisable to start with the less labour-intensive improvements too - think painting, sanding and varnishing, rather than completely refashioning with your power tools.

So, as well as repainting an old chest of drawers or kitchen chair, you could turn some bottles into vases or some old tins into plant pots - this still counts as upcycling!

Once you've found your feet, you can graduate to more advanced projects like turning a wooden pallet into a coffee table or fixing and sprucing up an old wardrobe so it's functional again.

The key thing to remember is that you must do what you're comfortable with and that a range of small improvements can combine to make a big difference.

Be inspired and creative

There are no hard and fast rules to upcycling - you just have to do what feels right and works the best in your home.

You don't have to rely on ideas you've found online or things you've seen in other people's houses - you can turn anything into something else or make the most run-down piece of furniture look its

best with a bit of thought and planning.

That said, if you're looking for upcycling inspiration, then there's plenty to be found online on Instagram and Pinterest. What's more, there's plenty of blogs and websites dedicated to the art of upcycling - Upcycle That and Reloved Magazine are two of the best.

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Although the odd standout piece may look great, it's important to think about your wider interior scheme and how your projects fit in with this if you're going to do lots of upcycling.

What's more, the creativity could breed practicality. A lot of the best upcycling projects provide useful solutions and objects which have a purpose. For example, you could use old boxes as shelves, tatty suitcases as permanent storage and old bottles and jars as dispensers and storage for everyday items.

Don't overspend and overcomplicate

As we mentioned earlier, upcycling is a great way to have some fun and introduce some creative ideas to your home without going over budget. And that's why it's so important not to overspend.

Some of the best upcycles will be with free items or the ones that are about to be thrown out. If you do have to buy items, keep the spending to a minimum otherwise it will defeat the object of the exercise.

It's also important not to overcomplicate things. Once your creative juices start flowing, it could be tempting to try and upcycle your whole home. That's probably not a good idea. Instead, it's better to work by the less is more mantra and keep things as simple as possible, particularly if you're new to upcycling.

Make it social and have fun

Upcycling needn't be a chore and if you're going to invest some time in having a go, you might as well try and enjoy it. It's a good opportunity to spend some time with your housemates which isn't in front of the TV and doesn't cost much money.

To maximise your enjoyment, make sure you use items which aren't valuable to you (in case things go wrong) and that you minimise the chances of damage to other parts of the home.

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If you do decide to try a bit of upcycling in your rental home and the furniture you're updating isn't your own, make sure to ask the landlord's permission. You'll also need to be careful not to make too much of a mess when decorating 

Upcycling is, however, an ideal way to add your own touch to your rental property without causing issue with your landlord, as you’re decorating furniture and not making significant changes to walls and rooms. Good luck and happy upcycling!

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