Turning Clutter Into Treasures

    Inspired upcycling reduces impact on the planet

    Ryan Collins from Planet Ark
    It’s National Recycling Week from November 7th to 13th, the time of year when we’re asked to perform a health check on our recycling and waste minimisation habits. Almost half of all our waste goes to landfill – so there’s room for improvement.

    The recycling education campaign is not only about what you put in your household bin, it’s about reducing and reusing in the first place, and that’s where the trend of upcycling can have a positive impact on making your home look unique and reducing the amount of reusable items heading to the tip.

    James Treble, interior designer, Planet Ark Ambassador and regular presenter on TV’s The Living Room, is a whiz at tracking things down to breathe new life into. “One refurbished piece in your lounge or bedroom can be the centerpiece of the whole room if done well,” he says.

    “As a designer, I love seeing all of the handmade ideas and creativity when it comes to how people decorate their own spaces. “We all value the handmade aspect of home styling, so it means you can come up with some amazing ideas, share them on sites like Pinterest, and then adapt other ideas with your own take. It’s ever-changing and evolving, making it sustainable and creative!”

    James’ fab four upcycle suggestions
    • Look for items with “good bones”. Furniture like tables, chairs and dressers might only need some new upholstery or a sand and coat of paint for new life and a new look

    • Choose pieces that can be incorporated into your style and think about the longevity of the piece before you spend time and energy on it.

    • Upcycle pieces from your own home – if you don’t like something the way it is any more, give it a makeover! That old wooden bookshelf for example, could look completely different given a rustic French finish with some washed paint finishes..or an old tea cup that could work beautifully to plant some baby succulents.

    • If you lack confidence, start small – have a go at repainting some ornaments or making a cushion from repurposed fabric until you get the hang of it.

    Sourcing goodies
    When it comes to finding items to upcycle, there are a number of good tactics: are friends or family having a clearout? Have you always loved that old writing desk your Grandma’s throwing out? A lick of lacquer and it could be good as new – or make it fit your own scheme with a paint colour that matches your other furniture.

    Charity shops like The Salvos and Vinnies have terrific old furniture that just needs a bit of TLC. If you’re unsure you can manage the job yourself, refurbishers can do a professional job for you.

    There are also amazing tip shops like the Reuse Shop Kimbriki at Terrey Hills, which has lots of treasures just waiting to be upcycled or go to a new home. Bargains include furniture, homewares, toys and even sports equipment like golf clubs. Look out for old wooden pallets which are very versatile and can be turned into anything from vertical gardens to armchairs.

    While finding items in council collections can be rewarding, some councils frown upon this as residents rifling through all the hard rubbish can make a mess and pose safety risks. If this is one of your strategies, be considerate and leave things tidy.

    And hit the markets! Lots of Sydney suburbs have antique and furniture markets and you never know where you’ll make that lucky find. There are lots of videos and blogs on the internet to show you how to upcycle a variety of items – the only limit is your imagination.a

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