DELMARVA ALMANAC

Upcycling - Eastern Shore Style

by Keyanna Bowen

You may be able to find a way to salvage and repurpose household items. It's called upcycling.

Happy New Year! I love the fresh start that January brings. That feeling like you can finally re-take control of your life. And for me, that means purging my home of unwanted items and getting organized. Now we all know the saying, out with the old and in with the new, but sometimes it can be hard to get rid of the old. You know that dress that you haven't worn in years because it doesn't fit anymore, but you keep it just incase you lose a few pounds. Or that old bench, that's on its last leg, literally, but you can't throw it away because your grandmother gave it to you.

Whether its wishful thinking, indecisiveness, or sentimental value, there's a lot of reasons why it can be hard to toss out old and unused items. So what if I told you you didn't have to? Instead of doing the dreadful purge, you may be able to find a way to salvage and repurpose household items. It's called upcycling. It's the art of reusing unwanted items by converting them into something better. With a little imagination, you can upcycle your old stuff into something beautiful and functional, and today I'm going to share a few tips on how to successfully turn your trash into treasure.

To get started, you'll need to take a tour around your house and look for items that can be transformed into something new. Remember, not all "trash" can be turned into treasure. You don't want to waste time repurposing something that will fall apart the next day. Although some ware and tare is fine, you really want to look at the structure of the piece and make sure it has good bones. If you're questioning whether an item is worth keeping, it's important to look beyond the surface. Use your creative eye to see how and if it can be uplcycled into something outside of its current function. For example, I've seen large dressers turned into bench seating and even old doors transformed into tabletops. So really think outside the box when imagining what something can be turned in to.

Once you've narrowed down what you would like to repurpose, it's time to find inspiration. Magazines, blogs, and of course, Pinterest is a great place to search for inspiration. Local shops are also a great place to get inspired. Delmarva has some of the most amazing boutiques owned by extremely creative individuals. Often, the storeowners are also makers and artisans, so they may have a few ideas and even be willing to help you with your project. You can also do a little window-shopping and see if there is an item in the store that you can recreate at home.

You may not have all the materials or items you need in your house to upcycle your piece, so you'll need to do a little shopping. But try to stay away from pricey retail and big chain stores as much as possible. Upcycling is all about creating something new by spending as little money as possible. Local thrift stores, garage sales, and donation centers like Habitat For Humanity Restore are ideal spots to find materials. Antique stores are also a great place to find quality furniture and vintage items to upcycle and you can often negotiate a lower price. Lucky for us, Delmarva is home to dozens of antique shops with Berlin Maryland being dubbed the Antique Capital of the Eastern shore.

One of my favorite upcycle projects is turning an old sewing machine table into a sink vanity. If you don't already have a sewing machine table, you can almost always find one at a local antique or thrift store. You may need a handyman to help you but the process is simple. Just drill a hole through the table for the plumbing and attach a sink basin. The end result adds so much charm and character to a bathroom. Another popular upcycle trend is creating a shelving unit from an old ladder. All you need are a few wood planks to align across the steps of the ladder. Finish with a fresh coat of paint or leave distressed for a vintage flare. Oh and you know that old dress that doesn't fit, how about turning it into a scarf. With minimal sewing skills, you can do just that.

From bikes turned into tables to hats made into lighting fixtures, the possibilities of what you can create are truly endless. Aside from having a new, one of a kind piece for your home or wardrobe, there are so many benefits of upcycling. Upcycling is good for the environment because it reduces trash in landfills. And research has shown that creating things helps make people happier, less anxious, and more fulfilled. So instead of going out with the old, try transforming it into something new and beautiful. For more style and décor tips and ideas you can visit my blog at eastandlane.com