My Top Five Upcycled Home Decor Ideas

by | Jan 9, 2024 | Create, Furniture, Paint

Karen Berg shares her favorite upcycled home decor ideas and quick projects with minimal tools you can easily accomplish on a weekend or even in an afternoon that will make a big impact in your home for 2024!

Welcome to 2024! If you are like most of us, you have taken down the holiday decor and returning to regular routines and schedules again. Right after the holidays, January is also when many of us set goals and New Year’s resolutions. One of your goals or resolutions for 2024 is to get more organized in your home or to improve your decor so your home feels more inviting and peaceful to you and those you share your home with.

January can also be a time when we are paying off bills we incurred from the holidays and can make purchasing new things for our home in January challenging for us. I have some great solutions you can quickly complete with minimal tools, whether you live in a spacious home or a small apartment. I am sharing my favorite upcycle ideas you can easily accomplish on a weekend or even in an afternoon.

Here is a list of supplies you may want to gather before getting started on your upcycled home decor:

  • A small or 3 shelve shorter bookshelf
  • 220 Grit Sandpaper: if you plan to paint your bookshelf, I highly recommend DIY Paint (Clay Based on 100% Natural Paint that will stick to any surface, requires no priming, and can easily be used inside around kids and pets. Plus it is highly durable once dried and sealed)
  • Fabric and fabric glue or wood glue to cover the backing of your bookshelf (optional)
  • Scrap wood or a piece of wood cut to fit the top of your piece slightly larger than the bookshelf. (You can have wood cut to size at your local Home Improvement Store
  • Hammer and Nails to secure the wood, or a drill and wood screws
  • Wheels or Small Legs (Bun Feet are easy to attach and can be purchased at your local Home Improvement store) to attach to the bottom of the bookshelf. (If your bookshelf is flimsy on the bottom, have a piece of wood cut to fit the bottom and secure it with a hammer and nails or screws. (You will also want to rent or borrow a drill to attach the casters to your bookshelf if you add them.)
  • Scrap wood or wood cut to size if you want to add detail to the front and sides of your piece (this is a great way to hide any melamine edges and create more surfaces to attach bottle openers, hooks for towels, etc.

Step One: Find Your Bookshelf that you want to Upcycle

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You can upcycle any Old Bookshelf to create a rolling Kitchen Island or Bar Cart for your home or create more stylish storage. If you don’t own a small old bookshelf, there are always plenty to find for low cost or, if you are lucky, for free at garage sales, thrift stores, and FB marketplace.

I have upcycled many cheap Target or Ikea Melamine Bookshelves and turned them into fabulous storage or Kitchen Islands/Bar Carts. You will see many more uses once you see the possibilities of an old bookshelf.

Step One – Clean it thoroughly

Clean your bookshelf thoroughly, especially if stickers, nail polish, or other things are stuck to the bookshelf. I use Humble Suds, an all-natural cleaner and degreaser that does not require rinsing. You could also use a mixture of Water and White Vinegar to remove any dirt and residue, and you don’t have to rinse this either.

Step Two – Remove the backboard of your bookshelf

If you plan on painting the back of your piece or covering it with fabric, you can remove the back; often, it is flimsy cardboard, so go slowly while removing it.

If you plan to cover the back with fabric, cut your fabric slightly smaller than the back piece so you don’t have edges hanging out once you reattach this. You can use a Fabric Spray adhesive or a Decoupage Medium. If you use a heavier fabric, I highly recommend using the Decoupage Method to ensure your fabric stays adhered to the back piece. You can see that method HERE, where I share how I decoupaged an old Wood Dresser.

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Step Three – Painting

Next, you will want to paint your bookshelf. Once your piece is clean and dry, you will want to lightly scuff the surface if it is melamine and super shiny. If you are using a paint other than DIY Paint, I highly recommend you apply one coat of a high adhesive primer to accept the paint.

Seal your piece if it is painted and sealed with the sealer of choice (If you used DIY Paint, I highly recommend using Big Top Sealer, an easy and super durable Brush Sealer that will seal the paint to protect it from spills and fingerprints and will deepen and bring your paint color to life).

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Step Four – Reattach the Back of Your Bookshelf

Once the sealer and paint are dry and your fabric-covered backing is dry (if you did this step), reattach the back.

Step Five – Add Casters or Legs

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Turn your piece over and attach the coasters or furniture legs. This simple step of adding legs or casters will add height and interest to your piece. It will instantly elevate the look and give you a custom piece far removed from the cheap bookcase you started with.

Repeat this step by adding your wood piece to the top and wood details to the sides and fronts. (if desired)

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After completing the details with wood around your bookshelf, you can add a towel rack or hooks to the side, a cafe rod to the front, bottle openers, and more.

That’s it! You now have a new piece of furniture in your home, which costs you little except some basic materials and time. Once you upcycle your first bookshelf, you will want to try this on other things!

Having a beautiful and organized home does not need to be expensive; with some know-how, a little time, and the right supplies, you can have a customized piece of furniture and decor to elevate your home and your environment for years.

If you are inspired by these upcycle ideas, I would love you to visit me at my blog, Redouxinteriors.com, where I have over 16 years of upcycle tutorials and more.

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Karen Berg
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Karen Berg

Karen is the kind of person who will talk to anyone in a grocery store line, dance in public to a good song, laugh so hard she cries, doing all of these things on a fairly regular basis. Karen’s nickname in High School was “Good Time Charlie”, (given by her Great Grandma for someone who is the life of the party), she still lives her life this way, always searching for joy and fun wherever she goes. View Karen’s Full Bio

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