Inspiration and Upcycling Ideas Before Your Next Thrift Store Run

Inspiration and Upcycling Ideas Before Your Next Thrift Store Run

Are thrift stores full of things you can upcycle and craft with? Yes. But will you have a brilliant idea right there in the store and know to grab the right pieces? Not necessarily! If you’re armed with some inspiration and upcycling ideas before you go, though, well…your thrifting trip might be more fruitful. Here are some fabulous repurposed projects to help spark a few ideas before you head out the door.

From VHS Storage to Accent Table

using metallic spray paint to make something look like metal

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Metallic spray paint is a favorite tool in any upcycling wizard’s laboratory. Why? Because it provides an opportunity to turn something that isn’t metal into something that looks like it is. In this case, plastic VHS storage drawers now look like an industrial metal filing cabinet table.

Light Fixtures Can “Bee” Deceiving

bee decor from a light shade

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Before modern day beehives were developed, beekeepers would use bee skeps to house their honey-making bees. The traditional skeps were domed baskets, but the idea of skeps is more likely to be decorative these days than functional. And you can easily create the look of one like this by upcycling a glass light shade.

Upcycling Ideas for Clear Glass Vases

painting clear glass

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Clear glass vases- those inexpensive pressed glass vases used by florists- are a dime a dozen at thrift stores and can really crowd the shelves. But an intricate paint job like this transforms them into exotic collectibles that look like you brought them back from your last trip overseas.

Kitchen Caddy

storage for baking pans and cookie sheets

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

There are a lot of upcycling ideas out there for magazine racks, but save this one for the large, straight-sided variety. Because they are PERFECT if you need a little extra storage in your kitchen for baking pans and cookie sheets. A kitchen caddy like this keeps them handy and can be wheeled right into a pantry to keep it out of sight.

Upcycling Ideas for Wooden Tennis Rackets

wooden pendants from tennis racket h andles

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

The inside of a tennis racket is quite a lovely surprise. Thin layers of different wood are pressed together to create them, and when sliced like this, the cross section becomes a gorgeous necklace pendant.

Upcycled Loom

diy loom from a pizza pan

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Yes, it sounds absolutely bonkers- but a pizza pan (or crisping pan) like this can be transformed into modern boho decor. Those perfectly placed holes meant to create a crispy crust can be upcycled into a circular loom for a most unusual (and eye-catching) woven wall hanging like this.

Mushroom Markers

mushroom plant markers from shoe trees

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

There are a lot of things you can upcycle into plant markers, but this one’s exceptionally cute- especially when mushroom decor has never been more popular. Vintage shoe trees (or stretchers) like these are perfect for a little garden-inspired makeover like this. And they’re such a sweet way to label and mark the plants in your garden.

Upcycling Ideas for Sweaters

sweater pillows for boho room decor

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Thrift stores are often overrun with clothing, so upcycling a few shirts and sweaters is doing those shops a favor, right? Especially if your upcycling ideas for them turn out this pretty! Because a colorful sweater with abnormally long sleeves is meant to be repurposed into a funky throw pillow, if you ask me.

The Upcycled Fake-Out

windmill wall decor

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Years ago when the show “Fixer Upper” first aired, I was amazed at the use of salvaged windmill blades as home decor. Of course, I was in a very different tax bracket than the folks on the show so I was determined to make an inexpensive upcycled version of it. Which I did, courtesy of some outdated ceiling fan blades from Habitat ReStore.

Upcycling Ideas for Metal Buttons

turn metal buttons into fake coins

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Here’s one of those upcycling ideas that you definitely didn’t see coming. But you might see the jars of vintage buttons that make their way onto thrift store shelves. And if you see one with a lot of metal buttons inside, they are fun to upcycle into “coins” for making fun jewelry like this!

Unkillable Cacti

diy wooden cactus

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

I once visited a Habitat ReStore that had a HUGE number of ball tops and post caps (for fences, decks, etc.) available. And since I wanted a few cactus plants but can’t be trusted to keep real ones alive, I turned a few of these wooden caps into faux cacti. Cute, harmless, and completely upcycled!

Bottle Opener with Cap Catcher

upcycled recipe box for a bottle opener

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Sadly, written recipe cards are one of the many casualties in our digital world. Which means the quintessential recipe box is, well…no longer quintessential! Thankfully, with upcycling ideas like this, you can repurpose one into a cap catcher for a DIY bottle opener for the back porch.

Painted Bottles

diy seaglass bottles for coastal decor

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Ok, maybe this project idea is more recycling bin than thrift store- but you do find clear glass bottles while thrifting, too. Either way, look how pretty than can be when upcycled into sea glass bottles like these? Perfect for a touch of coastal decor in your home, no matter where you live.

Upcycled Planters

metal magazine holder as a planter

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Here’s another repurposed project using a magazine rack. But instead of wood, this one is metal- and is easily repurposed into a planter. And if you check out the upcycling tutorial, you’ll see just how these flowers overtook the entire rackIn fact, it’s new purpose might be even better than the original purpose, don’t you think?

Succulent Pots

succulent pots from the thrift store

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Speaking of planters, here’s an upcycling idea on a smaller scale. A vintage condiment caddy might not be ideal or necessary on today’s kitchen table. But it’s ideal for a quick makeover and repurpose as a pot for small succulents like this.

Inventive Wedding Decor

painted cheese shakers

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Let’s face it, certain celebrations and events can get out-of-this-world expensive, like weddings. So, upcycling thrift store finds into decor and whatnot for these events can be a huge cost savings. Thanks to a clever paint job, non of the guests will realize that the table vases were actually cheese graters!

Fondue Fork Project

fondue forks as plant markers

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Once upon a time, a home wasn’t complete if it didn’t have a fondue set in the kitchen. But times have changed and a LOT of fondue sets end up at thrift stores. Which is ideal if you’re an upcycler because those forks are PERFECT as plant labels in the garden.

Upcycling Ideas and Inspiration for Your Thrifted Finds

music city thrift

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with thrifting something and simply using at home as-is. But the beauty of secondhand shopping is that there are endless possibilities for the treasures that you find. Either way, I hope you’ve been inspired and have some fresh ideas in your back pocket now. So, let’s go thrifting and see what we find!

Craft on!


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repurpose projects and upcycling ideas

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.

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