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How to get started with upcycling

Kyra, September 18, 2023

When it’s time for a refresh, it can be tempting to say out with the old and in with the new.

But with a little creativity and the right tools, you can save money and lessen your impact on the environment by upcycling instead.

Transforming old, tired items into treasured ones can be a low cost way to inject some personality into your space and it’s fun to be able to say ‘I made that!’ to anyone who’ll listen. Plus keeping items in circulation as long as possible helps support a circular economy, which is a fancy way of saying you’re doing your bit to create a less wasteful and more sustainable planet, and that gets a big thumbs up from us. 

To celebrate the launch of our new upcycling competition That’s A Rubbish Idea, in collaboration with IKEA Hammersmith, we’ve put together a guide to how to get started with upcycling which introduces you to some fantastic resources right here in west London.

IKEA Hammersmith Re-shop and Re-use hub

Step 1: Where to source second hand furniture and other gems 

The first step in your upcycling journey is to find an item that you want to make over. It could be an old piece of furniture, an unloved item at home, or even something as simple and ubiquitous as a wooden pallet. With a little creative star dust (and the help of some power tools), you’ll start to see the potential in these items. 

Where to find stuff for upcycling:

IKEA Hammersmith Re-shop and Re-use Hub: Did you know IKEA has its very own pre-loved section? It’s where you’ll find ex-display, discontinued pieces and items from IKEA’s buy-back service, but far from being a rejects pile, this is the spot for high quality products at budget-friendly prices. 

The internet: It’s 2023, which means you’re only a click away from getting your hands on some premium second hand goods - if you know where to scroll! Keep an eye on Facebook groups such as Ealing reduce, reuse, recycle, Facebook Marketplace (top tip: select the ‘Free Stuff’ category from the left hand menu), Gumtree and online neighbourhood hubs like Freegle, Freecycle and the popular sharing app Olio.

Charity shops: For extra feel good points, why not give back to charity with your next furniture purchase. West London is blessed with some great charity shops that sell furniture and some can even arrange delivery. Check out Ealing British Heart Foundation, Princess Alice Hospice, Royal Trinity Hospice’s ebay store and Richmond Furniture Scheme, which also has an online store. Plus, swing by the new-old furniture store and recycling hub ReStore on Lancaster West Estate. You’ll save dosh and give a new lease of life to items that might have ordinarily been ditched.

Step 2: Get inspiration and learn skills

Now that you've got your materials, it's time to gather inspiration and hone your upcycling skills. Here are some resources to help you on your way:

Petit Miracles: Got the stuff but lacking the right skills? Petit Miracles offers an excellent introduction to DIY skills through their workshops and courses. The social enterprise runs sessions in upholstery, furniture restoration and upcycling for beginners, plus more advanced sessions for those ready to be let loose with the power tools. Check out their courses online or keep reading to see how you could win a free spot on one of their excellent workshops when you enter our competition. 

IKEA and Livat Workshops: Livat Hammersmith is no ordinary shopping centre, for one it’s the home of Hammersmith Library of Things. Secondly, it’s a place where you can take a break from retail therapy and pick up some skills that’ll help you love the stuff you already own. Keep an eye on their website to hear about upcoming workshops hosted by IKEA and Livat where you can get hands-on experience and learn from the pros.

Library of Things: Every day we receive stories from members who have hired tools to upcycle everything from discarded tables to old doors (yep, a Hammersmith local really did transform some old doors into tombstones for Halloween!). For a weekly dose of upcycling inspiration make sure you’re signed up to our newsletter and following us on social media @library.of.things

Step 3: Unleash your creativity 

With materials in hand and your newfound confidence with DIY, it's time to roll up your sleeves and bring your upcycling vision to life. Upcycling allows you to add a personal touch to your creations, and don’t worry if your personal touch is a little skewwiff - the more you do it, the better you’ll get. 

Whether you're refurbishing furniture, repurposing textiles, or breathing new life into unloved items, every project is an opportunity to express your unique style and contribute to a more sustainable future. Plus, keeping your hands occupied with drills, sanders, screws and saws is one way to reduce your screen time while flexing those creative muscles.  

Feeling inspired and want to share your upcycling project to help others catch the upcycling bug? We've got an exciting opportunity for you! 

That’s a Rubbish Idea

We've teamed up with IKEA Hammersmith to offer you the chance to showcase your creativity while treading lighter on the planet. There are not one, not two but three amazing prizes on offer including 30% off at IKEA Re-Shop and Re-Use, priority booking at an upcycling workshop and the grand prize of a £200 voucher to spend at IKEA Hammersmith.

Register here for your chance to win:  

1. One of 50 vouchers to get 30% off at the IKEA Re-Shop and Re-use in Hammersmith or a free upcycling workshop worth £65 at @petitmiracles ✨

2. Priority booking at a free upcycling session with IKEA and Livat in Hammersmith on the following dates: 📍IKEA Hammersmith: 27th September 📍Livat Hammersmith: 14th October

3. A £200 voucher to spend at IKEA Hammersmith when you enter your finished upcycling project into our competition. 🏆

Need inspiration to get started with upcycling?

Register for the giveaway and look out for top upcycling ideas in your inbox.