Upcycling is the latest trend in the world of interior design.  The term refers to the idea of converting old, useless products into something new and improved. The concept of upcycling has been around since the early 1990s, when Reiner Pilz of Pilz GmbH spoke on the subject of recycling, saying, “I call it downcycling. They smash bricks, they smash everything. What we need is upcycling where old products are given more value not less.”

Upcycling is a DIY and craft-lovers dream. If you need some ideas for projects whether that’s turning your old oak French doors into shelves or headrests, or ways to convert rusty old gates into attractive hat stands, check out these creative and inspirational works from up-and-coming designers.

  1. Rupert Blanchard

Upcycled Victorian Chest of Drawers by Rupert Blanchard


Rupert Blanchard is a furniture designer with a passion for what could probably be best described as “extreme upcycling”.  He spends several months on his projects.  One of the best examples of his work is a dresser set where each draw has been salvaged from a different piece of furniture.  The joy of the project, to him, is that each drawer has its own unique story and has memories attached to it, making the furniture far more than just a few bits of wood.


  1. Mieke Meijer


Mieke Meijer is a talented Dutch interior designer.  She specialises in hand-crafted designs made from a range of materials, including recycled newspaper!  She gathers stacks of newspaper and turns it into a material that she calls “NewspaperWood”, which can be cut, sanded and painted just like real wood. When it’s finished, the furniture looks just like real wood because the newspaper print creates a pattern that is similar to wood grain. Last year, she signed a deal with Vij5 to bring her amazing upcycled products to market.


  1. Hannah Plumb and James Russel

Vintage Suitcase by JAMESPLUMB

Hannah Plumb and James Russel, together known as JAMESPLUMB, specialise in making unique and inviting interior designs by fixing up broken and damaged furniture and salvaging bits of discarded wood, textile remnants and other items that have been thrown away.  They have used everything from old stained glass windows to battered suitcases in their designs.

Plumb and Russel don’t make individual pieces; their designs are meant to be viewed as a whole.  They have come up with some amazing works which prove that you do not need to spend a fortune to make an attractive and luxurious interior.

Upcycling is something that anyone can do.  If, as a teenager, you took an old tub, tin or jar, glued some of your favourite pictures from a magazine to it and called it a pen holder, then you have already done some upcycling.

The “make do and mend” culture is becoming increasingly popular thanks to the coming benefit cuts and the increasing uncertainty of the job market.  Hopefully, these designers have managed to prove that even when you are “making do” you can still have a comfortable and stylish home.

Article written for specialists in oak French doors, UK Oak Doors, by Amy Fowler. Find out more here or click here to read more on upcycling from UK Oak Doors.