Bored with your living room? Need some pizazz in your bedroom? Redecorating your home can breathe new life into your living spaces and make the old feel fresh again. That said, brand-new furniture and decor can also be expensive. If you want to rejuvenate your space on a budget while sticking to the admirable goals of reusing what already exists, consider embracing upcycling ideas.

Of course, even the best DIY upcycle ideas require having some materials to work with. Luckily, if you’re renting a storage unit, you might just have a treasure chest filled with upcycling potential already in your possession. Those old bookshelves, nightstands, and clothing you’ve been holding onto for years are just begging to be transformed into new showpieces for your home. All it takes is a little creativity and some DIY effort.

What Is Upcycling?

The concept of recycle, reduce, and reuse is as popular as ever with eco-conscious individuals trying to lower their environmental footprint, cut down on unnecessary spending, and get the most out of the things they already own. Upcycling is a trend that falls under the reuse umbrella.

Upcycling is the art of repurposing existing items and materials to create something new and, oftentimes, even better than the original. It can be as simple as repainting an old, worn-out dresser to make it look fresh, or as complex as turning reclaimed driftwood into a gorgeous dining room table. Almost any object can be refurbished, refreshed, and upcycled into something new and exciting.

There are many ways to reclaim items and turn them into upcycle projects. Some people hunt for abandoned furniture on curbs. Others search garage sales and swap meets. However, if you have a storage space, there’s no need to travel far and wide to repurpose furniture – you already have an entire space filled with upcycle potential.

Best Items to Upcycle From Your Storage Unit

From dressers to suitcases, countless pieces in your storage unit are waiting to be transformed. Here’s how you can turn what might seem like junk into functional and stylish items for your home.

Dressers and Nightstands

DIY Upcycling Items from Your Storage Unit

Upcycling itself can take many forms, and it depends on both effort and material. For the artist at heart, you can paint your dresser into a work of art. This simple trick will brighten up even the ugliest of furniture. Or, if you happen to have an extra door, and a nightstand or dresser, create this beautiful and functional “hall tree.”

Keep in mind that upcycling doesn’t have to be complicated. Just one simple change can turn an old piece of furniture into something that feels new and unique. Some of our favorite upcycled furniture ideas include refinishing dressers and nightstands or adding stenciled art to them. 

Helpful Hint: If you’re not using the drawers of your dresser or nightstand in your upcycling project, don’t throw them out. Drawers work well as floating shelves, garden planters, and even stacked into the form of a bookshelf.

Kids Toys

Chances are, if you’ve had a recent move, you will find an extra bookshelf or coffee table in your storage unit. These items can be transformed with the help of upcycling into custom pieces that will spark the imagination of any child.

Nightstands with a bit of paint and elbow grease become play kitchen stoves. Coffee tables may be quickly recycled into a Lego table (great for kids and the kid at heart). And, if you happen across a shorter bookshelf in your storage unit, you can turn that bookshelf into a multi-level dollhouse.


Kids shouldn’t have all the fun. These days, people are upcycling everything. Even suitcases are made new, whether they become portable dollhouses, small yet functional desks, rolling bars, or even upcycled cat beds.

Flip Your World Upside Down With Bookshelves and Lighting

DIY Upcycling Items from Your Storage Unit

Sometimes when you’re looking at an item you want to upcycle, you have to look at it with a different perspective. For instance, many people place their squared bookshelves on their sides with cushions atop to create a window seat; this is one of the smartest upcycles you can do as retailed window seats, custom or otherwise, are often fairly expensive. Even mason jars, once used for that time you went through a jam-making phase before the materials were left in storage take on new life as festive snow globes or chandelier lighting.

Helpful Hint: One item you may have not thought of upcycling is an old metal cabinet. Even metal filing cabinets can be made new as with this open garage storage piece.

Old Clothing

Do you have a collection of old clothing you no longer wear but can’t bring yourself to throw away? Those clothes can get new life with creative upcycling ideas.

  • Gather your favorite T-shirts and turn them into a quilt.
  • Add patches and appliques to give old clothes a new style.
  • Turn old T-shirts or jeans into tote bags.
  • Transform shirts into one-of-a-kind pillowcases.


If you’ve got boxes of books tucked away in your storage unit, chances are you won’t be reading them again anytime soon. Don’t let them just take up space. Bring them back into your world in new and fun ways. 

  • Carve out a section in the middle of the book to make a fun, secret “safe” for small valuables like jewelry.
  • Stack and glue together old hardcover books to create a vintage-style “bookshelf.”
  • Hollow out large, hardback books to make literary-inspired purse clutches.
  • Fold pages into cones or rosettes and arrange them into a circular shape to create a decorative book wreath.
  • Glue or bolt books together to make a side table.

Couches and Chairs

If you have cracked, worn, or stained couches or fabric chairs in your storage unit, consider one of the simplest but most effective upcycled furniture ideas in our arsenal – reupholstery. 

Reupholstering can be challenging and time-consuming, but the results speak for themselves. You’ll need to remove the old fabric, replace any padding or support materials, and repair any structural issues if they exist. However, by adding new fabric, you can change the entire look of the piece. Reupholstery can also be a great idea if you want to match old furniture with the design and palette of a new living space.

Not ready to dive into a full reupholstery project? Consider the (usually) easier option of creating slipcovers instead.