What is Upcycling?

There’s a new trend that’s taking over and it’s called upcycling. It involves the repurposing of items you already own so that they have new uses, and its vast popularity comes down to the fact that anyone can get involved – you just need to be a little creative.

Whether it is simply a lick of paint to add some modern colour, or if the item is being used for something completely different to its original purpose, upcycling opens up your creativity and gets people talking.

With all the exciting auction lots that we see here, we got thinking about why we think more people should start upcycling antique items. Here are top 5 reasons:

It needn’t cost the earth

Materials for turning something old into something new can be acquired quite cheaply. You may even have a lot of things required for upcycling already lying around the house. Whether it’s a pot of paint you used to decorate the living room, or some fabric from a clothing piece you no longer wear – put them to good use and save money.

However, if you don’t have the raw materials there’s still no need to break the bank. If you want to reupholster a chair, fabrics can be bought for pennies, or if you want to make a shelf out of old books or embossed wood, wall brackets are not at all costly.

Struggling for ideas on how to upcycle a piece?  A good place to start is to consider what resources you already have and go from there.

You can create interesting new items

How many people do you know that have a chest of drawers made up of vintage suitcases? Each of those suitcases has their own story, and bringing them together as a new piece of furniture creates a whole new story and gets people talking.

The creativity involved in upcycling items is fantastic as the items are often a mix of the old and the new, for example taking an antique candelabrum and painting it a bright colour then turning it in to a cupcake stand or something to hang your jewellery from.

If the thought of coming up with creative uses for antiques scares you a little, then why not start thinking about things that you need, and then consider how your antique item could serve that need?

It’s your personal touch


The best thing about upcycling is the fact that you can add your own personal stamp to your antique, making it completely unique to you.

Whilst the Internet is jam packed with ideas and tutorials on how to upcycle particular items in certain ways, you can choose to use these as guides and change them to meet your own tastes, or you can invent your own upcycle idea that has never been done before.

Some of the existing upcycling ideas online might look complicated, but you can add as much or as little as your own ideas and modifications to your upcycled antiques as you like – you could start small by painting a mirror, or go all out and use a bicycle to create a work surface.

It doesn’t matter what shape your item is in


The nature of antiques as older items is that they may have seen better days. This shouldn’t put you off buying, as when you upcycle an antique, you can fix any broken parts, or you can completely restructure the item. For example, you could use the legs of an antique table to create book ends, or the surface of the table to create a bookshelf.

A little sanding can go a long way with getting rid of cosmetic damage. Don’t forget that with wooden items especially, treating them with gloss is a good idea to keep them looking shiny and new.

It’s environmentally friendly


Upcycling is an excellent way of being green. By upcycling your items, you save on waste because frankly, you aren’t throwing anything away. It is also better than recycling because recycling processes use up energy and water resources. Upcycling just needs a little creativity and basic materials that you likely already have.

With auctions happening all over the world all the time here at GAUK there’s plenty of exciting lots to bid for that have loads of potential for upcycling, from a trunk that could become your new bookcase, to a chair that can be reupholstered with modern bright fabrics.

Don’t limit your ideas to indoorrs,upcycling works just as well for outdoors.


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