You might not have giant wooden spools hanging around the house, but I found so many ingenious ways to upcycle them into furniture that I had to share. If you’re inspired by these projects, ask your local home improvement store if they’d be willing to give you a used spool for free. Still coming up empty-handed? Big spools are often used to hold heavy-duty wiring, so check out your local electric and cable companies. (I think nearly-free furniture is worth a little legwork, don’t you?)
Design: Randy Weinstein
Believe it or not, this wooden spool was salvaged from a junkyard. If you’re going for an industrial modern vibe, copy designer Randy Weinstein and top a spool with stainless steel for a DIY table. Eames chairs complete the look.
MORE SPOOL FURNITURE IDEAS
Antler decor makes any place feel a little more like home to me. (What can I say? I’m originally from Pennsylvania and my dad’s side of the family counts a long line of hunters and outdoorsmen.) If you live near a wooded area where deer, moose or elk roam, you can find shed antlers in the winter through the early spring. Urban dwellers, you may be able to pick them up at flea markets or online. But whether you spot a single “shed” or a few matched pairs, there are so many interesting ways to accent your home with antlers, as you can see below. (Not feeling real antlers? Go faux, like Erin Loechner did in her laundry room.)
We’ve basically exhausted the crafting possibilities around wine (see: corks, bottles, glasses, crates AND barrels), but this ingenious antler wine rack from Meg Caswell is a cool way to store and display your wine before you’re ready to sip it/craft with it.
UNUSUAL BUT ATTRACTIVE IDEAS FOR ANTLERS
Previously on Designer MacGyver…we’ve covered wrapping paper and newspaper, but surprisingly, wallpaper hasn’t made the list. I say “surprisingly” because I am a wallpaper fanatic and my bio won’t let you forget it. I don’t actually own the apartment I live in now, so I’ve had to resort to more temporary solutions there. Rest assured that once I own, I’ll be armed (with as many rolls as I can afford) and dangerous (with these genius uses for wallpaper other than on walls, obvs).
Sherry and John Petersik, excerpted from Young House Love (Artisan Books), copyright 2012
This idea from Sherry and John Petersik of Young House Love is perfect for putting wallpaper samples to work. A thrift-store dresser makes a statement when it’s covered in a big, bold pattern. Get the DIY details here.
MORE WAYS TO DRESS UP YOUR HOME WITH WALLPAPER
I don’t know about you, but the first thing I tackle when I start spring cleaning is my closet. There’s something so satisfying about pulling my lightweight dresses out of storage (yay!) and clearing away pieces I just don’t find myself wearing anymore. I have a bag of old garments to donate, but this time around there were also a few neglected hats and hat boxes in the mix. If you’re in the same boat, check out these chic ideas for reviving old chapeaus and their containers.
Hats off to Nancy Ondra for this genius container garden idea. Old hats feel fresh when you upcycle them into hanging pot covers. Let leaves poke out of a baseball cap’s sizing tab or cut the top of a hat and feed stems through the hole.
MORE FASHIONABLE IDEAS FOR OLD HATS
I think the old saying that “when one door closes, another opens” is absolutely true. For example, when you’ve finished using a door as an entry or exit, a whole new world of decorating possibilities opens up before you! Check out our fave upcycled furniture ideas for old doors and get ready to fancy up your home with these former barriers.
If you liked the rustic appeal of the shutter headboards I featured last week, I’m thinking you’ll love this old door headboard from Dreamy Whites. Weathered wood + a chandelier = a bedroom combo with great high/low contrast.
MORE DECORATING WITH OLD DOORS
Shutters keep prying eyes out of your home, but if you want all eyes on your decor, shutters can come in handy there, too. Old shutters are a surprisingly versatile craft material and you can repurpose them without much effort. These crafts are just a few ways you can turn old shutters into something unexpected and chic.
If you like a headboard with height, Layla Palmer’s clever use of old shutter doors here should appeal to you. The coastal cottage vibe is perfect for quaint country havens and sunny beach houses alike. Find all the DIY instructions here.
MORE CHIC OLD SHUTTER CRAFTS
When I say in my blog bio that I’m a “mid-century modern magpie,” it’s not just an excuse to get alliterative. Like the bird of the same name, I too hoard small shiny objects. Jewelry is a particular problem for me, and no matter how many boxes or trinket dishes I fill, I’m compelled to collect more baubles. Now that I’m in spring cleaning mode, I’m trying to get organized and part with the pieces I rarely wear, but what can I say? I’m sentimental. This Pinterest pin inspired me to start thinking of old jewelry in a new light and I found even more amazing craft ideas to turn my paste into priceless decor. Now I can keep it all! [insert evil supervillain laugh here]
Old jewelry is a perfect way to get creative with curtains. Use a beaded necklace as an eye-catching tieback that won’t break the bank, like designer Brian Patrick Flynn did here. (Bonus: It picks up the colors in the wallpaper, too.)
Don’t have a beaded necklace you can spare? Thick bracelets or men’s cuffs also work well in this context. Cinching your curtains is a cinch with old jewelry!
MORE BRILLIANT OLD JEWELRY CRAFTS
We’ve covered crafts you can make with wine corks, bottles, glasses and crates…what could possibly be left? This great post on Made + Remade reminded me: Wine barrels! Small scotch barrels make for attractive shelving and storage, but you’ve gotta think bigger for wine barrels. Take a look at some of our best ideas and if you’re inspired, hit up your local winery or hardware store’s garden center to claim your vessel.
This wine barrel fountain‘s got a clever twist: the water flows out of the wine bottle on top! This would make a charming water feature for any oenophile’s garden. Get all the how-to details here.
MORE IDEAS FOR WINE BARRELS
Although you can never go wrong with a delicious home-cooked spread, trays are for more than just breakfast in bed. If you’ve got some wooden or metal trays taking up space in your cabinets, bust them out and give them new life with these pretty craft ideas.
A tray can add a little glitz to your vanity…and keep your cosmetics, candles and jewelry elegantly organized. Try this tutorial from Maureen Stevens for an Art Deco tray upgrade that has loads of Gatsby glamor.
MORE TERRIFIC IDEAS FOR TRAYS
Sweaters used to be my winter uniform, but pesky moths seem to have made a feast of my fashions. If you’re like me and have a closet full of holey sweaters that you’d like to replace, don’t toss them out before you take a look at these cool ideas for upcycling sweaters.
These dress shirt and sweater pillows from Brian Patrick Flynn are delightfully preppy and would add a wonderful menswear touch to any bedroom. Get all the how-to details and instructions here.
MORE AMAZING WAYS TO UPCYCLE SWEATERS
The winter Olympics may be over, but you can still add a little sporty spice to your home. If you have old baseball, golf, billiard or croquet equipment collecting dust in your home, these sports crafts are perfect for you. Take a look at these ideas and hit a DIY home run!
If you’re like me and played croquet a sum total of one time after watching Heathers, turn your old set into some way-cool wall art like this vignette from HGTV’s Cousins Undercover. Move over, starburst mirror! These mallets really make a statement.
MORE SPIFFY SPORTS CRAFTS
It’s been snowing pretty much every other day here in NYC (or that’s what it feels like!), so I have been thinking a great deal about footwear. I’d been getting by with some cheap wellies and thick socks until one of the wellies sprung a leak. Now I’ve got proper snow boots (thank you, Sorel), but even though my old wellies aren’t made for walking anymore, they’re pretty perfect for fun projects. Take a look at these ideas for old shoes and achieve great crafting feats with things that used to go on your feet. (Oof, sorry. I think cabin fever makes me punnier than usual.)
Now here’s a wonderful way to give some new life to your old galoshes…literally! Grow a strawberry plant in boots with this tutorial on HGTVGardens. Sigh. This is definitely making me long for spring.
MORE IDEAS FOR OLD SHOES
Wooden ladders are functional, but did you know they can also be fun? If you have an old ladder or two hiding in the garage or attic, check out these clever ideas for repurposing them as home decor.
Photo: Thomas Liggett
This wooden ladder shelving unit from HGTV Magazine is a bright idea, both literally and figuratively. (Don’t have two ladders to spare? Find some at your local flea market!)
MORE WAYS TO WORK A WOODEN LADDER
Doilies are a bit fancy and frilly, but that’s part of their charm, am I right? If you’ve got leftover paper doilies from celebrations or other crafting endeavors, there are plenty of adorable things you can do with them for Valentine’s Day…or anytime you want to add a little sweetness to your life. Take a peek at these paper doily crafts that are so darling, they just may sway the doily-haters. (I’m looking at you, Troy from Reality Bites.)
Making treats for your sweetheart? (Like say, these Neapolitan Bonbon Cupcakes?) Add an extra special touch with these doily treat cups from our own Camille Smith.
MORE DARLING IDEAS FOR DOILIES
Of course, there’s the “big game” coming up this Sunday, but if you’re like me, you’re more into board games, card games and puzzles. I have quite the collection at this point, but some of them have been with me since I was a kid and are missing crucial pieces or are just looking shabby. Fortunately, there are a bunch of nifty craft ideas for old game boards, cards and pieces so I can turn my old amusements into something equally diverting.
Give your valentine a piece of your heart and a few pieces of your games with these card ideas from Camille Styles. Old Bingo cards adorned with hearts have a vintage charm and Scrabble tiles are great for spelling out your sweet nothings.
MORE GOOD IDEAS FOR OLD GAMES
I remember my dad tucking fold-up maps and road atlases in the car before road trips when I was a kid. These days, in-dash navigational systems are becoming standard and smartphones can call up directions with a few finger taps and swipes. Paper maps may be falling out of favor when it comes to travel, but they’re hotter than ever in the home. Take a look at these cool vintage map crafts and get ready to raid your car’s backseat pockets and glove compartments for supplies!
Plain wooden chairs for little explorers are a lot more appealing after a decoupage map makeover! Follow Brian Patrick Flynn’s tutorial and jazz up your kids’ bedrooms or playrooms on the cheap.
MORE EYE-CATCHING MAP CRAFTS
I live in the land of subways and taxis here in NYC, so while I rarely get a chance to drive anymore, I still appreciate the look of license plates. I particularly love vanity plates and the designs on plates that support worthwhile causes. While I may not be behind the wheel anytime soon, these eye-catching license plate crafts mean I can surround myself with road-tested style. Check out my finds and get inspired to snatch up vintage plates the next time you’re thrifting or browsing an online auction site!
This license plate room divider by Brian Patrick Flynn provides a jolt of color and a little privacy to boot. It looks super cool in this outdoor room, adding a bit of art where it’s usually hard to find.
MORE IDEAS FOR OLD LICENSE PLATES
It’s been a while since we featured projects specifically for oenophiles, but if you’ve crafted with all of your corks and are still looking for more raw materials, look no further than the wooden wine crate. Like milk crates, these sturdy boxes are surprisingly simple to transform and have a certain rustic flair. (Not big on wine? Fruit or soda crates may work for many of these makeovers, or you can head to your local craft supply store for plain crates.) Drink in these clever ideas and when you find one you like, try the tutorial!
Keep kid clutter to a minimum with these mobile wooden crate toy boxes from Brian Patrick Flynn. Names spelled out with stencils are a cute, personal touch.
MORE WOODEN CRATE CREATIONS
The weather may be less than ideal for outdoor gardening in much of the country right now, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any fun to be had until spring. If your green thumb is getting itchy, why not channel that energy into some totally cool crafts made with old gardening tools and accessories? Here are some inspired ideas I spotted (with some help from MacGyver veteran, Briana)…
Dented or leaky watering cans can become the perfect vessels for the plants they used to water! Take a look at Nancy Ondra’s other ideas for stunning, low-budget container gardens here.
With cold season in full effect, you might find yourself reaching for a tissue or two more often. The upside to feeling fluish is that empty tissue boxes are an ideal craft material! The next time you take a sick day, try your hand at one of these tissue box crafts that require minimal effort and supplies while showcasing plenty of creativity.
A square tissue box provides the base for this simple piñata idea. Grab some colorful tissue paper and go crazy with the design!
More Brilliant Tissue Box Ideas