Recycled Art: Old Materials Bring New Life into Your Home

By Susan Young | DIY and Crafting

Recycled Design Flower Pot

In my blog post about organized design, I talked about reducing clutter by streamlining your home and life. However, In the process of editing your possessions, you may find that you can recycle some of these items into something beautiful for your home (or to give as a great gift). I recently took on this recycled design challenge with a few items I found in my home, with the help of ideas from Pinterest.

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Decorative Mason Jar Craft

My first project involved recycling some glass mason jars from the gallons of salsa that my husband eats every year. I hated to throw these jars in the recycling bin, so I began the search for a craft project that would enable me to beautify and re-purpose these jars. I decided to buy some spray paint and sealer in a few beautiful, spring colors and spray painted and sealed them in my backyard on a sunny day.

Now these colored jars can be used as a pencil holder, pretty storage container, or decorative vase. I also was able to sell some of these jars as a fundraiser at my Relay for Life booth, which raises dollars for the American Cancer Society. Not only have I gotten rid of some clutter, but I’ve re-purposed an item in my home that someone else can now enjoy, and hopefully I’ll raise some money to fight cancer in the process. I also still use several of these painted jars as cute pencil holders on my desk, and even brush and makeup holders in the bathroom.

recycled design - mason jar art project gift idea

These recycled and painted mason jars can now be used to store pencils, flowers or anything.

Decorative Tile Coasters Craft

While seeking other craft ideas for my Relay for Life booth (my booth’s theme was arts and crafts), I came across a Pinterest project for decorative tile coasters. Using stacks of leftover white bathroom tile, which had been sitting in my basement since we built our house in 2004, First, I purchased some purple patterned scrapbook paper for 25 cents at Michael’s Crafts. Then I found some Mod Podge for sealing the paper to the tiles. Finally, I bought some foam adhesive circles to place along the bottom of the coasters.

After a few minutes of cutting, sealing and drying, I had several sets of coasters completed. I finished the recycled design project by bundling the coasters in groups of four and tying them together with a ribbon. I plan to create several more of these coaster sets for teacher and Mother’s Day gifts. Alternatively, leftover greeting cards, magazine scraps, calendars, or even family photos would also work great for this project.

tile coasters recycled design art

These former plain white tiles were transformed into cute and functional coasters.

A few years back, I created handmade frames for teacher holiday gifts using a dollar store frame and old, broken crayons in primary colors. I shortened the crayons and glued them around the edges of the frame in a color pattern. I printed a nice thank-you message and placed it on the inside of the frame to complete the gift.

More Recycled Design Ideas


Another idea if you’re feeling crafty and just want to make something is to use any fabric from an old tablecloth or place mat and create a cute serving tray. I recently made a Spring tray from a few Dollar Tree frames, a tablecloth, some strong adhesive, and a few drawer pulls. 

Simply by looking around your home with a creative eye, I guarantee you’ll find other ways you can re-purpose items into a one-of-a-kind, recycled design art pieces, or create something new, useful or decorative to use in your home or to give as a gift. Here are some ideas:

DIY Recycled Item Craft Ideas:


  • Have a frame that’s missing its glass? Spray paint it and group it as wall art. 
  • Save used greeting cards for scrap-booking or kid’s crafts. 
  • Transform old paint samples into table mosaics, trays, bookmarks, garland, gift tags and more.
  • Re-purpose plastic, glass or metal food containers or paint cans into storage or gift containers.
  • Take plain, inexpensive glassware to create hand-painted gifts.
  • Recycle your children’s artwork into wrapping paper, magnets, paper weights, gift tags or framed gifts for teachers, friends or relatives.
  • Spray paint a plain or worn garden pot into something new.

Recycling and Reusing

Encourage your family to look out for ways to salvage or reuse the items in your home that you would normally recycle or throw away. From bottle caps to wine corks or egg cartons, try to think of household items as inspiration for a future recycled design project. You’ll be helping the environment, brightening someone’s day, having fun and being creative – all at the same time! 

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About the Author

Susan is a Midwest mom of two and lover of all things colorful in the home. She works with homeowners to find their unique style and color palette while keeping their budgets and lifestyles in mind. You can find her hanging out on Instagram at @colorjoyinteriors or Twitter @getcolorjoy, where she shares her latest colorful projects and inspirations.

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