Beginner’s Guide to Upcycling, brought to you by Triangle ReStores

Shelby Chandler | April 22, 2024

Upcycling for Beginners


Here’s a common scenario: you’re swiping through social media and enter the rabbit hole of watching professional furniture flippers take secondhand items and turn them into something amazing. It’s fun to watch, but not something you could ever do.... or is it?

It’s a common misconception. While you aren’t going to be able to take it to the level of a professional refurbisher without a lot of time and dedication, there are a multitude of upcycling projects you can complete with just a few hours, basic tools and some paint. Some projects require close to nothing—just your creativity in how you find new life in an item you come across!

If you’ve ever dreamed of getting into upcycling but don’t know where to start, this blog is for you! Here’s four things to do as an upcycling beginner:

1. Start seeking out ideas and items to flip.

Sometimes it’s hard to find items to upcycle unless you are specifically looking to do so. Once you start seeking them out, you’ll start to see a second life in everything.

There are many resources available across the internet to help with inspiration and to get you started. Pinterest is great for sourcing thousands of ideas. YouTube is a hub for videos of step-by-step guides. Not to mention there are hundreds of blogs and websites scattered around the internet for just about any project you can dream up!

The 10 area Triangle ReStores are a great place to source secondhand items to repurpose. They’re filled with a variety of home goods, furniture, tools and more, just waiting to be discovered.

By shopping with our ReStores, you’re also playing your part in diverting an estimated 5,000 tons of usable items from landfills annually. It’s a great way to tap into your creative side and get into upcycling while sustaining the planet!

Upcycling Submissions

Check out a few repurposed Triangle ReStore items that have been submitted by our shoppers!

2. Understand preparation is the key to success.

Always plan ahead to make sure you have the tools and equipment to do the job. Start by making a list of things you’ll need to complete your upcycling project. Whether it’s sanding paper, glue sticks, a hammer and nails or paint. There is nothing worse than having to pause a project because you realize you need an item you don’t have!

Our ReStores carry products like GreenSheen Paint, sanding paper, paint brush sets, drop cloths, donated tools and more.

Some other ways to prepare include setting aside time and not skipping steps to get the job done quicker. Always wipe down your item with a clean cloth before starting to make sure you get rid of any dirt or dust. Start a collection of old socks, clothing or towels to use in your projects. These items are helpful for wiping down furniture, applying wax or varnish and cleaning up possible spills.

3. Find a space to work.

Before starting a project, set aside some space to work on and store it. Some projects take longer than others and you may not finish right away. Having a space set aside will save you the stress of rushing to clean up or ditching your project because you need the space for something else.

4. Have fun and be flexible!

Don’t be discouraged if what you set out to make doesn’t turn out exactly like you pictured it. That’s part of the nature and fun of upcycling! Your item is uniquely yours and you’ll be able to say you repurposed it! Upcycling is a fun hobby, so let yourself loose and embrace the opportunity to express yourself. You may even change your idea completely along the way. There are no limits to what you can create!

We want to see your items!

If you find an item in the Triangle ReStores and upcycle it into something new, please share it with us! We’d love to see your awesome upcycling projects. You can send before and after photos to or DM us on Instagram @trianglerestore. Be sure to let us know what store you found your item in!