Can You Cure Your Clutter Guilt With Upcycling?

Pinterest is a tempting, sometimes evil force not to be underestimated. It's human nature to want to replicate someone else's beautiful project and put "your spin" on it to make it (you think) even better. The most desirable projects are those where someone else's unloved old vase or table or picture frame gets the rehab treatment and suddenly is something amazing instead of junk. This is the lure of upcycling: the art of reusing (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of a higher quality or value than the original. - Google Definition

People going through an organizing assault on their homes often grapple with the keep or toss question: I don't need this anymore, so should I recycle/sell/donate it or keep it anyway? Often the thought of upcycling something we don't like gives us a rush. We get to save the item from a landfill, save ourselves the lost money we would be throwing away otherwise, and get a shiny new toy! Then reality sets in as we dump the item into the back of the closet never to be seen again. Or we in fact commit to upcycling our item, but spend twice its value on craft supplies to "fix it" instead of buying something we truly love to replace it.

So what's a fixer upper addict to do?

Setting limits is the easiest way I know to solve the do I or don't I dilemma. Ask yourself a few questions about your time, your money, your storage space, and your guilt level for each potential item you come up against and stick to your ideals, going as far as putting them in writing if need be. Are you going to enjoy the time spent to fix up your item or wish it was just done already. Sometimes, when I get lofty home redecorating goals, I need to remind myself of one of my favorite quotes: Done is better than perfect.


Let's get realistic about the time you actually have for creating these upcycled masterpieces. Schedule planning time, buying supplies time, and actual creation time for each project into your calendar or months will go by before you even think to start. If you can't find a free day to even start the project, then maybe you are simply too busy to be worrying about projects right now. Your time might be better spent simplifying your life first, clearing out more clutter, or working on your time management before you put project time into your schedule.


Determine a minimum dollar amount that your item should be worth in order for you to spend the time to fix it up. If you want to turn a $300 crib into a bench after your baby outgrows it, ok. You'll likely spend a small chunk on supplies to convert it, but it's a high quality item to begin with. On the other hand, if you want to spend $50 on paint, stickers, and new fancy markers so you can fix up a $5 picture frame, you might want to rethink that project. Buying a new $25 frame would actually be cheaper and quicker in the long run. Do the math and see what works for you.

Storage Space

I have 2 master closets in my home, but my husband and I don't possess enough clothes to fill both. So we use one as a clothes closet and one as a home decor closet. This gives me a limit as to how much I am allowed to keep - if it doesn't fit in here, it doesn't stay. So along with my holiday decorations, I keep the random "maybe someday I'll do this project" items in here. If I find something new to put in this area, something else might have to leave and I have to be ok with that. This also keeps the randomness from invading several places in my home, limits the search for these items (they are here and nowhere else), and inspires my creativity when I can see everything altogether in one place.


On a deeper level, many people have trouble parting with items from family members that don't suit them. Upcycling these items into something you love is one way to compromise your feelings of guilt if you think you can truly overcome it. If you spend time and money fixing up the item but still see Uncle David's old chair underneath it all each time you walk by, then it's not worth it for you. Spray paint can fix a lot of issues, but it can't change the style of a piece of furniture you truly hate. Reupholstering grandma's chair often costs way more than buying a new one you really love. And donating a wedding gift you never treasured to someone else who would give it the love it deserves is just good karma. Donating something after you've covered it with paint, diminished its value, and still don't like it isn't as sweet a gesture.

So take some time to come up with your own personal limits when it comes to upcycling items. I still pin things to Pinterest and cut out magazine articles from HGTV magazine and really love the idea of repurposing and recycling. But I don't let the ideas of things that may be control my home. I want to surround myself with things I truly love, not things I can brag about that took 30 hours of work to complete. I don't want to be Martha Stewart. I just want to be me. You be you.

#clutter #prioritizing #crafts #homedecor #inspiration #repurpose #decorating #donate #stuff

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