So here is what happened.
I was having a chat with a friend about the strange times we are living in just now and she mentioned that she wanted to get more thrifty and intentional about what she buys for her home this year.
I of course chimed in that maybe she should get a few books about upcycling for inspiration.
What she said next kind of surprised me.
She said ‘well I doubt there are very many books out there about upcycling – because you can’t make any money with that so who would publish it?’
There. are. so. many. great. books. about. upcycling!
[And you absolutely can make money from upcycling by the way! Our business directory members are a case in point!]
So…I’m not intending to give you a full transcript of this conversation but the short story is that I ended up compiling a rather lengthy reading list for her of a huge range of books about upcycling…was I slightly trying to prove a point?
She picked two to start off with/shut me up.
In any case, I decided rather than letting all my research go to waste I should share this list with you too, in case you are a book person too and you didn’t know about all the great resources that are out there to help you repurpose, reuse and upcycle your junk!
I’ve tried to organise these book suggestions in to sections, so go ahead and use the hyperlinks below to skip to the section that interests you most!
Upcycler’s Reading List
- General Books about Upcycling
- Books about Upcycling Furniture (Painted Furniture)
- Books about Upcycling Furniture (Upholstery)
- Books about Upcycling for Home Decor
- Books about Upcycling Pallets & Other Wood
- Books about Upcycling for the Garden
- Books about Upcycling Clothing
- Books about Upcycling Fabric
- Books about Upcycling Jewelery
- Books about Upcycling Technology
- Books about Upcycling for Kids
General Books about Upcycling
So these are your all rounder introduction to upcycling type books – but all with practical project ideas – not academic tomes!
These would all be a great gift to give to someone who has expressed an interest in upcycling but doesn’t maybe have the creative flare that is sometimes needed to come up with ideas on your own (you could also of course tell them to subscribe to the Upcycle My Stuff newsletter….but you can’t but a bow on that!).
The Upcycling Boxset is a compendium of 4 different books by Kitty Moore with a total of 197 crafts for upcyclers…a great one for a gift!
This book called simply, Upcyclist, is less of a tutorial based book and more of a coffee table inspirational book. Very pretty!
Books about Upcycling Furniture (Painted Furniture)
Painted furniture is what a lot of people think of first when they think of upcycling.
It isn’t all upcyling is about but it is a great way to reduce the amount of new furniture we all buy every year. Furniture Flipping can also be a great career for solopreneurs with a creative flare.
The books below would suit furniture painters from beginner to advanced.
The original and always the best. If you are serious about painting & upcycling furniture you need a copy of The Furniture Bible.
Rescue, Restore, Redecorate is Amy Howard’s tome, that covers refinishing techniques and tricks for restoring family heirlooms and flipping flea market find.
Jen Crider’s Amazing Furniture Makeovers is aimed at beginners who like a modern farmhouse aesthetic. With its beautiful before and after photos, this one is a great coffee table as well as a reference for step by step techniques!
Annie Sloan’s Colour Recipes for Painted Furniture isn’t fresh of the presses but if you are a fan of her chalk paint you’ll like this book too!
Books about Upcycling Furniture (Upholstery)
Upholstery and Re-upholstery are one of those areas of upcycling that people are often irrationally afraid of.
I’ve found that it is the same as anything else you just need to push your sleeves up and give it a go. The more you try the better you’ll get.
Have a look at our guide to ‘having a go’ at re-upholstering an armchair and a flick through one of the comprehensive guides below and hopefully you’ll feel your confidence soaring!
The Upholstery Bible is a serious reference book with every kind of technique you might want to know about upholstery and reupholstery. It’s not the newest one but the information is still sound.
The Beginner’s Guide to Upholstery: 10 achievable DIY upholstery and reupholstery projects for your home.
Books about Upcycling for Home Decor
Now more than ever our homes are our sanctuaries.
Using what we have to make them more beautiful is not only smart & frugal but trendy and gorgeous at the same time.
The books in this section are here to inspire you to make your home uniquely your own.
The Foraged Home. This beautiful book visits gorgeous homes in urban, rural, costal and wild locations to emphasise the beauty that can be created in your home decor through salvaged, foraged and upcycled items. This one would make an awesome gift for the budding Interior Designer in your life!
Upcycle! is a fun, contemporary project book that will show you how to take a range of common objects, many available cheap or free, and craft them into stylish home furnishings and décor.
Rediscovered Treasures is all about breathing life into old knick knacks that for their original purpose are either obsolete or terribly unfashionable. Through repurposing and upcycling they can be reintegrated as part of a stylish and quirky interior.
Reclaim That encourages you to repurpose unloved items and give them new meaning in your home. It’s full of inspiring ideas and some step by step projects too.
Books about Upcycling Pallets & Other Wood
Pallets are the classic upcycle aren’t they?
I actually do end up with a fair number of them in my back garden.
I recently used one to make some wall art.
But there is so much more you can do with them as these books so aptly demonstrate.
This one is all about using upcycled wooden pallets to add personal touches to your home decor.
The Pallet Book. From a dog bed to a kitchen island and even a loveseat. Author Chris Peterson has loads of ideas for how to upcycle the humble wooden pallet.
Books about Upcycling for the Garden
Upcylcing things for my garden is a great joy to me.
From an old cot bed, to boots as planters and old dining room chairs. I love seeing unusual objects finding a new home in the outdoors.
I’m not a professional builder though. So for more innovative outdoor upycling projects have a look at the books below for inspiration and instructions.
The Upcycled Garden has loads of cool projects from storage, to garden furniture, sheds and even a recycled deck!
The follow up to Max Murdo’s book mentioned above is this one Upcycling Outdoors. All about using upcycling techniques to refresh your garden and other outdoor spaces.
Books about Upcycling Clothing
We all know we buy too much clothing.
I have been reminded of that recently as I’ve tried to upcycle all my old pairs of jeans by making a denim quilt, some bedside pocket organisers and a handbag. I honestly had far too many pairs that I’d bought over the years and discarded because they were torn or ill-fitting.
The same goes for my husband’s work shirts, a stain here or a tear there and they are relagated to the discarded pile. Thankfully I found lots of uses for those old shirts including a wall hanging and a kid’s apron, but I find myself wondering lately with all the talk of visible mending if I could have rescued some of these jeans or shirts for future wear as clothing too?
The books below have ideas for both repairing and rewearing your old clothes and repurposing them into something new altogether.
Wear, Repair, Repurpose. Learn to darn socks, hem trousers, embroider over stains, and crochet and braid rugs. For anyone who cares about reducing fashion waste but doesn’t want to sacrifice style, this is the immersive guide you need.
The Upcycled T-Shirt by Jenelle Montilone has 28 innovative upcycling projects using the humble (and often overbougth!) T-shirt!
My favourite bits of the Great British Sewing Bee are always the repurposing challenges so this book, Sustainable Style makes so much sense to me! But this book isn’t just about recycling or upcycling clothing, it’s a reference manual for the home dressmaker.
Visible mending is super trendy these days – as well as being good for the environment. Mending Matters is a reference book with how to instructions for 4 key repair techniques, but it is more than that. In essays that accompany each how-to chapter, Katrina Rodabaugh explores mending as a metaphor for appreciating our own naturally flawed selves, and she examines the ways in which mending teaches us new skills, self-reliance, and confidence, all gained from making things with our own hands.
Books about Upcycling Fabric (especially scrap fabric!)
Scrap Fabric and making use of it is one of my great upcycling passions. It’s why I’ve even started a second sister blog to this one called Scrap Fabric Love!
Whether it’s using thin fabric scraps to wrap hangers or bangles or finding more impressive gift ideas made from scrap fabric I just love seeing that pile of scraps turn into something useful again.
My love of Scrap Fabric has led me to quilting this year which is what the focus of these books are. But if you are looking for non quilting scrap fabric ideas try here for inspiration and tutorial links and here for Etsy Patterns.
Sunday Morning Quilts by Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkison.
Oh, Scrap by Lissa Alexander is all about scrap quilting so quilters can waste less and make more!
Another from Lissa Alexander is the Sisterhood of Scraps that has quilt patterns for scrap frabric from a host of different pattern designers.
Use Scraps, sew blocks, make 100 Quilts. Stuart Hillard writes for quilt magazines and is well known for his creative quilting ideas so this promises to be a good one – especially with the bold claim you can make 100 quilts from your scraps!
Books about Upcycling Jewelery
My previous upcycling business was all about upcycling vintage jewellery to make wedding headpieces. But I also like making jewellery out of the unexpected too.
The books below focus on this later category – how to make jewelery out of upcycled trash and recycled items. So many great gift and business ideas in these books!
Upcycled Jewelery. 35 Jewelery, bag and belt projects.
In Jewelery Upcycled! author and jewellery making expert Sherri Haab offers an overview of a variety of recycled materials and techniques used to create beautiful jewellery pieces.
Books about Upcycling Technology
I love the idea of using some of our discarded technology to make something new. We even included a necklace made from circuit boards in our Upcycled Valentine’s Day Gift List.
I have to admit though I haven’t explored this area of upcycling enough – have you?
We don’t often think about electronics when we talk about upcycling but Daniel Davis does. His book Upcycled Technology has a range of projects for repurposing and upcycling old and outdated tech, including how to turn an old laptop into a projector!
Books about Upcycling for Kids
From playing in cardboard boxes to colouring on junk mail from the recycling, kids are resourceful creatures.
The below books are all about feeding that resourcefulness and keeping their upcycling imaginations engaged!
What is it about kid’s and toilet paper rolls? They just seem to belong together somehow! This book has 10 great projects to keep kids busy using your leftover toilet rolls!
From the same author, Sara Stanford, of I am not a Toilet Roll (see above), comes I am not a Cereal Box – more great crafts that double up as toys to keep them busy without spending a fortune constantly buying new toys!
Yet another offering from the prolific Sara Stanford who seems to have the market cornered on recycled kids activities. The Brilliant Recycling Project Book is her latest book which is sure to be as popular as her previous ones!
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