Maker Stories – Women designers close to home
August 3, 2021
Markets for Makers
April 3, 2022
#upcycling #recycling #design #diy

Essay by Khadija Athar

We must change our lifestyle and habits to reduce our impact on the climate. One of these is to consume responsibly, reduce waste and reuse things to be part of a circular ecological system. Usually when people refer to the term “UPCYCLING”, we tend to think about DIY projects with rough patches of paint and broken handles. However, there is a new wave of designers who are showing us how a statement can be achieved through upcycling. Here are some international designers from different fields that are playing a great role as up-cyclers:

There are also a few designers/makers locally who are using upcycling/recycling to make things for a sustainable living. A very popular instagrammer Palwasha Khan aka “My Creative Clutter” has been working on up-cycled interior decorating projects since past few years. Her work is the driving force behind this article. Below is a transformation of  a very common old shelf found in almost every household into a trendy entryway console.

Shelf Transformation
Photos from www.facebook.com/mycreativeclutter


In the process of doing research for this article I also came across another recycling studio by the name Regenerate Textile where they recycle fabric by molding it into creating new, eco-friendly, and sustainable products including rugs, cushions and bags.

Photo from www.facebook.com/RegenerateTextile

Upcycling literally defines as a variety of processes by which “old” products get to be modified and get a second life as they’re turned into a “new” product. In my opinion upcycling is like a mission where someone can breathe new life into junk, where they can find new ways to transform the old into new functional pieces. We have so many things in the storeroom that are waiting to be discarded but as a nation of hoarders we are unable to part ways. Some of the common things include clothes, decorations, old furniture etc that create unnessary clutter under the bed or back of the shelves. So why not save the environment and try and think of ways to reuse them.

Covid had us locked inside our homes this past year and half with little to do. But the pandemic has made us aware of many things that are worth preserving and the change that we must bring to protect the enviroment. This gave us an opportunity to be more expressive and to explore new projects. There has been an increase in diy/self-made things as they have more meaning for people.

Similarly I decided to up-cycle a few things lying around the house. Starting small I liked a TRAY REDO that Creative Clutter had done and took it up as inspiration to start my own upcycle journey. Sharing below the series of steps I went through till the final product.

Materials: Old tray, Acrylic Paints, Tiles, Silicon, Tools

  • Without priming or sanding directly applied Oxford Navy colored Bluebird Chalk paint. Recoated it twice after touching dry.
  • Measured the tiles according to size of the tray and had them cut where necessary.

  • Glued the tile to the bottom of tray using a silicon and allowed them to dry out overnight.
  • Lastly applied a coat of HI REFLEKT polyurethane clear coat to protect the tray from minor damage and to give it a neater, shinier look.

For my next project I thought to create a lamp from an discarded stair banister. Stair post lights were popular in victorian homes of the 1800s to add to the lighting of the halls. After some brainstorming, I came up with the solution to use wooden stair POST LAMP.

  • Selecting a base. We had tried 2-3 different bases including metallic, wooden, and plastic base and selected the wooden one as it provided the correct balance.
  • Painted the base and structure with golden spray paint to make it perfect for a formal setting.
  • Used an old lampshade frame and covered it with a floral fabric to give English vintage vibe.

In this upcycled lamp I had to face a few challenges which included on how to give electrical connection to the lamp as the wooden poster could not have a hole internally. For that we had to attach the wire on the outside and spray painted it golden to blend it with the lamp.


For my next project I choose a study table gifted down from my grandfather to my father and to me. Hence, alot of memories were associated with the table. Now that table is totally worn out, with scratches all over, polish chipped off and broken from few places. The only part that is in redeemable condition are the drawers.

  • Took three drawers, all of them with different sizes and cleaned them up with a cloth.
  • Joined them side by side with silicon sealant.
  • Applied chalk paint on them.
  • Used acrylic paint for making geometric pattern on the inside of the drawers.

  • Fixed some wheels to the base to make it easy to move around.
  • Final paint touches for finishing.
  • Applied HI REFLEKT polyurethane clear coat for protecting the table from damage.

I am excited to continue experimenting with the different mediums and techniques in my upcycling jounery and look forward to seeing you all recreating and sharing aswell….

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