These days, it seems that “upcycled” is the new black in home décor. Yet if you go to thrift stores and swap meets without a clear idea of what you want, you can end up with items that really are junk.
However, beginning a shopping trip with the end in mind can help you pick up just the right quirky, off-the-wall pieces to put on your wall, in your kitchen, or wherever in your home needs the vintage touch. Adding kids to the fun of decorating will provide you with quality parent-child time and help your kids with lifelong skills.
In the Living Room
As the center of your home, most of your energy in decorating is likely spent in the living room. Asking kids to help decorate this part of the house will ensure they feel like they have an active part in the home, increasing their family bonds and self-confidence.
The Fireplace—Hearth of the Home
If you have a fireplace, it’s likely that this is the focal point of your living room. You can find some gorgeous old grates at thrift stores and estate sales, classic pieces handcrafted as heat guards back in the days before grates became standard. The mantle also likely houses a large family portrait and other pictures.
Elegant grates and frames can be found at garage sales and thrift shops, and then painted to match your living room décor if necessary. Picking out colors and sponging layers of acrylic paint into an object’s corners and small spaces is a project made for kids. It’s simply perfect to teach them about painting techniques and finishing a job thoroughly.
You can find many old pieces of fabrics that are easily cleaned; these can be made into excellent throw pillow covers. Have your children weave ribbons over a square of fabric before you sew it in place, let them point out fabrics or designs they like when you go looking, teach them about working with delicacy as you sew on an antique doily.
And if you want to take advantage of the current obsession home decorators seem to have with painted Mason jars, kids are the perfect little painters—you can even let them have free reign to paint one jar as a decoration for their own room!
In the Kitchen
Old, unusable kitchen implements make excellent wall hangings. Old cheese graters, coffee tin lids, and other relics of kitchens past will add homey charm to any kitchen today! Hang old things on your bare kitchen walls in groupings; common groupings include covering one small section of wall in a symmetrical or asymmetrical grid, or in a diamond in the center of a large vacant wall. This same idea works with old, un-matching dinner plates on dining room walls—and the whole process is a good way to teach your kids art principles like patterns and colors.
You can also turn upcycling to more practical and pretty kitchen tasks—why not have a hanging kitchen garden? Once the responsible adult (that’s you) has poked holes in the sides of old coffee tins, watering cans, or other metallic vintage-chic salvages, allow the kids to repaint them if desired, fill them with gravel, soil, and your chosen plants. Then help them string twine, raffia, chain or heavy-duty wire trough the holes to hang from adhesive hooks you’ve attached to the ceiling. Add water and grow lights and watch your hanging gardens grow.
And an animal-topped jar is as simple as finding a jar, gluing on the animal you want (think the cheap, dollar-store plastic toys) and letting your kids painting with colors you provide!
What’s in style every bit as much as upcycled things? Upcycled things covered in chalkboard paint. Virtually any old thing with a flat surface can be covered in chalkboard paint, and can be turned into a unique message board for your family. Let your kids paint the new board on newsprint, and when it’s all dry, let them have the honor of being first to write on it!
Nearly any age-appropriate craft activity—such as painting or gluing, perhaps some sewing—is an excellent way for your children to spend time with you as you both upcycle your way to vintage-chic home décor.
About the Author
Leslie Mason is a homemaker and garden expert. Leslie enjoys writing, gardening, do-it-yourself projects, and fixing up the house.