The easy upcycling ideas which could make you £1,000 overnight

This Morning: Georgina Burnett shows top tips for 'upcycling'

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Over the last 12 months there have been two million Google searches for ‘upcycling’ in the UK alone and data from eBay shows that profits for items such as upcycled cupboards can fetch the owner a healthy £347 overnight. 118 118 Money researched what the most profitable upcycling projects are to shed light on some of the easiest ways to make money without ever leaving home.

Lockdown has seen many people attempt some DIY around their houses, and some even found they had an undiscovered talent for it, but as the world opens up again there’s no need for these skills to go to waste.

Whether it be reupholstering a couch or giving some clothes a new lease of life, upcycling is quickly becoming one of the most lucrative side hustles with the least amount of effort and production cost.

118 118 Money compiled the five most popular, and best-selling, upcycled items, what the production costs could be and the total profits earned.

Upcycled cupboard

Cupboards are one of the most sought-after pieces of upcycled furniture, especially as people begin to move around more and more will be moving house and needing the extra closet space.

118 118 Money estimated that the cost of upcycling cupboards, depending on the size, would be around £28 which includes sanding, priming, painting and varnishing.

Potential profit: £347

Upcycled table

The profits and costs for this furniture piece is highly dependent on the size and intricacies of the table, as wooden tables with detailed carvings on the legs would require more attention but can fetch a lot more profits too.

Using the price of furniture/chalk paint, lining paper and varnishing, the cost of upcycling a table was estimated to be around £55.

Potential profit – £268


Upcycled and restored bags can fetch a lot of cash depending what brand, style and era it is from. Some bags can appreciate in value over time by as much as 500 percent, making easy profits of over £1,000.

However, that’s not to say that ordinary bags, or even handmade material totes won’t sell for a pretty penny. 118 118 Money estimated the costs of creating one of these totes, including basic sewing essentials, to be around £80.

Potential profit – £248

Upcycled lights

One of the stranger editions to this list, upcycled lights can be made out of virtually any material so long as the end result is aesthetically pleasing.

Using old bottles, pieces of wood and some LED strips, 118 118 Money estimated the costs of this project to be around £14, again dependent on how much light fixtures one is creating.

Potential profit – £234

Upcycled chairs

Reupholstering, varnishing or simply just wiping down chairs that one already has can increase their value. The cost estimations for this project is around $46, which includes oil, chalk paints and wax sealants.

Potential profit – £173

Total estimated profits: £1,270.

While these figures seem to indicate that upcycling furniture is more of a hobby or side hustle than a potential full-time career, Birmingham resident Anna pairs upcycling with her part-time nursing job and created her own business: Anna’s Art House in October 2020.

She commented: “I’m really lucky, as we have a local charity shop near us where people donate their unwanted furniture that would otherwise go to landfill, this is where I get the majority of my pieces.

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“If I’m struggling to find what I need, I do occasionally use Facebook marketplace to find items but it can be a bit hit and miss as you don’t know exactly what you’re getting until it’s in your car!”

She added that her upcycling adventure wasn’t at all expensive to set up, only spending about £10-£15 on items she would then sell for over £100.

“Now, most pieces of furniture I buy are between £20-50 which I then can sell for £200 – £500, depending on the piece. As I work from home I have limited overheads, but I spend about £25 per piece on materials, and due to designing, preparing, and painting, each piece takes two weeks to complete.”

She also added some sound advice for anyone looking to start their own upcycling business venture: “If someone was looking to start upcycling furniture, I say just go for it! It’s much cheaper and better for the environment than buying new, and you can personalise it to your home.

“I’d also say, try not to worry about making it look too perfect, when I first started my business, I’d spend hours trying to perfect it but I think old pieces look their best when they’re a bit rugged and full of charm!”
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