Upcycle / Recycle: Projects and Inspiration for Your Home

Before you throw out old furniture, considers ways to upcycle it, paint it or recycle it. That’s just what we’re doing on this episode of Today’s Homeowner.

But first, what is the definition of upcycle? Well, it simply means taking something old and giving it a more valuable purpose for reuse. This keeps things out of the landfill and keeps money in your pocket since you don’t have to buy something new.

Marilyn and Jesse King have made a few upgrades to their 30-year-old home. We’re helping them tackle the laundry room, starting with a very unique project.

First, we will upcycle an old hutch into a cabinet that houses their cat, Angel’s, litter box. Then we’ll build a display shelf that covers two walls for Marilyn’s decorative plates and memorabilia. Finally, we’ll create a storage solution for their recycling.


Pink, outdated hutch in a room with yellow walls.
This outdated, pink hutch is no longer useful for homeowners Jesse and Marilyn, but we have some ideas to upcycle it.

Upcycle Hutch into a Private Litter Box

With a little modification, a hutch or similar piece of furniture makes a great place to conceal a cat litter box.

To make room for the box to be taken out at cleaning time, we remove the stile between the doors on the cabinet.

After we cut the stile in two at the top and bottom, we glue it to the inside of one of the doors, so no void is left between the doors.

“Today’s Homeowner” hosts Danny Lipford and Chelsea Lipford Wolf remove unnecessary parts from the pink hutch before upcycling it.
“Today’s Homeowner” hosts Danny Lipford and Chelsea Lipford Wolf prepare to repurpose a hutch into a kitty litter station.

A pet door will allow the cat access to the inside from the right side of the cabinet. So, we create a template to make marking and cutting the opening for the pet door much easier.

Then we apply a new coat of paint before installing the pet door and modified cabinet doors on the hutch.

In the back of this upcycled cabinet, we cut a small hole for ventilation. This hole lines up with an in-wall room-to-room ventilation fan that draws odors out of the hutch and exhausts them to the garage and on to the outside.

Finally, we add a small battery-powered, motion detector light to illuminate the inside of the cabinet. This way, the cat can see what she’s doing!

Watch How to Convert Hutch Into Cat Litter Box Cabinet to learn more.


Recycling chutes and upcycled plastic containers, for storing glass, paper and aluminum, at Jesse and Marilyn King's home
These recycling chutes make it convenient to discard glass, paper and aluminum from the kitchen.

Create Convenient Recycling Chutes

The Kings’ laundry room is adjacent to the garage, so creating through-the-wall chutes for sorting and storing recyclables is a great way to reduce indoor clutter.

We begin by locating and marking studs inside the wall with a stud finder. Next, we lay out the location of the chutes on the inside, being careful to avoid the studs.

We’re using pet doors to cover the chutes, so we use them to mark the size of the holes that we will cut in the drywall, avoiding cutting any wires inside the walls.

We build the chutes themselves from pieces of 1/2-inch plywood. The inside opening matches the pet door’s size while the outside is slightly taller to allow the bottom of the chute to be angled down.

We cut holes in the drywall on the garage side to match the larger ends of the chutes so they can be fished into the wall from that side.

Mounting screws for the pet door secure them on the inside while narrow molding tacked around the outside secure that side of the chute.

As a finishing touch, we add letters to the inside of the pet doors to designate which chute gets which recyclables: glass, aluminum or paper.

Watch How to Build Chutes for Recycling to learn more.


Build Corner Shelves Using Biscuit Joints

To display Marilyn’s decorative plates and other memorabilia, we build shelves in the laundry room.

We use biscuit joints for the corner shelving, so when everything is caulked and painted, the shelf presents clean, attractive lines that provide a secure place to display her decorative items.

Watch How to Build Corner Display Shelves Using Biscuit Joints to learn more.

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