As a Southern California resident, a quick walk down a back alley can wield a number of treasures. Once I found two IKEA tables in the alley, ready to go to the landfill. Other than a few scratches, the tables were fine, and I hauled them in, cleaned them and added them to my living room. Here are some easy do-it-yourself options to green your in-home furniture and accessories.


If you can get your hands on some reclaimed wood, Studiomama has DIY instructions for sale so you can make your own pallet chair, bench, floor lamp, stool and children’s playhouse to add to your living room. Trendhunter featured DIY couch cushions made from used tote bags. You don’t need be a sewing guru to figure this one out!


Do you have any large pieces of cardboard lying around? This Instructables project gives instructions on how to design and built your own living room piece made from cardboard. The article also gives tips on where to find free and used pieces of cardboard, such as behind the supermarket or behind large department stores that sell refrigerators and large appliances. There is also a nifty corner bookshelf project that can be finished up in a few hours.


More experienced and equipped builders could try this cool table made from a bicycle wheel (and other bicycle parts) from Popular Mechanics. Can you get your hands on a used shipping pallet? If so, they make beautiful zen low tables and regular-sized tables. (Pallets can also be transformed into shelving and accent walls.) With some reclaimed wood, you can try to build this ultimate mancave coffee table.
The author's recycled cork coaster


The Hipster Home provides a step-by-step blog post about making a clock from used bicycle parts; it’s very urban chic. Save some packaging foam from computer or TV boxes to serve as an electronics stand, pictured here. This solution also helps hide all those pesky cords that seem to multiply in the apartment. Wine corks are really versatile; I collected some and hot-glued them together to form coasters. Save the bottle toppers in order to make corkboards, trivets and even mats (if you have enough of them, of course!). If you for some reason have access to hundreds of used eyeglasses, lucky you. You can whip together this cool chandelier made from upcycled eyewear. If you don’t have an unlimited supply of glasses, you could probably rig together one of these chandeliers with clean (gently used) baby food jars, old glass tumblers or tea lights. Most thrift stores have old glasses with lots of character that would be perfect for this project. There are tons of options for cheap, recycled furniture. Let me leave you with this nugget of a website that might have you distracted all day long: Superuse. Superuse members submit photos of designs (including furniture, lighting and much more) that center around reuse and upcycling. You won’t find step-by-step how-tos here, but you will find lots of great inspiration for building a recycled living room. What have you done to green your living room?