Creative ways to re-invent your world – using everyday items

WATCH: Upcycling queen shows us how to give new life to old items.

Lizl Naudé is a modern-day treasure hunter. She finds hidden gems in old furniture, unused odds and ends and goods destined for the bin.

As one of South Africa’s queens of upcycling, Naudé’s world is filled with found and repurposed riches that cost a fraction of what a similar product would cost if bought new.

The 43-year-old Stellenbosch resident and owner of Lilly Loompa Upcycled Hip Homeware is a 2020 South African Women Entrepreneurs Climate Change winner for her upcycling initiatives.

She shares her story with us:

Why did you start upcycling?

I got married in 2002 and moved out of my parents’ home and into a duplex with my husband. To have your own space and make it your own brings excitement, but being newlyweds on a tight budget, we could not buy expensive décor and furniture. Hand-me-downs had to do, and that is how I started upcycling used materials. Then, between 20062016, my family went through turbulent financial times and we moved a lot. Each time we were in a new space, I had to personalise it and make it a home. Upcycling was an affordable way to do that.

How has your journey inspired you?

My journey has been long and cumbersome, and many times I felt hopeless. But I have a saying: ‘Creativity grows when faced with adversity’. At some of my lowest points, I was at my most creative!

I have learnt to not compare myself to the Joneses or try to keep up with them. If you don’t know who you are, you can easily feel the pressure to buy and want the best. But by looking at existing items in your home in a new light, you might be surprised to see how you can improve them, instead of replacing them. Upcycling and adding to the circular economy can be a great stress reliever and surprisingly therapeutic once the bug bites! 

What tips do you have for people wanting to start upcycling?

  • Start with small projects.
  • Make a list of things/functions you need in your home. For example, you might need kitchen storage solutions. Now take a walk through your kitchen and look at current food packaging or other items that can be repurposed.
  • Use online platforms as inspiration, but make each project your own by adding personal touches.  
  • Be realistic – most of us might only have time to do upcycling/DIY projects after hours or on weekends. Don’t complicate things by taking on big projects too soon.

If you need something in your home and have nothing that can be repurposed for that use, hit second-hand shops. Even tired items can be given a second chance. Visit your local craft shops for inspiration and to pick up the materials you don’t have at home.

WATCH: Upcycling queen shows us how to give new life to old items.

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