Even worn after years of use, it can be reimagined into pillows, furniture, or even a hand bag.

By Alexandra Churchill
December 23, 2020
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Credit: AARON DYER

We recycle almost everything in our homes, from fine china to kids toys to estate sale furniture. But an oft-overlooked piece of home décor? The one beneath your feet. A rug can be a great source of fabric: After all, it's something with extensive area coverage, durable in its fiber material, and—barring the fact it has any lingering stains or odors—can make something look quite new again. Here, take a note from our Good Things and editors' ideas for ways to upcycle a rug in your latest project.

Cover Throw Pillows

Why settle for the fabrics and patterns offered at your local store? You can create custom accent pillows (for much less) that suit your décor beautifully. The three best finishing styles—a slipstitched closure, an envelope-backed closure, and a zippered closure—provide nice options for any sewn-from-scratch pillow project. You don't have to settle for a plain color either: embroidered throw pillows can be decoratively stitched in a contrasting alpaca yarn ($18.50, etsy.com) to result in patterns and texture.

Reupholster Furniture

When your favorite wingback chair or ottoman starts to show its years of wear, it's time for a newly upholstered look. This kind of project is often best left to the professionals: An upholsterer will ask for detailed measurements and photos, then provide a quote based on the estimated labor, pickup and delivery, as well as fabric. Confirm the yardage with your upholsterer; they can tell you whether the rug you've sourced will fit the project.

Make Your Own Pet Furniture

Pets need a cozy place to call their own, too. If your cat tends to scratch the furniture, give Kitty her own hangout nook that will also help sharpen her claws. This cat scratching post is assembled from a lightweight cardboard cylinder (the kind typically used in construction projects to mold concrete), a stylish tray, and a roll of carpeting. It works particularly well if you have a textured rug made of sisal.

Stitch a Hand Bag

In the market for a new accessory? Try our Good Thing for this handbag: A quick seam can turn your rug into a tote that carries all of your essentials, then unfolds into a quick lounging spot. Plus, you can also sew a pillow pocket into the edge.

Make a New Entrance

Own multiple rugs? Transform small and inexpensive area rugs—like these Signe rugs ($4 each, ikea.com)—into a full-length runner. All you need is a needle and thread. Using a whipstitch, hand-sew four 22-by-33-inch carpets together along their horizontal sides, then knot the thread securely at the end of each seam. The result? One sleek piece—more than seven feet long—that's truly greater than the sum of its parts.

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