Whether you're turning that old pair of jeans into a fashionable purse for your grandmother or spinning your own compost mill in the backyard, upcycling has become increasingly popular throughout the last few years, especially within the environmental movement. People have found that almost anything can be refurbished or completely transformed, with sites such as Pinterest giving users step-by-step guides as to how they can best use old materials. Homeowners are no strangers to this way of thinking, with several of the world's most luxurious homes utilizing upcycled materials in some fashion. Designers can choose to incorporate recycled dryboard, bricks and even windows to help a home become more energy efficient. Additionally, installing radiant heat in an upcycled house is a great way to further decrease energy costs and increase the positive impact on the environment.In addition to reusing materials to build the outside of a home, ambitious individuals have countless opportunities to create pieces of home decor that have been recycled, including refurbished picture frames, repurposed bookshelves and hand-crafted curtains. When it comes to creating a house that has put tired materials to good use, there are several currently in existence from which homeowners could draw inspiration.Shipping containers
One family in Flagstaff, Ariz., built an eco-friendly home entirely from six old shipping containers. The home, completed in March 2011, is 2,000 square feet and has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, two offices, a storage room and a green room. Not only is the foundation crafted from entirely upcycled materials, but the entire home was built with energy efficiency in mind.Winner of the 2010 Coconino County Sustainable Building Program award, this home employs radiant heat to warm each room, cuts down on wasted water use by diverting pipes to the garden and does not have any central air-conditioning. Instead, it uses a crafty combination of one skylight, small fans and special shading systems to keep the house cool during the summer months.Additionally, external parts of the home were made from recycled materials, including the ceilings, which were made from recycled denim, and the roofs, which are coated with sand.Grocery bags and tin cans
In Portland, Ore., there exists a micro house of only 400 square feet crafted completely from upcycled materials, which line both the inside and outside of the home. From far away, the mini cottage looks just like any normal log cabin, with a fortified brown exterior and welcoming red roof.The home, however, is anything but ordinary.The exterior of the building is crafted from flattened tin cans, both lids and cylinders, which are placed to look like tiles along the surface. The porch swing next to the door is revealed to be an old Dairy Queen bench, while the flower boxes are made from old stove hoods.On the inside of the house, drywall is made from pinto bean sacks and wallpaper from old Trader Joe's bags. The cottage currently houses a mother and son who recently moved from a 3,500-square-foot home in Maryland. The mother, however, told Inhabitat that she has no plans to move back to a large house anytime soon because she values her new mini home too much."This whole movement is about originality and creativity," she told the source.An entirely upcycled house
Lendager Architects, a company from Denmark, recently unveiled its entirely upcycled house, which uses only materials that have been salvaged or repurposed. It features insulation made from old newspapers, recycled windows and bricks, walls made from old plastic and flattened aluminum cans for roofing.According to Treehugger, which translated the company's site, the architects recognize the house is not the first to use these materials, but hope to provide an alternative to traditional building designs."The goal for Upcycle House is to demonstrate that it is possible with limited funds to build a strong CO2-reducing and publicly appealing one-family house," the architects wrote.