If you've ever looked around your house and gotten the urge to purge, you might consider pausing and first thinking about how you could transform that old, damaged piece of furniture or outdated light fixture into a fresh-faced showpiece for your home.

Not only are you doing something good for the environment -- and likely your pocketbook -- by restoring something, you're embracing your inner creativity. You can make a truly one-of-a-kind decor piece, tailored to your personality and style.

This notion of restoring and reusing items that would otherwise be cast aside to the junkyard or thrift store is called "upcycling," and it's a trend that has caught on quickly, especially in home design. With a little inspiration, creativity and the right tools, you can tackle countless decorating projects with things you already have around your home. And the best part? Upcycled pieces make for great conversation starters, often tell a good story and can even be sold for a much higher price than you put into them.

So where do you start? Here are some helpful tips for tackling your own upcycling projects.

Start with a little inspiration

Take a look through magazines, home design blogs and websites to gather inspiration. Look for pieces that catch your eye and have the same structure and "bones" as the items in your home that you'd like to restore.

Shop around without breaking the bank

Decorating your home doesn't have to cost a fortune. Look around your basement, attic, or at yard sales and consignment shops for free or inexpensive items that you might be able to breathe new life into. The old adage "never judge a book by its cover" would apply here. Do your best to look beyond an item's current condition and let the inspiration you've gleaned take over as you see its full potential in a different light. If the piece has some defects, don't immediately overlook it. Sometimes perfection and personality can be found in the imperfection.

Secrets of upcycling success

The secret to any do-it-yourself project is to plan ahead. Beyond finding the inspiration for a project, gather the supplies and tools you'll need, read up on step-by-step instructions, dedicate a roomy workspace where everything is at your fingertips, and be sure to carve out time to focus on the project.

But the No. 1 secret of upcycling success is to be patient and not get discouraged. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. It's OK to make mistakes because sometimes you'll uncover hidden beauty during the process. The important part is that you find the whole experience of restoring and reusing rewarding.

-- Brandpoint

Home-Selling Tip

Sure, you're heading into summer selling season, but fireplaces charm buyers no matter what the weather. Make yours look its best. Old brick fireplaces can get designer flare from a coat of paint. If your fireplace is wood-burning, remove and clean the screen. If it looks tired and rusty, give it a fresh look with a coat of heat-resistant spray paint. For gas fireplaces, keep the glass clean and make sure everything is in working order. For a nominal cost, you can install a remote starter -- a winning feature for buyers who can envision themselves starting a fire without ever having to leave the comfort of their couch.

-- Brandpoint

Did You Know

The average American family uses more than 300 gallons of water per day at home. Roughly 70 percent of this use occurs indoors. Nationally, outdoor water use accounts for 30 percent of household use yet can be much higher in drier parts of the country and in more water-intensive landscapes. For example, the arid West has some of the highest per capita residential water use because of landscape irrigation.

-- United States Environmental Protection Agency

Decorating Tip

Here are tips for using artificial flowers in your home:

- When shopping, choose the best you can afford within your budget. You'll be happy you spent the money on quality blooms that you'll treasure for years to come.

- In doubt of your decorating skills? Simply tuck one stem of your favorite variety in a glass vase for a classic, chic look.

- Faux petals are easy to care for and clean with the use of a handheld vacuum, a steamy shower or a soft, dampened cloth.

- Add one or two accent pieces that feature artificial flowers. From pillow cases to lamp shades, this look is everywhere and will add a cheerful glow to any room.

- Stay away from colors that don't naturally occur. For example, a rose in a bright blue shade will not convey the same amount of charm as a dusty pink.

-- Family Features/Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores

Garden Guide

If you can start early in the spring when the weather is still cold, choose your seeds and begin the germination process indoors by using these newspaper seed pots.

Materials Needed:

seeds

newspaper

a glass

soil

1. Create the paper pot

Take a page from a newspaper or comic strip. Fold over one long edge, twice. Roll the paper around a glass. Fold the overlapping end of the tube inside the glass. This will become the base. Slide the paper off the glass. Look inside the tube. Fold down the overlapping ends to make a base. Use the glass to flatten the base against a table.

2. Sow the seeds

Fill the pot with soil. It is now ready for sowing the seeds. Plant seeds in soil.

3. Plant the seedlings in the ground

Wait for planting season. Once the weather is warmer outside, the seedlings can be planted in their newspaper pots directly into the soil, without disturbing the roots. The newspaper pots will disintegrate when planted in the ground.

-- Excerpted from "Ready, Set, Grow!" by DK Books, HGTV.com

Our weekly Home Help with tips on upcycling, fireplace updates and how much water the average household uses a day.