7 Smart Ideas You Can Try at Home

smart ideas

From using old video cassettes lurking in storage to create a kitchen garden and upcycling packaging materials to repurposing old crockery to make a bird feeder, here are seven of VISI’s Smart Ideas to try while you’re at home.

Smart Idea: Polystyrene Planter

smart ideas

IMAGE Marijke Willems PRODUCTION & WORDS Annemarie Meintjes

Behold, a practical, eco-friendly way to repurpose polystyrene packaging.

Instead of discarding foam packaging moulded into interesting shapes, use the bigger pieces as planters.

We planted dwarf cotton lavender, a shrub with silvery grey foliage and yellow flowers in summer. The best thing about it, however, is that it is a natural insect repellent.

Use it to keep flies and mosquitoes away from the table; it’s so much better than spoiling your drinks with the pungent smell of citronella candles.

Smart Idea: Upcycled Crockery Bird Feeders

IMAGE Dook PRODUCTION & WORDS Annemarie Meintjes

We all have chipped or cracked crockery in the kitchen that we’re loath to throw away, so why not upcycle cups and saucers and plates by making your own bird feeder? The only thing you need to buy is a strong glue such as UHU quickset epoxy adhesive.

Start with the base and build it up to the water bowl:

1. Turn a saucer upside down and glue it to the bottom of a plate as a foot for the feeder.

2. Apply a thin layer of glue to the rim of a cup, turn it upside down and attach it to the centre of the plate.

3. Glue the base of a side plate to the base of the cup.

4. Glue the second cup upright onto the centre of the side plate.

5. Apply a thin layer of glue to the rim of the cup and top it with a second side plate.

6. Finally, glue a deep saucer to the side plate to serve as a water bowl.

Smart Idea: Video Cassettes Turned Kitchen Garden

IMAGE Dook PRODUCTION Klara van Wyngaarden

Transform old video tapes gathering dust in the garage into a kitchen garden.

All you need:

  • old video cassettes
  • screwdriver
  • potting soil
  • trailing herb plants such as marjoram or oregano

How to:

Unscrew the top of each cassette. Remove the reels and tape and screw the cassettes back together again. Stand each cassette on its side and, through the holes, fill them halfway with potting soil. Plant trailing herbs or plants with a short root system in each one. Stack the cassettes on top of one another, or hang them on a wall, to create a vertical garden. Remember to water the plants daily, but only in small drops.

Smart Idea: Homemade Candles

IMAGE Marijke Willems PRODUCTION AND WORDS Annemarie Meintjes

Find a purpose for your empty glass cosmetic jars. Transformed into homemade candles, these tubs are sleek and stylish, nifty to stow away and contain the melted wax. A candle in a screw-top glass jar offers light on demand and the benefit of a lid to store.

  • Buy a packet of candlewicks that have flat, round metal discs on one end from your local hardware store. Secure the disc to the middle of the base of a clean, dry cosmetic or small glass jar with a drop of superglue. Tie the other end of the wick to a bamboo sosatie stick that can rest flush on top of the jar to keep the wick straight and centred.
  • Melt the remains of burnt-down candles – including the last of those half-filled tealights – in an old glass jar in the microwave oven, checking and stirring with a takeaway chopstick regularly.
  • Remove any old wicks, dirt and debris from the melted wax and pour slowly into the jar or tub without disturbing the new wick. Give the wax time to settle, cool and become solid again before cutting the wick down to the top of the jar.
  • Screw on the top or use immediately to set the mood.

Smart Idea: Plastic Bottle Drawer Organisers

IMAGE Dook PRODUCTION Annemarie Meintjes

Do away with clutter in kitchen drawers with these simple organisers made from discarded plastic bottles.

Plastic cutlery usually stays behind in the takeaway paper bag or gets discarded without another thought. But with sets available in vibrant colours, solid black or even designed by Philippe Starck, these former disposable objects are now irresistibly collectable.

Rather than dump them in the bottom drawer to join the assortment of straws, chopsticks and other odds and ends, make a special home for them in no time at all.

Collect six bottles in the colour of your choice, remove the labels, wash thoroughly and slice off the spouts with a sharp kitchen knife or Stanley knife. It’s as easy as that.

Smart Idea: Polystyrene Holdall For The Bathroom

PHOTO Dook PRODUCTION Annemarie Meintjes

Transform old packaging material into a holdall for your bathroom.

New purchases, especially electronics, come with loads of packaging material that can be turned into solutions you may never have considered, like buffers to protect your car doors from banging against the garage walls or a holdall behind the toilet for all those unglamorous necessities.

Smart Idea: Double-walled Glassware Holders


Repurpose all those oddments of single or chipped tumblers by making your own double-walled glassware holders.

Tea lights are such a great invention – and most affordable. Make your own double-walled glassware holders by simply putting a smaller, shorter or taller glass into a larger one.

Not only is this a nifty way to repurpose oddments of single or chipped tumblers, but the glow of many candles will create a wonderfully cosy and intimate atmosphere as well.

Find more Smart Ideas here.