Five Creative Ways to Repurpose an Old Picture Frame

Think beyond the wall with DIY projects like memorykeeping boxes, trays, and tabletop décor.

Upcycling is one a feel-good way to ensure you are doing right by the environment while also repurposing something old into something new again. You don't even have to venture out—there are plenty of odds and ends to be found around the home. We have shown an old dresser can be transformed into an idyllic dollhouse and explain how to upcycle a rug into something practical, like a handbag. Surely, old frames—some battered, others picking up dust in the attic—have been on your list to clean out. Instead of tossing them, why not transform them into something different?

Ahead, get Annica Wallin's, executive creative director at Desenio, top tips for upcycling old picture frames.

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Give It a Fresh Coat of Paint

Of course, there's no reason to pull them from the wall just yet. "Picture frames are some of the easiest items to upcycle—a fresh coat of paint in an on-trend shade can make a big difference," says Wallin. Since frames are simple to paint and paint again, why not paint your soon-to-be new frames a harmonious hue? A little semigloss paint turns a ragtag crew of (glassless) frames into an artful display and it makes good use of leftover paint, too. Pictured above, our editors rounded up these $1 to $10 finds at a flea market. It becomes a perfectly decorative gallery wall.

Turn Your Frames Into Trays

"Picture frames don't only have to be upcycled for your walls—you can also give them new life by transforming them into a tray for your coffee table," suggests Wallin. "Affix handles on the sides and add a botanical print to the frame for a chic vintage centerpiece for your lounge. Add candles or ornaments to complete the look." Using your refreshed photo tray, you are halfway there to orchestrating a breakfast-in-bed treat for someone special.

Organize Everything and Anything

If the frame has a backing, it can be used as vertical storage. Cushion it with tufted padding and it can be used to organize jewelry—making proper order of paired-off earrings, bracelets and bangles, and swinging necklaces that are likely to tangle. It can be used similarly at your desk as a command center pinboard with tacks to hang paper notes, craft tools, and other work supplies.


Any beautiful wreath requires a sturdy base as its foundation. While you can use a malleable wire base, Styrofoam, or grapevine, here's another idea: use a frame. They come in all shapes and sizes—square or oval, small to large—which makes them fitting for any space. What's more, they're memorable beyond the traditional evergreens you typically see on the front door. For a wreath that's even more everlasting, make use of silk flowers or dried greenery.

Curate a Memorykeeping Box

"If your frame contains an outdated print, that's easily fixable, too! Switch it out for a currently trending art print such as line art or iconic photography," says Wallin. "Try choosing a selection of seasonal prints so you can update them for the holidays." Then, affix the frame to the front of an open-sided box which can be mounted to the wall or displayed on a tabletop or mantel. We love the idea of repurposing everyday objects (like buttons) to make illustrative block-printed fabrics and papers. This kind of wall-mounted box lets you display your prized mementos year-round or switch up your décor with the seasons to display in your newly upcycled frame.

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