7 Creative Ways to Repurpose Old Picture Frames

If you’re like most people, you’ve got plenty of framed photos and artwork on display in your home or in storage. As time passes and households move from one property to another, these older frames – especially if they’re cheap – typically don’t last very long, becoming worn down or damaged and certainly not worth keeping on continuing display. When it comes time to replace your old frames, it’s best to reuse or repurpose them rather than adding to yet another junk heap. Here are a few creative, interesting ideas to consider when upgrading your photo and artwork frames.

End Tables

frame end table

You’ll need a piece of solid glass or wood to make this project work, not to mention a couple of matching legs (or an old lamp, in this case). Even smaller frames can be retrofitted into a side or end table on the cheap and these can typically be further improved with a new coat of paint or primer for consistency. 

Serving Trays and Organizers

framed table tray

The natural shape and orientation of frames make them a ideal option for DIY organizers and decorative trays. Providing a great accent to freestanding photo frames and home decor, these homemade table trays keep your home’s surfaces looking neat, organized, and beautiful. There are many angles in which to attack this project, but this step-by-step guide is among the better ones we’ve come across. 

Menu Box or Chalkboard

framed chalkboard menu

Combining two frames (one large, one smaller) can make for a very attractive menu box or chalkboard to keep notes, messages to roommates or family members, and menus from your favorite takeout joints organized and within easy reach. If you want to go the chalkboard route, we recommend following along on this guide.

Towel Bar


It’s not wise to place wet towels on wood to allow them to dry. However, those decorative towels you’ve been looking for an excuse to put back on display are prime candidates for a custom frame hanger. Stark, unique, and guaranteed to impress, this project takes a little more elbow grease than the previous examples, but the end result will be well worth the time and effort.

Hanging Polaroid Display

hanging polaroid display

Old, vintage, or junk wooden frames have plenty of character – so much so that it often hurts to think about sanding them down and polishing them. Talia Christine’s solution was simple, yet extraordinary – she removed the matte backing and hung the frame as-is, stringing twine in four equal lengths and used worn-down clothes pins to display Polaroid and printed photographs of her home and family. It’s a straightforward project to be sure, but one that has great potential no matter the style of your home.

Lighting Accent

frame accent lighting

Older homes with classic or vintage ceiling fixtures are the perfect candidate for reused or refinished older frames. Of course, you’ll want to ensure your frame is sizeable enough to not look goofy, but more importantly, you’ll need to pay close attention to color. The effect should be subtle and not take away from the lighting or the overall appearance of the room, so tread lightly in this category.


frame pincushion

What to do with all those small, individual photo frames that no longer work with your home’s aesthetic? Turn them into pincushions, of course! A decidedly inventive idea that’s caught on with networks like Pinterest, crafty guys and gals can get even more creative with a funky choice of fabric color and patterns. They’re also a great handmade gift, so if you’re looking for a good project during the fall, a homemade pincushion with repurposed frames is a great way to go.

As much as we love the appearance of older frames, it’s important to protect your artwork and precious photographs from damage and wear. Newer framing techniques and materials are better at protecting valuable subjects, so if you’re concerned about the lifespan of your hung materials, swing by Frame Up Studios in Seattle. We can help you keep your artwork safe, secure, and beautiful for decades to come.

Happy crafting!