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How to Upcycle Old Picture Frames in 10 Brilliant Ways

  • by Arthur Harrison
  • 5 min read

The picture hanging process regularly involves framing wall decor and art, and as we redesign our gallery walls over time, many of the picture frames we use get relegated to storage once they lose their appeal. But what if we tell you that’s not the end of the line for these picture frames?

Old picture frames on a wall

We hold on to old frames we haven’t used in a while in the hopes of finding some use for them in the future, ideally on our picture wall. But a gallery wall isn’t the only place for a picture frame.

There are many ways to repurpose and upcycle picture frames and discover new uses for them, whether they’re old ones gathering dust or fresh thrift store finds. So we put together some of the best ideas out there in this article, including which hanging hardware (if any) are recommended to complete your project without a hitch.

Read on to get started!

10 Creative Ways to Repurpose Old Picture Frames

Key hanger

Old picture frame with screw eye hangers along the inside of the frame. Keys are hung on the hangers
Image courtesy of The Monkeycosm

Complete your project with: Art hangers

Keys are probably one of the most often misplaced items in our homes. Because they’re small, only used in specific situations, and routinely brought outside with us, we don’t think much of organizing them in one place. But with a picture frame turned key holder, it’s easy to keep track of them, and they’re much more accessible because they’re hung on the wall in view.

Toilet roll holder

An old wooden picture frame upcycled into a toilet roll holder
Image courtesy of Itsy Bits and Pieces

Complete your project with: Wooden frame hanger, metal frame picture hanger

Can you say your toilet roll holder is beautiful? Most of us keep our bathroom decor strictly functional, but this DIY toilet roll holder is certainly one to elevate a space mostly hidden from the rest of the house. Make your toilet roll holder practical and pretty by repurposing an old picture frame the way Bachman’s did above. 

Vanity shelf

Ornate picture frame upcycled into a vanity shelf
Image courtesy of Pinterest

Complete your project with: 2-Hole D-ring

An old but still gorgeous ornate frame like the one above might be better used as a vanity shelf. Try putting together wooden boards to create shelf space and gluing them to the back of the open frame. You can also use a shadow box for this, depending on your preference and frame size. Place the frame shelf on the wall right above a vanity desk, and voila! 

DIY headboard

A bedroom with a bed that has a DIY headboard using a picture frame
Image courtesy of Vintage Revivals

Complete your project with: French cleats, felt bumpers

We bet you never thought of this one before. If you’ve been thinking about giving your bed a makeover, then the answer might be that old picture frame you’ve forgotten about. A DIY picture frame headboard is a great idea if you have a large frame sitting around in the house or if you’ve been eyeing an oversized vintage piece at the thrift store that you couldn’t justify buying… yet. Just check out the superb handiwork by Vintage Revivals in the photo above if you’re not convinced.


Frames upcycled into book shelves on a wall
Image courtesy of Change of Scenery

Complete your project with: Wall buddies

This idea transforms picture frames into ‘book frames’, which really makes your wall decor stand out in a whole new way. If your books are running out of shelf space, or you need some variety in how you display and store your books, why not give this DIY idea a shot? Fit the books into shadow boxes and join them to frames you’re not using.

Serving tray

An old picture frame repurposed into a serving tray

Complete your project with: Rubber feet

Do you have a wooden frame you can’t bring yourself to get rid of? It might just be the perfect frame to upcycle into a serving tray. Nail wooden frame boards together for your base and repaint the frame as you like. Repurpose it as a serving tray, vase tray, or even a dessert tray.

Picture frame molding

Picture frame repurposed into bathroom molding
Image courtesy of The House of Smiths

In a more understated approach, you can also repurpose old frames into decorative molding. The frames don’t remain intact in this project, but if you’re sure you don’t want a frame for your gallery wall anymore, then why not? It will still be used on the wall, just in a different way. You can repaint them to give them a fresh look and even work with decals like the above wall treatment.

Desk organizer

Picture frames on the wall repurposed into desk organizers
Image courtesy of Shanty 2 Chic

Complete your project with: Sawtooth picture hanger, bear claw screw

This idea is similar to the frame bookshelves we listed earlier, only that this one is for freeing up your desk space by using frame shelves as organizers. This works even better the more frames you can upcycle. You can store stationery, books, art supplies, and some trinkets and accessories, which makes it a cool project for a study or a kid’s bedroom.

Bathroom mirror frame

Ornate picture frame upcycled into a frame for a bathroom mirror
Image courtesy of Pinterest

Complete your project with: Brass hook

If we’re being honest, bathrooms are not usually the first place we think of when we want to redesign a space in our home. Bathroom mirrors are often either frameless or have simple frames, so if you want to spruce up your bathroom without putting in too much effort, how about reusing an old ornate frame for your mirror? Build it around an existing bathroom mirror or get a plain frameless mirror to attach it to.

Jewelry display

Old picture frames repurposed into jewelry organizers
Image courtesy of Pinterest

Complete your project with: Small sawtooth picture hanger, picture hanging wire, screw hooks

Do you have a jewelry collection that needs to be reorganized? Another great way to upcycle old frames is to turn them into jewelry hangers. This works well for medium-sized and even large frames. Repaint your frame as you like, screw in small screw hooks onto the top part where you can hang your jewelry pieces, and hang the frame on the wall just as you would hang a picture. You can also use picture hanging wire to make hanging lines for earrings.

Final thoughts

In a world of passing trends, it’s easy to get caught up in buying more and more items to refresh the look of our living spaces. Many of the things we pick out with care and effort get left behind, like picture frames. But through upcycling and with the right hanging solution, we rediscover a new purpose for them.

Which upcycling idea do you want to try out the most?

Happy hanging!

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