Picture frames can come in handy for many more uses than just framing photos and artwork. Give those unneeded or unwanted frames new life by upcycling them into something fresh, fun and useful.
1. Haute Headboard
One option for upgrading your ornate frames is turning it into a luscious tufted headboard, which could serve as the trendy focal point of your bedroom. We have broken it down step-by-step for you, so get ready to get your craft on.
- Remove the glass and use the frame’s backing board as a base for the foam and batting, or cut a fresh piece fiberboard, plywood or even hard foam insulation to fit.
- Cut upholstery foam to fit the board, then wrap the board with a layer of batting and then upholstery-grade fabric.
- Staple the fabric to the back of the board after first ensuring the board still fits within the back of the picture frame. (If necessary, remove batting from the sides of the board or trim the board down a little.)
- To create tufts, drill holes offset every few inches through the board, attach upholstery thread to covered buttons, then use a needle to get the thread through from the front of the headboard to the back.
- Pro tip: Sew plain buttons onto the back of the thread to tug the covered buttons tight enough to create a tufted look.
- Press the upholstered headboard into the frame, then secure the frame to the wall with wall anchors at the desired headboard height.
2. Hanging-Basket Plant Stand
Turn a simple, sturdy wood frame into a stand for a hanging plant by adding an extra plank of wood on the bottom. Using a simple frame for this project will work the best. An empty frame from an art canvas will also work.
- Attach a wider plank of wood to the bottom of the frame to create the base, using wood glue or wood screws will work best and are the most durable.
- Add a plant hook, centered inside the top of the frame and hanging down inside the frame, to create the hanger for the hanging basket.
3. Corkboard Message Center
Turn a glass-less picture frame into a colorful cork board that lets your creative side shine!
- Trace the outline of the frame’s backing board onto a sheet of cork.
- Double up the cork for a thicker cork board, or glue the cork onto a sheet of corrugated cardboard before adding the old frame backer material onto the back of the cardboard. (A completely empty frame without a backing board will work too – just use cardboard or even foam core board as the backing material.)
- Once the glue has dried, paint the cork board with a color that pops, such as a bright yellow, aqua, or magenta, then stencil chevrons or a quatrefoil pattern on in another shade, such as indigo. Then paint the frame with a contrasting color.
- Pro tip: You can even make your own stencils for stripes or geometric shapes by applying strips of painter’s tape in the desired pattern atop the first paint color once the paint dries.
- Once the paint dries, pop the cork assemblage into the frame, holding it in place with the tabs found on the back of the frame.
For optimal creativity, try and think beyond the basic frame shapes for this project! Antique oval frames – especially ornate ones – turn your creation into a cork-board that defies the ages.
4. Jewelry Holder
A homemade jewelry holder not only makes each item easier to find – it also helps prevent those tangled messes that occur if loose jewelry is stored in a drawer or jewelry box. An added bonus: all your friends will be jealous of your one of a kind piece!
- Select an empty wood frame that has enough room on it to add a few glass knobs – these come in handy for hanging necklaces and bracelets. Paint the frame any color you like.
- Once it dries, cut a piece of hardware cloth to fit inside the frame, set into the indentations on the back of the frame.
- Use tin snips to cut the hardware cloth and wear heavy work gloves to avoid punctures.
- Staple or tack the hardware cloth in place, flip the frame around, then drill two or three pilot holes along the front of the frame for the drawer pulls.
- Twist the pulls into place, hang the frame, then hang jewelry from the hardware cloth and the knobs.
This exact same project can be used to make a fishing lure holder for the fisherman in your life; it would make a great father’s day or birthday gift, too. Paint the frame a color he likes.
5. Chandelier or Ceiling Fixture Medallion
Some older homes have extra decorative elements that make the house feel more fancy, such as ceiling medallions. These medallions, attached to the ceiling, add embellishment around a ceiling fixture or chandelier.
Create your own from an ornate oval, round or square picture frame to add a special touch to the room.
- Paint the empty frame to match the ceiling (or even in a complementary shade, if you want it to stand out as a focal point).
- Attach your piece to the ceiling with nails or screws so the fixture or chandelier is perfectly centered within the frame
6. Magnetic Marvels
Turn lightweight frames into frames for the fridge, perfect for displaying your child’s artwork! It adds
- Add a few strong peel-and-stick magnets to the back perimeter of each side of the frame.
- Center a hand-drawn masterpiece on the front or side of the fridge, place the frame over it and, tada! The fridge becomes an art gallery. This also works on filing cabinets and other magnetic surfaces.
- Make your own mini signs for the dishwasher (“clean” or “dirty” or a filing cabinet “2016 tax paperwork”) by placing the magnets on the backs of tiny dollar-store picture frames instead. Print out the desired wording, or hand draw your signs using artist’s markers.
- Place the paper in the frames and use the frames whenever and wherever needed. Swap out the magnets for sticky hook and loop tape and you can place the signs just about anywhere.
- Stick the soft portion of the hook and loop tape on a door or wherever you need it, and the looped side on the back of the frame
7. Gallery Grouping
Create a gallery grouping to turn a wall into a focal point using empty mismatched frames to add an eclectic touch to any room.
- Spray paint all the frames the same color (working outdoors with the frames on a tarp), or work with two complementary colors, such as black and platinum.
- Cluster a few small frames inside a large one if you like, or group them in an arrangement that looks random yet balanced.
- Pro tip: You can even layer your frames on top of one another. Incorporate a few found objects or actual photos into your frame grouping.
- Experiment with the placement by setting the frames atop a large sheet of kraft paper on the floor in front of the project wall.
- Trace the frames, then cut the frame shapes out of the paper, leaving the paper intact.
- Temporarily tape the paper on the wall (after aligning the paper so the frames will hang straight), then hang each frame in its respective location through the paper, onto the wall.
8. Wonderful Whiteboards
For the glass version of the project, select frames that have smooth unscratched glass.
- Cover the backing board of each frame with colorful gift-wrap, scrap-booking paper or even fabric, then pop it back in the frame so the colorful side shows through the glass.
- Write on the glass with regular whiteboard markers.
A frame without glass can still be turned into a whiteboard. Instead, coat the backing board with a colorful laminate film or contact paper. Use the markers directly on the contact paper.
9. Tasteful Trays
Turn several small or medium frames into trays for tasty treats at your next holiday party, family gathering or even just for fun!
- Select sturdy frames that still have glass.
- Remove the glass and backing board, then paint the frames any desired color.
- Cover the backing board inside the frame with colorful fabric or paper (as you would for the whiteboard project), then press the piece back into the frame.
- Align the frame trays on a buffet table or bar, then tasty treats such as cookies or cupcakes or plates of cheese on them.
Pro tip: If the glass gets dirty, remove it from the frame and wipe it down with vinegar.
10. Garden Gallery
- Secure the frames to a fence at several points. Hang other painted frames along a fence or the side of the garage to highlight nearby flowering plants for a touch of color that lasts through the seasons.
- Insert a mirror, cut to fit a frame, inside another painted frame, displayed in a corner or along the back fence to add some visual depth to a small yard or garden area.
Now that our inspirations has gotten you fired up with creativity, go out there, find your old picture frames and get crafting! Share your projects in the comments below!