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How to Reuse Old Picture Frames

The thought of useful items going into a landfill makes me very sad. That's one of the reasons I love shopping estate sales. I know I'm extending the life of every item I buy. And what a good feeling that is. 

There are those items that are not so attractive, though, and require a little extra creativity. Picture frames are sometimes one of those things. I've come across many framed photos that, for the life of me, I can't imagine why anyone would have ever enjoyed that hanging on their wall for decades. It's hard to look past that and see the glorious frame that beholds this unpleasant photo. I hope to help you with that today.

There are a million and one things you could do with these frames. I'm going to share just a few ideas with you. All of these projects are very simple and cost less than $25 for the frame and supplies.

Just a side note: if you don't yet own a staple gun, get one! It's essential for almost all of these DIYs and most craft projects. They're inexpensive and pretty simple to use. Remember, though, safety first!

DIY Message Board / Task Board / Picture Board

I dream of an organized home. I'd love my kitchen counters to one day not contain a single piece of mail. My hope is with this new "task board," I'll accomplish that. This frame is a big, bulky frame. The photo inside was something about a castle. I wasn't fond of it (as the story goes with all the frames for this project), so I ditched it and the glass. I used the following materials for this project:

  • picture frame
  • acrylic paint
  • paint sponge
  • craft metal wire
  • staple gun
  • wirecutter
  • small metal basket
  • mini clothespins

I painted the frame solid black. The chicken wire was NOT bought at a hardware store because authentic chicken wire is thick and only comes in 25 feet rolls. Who knew? You'll need craft chicken wire for this project. I found a 2ft X 6ft roll at a craft store for $7. I measured the chicken wire and cut it accordingly using a pair of wire cutters. My handy-dandy staple gun (which is SO fun to use) stapled the wire in place perfectly. The basket was one I already owned. I was going to use it for my daughter's play area, but it didn't work out. I used a few pieces of wire from the excess chicken wire to strap that baby down to the chicken wire in the frame. You can find the clothespins anywhere that sells craft items.

I love the way this frame turned out. I plan to hang this in my kitchen and attach personal photos along with my to-do lists. And to keep my mail all in one location far away from my kitchen counters.

Wreath Frame

For this project, I used a framed canvas. The canvas said something about love and had two people kissing. It wasn't my jam (I swear, it was not cute) and was a steal at $5. I knew it would be perfect for this project. The only materials I used were:

  • picture frame
  • acrylic paint
  • paint sponge
  • small wreath
  • ribbon
  • staple gun

I used white acrylic paint to cover the canvas. It ended up looking a bit distressed on its own (bonus!). I didn't paint the frame. The wreath and ribbon were from a local craft store for about $15 and $5, respectively. I measured to find the middle of the frame, then strung the ribbon through the wreath.

The easiest (and safest) way to staple the ribbon to the frame is to string the ribbon through the wreath and pull the ribbon where you'd like the wreath to hang. Then, lay the wreath in front of the frame and lay the frame flat on the floor behind. Pop in two staples, and that's it! You have a beautifully framed wreath that is Instagram and Pinterest ready.

I've received so many compliments on this frame, and it goes perfectly with the decor in my home. It adds that perfect touch of farmhouse chic that is so popular right now. You could swap out the ribbon and add little tchotchkes to the frame as the seasons change throughout the year. Or simply add a bow and flowers to the wreath.

DIY Bow Holder

Here's my story. I have a little girl. She has the most beautiful curly hair. I had over ten bows for her before she was born because I was sure she'd have a head full of hair. I was right. I joined a bow club to collect even more bows. And guess what? She hates wearing bows. I was able to sneak them on her head when she was a baby before she had the coordination to pull them off. She is a smart little toddler now and refuses to wear them. But I have hope she'll come around one day, and I'll be able to match any of her 30+ bows (stop judging me) to her pretty little outfits again. In the meantime, the bows will live as art hanging on my bedroom wall.

This project cost me less than $5 (minus the bows) and took me only a few minutes to make, excluding drying time for the frame. I used only a few materials:

  • picture frame
  • acrylic paint or spray paint
  • paint sponge
  • ribbon
  • staple gun
  • sand paper (optional)
  • hot glue gun (optional)

First, I spray painted the frame white and distressed it a bit using sandpaper. The ribbons were attached next. The cream ribbon is the same ribbon I used for the wreath project. I bought a light pink ribbon but wasn't happy with how thin it was. So I got creative and decided to braid in a piece of twine.

I used two pieces of the pink ribbon and one piece of twine between the ribbon. I glued the ends together, and simply braided the ribbon and twine. I love the way it turned out, and the bows feel much more secure than they did with the single band of pink ribbon. I secured each piece of ribbon with my staple gun. Easy peasy

You could use this same concept to display jewelry or sunglasses. Whatever fits your fancy.

DIY Wall Art

This project gave me the most trouble. I saw a similar project online and thought this would be easy enough. It started that way. But figuring out how to balance the glass bottles took me a few tries. The supplies I used were:

  • picture frame
  • acrylic paint or spray paint
  • paint sponge
  • glass bottles
  • twine
  • hot glue gun

First, I spray painted the frame with a glossy taupe color. I played around with different ways to connect the twine to the bottles and then the frame. Wrapping the twine around the entire bottleneck looked the best to me, but get creative with it and position it the way you like. I recommend putting a dot of hot glue on the bottle to help secure the twine. I found it was easier to wrap the twine around the frame rather than stapling it to the back, and I liked the look of it, too.

This project was the only one I did not use the staple gun. The twine could easily be secured to the frame using a staple gun if you prefer that look. For this photo, I bought live flowers, but I'll probably invest in nice artificial flowers. That's more practical for my lifestyle. If you have a garden, I'm jealous, and this is a perfect place to display your beautiful arrangements.

There are loads more projects you could easily do with picture frames besides the obvious, swapping out the old photo for a new one. Here are a few more ideas:

DIY Dry Erase Board

Replace the photo with a piece of fabric, wallpaper, decorative paper, or paint the back of the glass using some acrylic paint. Insert the glass and voila! Write on the front of the glass using dry erase markers. Very simple.

DIY Chalkboard

This project is similar to making a dry erase board, but instead of painting the back of the glass, you'll paint the front using chalk paint. Chalk paint typically requires several coats (from what I've read). Paint the frame, if needed. Pop the glass back in with the chalk side facing out. Break out your chalk and start writing. That's it!

DIY Key Holder

Do you have several drivers in your home? You may need a fancy key holder for all those keys! Take a wood frame and insert little hooks on the inside of the frame to make your adorable key holder.

DIY Coffee Table Tray

Why pay $20 plus dollars for a table tray when you can simply repurpose an old frame into one? Paint the frame to your liking, then replace the photo inside with fabric, wallpaper, or decorative paper. Set your pretties on top or leave it clear to set your glasses on when needed.

Do you have any repurposed photo frame projects you'd like to share with us? Message us on Instagram. We'd love to hear about them!

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