10 Ways to Upcycle Old Photo Frames

We’re pretty sure it’s a prerequisite for sheds, lofts, basements and storage cupboards to contain unused picture frames. Often old, weathered and possibly missing their glass front. PERFECT. That’s exactly what you need. There are myriads of ways to upcycle old photo frames to give them a new lease of life.

Old picture frames are super easy to get hold of, as mentioned, most people have them laying around. And even if you don’t, you’ll easily be able to get your hands on one for next-to-nothing at a charity shop or flea market.

Obviously, it depends on what type of upcycling you’re planning on doing, but wooden picture frames scrub up fantastically and can be upcycled into almost anything; in fact, we’d go as far as saying they’re the best foundation for a DIY project.

To Recycle or Upcycle?

Of course, if you’d like, you can choose to recycle your old picture frames rather than upcycle them. You’ll need to simply clean, sand, prime and paint (or varnish) your wooden frames back to their former glory. If they’re metal, they’ll only need a good clean with a proper metal cleaner.

If you’re feeling a little more adventurous – and would like to embark on a DIY project AND make something completely new – then here are 10 ways to upcycle old photo frames:

10 Ways to Upcycle Old Photo Frames

  1. The Wire Photo Frame

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If you’re hoping to display keepsakes and memoirs but in a shabby chic fashion, look no further. This wireframe display not only looks great but is super easy to make. Thanks to the rustic style you may not even need to repaint it.

Simply remove the back of the photo frame and replace it with wire netting (another material most people have laying around their sheds and gardens). It can be affixed using a stapler.

Grab some mini pegs from Wilko for 75p to complete the look!

  1. Natures Favourite (And Ours Too)

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At A Fancy Home, we LOVE this idea to upcycle old photo frames; it’s truly unique and really eye-catching!

Again, it’s easy to make. Dig out your old frames, (again they probably won’t need painting as the distressed look will add to the final product). Then, using some thick twine, wrap it around the neck of a bottle numerous times, ensuring it’s secure and finished with a tight knot.

Next, after leaving some ‘hanging twine,’ repeat the same process over the top of the old frame.

Lastly, fill the bottles in any way you like. Either with flowers, like in the image above, or any other small keepsake.

  1. Picture Frame Towel Rail

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This decorative towel rail made from upcycled picture frames is a simply stunning, statement piece that will refuse to go unnoticed. If you’re a craft Queen or DIY expert, then this idea to upcycle old photo frames is the perfect Sunday project!

  1. Jewellery Organiser

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It is another idea that we love, because not only does it look great but it has a function too. So often we have piles of wonderful jewellery that’s only seen the odd time that it’s worn. NO MORE. Simply stick a row of small hooks on the underside of the top panel and hang your jewellery proudly from them!

  1. Pic-Ception

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This decorative item is a little more involved than the previous options, but the payoff aesthetically is wonderful. Make a point of mooching through markets and boot sales to collect different frames, and add to it gradually – you’ll have it made before you know it!

Tip: Make sure to start with a large, sturdy frame and layer on top of this one. It’ll act as the supporting frame and will be the one which is hung on the wall.

  1. Chalkboard Frame

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This idea to upcycle photo frames is one of the most popular – everyone loves a chalkboard, but even more so when it looks fantastic too!

You can create this in two ways, if the old frame still has its back then you just buy some chalk paint. If it doesn’t, simply mount your frame onto a cheap chalkboard using wood glue.

  1. Ribbon Rail

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If you’re a regular crafter or DIY enthusiast, (and since you’re this far through a DIY article we’re hedging our bets that you are), then it’s likely that you have a lot of ribbons and materials to keep in check.

Again, another example of great design that makes functionality double as aesthetic.

  1. Office Organiser

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There are multiple reasons why we love this idea to upcycle old photo frames:

– Firstly, as previously mentioned, we love a function upcycle.

–  Secondly, the size of the frame is the most readily available.

– Lastly, it looks a lot more intricate than it is to make!

Simply cut your fabric into oblong shapes, each one two inches smaller in height than the last. Layer them, so the smallest is on top and wrap the pile around the backing frame. A thin material, like a low count cotton, will work best as the pile may end up too thick to push into the frame.

  1. Key Holder

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Banish the days of misplaced keys on a Monday morning with this nifty upcycling idea. Mount your old frame onto some unused wood and screw a few hooks on. Voila – a place especially for your keys that’ll never get forgotten.

You can even try the no.4 hook technique for an even easier way to let your keys dangle!

  1. The Corkboard Picture Frame

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Pretty much what it says on the tin – a picture frame mounted on a cork board for a much chicer (and in this case, regal) style!


Which idea to upcycle old photo frames are you going to try? Let us know on Facebook! While you’re there give us a Like to stay up-to-date on interior design news, home improvement tips and DIY guides just like this one.