Clever Ways to Reuse Picture Frames

Clever Ways to Reuse Picture Frames

The picture frame section at a thrift store is something I never pass up without a thorough inspection. Not only do I sometimes find unusual or eye-catching art for our home, but there are often interesting frames that can be repurposed into something completely new. Sometimes the repurpose is simple- used as a frame for other prints or photos. But there are also some really clever ways to repurpose and upcycle those picture frames in entirely new and unexpected ways.

Mid-Century Modern Wall Decor

mid-century modern wall decor from thrift store finds

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

A collage picture frame in the right design can almost look like Brutalist-style mid-century modern wall decor. At least, that’s what this one looked like to me when I spotted it at the thrift store. It just needed a little upcycling TLC to make it shine- but not too shabby for a $2 thrifted frame that was originally purchased from Walmart (based on the tag), eh?

Embroidered Wall Art

embroidery on a vintage bed sheet

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Usually embroidery projects involve the use of embroidery hoops. But in this case, picture frames were used to hold the fabric in place during the embroidering process. And when they’re done, they’re ready to hang on the wall immediately, almost like wrapped canvas prints.

Elegant Cork Board

Framed cork board from a picture frame

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Cork boards from office supply stores are very plain and unattractive- and they really do nothing for your office decor. But with some fun picture frames from the thrift store and some cork tiles (or rolled cork), you can create elegant, stylish cork boards that look NOTHING like their sterile counterparts from those office stores.

Fresh Art in Old Picture Frames

upcycling a picture frame with spoonflower wallpaper

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

A cool frame at the thrift store might be holding some very unappealing “art”, which was the case with this unusual frame. And getting the ugly prints out of the frame ended up being a nightmare. So, the bad art was simply covered up with some peel-and-stick wallpaper samples– and you’d never know it if I hadn’t told you!

Display Tray

repurposing a picture frame as a halloween tray and decor

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

With the right accoutrements, a frame like this can be easily transformed into a coffee table tray. Whether you make a seasonal tray like this or go with something that’s decorative all year long, a little paint and some feet can go a long way.

Lantern from Picture Frames

diy lantern from frames

Image credit: My Repurposed Life.

Lanterns are wonderful to decorate with at any time of year. Not only do they add soft, warm lighting, but they can be easily jazzed up for holidays and changing seasons. Believe it or not, but this lantern was constructed with picture frames for a fun and fresh take on a popular home decor piece.

DIY Wall Art

Fashion wall art by upcycling the envelopes of vintage sewing patterns

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Even unremarkable frames from the thrift store can become delightful wall decor with the right idea. These frames were as plain as can be. But with a quick paint job and some vintage sewing patterns, they’re now wall-ready decor for a sewing or craft room. Even the background fabric (vintage bed sheets) and old sewing pattern envelopes came from thrift stores, too.

Seasonal Display with Rotating Picture Frames

Displaying vintage Christmas postcards in a rotating photo frame

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Before it was donated to the thrift shop, this rotating carousel frame probably held a series of family photos. And while that plan is perfectly sweet, I had a different idea in mind during the holiday season: displaying a few of my favorite antique Christmas postcards! The frame kept the postcards safe and protected, but allowed friends and family to admire them during the holidays.

Herb Drying Rack

DIY herb drying rack from a repurposed picture frame

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Here’s a clever frame upcycle for anyone who gardens: a DIY herb drying rack, perfect for sprigs of rosemary, thyme, and other herbs from your garden. It’s easy to construct using a non-descript picture frame and is handy for hanging on a back porch or patio.

Decor Idea for House-Shaped Picture Frames

Haunted house decor with a house shaped picture frame

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

A house-shaped frame from the thrift store was definitely meant to hold family photos. But it’s also fun for a spooky little haunted house makeover like this– where all the good boys and ghouls can hang out together!

And wouldn’t it be just as cute as a gingerbread house full of Christmas characters, too?

Game Room Clock

playroom wall decor from a retro board game

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Incomplete board games are full of upcycling potential, from the game pieces to the board, and even to the box. But in this case, a vintage Parcheesi board was repurposed into a game room clock using a picture frame to house it. Don’t you just love it with a couple of thrift store purchases come together as a fun upcycle project like this?

DIY Shadow Box

shadow box for display

Image credit: My Repurposed Life.

A shadow box is such a great way to house and display knick knacks and collectibles. And with this DIY idea, you can make your own version. And yes, that’s an ornate picture frame front and center, along with other thrift store finds to complete the entire project.

Picture Frame Wreath

picture frame wreath as neutral fall decor

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

A picture frame might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of making a front door wreath. But it works awfully well- and looks great, to boot! Especially if the frame sides are wide and flat- perfect for adding seasonal or holiday embellishments like flowers and stems.

Picture Frames as Easter Eggs

Upcycling the vintage oval frames into Pysanky eggs for Easter mantel decorations

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

If Spring and Easter are around the corner, then keep your eyes peeled for vintage oval frames. (Thrift stores and yard sales are great places to find them!). Because with the right makeover and some sweet floral fabric, they can be transformed into Easter eggs like this for a delightful Spring mantelscape display.

Collage Frame Upcycle

book page art

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

A collage frame from the thrift store is a great piece to upcycle into themed wall decor using any number of prints. In this case, pages from a vintage nature atlas were salvaged to create some fishing-themed artwork for a man cave. But postcards, vintage letters, and other paper ephemera would be fabulous for this type of project, too.

Faux Christmas Gifts

flannel christmas decor

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Inspired by a restaurant from my childhood that used to “wrap” their wall art for Christmas, this picture frame upcycle couldn’t be easier. Frames are wrapped with fabric and turned into faux gift decor for a mantel. And it’s so easy to personalize depending on your style and tastes, too.

Details for this project can be found in my book, “Crafting with Flannel”.

Mirrored Jewelry Tray

mirrored tray from a picture frame

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

There is a specialty spray paint that can give plain glass a mirror-like (or mirror-esque) finish. Which means it’s incredibly easy to turn any old picture frame into a dresser-worthy jewelry tray like this. This upcycle idea is a great DIY gift idea, as well.

Gallery Wall

vintage gallery wall with empty frames

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Thrift shops, antique stores, and estate sales always have a selection of picture frames available. And if they are ornate or decorative enough on their own, then you don’t even need artwork or pictures to fill them. A gallery wall of open antique frames is an easy way to fill a lot of empty wall space; the hardest part is finalizing the placement of each frame.

Upcycled Projects with Picture Frames

small picture frames

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Now that you’re armed with all sorts of upcycling ideas and inspiration, it’s time to go thrifting. Picture frames are inexpensive and plentiful, which makes crafting with them so appealing! Plus, there are just endless ways to reimagine them for your home.

Craft on!


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upcycle ideas for picture frames

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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.


  1. shirley brakefield says

    Loved the ideas!!

  2. meleah rice says

    Is this picture at a salvation army?

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