Upcycling Ideas for Vintage School Supplies

Upcycling Ideas for Vintage School Supplies

I have a soft spot for vintage school supplies (and office supplies)- anyone else? So, I snatch up old school items whenever I see them at thrift stores. And once Fall arrives, I can’t help but get nostalgic for all things “Back to School”. From shopping for new clothes and school supplies, to the sounds of a marching band at a Friday night game.

Whether you want to refurbish a school desk, or use flash cards as wall decor, or just looking for ways to upcycle and repurpose some old school supplies, there are a TON of ideas out there.

decorating with vintage school supplies

I’ve done a few projects with vintage school supplies or school-related items. Not many, but a few…

For instance, I upcycled some old yearbooks into Halloween spell books

Making a Halloween Spell Book from an Old Yearbook

And I made a hand fan with a vintage wooden ruler as the handle.

DIY hand fan from a retro album cover

There are loads of ways to upcycle those classroom staples (rulers, film reels, even overhead projectors!). So, I’ve gathered those upcycling ideas for you in one easy blog post.

Such as upcycling paper folders as DIY greeting cards!

DIY Greeting Cards with File Folders and mulberry paper

I also found some great “Back to School” decorating ideas and vintage home decor that was inspired by vintage school supplies, well. So, I added those into the mix, too…because why not?

Either way, I think you’ll be inspired to create your own version of vintage school decor!

30+ Upcycling Ideas for Vintage School Supplies and Old School Items

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

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What a fun trip down memory lane, right? So which one is your favorite?

Decorative cork board for home office decor

Cheers to all the teachers out there for doing a job I could never do- both of my parents are retired teachers! And I hope we upcyclers do you proud by repurposing old school items that started in a classroom (or office) somewhere.

School supplies from the 80s

And cheers to my fellow junkers and pickers who are forever on the hunt for the perfect treasure. Everyone gets an A+ and a gold star today.

Victorian Halloween decor with a Halloween lamp post

I’m also excited to announce that my first book is now available! If you love working with flannel or fabric crafts in general (sewing and non-sewing), then you will LOVE “Crafting with Flannel”!

Craft book on flannel fabric
If you enjoyed these upcycling ideas for school supplies, then you will also love how I transformed this into a mini card catalog!

Tabletop version of a vintage library card catalog

Craft on!


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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 โ€œCrafting with Flannelโ€ and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.


  1. I adore this post! I loved school as a little girl and was a teacher for 27 years! I bought my old-sch teacher’s desk so I could take it home with me when I retired! It is one of those huge oak desks with the little pull-out shelves on the sides. One of my most prized possessions. I am amazed at the prices I see on school desks and lockers these days! These ideas are truly charming.

  2. Some of those are really creative. I have a ton of old binders so the three ring binder hooks sounds like a good idea.

  3. wow these are amazing! The ruler clock and the ornaments are my favorite, maybe because they seem simple enough for me to do. But the ruler clock reminds me of something my geometry would have, she always had quirky unique things in her classroom.

  4. Hi Sarah, these are great!!!! Thanks for stopping by and leaving me a sweet comment on my trash can planters. I tried to reply directly to your comment but you came up as a no reply blogger. HUGS
    Christine from Little Brags

  5. So many great ideas! I’m a sucker for anything with maps, so I absolutely loved the globe planter.

  6. I love these projects! Made me feel so bad though about the things I’ve gotten rid of or thrown away. I just sold the pencil sharpener at a garage sale last Spring! Thanks for sharing at the #HomeMattersParty

  7. What a wonderful roundup of ideas! I was going to pick a favorite….but there are 4 or 5 that I REALLY like. Gonna go find me some rulers!

  8. As a teacher, crafter, artist and blogger, I love what you have done with the school supplies and furniture! It gives me so many ideas! Thanks for sharing

  9. These are so fabulous ideas. I love them all. My daughter is teaching. This is her first year teaching and she is really struggling.

    • Hey, Trish, thank you. I’m sorry to hear about your daughter’s struggles. My friends who are teachers struggle immensely- not with the kids, but with everything else that gets in the way of doing their job well. ๐Ÿ™

  10. I love these ideas! Especially that first ruler clock. What a cool project.

  11. Sarah, you are without a doubt, one of the cleverest people I know! Thanks for sharing this at Five Star Frugal. Pinned and shared on Facebook. Love, Mimi xxx

  12. So many great and unique ideas.
    Have a great week.

  13. Wow! The melted crayon ornament looks really cool. I am participating in an ornament swap and I might have to try to implement that idea. Awesome! Thanks for linking this up over at Welcome Home Wedensday…make sure you stop by again this Wednesday & link up more awesome work ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Eye Candy! This post had so many great ideas for salvaging and repurposing old gadgets and gizmos. It’s like browsing a magazine.

  15. Thank you for putting this round up together & sharing with us at Friday Favorites! I am in love with the ruler clock! Have a great week.

  16. Those were awesome! It’s like taking the industrial theme and making it into a A+ project! Thanks so much for sharing it with “Let’s Talk Vintage!” today!

  17. I love the ruler clock at the top and the pencil sharpener lamp. So creative. So unlike me to think of those things. Awesome round up!

  18. Love that ruler clock! My mother is a teacher and I think she would love to put something like that in her classroom. I see a great homemade Christmas present in her future! Thanks so much for sharing at Inspiration Thursday.

  19. I have always wanted one of those dollhouse bookcases. These ideas are genius!

  20. I love vintage school items! Have collected quite a few items. You’ve shown some fun and creative ideas. Especially love the ruler drawer pulls and the pull down map. Thanks for sharing withSYC.

  21. So many great ideas!! I love the floss organizer – that would be perfect for my cross-stitch closet! ๐Ÿ™‚ #HomeMattersParty

  22. These are wonderful projects. Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop. Hope you join us again this week!

  23. i love all the cool projects, the paint brushes are so cute! Thanks for sharing this on Dream Create and Inspire.

  24. Hi Sarah! I just loved the school ruler clock so much that is one of my features this morning for “Let’s Talk Vintage!” Thanks so much for linking up! ~Jill

  25. Too many cool ideals, I would love to find some of these vintage items! Nice round-up of goods, [TUT]

  26. Hi, Sarah. I love all of them, but the three-ring binder hooks is my favorite!! There are so many genius out there!
    Thanks for sharing at #2usestuesday

  27. I love your roundup of school supplies repurposed. My personal favorite is the pull down world map. I am on a quest for one to use in my house. Thank you for sharing your fun post at Vintage Charm.

  28. How delightful and ingenious! I love the bicycle clock, the old locker console table, and the succulent planters from the globe. Keep up the inspiration! I love flea markets and often remember how some of my favorite bloggers – including you – used some of the things I find.

  29. That repurposed ruler clock idea is just awesome!

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