Frame a patch of blackboard paint on the wall for original art.

Making Objects Out of Old Picture Frames

by Benna Crawford

Old picture frames are easy to re-purpose into trellises for vines in the garden and all kinds of other useful, decorative objects in your house. A frame that's too interesting for the attic, trash or garage sale might dress up the dull mirror in a guest bathroom or wrap itself around a square of cork to sit over a desk. Stick the photos in an album and do something unexpected with the frames.

Serving Tray

An ornately carved or unusually shaped old frame makes an attractive serving tray for your buffet or coffee table. Remove the hanging hardware from the back of a picture frame and glue a felt backing to it that covers edge-to-edge. Swap the picture for a sheet of vintage wallpaper, a decoupage of favorite images clipped from old magazines, a sheet of music or a swatch of handwoven textile from your travels. Reattach the back to the frame and stick self-adhesive felt dots on each back corner to further protect table surfaces.

Balloon Bulletin Board

Wrap an empty picture frame, minus its backing and glass, with leftover party balloons; long, skinny balloons are easiest to work with. Begin by painting a boring brown frame in vivid enamel. Hot pink, orange or turquoise enlivens shabby wood with a jolt of energy. Then wrap the frame in criss-crossed balloons, stretched and tied every-which-way across the frame to form a chaotic web of circus color that nearly obscures the painted wood. Hang the balloon board on a wall and tuck notes and photos in the web; the stretched elastic balloon strands hold mementos and reminders in place. Coordinate a balloon bulletin board with your room's decor by limiting balloon colors and picture-frame paint to your preferred palette. Lemon-yellow and apple-green might be perfect in your kitchen, while navy and orange balloons may complement a teenage boy's room.

Adjustable Art

Mark the interior space of a large gilt picture frame on the wall of the playroom, hallway or dining room. Paint inside the border with blackboard paint; use either traditional charcoal or a custom color to coordinate with adjacent decor. Once the paint is dry, hang the empty, backless frame so it surrounds the blackboard paint. Tack it to the wall at the corners with double-stick adhesive circles. Keep colored chalk and a chalkboard eraser in a basket or bowl on a slim side table and doodle, scribble, make grocery lists and print reminders as changeable framed art.

Hallway Hooks

Ditch the glass, mat and backing and give the shabby chic-style treatment to an ornate picture frame with distressed, rubbed and craquelured paint. A darker undercoat shows the crazing through a lighter topcoat of paint treated with crackle glaze. Reposition hanging hardware so the frame will hang horizontally on the wall, and screw cup hooks into the inside top bar of the frame. Place the frame in the hallway near the front or back door to to use as a key holder for the household door and car keys.

About the Author

Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based writer since 1997. Her work has appeared in USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, and in professional journals and trade publications. Crawford has a degree in theater, is a certified Prana Yoga instructor, and writes about fitness, performing and decorative arts, culture, sports, business and education .

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images