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How to Repurpose Picture Frames Into a DIY Serving Tray

The following guest post was created by Alicia from Thrifty and Chic.

I don’t know about you, but when I go shopping I am always drawn to picture frames. If it’s a birthday present: frame. Christmas gift? Frame. Sometimes I just get them because they are cute even though I had no plan on buying one in the first place. You know what place really gets me? Thrift stores. I have found the most amazing frames there for dirt cheap. The best thing is that frames don’t have to be used just as something to frame a picture and hang on your wall. I’ve used frames for tons of different things, and learning to repurpose picture frames into a serving tray is one of my all-time favorite projects.

How to Make a Tray from a Picture Frame

Trays used to be purely functional, but they have made their way into decorations. I feel like DIY serving trays now, at least in my house, are just full on home decor pieces. It’s just one more little place I get to decorate and make my own. I have a tray in almost every room in my house. The best thing about turning a picture frame into a tray is how unique it can be, and you can make it fit into any decor with just a few changes.

repurposing a picture frame into a DIY serving tray

Here is my super easy process on how to turn any frame into a beautiful tray perfect for any room of your home.

Step 1: Find your frame

You can thrift them, use ones you already have, or go and buy one new. I found this frame at the thrift store for $2. When you pick out a frame, just make sure it can hold at least an 8″x10″ picture in it. If it’s any smaller, not much will fit on it when it becomes a tray. Bigger is better in this case. Another thing to remember is see if there’s a somewhat flat place to screw in some handles. Not every frame has a flat place, but some handles can easily fit on a bump if needed. Just keep that in mind when you are look for handles and a frame. For additional help, visit Shutterfly’s guide on how to choose a picture frame.

repurposing a picture frame

Step 2: Spruce up the frame

I was lucky that this frame didn’t need much work. It was actually a kind of greenish wood, so to tone that down I dry brushed some white acrylic paint onto it. If your frame needs a good coat of paint and you want a smooth finish, use spray paint.

repurposing a picture frame with paint

The dry brushing technique left the wood visible, but added enough white to make it a different color and a little more neutral for my taste.

Step 3: Pick out some paper

Try to find a coordinating paper for the color you chose to paint your frame. I picked a couple to play around with so I wouldn’t have to go back to the store to get more if it didn’t look right. I used the 12″x12″ printed paper. If your frame glass is bigger than 8×10, you’ll want to get at least two, if not three, pieces of the same paper so you can piece them together in the next steps.

pretty paper for a serving tray project

Step 4: Trace out the paper

Trace the paper using the glass or the cardboard backing that most frames come with. Once again, if you need bigger than 12″, be sure to lay them out first and have the designs meet up. This may mean that you are overlapping even by a couple of inches just to get the design correct. Tape together on the back side if using more than one piece.

scissors and tracing paper

Step 5: It’s time to secure the frame

Take some hot glue and quickly go around the ledge where the glass sits on the frame, minus the glass. Place the glass on top and hold until it’s secure in place. The hot glue will help keep the glass in place especially when heavier things are sitting on it. To make sure it’s really secure, use some super glue instead, but I found for most cases, hot glue will do the trick. There have been a few times that I have used clear silicone instead of the glue. This is a great way to also prevent moisture from going through the glass onto the paper if using it as a coffee station or serving tray.

hot glue gun to secure picture frame

Step 6: For tabletop frames

If you have a tabletop frame, you’ll want to remove the back so that it will lay flush when placed down. Sometimes these things pop off easily, and sometimes you have to pry them off with a flat head screw driver.

remove back of picture frame

When that is done, place the paper onto the glass, then the cardboard if it comes with it, then the back.

blank back of picture frame tray

Step 7: Add the handles.

Find some coordinating handles that will fit the look of your frame. You should be safe with either black or white with most frames, but the sky’s the limit! There are some amazing unique handles out there. I do like to use ones that you can screw in from the top and don’t require you to make a pilot hole and go through the bottom. Mainly because the bolt will inevitably be too long and then you’ll have to deal with that. So, make it simple and just use ones that take simple screws from the top.

handles for picture frame serving tray

In order to make sure you are placing it centered on the frame, measure the handle.

measuring the handle

Then measure the frame end that you are going to place the handle. Find the middle and mark it.

measure the picture frame and mark it

Place the handle’s middle onto the middle of the frame’s edge. Then secure the handle using small screws. Depending on your frame, your handle could also be placed on top.

handle added to picture frame serving tray

Decorating Your DIY Serving Tray

Once the handles are on, your repurpose picture frame to tray transformation is complete! Now it’s time to find its home and some tabletop decor to go on top of it.

repurposing a picture frame into a DIY serving tray

If you picked a decent size frame, it should be easy to throw an actual smaller framed picture on top of it along with some accessories.

repurposed picture frame into serving tray with decor

I love that this frame had a little lip so it transitioned easily into becoming a tray.

Other Uses for When You Repurpose Picture Frames

I used my tray in my bedroom for decor, but some other ideas are:

  • Bathroom caddie for makeup
  • Bathroom tray for soap and essentials
  • Living room tray for decor on coffee table
  • Dining room tray for cups or linens
  • Kitchen tray for a coffee station
  • Serving tray, just be sure you test to make sure it’s strong enough to lift the items on it without breaking apart
  • Office tray to corral supplies

repurposed picture frame final result

You can find more DIY projects and crafts on my blog or you can visit Shutterfly’s DIY or Home Decor resources.