18 Handy Ways To Repurpose Old Dishes Around The Home And Garden

The plate you had Thanksgiving dinner on five years ago can become an item guests gasp and say, "Ooh, where'd you get that from?" or maybe it's the chipped bowl sitting at the back of your cabinet that is waiting to be transformed. Your old dishware is a vault for fabulous repurposing projects. And luckily, we have 18 creative ways to reuse old dishes around your home and yard. The unused bowls and plates are perfect for garden equipment, interior decor, extra storage, and functional accessories.

Ceramic and glass dishware was used for the majority of these repurposing projects. However, you can also pull off these hacks with plastic or wooden dishes. All of these DIYs are beginner-friendly and easy to complete. A few do require a drill, and it's important to note that when drilling through ceramic or glass, you need to have the right drill bit, like a masonry or diamond drill bit; otherwise, you risk cracking the dish. If you don't have any old dishes on hand or need a few more to complete these projects, check out a second-hand store. Old dishes are valuable items to seek out at a thrift store, and you can transform them into amazing things.

Feed the birds

Flipping old dishware into adorable bird feeders is a great way to repurpose unused dishes. If you've got a plate, bowl, and support stand, you can do this project. The bowl at the bottom of the stand will hold all the seeds, while the plate at the top will help shield the grains from rain. Wet seeds can spoil and make the birds sick, so the plate should be larger than the bowl. Hang the feeder in a protected area. You can also attach hooks as a perch to give the birds a place to rest.

DIY a bird bath

While the birds are munching, you can also make a charming DIY bird bath for them to cool off after a long day. For this DIY, all you need a bowl or deep plate, a stand, and heavy-duty glue. You can use various items for the stand, such as a flower vase, an old table leg, or a tree stump, then just glue your dish on top. A bird bath is a unique piece to add to your garden. Placing it near shrubs or trees in the shade is best for attracting any feathered friends.

Craft forever flowers

The old plates and bowls can grant your yard vibrant flowers year-round. It just takes some waterproof paint and creativity to decorate the petals to make a flower crown. Small bowls are great to glue in the flower's center for more dimension and awe in the sculptures. Try different colors, shapes, and sizes to really personalize your forever flowers. This is a great way to upcycle old or antique dishware, especially if you're missing a few pieces from an old collection. Once the dishware is decorated, plant the DIY garden ornaments to enhance your outdoor space.

Border around your garden beds

If you have a lot of old plates lying around, turning them into garden edging is a stellar way to repurpose them. Using a mallet, simply line the plates up and knock them a few inches into the soil to create a border around your garden beds or lawn. Not only is the edging stylish, but it can also help the ground retain water and keep the soil in place. You can spray-paint the dishes before planting them so they are all uniform or embrace the eclectic style of mismated plates.

Give your plants a place to hang

Making hanging planters is another way old dishes can be handy for your garden. With a few drainage holes, the bowl will make the ideal plant pot. You can add your favorite flowers or try these trailing plants that are perfect for hanging baskets. Twine is popular for suspending the pots and has a rustic look to it, but you can also use strips of fabric, metal chains, or beaded rope for something to match your space. These baskets are great for hanging outdoors or inside your home to merge nature and style.

House plants inside and out

If hanging planters aren't your style, you can skip the twine and create a tabletop pot. This time around, you only need a bowl and a drill. Use the tool to add drainage holes to the bottom of the dish, and you're done. Then, add soil and plant your favorite seeds. Another way to use this planter is for faux plants, and you won't need the drainage holes then. You can add soil to help the display look real, then simply place your faux flowers, succulents, and foliage inside before styling it around your home.

Collect plant water drainage

For container plants on top windowsills or furniture, you'll want a water tray to collect all the excess liquid passing through the drainage holes. Otherwise, your pretty plants can cause ugly damage to your belongings. Old plates and dishes are stellar upgrades from regular clear trays, allowing this budget-friendly hack to add a fancy touch to any room. Simply place the potted plants on top of plates or inside the bowls for an instant upgrade. You can even add the dishes under containers without drainage holes just for the added style.

Style your candles

Old plates look chic under your houseplants and are also stellar under tall pillar candles. You can use the old dishware to accent the wax lights and elevate the decor around your home. Not only does the added bowl or plate enhance the look of the candles, but it comes in handy for protecting the surface from any melting wax. You can step up your design game even more by decorating the dish with paint and wallpaper or adding ornaments like flower petals, marbles, and other little decor items to the base.

Use them as jewelry trays

If you have a lot of jewelry, your old dishes can come in handy as a storage tray. Simply leave the plate on top dressers or shelves as a place for your precious metals to hang out. Small bowls are great on bathroom vanities to keep your accessories in sight when freshening up. The trays also work well for small items like brooches, headbands, and belts. You can even stack a plate on top of a bowl to create a tiered storage system that takes advantage of vertical space and claims less of your counter.

Create an eye-catching centerpiece

These dishes that once adorned the dinner table can still grace the tabletop, but this time as centerpieces. You can use old dishes to house decorative items to create an eye-catching display. Leave the plate as is or touch it up with spray paint, then stagger candles in the center and accent them with your favorite trinkets. Bowls are a great vessel for water, which you can then decorate with floating candles or flower crowns. The upcycled dishes will look great on your dining room table, entryway console, or wherever your home needs extra pizzazz.

Spice up tabletops

Instead of using the plate or bowl to house eye-catching decorations, turn the dish into a focal point to stand on its own. With a little bit of textured paint, you can give the piece the appearance of fine art. Add the dish to mantels, consoles, or bookcases to draw eyes in. You can also use cement or clay to create the display. It will have a museum look that is simple and classy. This decor is perfect for those with a clean, minimalist aesthetic since nothing will rest on the decorated plate or inside the bowl.

Decorate with a wreath

A wreath is another stylish piece you can transform your old dishes into. All you need is a heavy-duty adhesive. Arrange your plates and bowls into a circular pattern. Once you're satisfied with the look, glue the dishes in place. You can add a bow, vines, fairy lights, and other pieces to amplify the design. Secure a wall hook or two onto the back of the top dish before hanging the wreath onto the wall. The door might not be the best place for this decor as the constant opening and closing could damage the plates.

Ornament your walls

While old dishes will look beautiful together as a wreath, you can also hang the individual plates up for a simple yet elegant design. If the plates are already ornamented, add hooks to the back and place them up wherever you like. Above beds, on a gallery wall, or in a hallway are great places to accessorize. If the dishes are plain, it's best to decorate them first. Paint is always a classic for embellishing items, but you can also decoupage with wallpaper or patterned napkins or an easy upcycle.

Picture this

Did you know your old dishes can become picture frames? Plates work best for this DIY, but you can also pull it off with bowls. First, print the picture you want to display and cut it to fit the dish's interior circle. Then, apply an even layer of Mod Podge before sticking on your photo and applying another layer on top. That's it — now you have a special memory you can hang on the wall or mount on a stand. To boost the design, decorate the plate with fabric or wallpaper before gluing on the photo.

Cute and functional storage

This is a cute and functional piece made from an old plate. This rustic upcycle turns the dishware into a mounted wall decor that has a pocket for storage. The entire dish can be covered in jute string or twine with a lattice pattern at the bottom of the plate as a storage pouch. You can hang the piece near the entryway to hold mail or add a cup to the pocket to keep smaller items like keys and pencils. The wall decor can also serve a purely ornamental purpose and house flowers or feathers.

Craft a display stand

By adding a base to your old plate or bowl, it can become a beautiful display stand. You can use whatever you have on hand as the base, like a candle holder, vase, or tall glass. Once you've gathered your items, apply heavy-duty glue to the top of the stand and the bottom of the plate before sticking them together. You can use the platform to display desserts, serve treats for guests, or as a fancy tray for your spices. There are even creative ways to use a display stand as decor in your home.

Double your space for goods

If you like the display stand, you might love this project because it has two tiers. You'll need an item for the support base, a large plate, a medium plate, and heavy-duty glue. Glue the support stand to the center of the large plate, then glue the medium-sized plate to the stand. For increased style, add a topper to the center of the smaller plate or give the two-tier stand more height by adding a base underneath the larger plate. Use it to house fruit, let fresh herbs air dry, or just as a decoration.

Light up the room

Last but not least, the ultimate way to repurpose old plates and bowls is by turning them into a light fixture. This project gives you ample freedom to arrange the dishes in whichever pattern you like to make the shade for your bulb. You can stack several dishes on top of each other for a grand structure or just use one bowl for a minimalistic piece. Playing with dishes of different sizes and colors will truly give you a unique look. You'll have a new modern fixture all from old dishes.