DIY Repurposing

5 Things to Do with… Old Dishes

Rather than leave your old plates and platters to gather dust in the attic, repurpose them into beautiful objects more useful in today's home.
Old Dishes DIY - Sign


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We can all agree that vintage dishes are pretty, but in today’s home, they’re not very practical: most can’t be used in the microwave or cleaned in the dishwasher. That doesn’t mean, however, that your unused place settings should sit in the attic for the next several decades. No, there are plenty of ways to dish up creative DIY projects involving old dishes. Scroll down to see five of our favorites.

1. Design a Wall Decoration

Your grandmother probably wouldn’t approve, but you can create an attractive wall decoration by drawing letters onto granny’s outdated plates. Buy or make a stencil, then use a permanent marker, creating letters on a series of dishes in order to form words like E-A-T or Y-U-M. Line up the plates on a shelf or mount them on plaster or drywall using store-bought plate hangers.

Old Dishes DIY - Mosaic

2. Craft a Mosaic Tabletop

Caution: shards, scraps, and slivers ahead. Place your old dishes on a firm surface, cover them with a towel, then smash them all up. Use the mix of big and small pieces you create in a mosaic “tile” tabletop. Follow directions from Over the Big Moon: The process involves pouring concrete into a form, then setting the pieces at complementary angles. Wait for the cement to dry, remove the form, and voila—broken dishes on the ground that you’ll never have to pick up!

Old Dishes DIY - Candles

3. Make Candles

At your next gathering, use tea cups in a way that your guests would never expect: turn them into candles. With wooden skewers, hang wicks into the basin of the cups. Next, fill the cups with wax that you’ve melted down either from half-used candles or from purchased blocks. Let the liquid wax cool and harden around the wick and within 24 hours, your tea cup will have become a unique and attractive candle. Make it yours or give it as a gift.

Old Dishes DIY - Cake Stand

4. Build a Cake Stand

Not every one of these repurposing projects separates dishware from its intended purpose. To make this centerpiece, use contact cement to fasten a mug or teacup onto a large dinner plate. Attach another, smaller plate to the top of the cup, and you’ve got a two-tiered stand perfect for serving starters or dessert. Of course, more than one approach can be taken here; vintage dishes in any number of combinations result in a remarkable cake stand.

Old Dishes DIY - Mirror

5. Make a Mirror

Especially if your plates and platters have decorative edging or metallic trim, consider making mirrors out of them. Start by measuring the portion of the dish that normally would hold food. Buy a circular mirror suitable for that size (these are readily available from craft suppliers online and in stores). Then fix the mirror to the plate with epoxy. Done. If you’d like to convert a platter or any dish onto which a circular mirror would not fit, take a tracing of the shape needed to a professional glass cutter. Sure, the latter approach involves more of a hassle, but the stunning result can be well worth it.