DIY: Turn Old Photos Into New Treasures

Snapping great images is the easy part, but as our Facebook albums and Instagram feeds replace printed photos, it’s easy to forget to actually incorporate them into your décor. These ideas are designed to help you get your favorite photos off of your hard drive, and into a format your whole family can enjoy. Whether you’re a fan of the DIY or the BUY approach, we’ve listed an array of options to help show off your photo treasures and add a personalized touch to your abode.

For The DIY'er

Photo Tile Coasters

Time to complete: Under 30 minutes


Even if you don’t do a lot of DIY, it’s fast and easy to get a truly professional look for these personalized photo print coasters. You’ll need a set of stone or ceramic white tiles, Mod Podge transfer medium, your favorite square shaped photos, scissors, and a foam brush. The shape of the tiles makes these coasters ideal for showcasing your favorite Instagram photos in a whole new way.

First, trim each photo printout to fit the tile. Then use the foam brush and apply the Mod Podge to your tile. Carefully center the photo on top of the tile and allow it to dry. Add 2-3 more layers of Mod Podge once the photo is in place, allowing the piece to dry completely between coats. You can add a felt or cork back to each tile if desired. Repeat with the existing tiles and photos.

Once complete, your coasters can be displayed in your home, on the wall, or used as, well, coasters. Each time you see them, you’ll get to reflect back on some of your favorite memories.

Photo Quilt or Pillow

Time to complete: 15 minutes per transfer; finished project length will depend on the size and complexity of the project.


Transferring a photo from your computer to a piece of fabric has never been easier. If you tried this type of DIY project in the past and struggled with messy mediums and fabric stiffeners, it’s time to take a fresh look at fabric transfer.

You’ll need an inkjet printer, specialty fabric transfer paper, an iron, and a light colored cotton fabric. Fabric transfer paper is designed to go into your home printer and allows you to use an iron to transfer your image permanently to fabric. Once you’ve transferred the image, you can use the fabric to make a variety of projects for your home, from simple pillow cases to complex quilts and art pieces.

First, print the photo onto the paper, following the manufacturer’s directions. Use the iron to apply the image to your fabric. Once the transfer is complete, you can use your photo fabric any way you’d like — from creating a decorative pillow to making an original quilt or other home textile piece. Allow an hour or so to create the fabric transfer, then a little more time to create something new. 

Photo Canvas Portrait — DIY

Time to complete: About 2 hours total, not including drying time.


If you love those photo canvas prints, but want to save some cash, then you can transfer the images to the canvas yourself. You can buy a pre-stretched canvas in any art or craft supply store and then use a gel medium to transfer your photo to the canvas. Once you have the supplies, it’s a relatively straightforward process to add the image to the new surface. This technique works for transferring images to wood as well. You’ll also need a printed photo and a paintbrush.

Coat the canvas with gel medium, then place your image facedown on top. Allow the piece to dry overnight. The next day when the canvas is dry, rub the paper with a damp cloth. It will peel away, revealing your image, which has now been permanently transferred onto the canvas. Once the paper is gone, your piece is ready to be displayed.

Photo Bunting

Time to complete: Varies depending on the number of photos; allow 5-10 minutes per photo.


They say a picture is worth a thousand words. How about a string display of all your favorite pictures? This is a simple DIY project that gives your home that perfect boho-chic look. You’ll need your Polaroids or printed images, a hole puncher, baker’s twine or a clothesline, and clothespins (optional). There are two ways to display your photo bunting project: You can punch holes in the images themselves or attach them to the twine with clothespins.

Print out your photos in a uniform size, then use a decorative hole punch to add holes to the top of each. Thread the images onto a ribbon or string and hang to display. If you prefer the clothespin approach, simply hang the photos at equal distances from one another and attach clothes pins to the photos. This project takes only a few minutes and allows you to quickly display your favorite photos and change things up in a hurry.

Photo Magnets

Time to Complete: About 2 hours per set


They may be small, but they pack a powerful punch – and you’ll see them every time you open your fridge. You can whip up a set of mini photo magnets in no time at all, and the small scale is very forgiving, so resolution doesn’t matter as much as it does for large scale photo projects. You can also crop the best parts of your images to highlight and enjoy them in a whole new way.

You’ll need adhesive magnet paper, rubber cement, your favorite photos, and scissors (can also use an X-Acto knife or paper trimmer). Reduce each photo to mini size — about 2″ x 2″ and print out. Mount the photos onto magnetic sheets using rubber cement.

No matter which method you try, placing your photographs where you can see and enjoy them every day will add a personal touch to your home and allow you to create pieces you can truly treasure.

For The BUY-er

Photo Canvas — Made to Order


It’s fast and easy to order a photo canvas; you’ll need to make sure your image is the right resolution, that you have permission to create a product using it (some professional photographers retain the rights to their work and require you to order prints directly), and that you choose the right shape and size for your final canvas. Since there are many different companies offering this service, like CanvasPop and Shutterfly, it pays to shop around; discounters like Groupon also frequently offer deals on printed canvas images.

Printed Calendar


Combine the best of DIY with a professional printing service to create custom calendars and other pieces for your home. Use an online printing service, like SnapfishVistaprint, or even Walgreens, to create a calendar for the coming year. You can use your favorite old family photos or new ones you’ve taken in the past year. You don’t have to have advanced computer skills or get your hands dirty; these services all offer easy-to-use calendar templates for you to work with. You’ll simply choose the photos you want to showcase each month and then wait for your new calendar to arrive.

While a personalized wall calendar allows you to enjoy your photos in a fresh new way throughout the year, it can also be used as a family yearbook, memento, or gift. Shop for printing bargains online and locally for the best deals; the weeks just after the end of the school year and just before the winter holidays generally yield the best deals when it comes to this type of printing.

Photo Afghan or Blanket


A photo blanket adds personalized charm to any room and makes for a thoughtful gift.

Transfer one or more of your favorite images to a thermally printed piece almost instantly. A service like lets you choose your size, fabric, and add your favorite photos. The ordering process is fast and easy and you’ll receive your blanket in about a week.