Turn your old unused wooden picture frames into a beautiful miniature terrarium for your home. Whether you have orchids, ferns or other hothouse plants, you can easily create a pretty new greenhouse for them on a very small budget. The project will take a few hours of your time, but the result is definitely worth it. Just follow our simple step by step guide on how to repurpose old picture frames.
You will need eight picture frames of varying sizes to create your greenhouse. Collect four 5" x 7", two 8" x 10", and two 11" x 14" frames. If you don't have all of these sizes, you will find plenty of frames at the dollar store. Just make sure you line up the frames of each size together to make sure they are definitely of equal length. Remove the glass and backing from the frames, so you are just left with the outside frames. Use a piece of sandpaper to lightly sand each frame so they are smooth to touch.
Pick up the 11" x 14" frame and 8" x 10" frame, and align them together, so that the larger frame is landscape, while the smaller frame is portrait. Drill one hole near the top of the larger frame, and also one near the bottom, before drilling a hole halfway into the smaller frame. Use screws that correspond to your drill bit to screw the frames together. We recommend using a 3/32" bit and #6 x 1/2 wood screws to attach your frames together. Once you have successfully secured the larger frame to the smaller frame, repeat this process for the other 11" x 14" and 8" x 10" frames.
You should now have two matching sets of picture frames that create an 'L' shape. Using the method from step 2, attach the frames together to form the base of your terrarium.
Take two of your 5" x 7" frames and place them facedown before aligning a 2" mending plate at each end of the frames. Drill pilot holes and secure the frames together with screws. Repeat this process with the two remaining 5" x 7" frames.
Align the two sets of 5" x 7" frames together so that one is facedown like before, while the other set is stood up along the side of it. Attach a corner bracket inside each end of the eave using the method from step 4, which involves drilling pilot holes to secure the frames.
Line up the base with the roof you have just created, and place two 1" utility hinges over the joint where the frames meet. Make sure the hinges are evenly spaced apart and then drill holes and screw the frames together.
Place the frame of your terrarium onto paper and trace the inside of an eave onto it. Cut along the line you have just traced and you should be left with a triangle shape. Trace this triangle twice onto a a piece of 1/2" - thick plywood before cutting the shapes out.
Fit the triangles of wood into each end of the roof. Pre drill holes from the outside of the roof into the triangles and secure the wood with screws.
For this next step, protect your hands by wearing gloves. Smooth wood filler over the exterior of your terrarium with your hands, including filling in the joints and covering the screw holes. Wait a couple of hours for the filler to dry, and then lightly sand.
Paint the frame of your terrarium white. If you want to create a more distressed look, apply a dark furniture polish over the paint after it has dried. Wait a couple of minutes after placing the polish on the frame, and then buff it off.
Gather the glass that you took out of the frames, and start replacing it from the bottom up. Use a hot glue gun to place glue in the corners of each frame and then insert the glass back into the frame. Apply glue around the inside edge of each frame to ensure the glass will stay in place and wait for it to dry.
After the glue has dried on your terrarium you can start placing plants inside. Just lift up the lid and fit your plants into their new home. You can display your completed terrarium anywhere you want, however to give your plants the most nourishment, we suggest setting it down by a window that gets a lot of sunlight shining through. Now all that's left to do is watching your plants grow in their cute new greenhouse.