Decorating with Plates

Bedroom with porcelain hanging on wall above bed
Thomas Northcut / Getty Images

Chances are you have a lonely plate in your cupboard that does not belong to a set. If so, give it new life as a stylish accessory for your home. If you're lucky enough to have several mismatched plates, use them as a basis for a collection you can hang on a wall or use as picture frames.

  • 01 of 10

    Chalkboard Plates

    plate chalkboards
    Chalkboard Plates Woman's Day

    There are lots of ways to DIY a memo board using upcycled objects from around the house, but it doesn't get any easier than these chalkboard plates. Spray paint the center of a large plate with chalkboard paint for a pretty place to write messages or jot down a grocery list.

    Chalkboard Plates from Woman's Day

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    Plate Picture Frames

    plate picture frames
    Plate Picture Frames Better Homes and Gardens

    Plates with decorative rims make wonderful picture frames, especially for old black and white family photos, which add to the charm.  A grouping like this could be placed on a console table or even hung on a wall as a visual family tree.

    Plate Picture Frames from Better Homes and Gardens

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    Plate Charger Sunburst Mirrors

    Instead of a photograph, attach a round mirror to the center of a large plate or charger to make a trendy sunburst mirror that costs much less than retail. (Mirrors can be purchased from craft stores or even the dollar store.)  To unify a grouping of these for more presence on a wall, spray paint an assortment of plates with the same color, like a metallic gold or copper.

    Plate Charger Sunburst Mirrors from Home Made Modern

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  • 04 of 10

    Plate Clock

    plate clock
    Plate Clock All About You

    A plate can also be turned into a clock by drilling a hole in the center and attaching a simple clock kit, which can be purchased inexpensively from craft and hobby shops. This one has a romantic, cottage look; however, a mid-century or contemporary plate that has a more graphic design would also look great.

    Plate Clock from All About You

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  • 05 of 10

    Plate Hook

    plate hook
    Plate Hook Classical Homemaking

    This clever blogger attached a vintage-looking hardware knob to the center of a plate to use as a light-duty hanger for her apron. This sweet look would be great for a country kitchen or a nursery.

    Plate Hook from Classical Homemaking

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  • 06 of 10

    Plates as Wall Art

    wall plates
    Wall Plates West Elm

    There are so many things you can hang on a wall that have nothing to do with pictures.  Indeed, plates are one of those things that make interesting--not to mention three-dimensional--wall art.  Here are some tips for hanging plates on a wall for maximum impact:

    • Choose an assortment of all white plates and platters in different sizes and shapes;
    • Go with a mismatched assortment of decorative plates for an eclectic look;
    • Try a collection of plates that share the same color scheme or theme (i.e. all vintage florals, or all graphic blue and white);
    • Hang them in a grid pattern for a more orderly, symmetrical appearance; OR,
    • Hang them in more of a free-form shape on the wall for a whimsical look

    Decorative Wall Plates from West Elm

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  • 07 of 10

    Plates with Image Transfers

    plates with image transfers
    Plates with Image Transfers Honestly WTF

    Plates make pretty and useful spots to drop spare change and keys on an entry table. To add more interest (or a touch of quirk or humor) to a plate you may have in your cupboard, try adding image transfers for an element of surprise.

    Vintage Plates with Image Transfers from Honestly WTF

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  • 08 of 10

    Tiered Plate Server

    There are so many ways to use tiered servers around the house. They can hold toiletries, jewelry, and school supplies to name a few. Make your own three-tiered stand by gluing three plates and upturned cups or candlesticks together.

    Tiered Plate Server from Sew Country Chick

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  • 09 of 10

    Plates as Garden Ornaments

    herb garden with plates
    Herb Garden with Plates Finding Home Farms

    Plates tucked into planters are perfect for kitchen gardens full of herbs, tomatoes, and other vegetables. These blue and white plates add some color and farmhouse charm to a trio of galvanized planters. You could also make plates into garden markers by adding the names of plants to the plates using image transfers or exterior paint.

    Herb Garden with Plates from Finding Home Farms

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  • 10 of 10

    Where to Buy Plates

    assorted plates
    Assorted Plates Home Made Modern

    Inspired by any of these pretty plate projects? Perhaps you'd like to create a gallery wall using plates ​or display some family photos using a mismatched assortment. While department stores typically only sell plates in sets, there are plenty of places to find inexpensive options that you can buy individually so you're not stuck with a lot of matching plates you don't need. 

    These retailers also carry sets of dessert or salad plates that have patterns and motifs that coordinate but aren't identical. And don't forget melamine options, which are lighter and easier to hang.

Watch Now: Tips for Plating for Photography