13 Ways to Upcycle Old License Plates

Check out these unique ways to reuse old license plates, from Americana-inspired home decor to DIY gift ideas.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Sarah Wilson / Getty Images

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Sarah Wilson/Getty Images

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Brian Carlisle

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

DIY License Plate Magnets

Personalize your fridge or message board with these cool, vintage-style magnets. They also make great gifts! Get the super easy step-by-step instructions here >>

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

For the sports fan, artist Aaron Foster created this realistic-looking Wrigley Field baseball marquee from authentic vintage Illinois license plates. "People ask me, 'Why license plates?'" says Aaron. "Well, because of the amazing stories they tell. No two plates are exactly the same, and each has a rich, personal history." Learn more about the artist here >> 

Junk Gypsies' Cozy Campfire Art

Junk Gypsy Amie Sikes combined some of her favorite yard sale finds—including an old license plate—to create this rustic campfire mantel art for the Junk Gypsy Wander Inn. See how she did it >>

DIY Room Divider

Add stylish, industrial flair to any space with this super-simple DIY license plate room divider. Make your own in just 5 easy steps >>

Gifts for the Car Enthusiast

In lieu of a new car (sorry, Dad), give the automobile lover in your life these DIY license plate keychains instead. The best part? You can make several from one plate. "Search antique stores for old steel plates ranging in different letters and numbers," says designer Brian Patrick Flynn. "Use metal snips to cut out the letters and numbers, then sandpaper the edges. Add a hole along the top with a drill and a 1/8-inch drill bit, then attach a metal key ring into the hole."

United States of Plates

In an attempt to impress a crush, artist Aaron Foster created a U.S. map out of license plates and accidentally stumbled into what would become a lucrative art career. Years later, his unique license plate art has found its way into the Smithsonian Institute, American Folk Art Museum, the Sundance Catalog and more. You might recognize his now iconic U.S. license plate map from perusing the home decor aisle at Target, where prints of the piece are now sold. Check out more of his license plate art here >> 

Heart of a Gypsy

Looking for a fun weekend project? Take a cue from Junky Gypsy Jolie Sikes. She traced this heart out of 3/4-inch plywood, then used metal snips to shape old license plates to the wood backing. A cool surprise for a client who loves vintage cars. Check out more Junk Gypsies trash-to-treasure projects here >>

Custom Coasters

Do you struggle to find the perfect gift for that special beer lover in your life (other than beer, of course)? Instead of wasting money on something expensive, make these unique and personal DIY mini license plate coasters instead. Give them as a single gift or as a set that includes personalized beer mugs and a wall-mounted bar tool holder. Get the step-by-step instructions here >>

Vanity Plates

Make a bold, personal statement in any space with these creative license plate letters. "The letters are ideal for simply adding initials to a wall or fully spelling out a person's name," says artist Aaron Foster. "What makes them so personal is that each letter can be made from a different state a person may have lived in or traveled to, which then tells a story. It's a great conversation-starter."

Garage Clock

Telling time would never get old with this cool repurposed wall clock. Upcycling pro Brian Carlisle used brightly colored license plates and vintage wood dominoes to assemble the whimsical, one-of-a-kind timepiece. Check out more of his repurposed designs >>

Stylish Storage

This metal desk vessel is a stylish solution to workspace clutter. To DIY, wrap a thin metal license plate around an empty, clean tuna fish can, then secure the ends of the plate together with rivets or a soldering gun. 

License to Drive

Although this Aaron Foster race car art may be a little too intricate to replicate without professional help, you can easily create your own custom work of art by assembling snipped license plate letters into a meaningful quote or statement like the one above. Wearing gloves, use metal snips to cut out individual letters, then glue letters to a sturdy canvas or plywood board. Voila! Instant personalized art. Tip: Create a cool 3D effect by attaching letters to a long wood block before securing to the canvas.

Trim the Tree

Go rustic-chic this Christmas with vintage license plate ornaments. Paired with burlap ribbon, handmade baubles and bright white lights, old plates are a creative way to add country charm to your holiday decor.

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