12 Decorative Ways to Upcycle Tin Cans

Turn winter's discarded tin can collection into a stock of brand-new handmade decor with these clever DIYs.
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May 08, 2015
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Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Photo By: Layla Palmer

Fun Cans = Fun Vases

Anytime you're working with commonplace flowers, such as daisies or carnations, be creative with your vases to add personality and make them unique. A cost-effective option is repurposing a tin can. Here's how: This idea simply requires a thorough washing of the tin can before adding any floral and water.


Feed your regular birds stylishly with a coffee can birdfeeder. Here's how: Using rubber-coated gloves, remove the bottom of the can completely, then spray the exterior with glossy, non-toxic spray paint in a bold hue. Next, use a utility knife to cut the lid in half, then place each half along the bottom of each open end. Loop a three-foot section of rope through the top of the can, and secure the outside to a branch, nail or hook. Fill the inside of the can to the top edge of each lid with birdseed and hang.

Night Light

Keep dark task areas dimly lit at night with a tin can night light. Here's how: Update the exterior with spray paint, mark the desired shape or design with a marker, then use a drill and a 1/8-inch drill bit to create holes. Next, use a hole saw to create space to insert the plug and bulb through the back of the can before plugging it in.

Desk Organizers

Keep everything in its place in your office by upcycling cans into desk organizers. Here's how: Create a solid color scheme with spray paint, then bend lightweight aluminum forks into handles using pliers. Attach the fork handles either by drilling pilot holes with a drill and securing in place with metal screws, or by simply using hot glue.

Hanging Planter

Bring a natural element to any spot in the house with a repurposed can hanging planter. Here's how: Use a drill and drill bit to add two equidistant holes along the top of the can, then add a thin chain through the holes. Add two inches of water to the bottom, and insert cut flowers.


Use discarded tin cans to create lofty candleholders. The trick for design success is to stagger the cans in different heights using odd numbers. If you want to add color to the cans, consider spray-painting them in an ombre effect.


Play with shadows and light by making a homemade luminary. Or, make more than one for year-round soirees. Here's how: Mark the exterior of a can with a marker, then puncture holes along the traced shape using a drill and a 1/8-inch drill bit. Once the entire shape has been drilled with holes, place a votive candle on a flat, level surface, and cover it with the can placed upside down.

Cake Stand

No cake stand? No problem! Here's how: Create a makeshift cake server by updating a six- to eight-inch-wide can with non-toxic paint. Place the can on top of an upside-down plate, then stack another plate on top. This can be made permanent by adding industrial-strength adhesive along the top and bottom rims of the can. Or, you can use the arrangement temporarily then take it apart.

New Vases

Create industrial-chic vases for succulents or ferns. Here's how: Drill holes in the bottoms of the cans, update their exteriors with rolls of cork and add decorative tin trim.

Map-Wrapped Planter

Give a tin can an Old World update in minutes. Here's how: Cut a paper map to size, adhere it to the outside of a can with spray adhesive and fill the inside with a low-maintenance plant, such as a small fern or a succulent.

Cutlery Holder

When hosting parties buffet-style, simply repurpose a tin can for forks, knives and spoons. Here's how: Remove stickers and labels, then wipe all residue away with a sponge. Send the can through the rinse cycle in your dishwasher, set it out on the table and fill it with flatware.

Kitchen Storage

Looking for a pretty place to stash small kitchen items or herbs? Recycled tin cans create adorable utensil holders, offering additional organization for storing kitchen gadgets. Here's how: Use a drill bit to create a hole just below the rim on the back of each can. Coat each can with spray paint. Then, embellish with washi tape, stickers or tags. Hang each tin can from an S-hook onto a towel bar. Fill with utensils, herbs or kitchen tools.

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