11 Fun & Useful Ways to Repurpose Old Keys

Give your old keys new use with these quick & easy upcycles.

Published February 8, 2023
Vintage setting with old photographs and old key

With their pretty shapes and functional past, there's just no denying the charm of old keys. While the locks they opened may be long gone, the keys can still serve all kinds of purposes, from decorative to useful. If you score a great deal at the flea market or find one in a drawer or box, try a few of these ideas to repurpose old keys in all kinds of new ways.

How to Repurpose Old Keys as Functional Tools

A key exists to open a lock, but after the lock is gone, there are actually a ton of ways to use a key for other purposes. Try some of these.

Use an Antique Key as a Balloon Weight

You can shell out a few dollars for those cellophane-wrapped balloon weights from the party store, but why would you do that when you have some keys lying around? If you have a helium balloon you need to keep from floating away, just tie a few old keys to the string. Bonus points if they are pretty antique keys that can double as party decorations!

Make a Key Rack

Rustic Up-Cycle Key Holder

Pretty much every adult has had that not-so-lovely experience of frantically searching for a lost key. Key racks are a good solution for this, but they can lack decorative charm. Your old keys are the answer. Use some pliers to bend them into a hook shapes and epoxy them to a pretty board. Hang the board on the wall, and you've got a central location for keeping the keys you actually use.

Scare Pests Away From Your Garden

If you have crows, rabbits, and other critters in your vegetable garden, old keys can help you scare them away humanely. Choose super shiny ones and don't hesitate to add extra sparkle (glitter, anyone?). Hang them from branches or posts above your plants so they will move in the breeze and startle would-be pests away from your hard-earned tomato crop.

Keep a Key Handy as a Spare Bottle Opener

You can never have enough bottle openers. Let's be honest; they're one of those things that just randomly disappears when you really need to pop the top of a cold drink. In a pinch, a key will do the job, so they are handy to keep around as a back-up. To use it, slip the ridged side of the key under the cap of the bottle and hold the neck of the bottle in your dominant hand. Slide and twist the key to lever the cap off.

Create a Zipper Pull

Sometimes a normal zipper pull just isn't big enough to grab, especially if you're wearing gloves or trying to close an overstuffed bag. Use a basic split keyring to attach an old key to the zipper. It will be easier to pull and cuter too.

Helpful Hack

Have a ton of keys you don't want to go to waste? Lots of old keys are made of steel, which is easy to recycle with your regular cans and bottles. If you don't know whether the key is steel, just hold a magnet against it. If it's attracted to the magnet, you're good to go.

Decorative Ways to Reuse Antique Keys

You can also get creative and use antique and vintage keys to decorate your home or make other fun projects. These don't take a ton of time either.

Update Ordinary Drawer Pulls

If you have some plain drawer pulls on a dresser or cabinet, you can use epoxy to attach an antique key for decoration. Just pick a pretty skeleton key from your local antique shop or flea market, remove the knob from the drawer, and mix up some epoxy on a paper plate or dish. Dip a cotton swab in the epoxy and apply it to the knob. Then stick the key on and allow it to dry before reattaching it to the drawer.

Make a Pretty Necklace

Some keys are so pretty they are basically already jewelry. You just need a way to attach them. Grab some crafting wire and some pliers and make a hanging loop for the key. You can add colorful beads, old chandelier crystals, or anything else you like. Hang the key from a lovely piece of ribbon or a simple chain to make a necklace.

Woman with dark red hair wearing a vintage key necklace

Trim Your Christmas Tree With Old Keys

Old keys look so lovely on your Christmas tree, especially if you hang them from pretty ribbons. You can add other fun items like artificial flowers, bits of lace, old paper decorations, or antique buttons. The more keys you hang, the cooler the overall effect will be.

Create a Wind Chime

You can make a super simple wind chime with old keys and a piece of wood. Pick a pretty stick or piece of driftwood and tie old keys to it at varying heights. Hang the stick from your house or a tree and allow the wind to blow the keys against one another and create a pretty noise. You can add sparkling chandelier crystals, little buttons or beads, old mason jars, and other lovely decorations for even more beauty.

Key wind chime hanging from patio rafter

Glue Keys to a Picture Frame

Old picture frames have lots of great uses, and you can make them prettier by gluing antique keys to the frame and displaying a favorite photo or a mirror. Just use epoxy and stick the keys on in any pattern you like. It's best to work with the picture frame lying flat and to test out the overall pattern you use before you make it permanent with glue.

Decorate Your Garden

What do you think of when you remember the story The Secret Garden? If it's a key and lots of greenery, you're not alone. You can give your garden plenty of magical appeal by hanging pretty keys from tree branches or fences. Remember that some old keys are made of iron, which will rust when exposed to the elements, but that can be cool too.

Antique old key hung on a tree

Lots of Ways to Repurpose Vintage Keys

Old keys may have outlived their original purpose, but that doesn't mean you can't find all kinds of new ways to use them. From vintage decor pieces to practical tools, there are lots of options for repurposing old keys and bringing antique charm to your modern life.

11 Fun & Useful Ways to Repurpose Old Keys