Living creatively, love of photography, and passionate living.

How to use old frames.

I love creating something new and different out of old things.  I use to go to auctions, estate sales, garage sales, and flea markets all the time.  Many times something would capture my attention because of some element of design, such as color, shape, or texture, and I would think I just couldn’t live without it!  I would purchase it, not sure how I was going to use it later, but sure in the thought that I would find a way. 

While out at an estate sale one day, I found these old, ornate frames and knew I wanted to hang them but didn’t have any large pictures to put inside them.  I wondered how I would find something I liked and that would fit my decor.  I didn’t want to spend a lot of money because I had already got a great deal on the individual frames.  And they were all gold and peeling and flaky.  I liked the ornateness of the pieces, but not the gaudiness of them while they were gold.  So the first thing I did was paint them all.  I’ve already finished them a long time ago, so I can’t show you the process, but I can tell you what I did.

I cleaned the frames up with some rags first.  Then I took an old scrub brush and lightly brushed off any flakes of the gold finish that were already coming off.  I wiped them again with a clean rag and set them on some old newspaper to paint.  I found an off-white color and poured some into a dish.  I really didn’t want to paint completely over the frame in a thick paint, so I added some water to thin the paint out.  I used acrylic paint, like what you would use to paint your walls.  I also purchased some other pastel colors in small cans that I used for accent color.

First, I lightly brushed the off-white paint over the frames.  I didn’t worry about getting every spot and crevice, because I wanted to show off the texture and keep some depth in the design.  After I let that dry, I mixed the pastel-colored paint with water, also.  Then, I lightly brushed over the relief areas of the frames.  I didn’t do the whole frame, just areas I wanted to highlight with a touch of color.

After the frames were dry, I was anxious to hang them.  Only, I still didn’t know what to put inside them.  I went to one of the local craft stores here in town one day and found these really beautiful and small fabric frames with ribbon hangers.  I bought two of them and used some old, dried flower petals I had in my freezer to insert into their display area.  Then, I hung these inside of the bigger frames on my wall!  I absolutely loved them!  It was perfect for me.  I didn’t want these huge pictures on my walls because my room is long and narrow and I didn’t want to make it look smaller than it was with images that were too large. This solution was much better.

As you can see, I also hung an old piece of costume jewelry (which I have a nice collection of) on the corner, just for some added attraction. 

Here’s the other beautiful, old frame after I finished it.  It’s got just a hint of a mauvy-purple on it.  It’s kind of hard to see in this picture, though.

One frame was left.  This one was vertical.  I needed a place to fill above my desk where my computer sits and where I spend a lot of time.  It’s a narrow little corner in my bedroom and I like color for inspiration.  My walls are a nice neutral color that change a little as the day progresses.  They start off a sort of buttercream color and change to an almost pinky-apricot toward the late afternoon and evening. 

I wanted to keep the frame in the same color as the other two on the adjacent wall.  So I just painted the main color and no highlight color.  Because I decided the color would come from what I would hang inside.  I use it as a sort of catch-all for colorful posters and mailers and postcards.  Right now I just have them stuck inside or tacked to the wall.  I want to get some cork board and cut to a size that I can tack to the wall behind the frame. 

I like looking up while I’m working and seeing the array of images and color.  I’m going to fill the whole space up like a collage. 

So, that’s something you can do with old frames without having to find an exact image the right size to go inside.   It doesn’t even matter if they are falling apart.   A new coat of paint will help them stay intact.  I’ve had mine for over 6 years and they are not flaking or peeling anymore.   Hope you enjoyed this post.  Go out and find something old and inexpensive to decorate with that makes you smile when you look at it!

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2 responses

  1. This is very cool! I’ve been seeking out old frames from Goodwill stores for photographs and art. I like the frames — more rustic and unique than a frame from Target.

    August 28, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    • Thanks, Leah! Yeah, I like something unique in my rooms, too. You can find some very large frames to do this with, too, at an inexpensive price. Good luck and happy hunting at the thrift stores! :)

      August 28, 2011 at 8:53 pm

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