thrifted goodies – breathing new life into an old frame

Welcome to another segment of the thrifted goodies series. Today I am sharing how you can breathe new life into an outdated or neglected piece to make it work in your decor style. I found a great frame while thrift shopping with fabulous bones, but it needed some TLC to make it work with my home and style.

thrifted goodies - breathing new life into an old frame

Today I am joining my blogging friend Rachel @ The Antique Journey for another Thrifted Goodies installation. If you do not know Rachel yet, you need to pop over to her place and introduce yourself. Rachel always has great thrift shopping inspiration and you don’t want to miss her post.

thrift shopping goodies

Rachel and I will be sharing a regular post focused on thrift store shopping to inspire our readers every month. We will share thrifted goodies and fun details about the hunt, how to use thrift goods and the benefits of thrifting in general. Make sure you don’t miss out on the fun if you enjoy the thrill of the hunt.

If you don’t want to miss out on any of the upcoming projects you can subscribe to receive all my new posts to your in-box.

an old frame and a new life

Paint is a great way to breath new life into an item that has good bones but has seen better days. If you want to check out how I have upcycled a bunch of thrifted goodies in the past, check out this post {how to upcylce thrifted items with paint}.

thrifted goodies - breathing new life into an old frame

Today I am sharing how I updated this wooden frame with some simple TLC techniques. The frame has wonderful construction, and I love all the relief details, but the wooden color wasn’t speaking my language. With just some chalk paint, dark wax and antique gold gilding medium it is transformed. Now it fits perfectly with my collection of frames.

thrifted goodies - breathing new life into an old frame

My frame collection are all in the Italian Florentine style. And although beautiful, they are also not inexpensive. By adding this large frame for $3.00, and transforming it, is a great way to improve the perceived value and quality of a collection.

thrifted goodies - breathing new life into an old frame

how to breath new life into an old frame

I love all the details on this thrift frame and the oval opening left me smitten. BUT the color was not doing it for me. So here we are. It’s a totally easy fix.

One: Find an inexpensive frame at a local thrift store, garage sale, local fair, etc. that speaks to you.

Two: Clean the frame of any grime and dirt it might have.

Three: Paint the frame with chalk paint; I used 2 coats of Annie Sloan Old White paint, allowing plenty of drying time in between.

Four: When fully dry, lightly sand the entire frame to distress and even out the paint.

Five: Using a brush dab frame with dark furniture wax, working into crevices to create an antique look. Use long swipes on flat areas creating a patina and adding depth. I used Annie Sloane Dark Wax.

Six: Wipe the dark wax with a rag, achieving the aged look and rubbing down the wax to a silky finish.

Seven: Once the wax is set, apply gilding medium to all the relief details of the frame. I applied Antique Gold Rub-n-Buff to the scroll flourishes on the corners and the inner oval, decorative edge.

Eight: Select a fabulous photo to showcase in your new frame.

Nine: Viola! It’s a new frame with a new life.

styling an old thrifted goody with an existing collection

Now the frame coordinates with my aesthetic and fits into the collection. The hardest part was selecting what photos to include in which frames.

frame decor

You do not necessarily have to use personal photographs in picture frames. If you have or find a frame you love, and want to display it, but do not have the “perfect” photo you can always use vintage sheet music.

decorating with frames

I use sheet music all the time, and it creates a neutral item that can blend with many decor styles. Another alternative is finding a picture from a book or a favorite illustration or preferred art work.

Note: The handled urn above is also a thrifted item I transformed with paint {post {how to upcycle thrifted items with paint}.

thrifting tip

Always look at the “possibility” of what something can be, not necessarily what it is in it’s current state. A paint brush is like a magic wand. You can see more in this post {how to upcycle thrifted items with paint}.

thrifted goodies - breathing new life into an old frame

In the last installment of thrifted goodies {thrifted green transferware goodies}, I talked about how a thrift collection will develop and establish itself. Paint not only can transform a piece to fit your style, but it can also alter an item to fit into an existing collection as I did here.

Another Note: I know the sheet music is upside down, but I did not notice until I was editing the photos. C’est la vie!

other thrifted goodies posts

Don’t forget to visit Rachel @ The Antiqued Journey, if you haven’t already. You don’t want to miss out on her thrift goodies – volume 6 post.

“All you need to paint is a few tools, a little instruction, and a vision in your mind.”

Bob Ross

sharing @ between naps on the porch


  1. Rachel says:

    Love this pretty frame!! It looks so lovely with your decor. Your sheet music tip is SUCH a great idea!! Thanks for joining me again!

    1. Thanks so much Rachel. Always love joining in any thrifting fun! XO- MJ

    2. Laurie says:

      I enjoy seeing transformations. I like the chalk paint. Seeing what others have done gives me ideas, so thank you!!

      Featuring your post at the Sunday Sunshine Blog Hop


      1. Thanks so much Laurie! Yes, chalk paint is fabulous! Thanks for stopping by. XO- MJ

  2. Meredith says:

    Hi, Mary Jo! Your thrifted frame makeover is so wonderful! I was super inspired by your design eye. I would love to invite you to link up your project at Whimsy Home Wednesdays to inspire others and have a chance to be featured

    1. Thanks so much Meredith! Joined this past week. I appreciate the invite! XO- MJ

  3. Donna Allen says:

    The frame you found is gorgeous! I love how you transformed it with paint! I have some of my Grandmother’s old piano books and need to frame some of the pages like you did! Thanks for the inspiration and good luck thrifting!

    1. Thanks so much Donna! Yes, love using vintage sheet music in so many ways. XO- MJ

  4. theanswerischocolate4920 says:

    What a GORGEOUS transformation. Featuring when my link party opens. Thank you for sharing your creativity at my weekly link party in 2022, and can’t wait to see what you’re up to in 2023!

    1. Thanks so much Carol. I truly appreciate the love. I’ll “see” you tomorrow! Looking forward to more fun in 2023. XO- MJ

  5. You are preaching to the choir here, girl! “Thrifted” is my middle name:) You did a great job “antiquing” that lovely oval frame. It looks perfect with your collection! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm. xo Kathleen

    1. Oh, I know girl. Thrifting is the best! Thanks for the visit! XO- MJ

  6. Kathy A says:

    Your updated frame is beautiful! I can’t bear to cut up “REAL” sheet music so I have used copies or scrapbook paper for my projects. As I love Monet paintings, my old calendar pictures get put into thrifted frames VERY often! With 8 grands between us, lack of pictures is not usually a problem!

I love hearing from you!