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  • Writer's pictureThe Rural Legend

How to Update a Thrift Store Frame

Framed artwork is an easy way to elevate the look of your space; however, frames can be expensive to buy new. I try to look for large wall frames at thrift stores because they are incredibly inexpensive and they can be transformed into beautiful, high end looking frames for your home!

A woman hanging a frame onto a wall near a bed where a dog lays down.

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Why should I buy frames at the thrift store?

  • Older frames have more charm and character

  • Vintage and antique frames are made very well and can last a long time.

  • Thrifting is a sustainable choice

  • You will save a ton of money!

An assortment of frames.

How to clean an old frame

Generally, every frame I thrift is super dusty and dirty. Here is how I clean them:

1. Gently disassemble the frame.

If the backing and glass are secured with small nails, simply use a letter opener or flat head screw driver to GENTLY pry the nails up to remove all pieces.

If a frame is very old, it might be impossible not to harm the backing. Never fear, you can simply cut a piece of cardboard or mat board to use as a new backing.

2. Clean the glass

I allow glass to soak in hot soapy water for a few minutes before rinsing it off and towel drying. Make sure your glass is completely dry before reassembling your frame!

3. Clean the frame

Depending upon the material of the frame, I will wash it in soapy water or just give it a good wipe down with a damp cloth. For wood frames, check for knicks or splintered areas that might just need a gently sanding.

How to update an old frame

1. Spray paint

While mixing and matching colors for frames can be beautiful, as easy way to achieve a cohesive look for a gallery wall is to paint all of your frames the same color. I love the look of classic flat black, but for a more grand style, this is my absolutely favorite gold spray paint.

I thrifted all of these frames for a gallery wall in our newly transformed primary bedroom for a total of $25! By spray painting them all gold, you would never know where they came from!

A can of metallic finish spray paint.

2. Rub'n Buff

For gold frames that could benefit from a more authentic gold tone, I love to use gold leaf rub'n buff!

A frame spray painted gold.

3. Paint the mat

I often see beautiful frames while thrifting, but sometimes the color of the mat isn't my style. Painting the mat is incredibly easy! Go for a classic white or ivory for simple styling, OR go bold with a color that coordinates beautifully with the room!

For our primary bedroom, I painted all of the mats the color, Utaupeia from HGTV Home by Sherwin Williams.

A paintbrush on a frame.

4. Remove the glass

Especially when it comes to displaying high quality art prints or photographs, removing the glass eliminates glare and creates the museum quality look of a gallery!

A wall featuring framed artwork.

5. Replace the hook

Sometimes I find that the hook or wire on an old picture frame is broken off or not stable any more. You can easily replace the saw tooth hanger or use wall hanging command strips!

A woman sitting on a bed with a dog in front of framed artwork.

6. Add new art

It is rare that I find framed art at the thrift store where I love both the frame AND the art! If you're not in love with the art your thrifted frame came with, you are allowed to toss it! Just make sure it's not an original signed masterpiece!

For ideas and tips on selecting affordable art for your home, start here!

A bedroom interior

Looking for more gallery and art inspiration?

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xoxo, L


Mar 21

What gold spray paint do you use? I see rust oleum, but I don’t see the colour. Thank you 🙏


Feb 09

Great article!

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