Give old frames new life. This entire wall of art was created for under $50, including the paint!


Shop for interesting picture frames at yard sales, flea markets, antique stores, thrift shops, and more. Empty frames are fine. Ugly inserts can be removed. Go for shape, size and style, the rest can be fixed with a coat of paint and some sandpaper.

Once you’ve hung them on your wall (a grouping is ideal for maximum bang, but a single will do in the right niche), let your imagination guide what goes inside the frame. Unlike conventional art that needs to be in place before the frame is hung, this type of wall art can work the other way. You can get used to the shapes of the frames and how they look against your wall, before figuring out what to put inside.


Practice on the floor to get the right grouping. Then, mark where your biggest frame will hang. Add the rest. Remember, they can be turned any which way.


Position the largest frame in your grouping on the wall first. This will be the piece that anchors your arrangement. Mark lightly within the open frame using a pencil on the wall.


This large frame had some interesting lines but needed a finish refresh to highlight its decorative potential.


We painted the gilt frame partially with white, leaving some of the gilded edging for interest.


When you know where your frames will hang, create a design element inside an empty frame with stenciled stripes. Draw a pencil line lightly around the interior perimeter of the frame. Place wide yellow painter’s tape in diagonal striping within the pencil marks and paint every other space with white.


Painting only a corner rather than filling the entire framed area creates asymmetry that immediately draws the eye.


We found a set of vintage gold birds for $5 and hanging a couple of them within the frame completes the look. Who says you need an art print and expensive matte to fill a frame?


Whether you use a basket, tray or breadboard, hang one unexpected item. You can paint it or adorn it as you would the rest of your frames. A mirror works, too.


You can leave an object, such as this basket, unembellished or painted on its underside and left natural inside. We like how it can be flipped to freshen the display.


Frames-in-frames have a similar unfussy look. Try three of them in one shape, or place a square within a rectangle, finished with a tiny oval or circle.


When you’re ready to change things up, give your gallery wall a completely new look on the cheap with wall or giftwrap papers. Pick a floral printed paper to tie your colors together in a fresh way.


We filled three of the frames with wrapping papers. Mix in patterns with solids. Pull hues or designs from an accent pillow or upholstery fabric in your room.


Vintage or antique wallpapers add character. Cut-velvet papers offer texture and glamour.
You could also use fabric scraps. Or black and white photographs, book pages, vintage calendars etc. Just cut to size and tape to the back of frame.
We’re all about switching up art on a wall depending on the season or on a whim, so go for whatever tickles your fancy—make it fun and make it you.


Produced by Katie Leporte
Photos by Adam Albright

© Caruth Studio

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