DIY European Art with Thrift Store Frame

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DIY European Art with Thrift Store Frame is a great way to add vintage, old-world charm to your home on a budget!

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Welcome to the latest edition of the monthly series, Thrift Store Decor Makeovers. Each month I come together with a few of my talented friends to bring you ideas to bring new life to decor that you may already own to those fabulous shopping finds.

thrift store graphic button

Make sure you read to the end where you will find all the links to this month's makeovers. There are 10 NEW projects for the month!

Here is the before of the frames!

These frames were $3.99 each. Ashlyn and I discovered these when we purchased last month's project. The frames were what appealed to Ashlyn. These will be for her new home when she and Tim get married in September. I would have loved to have hung them as is in our guest room, but they were a bit too frilly for Ashlyn and Tim.

DIY European Art with Thrift Store Frame

One of my favorite thrift store finds is vintage frames. I honestly get a bit giddy when I come across old frames in vintage shops and in local thrift stores.

A true gem is when you find that perfect ten! You know the one…..great frame and artwork in one neat package. I found that a couple of months ago with this project that I completed for our guest bedroom.

Always check out the wood frames when thrifting or visiting antique stores.

Many times I will come across a frame with “good bones.” The one with great size, shape, or interest with the carvings or moldings.

My collecting eventually paid off when I had enough to create this landscape gallery wall on our family room staircase. Finding original oil paintings in thrift and vintage shops is such a joy. I've even found them on eBay.

Also on OSH!  Weathered Finish Thrift Store Lamp Makeover

What to do with Frames?

  • Spray Paint them entirely
  • chalk paint….even layering chalk paint like I did HERE
  • apply black paint to an all gold frame like HERE
  • apply gold leaf or gold color paint
  • even all white paint is beautiful for a coastal or cottage look
  • painting a wood frame and then distressing instantly ages the frame for interest
  • or leave it as is with a good cleaning

Did you know that you can paint the inner mats of wall art? It's a total gamechanger and so cheap!

You can do this with acrylic paints or even flat interior paint.

I've been using my leftover flat paint from the guest room in Simply White to repaint mats.

mat from a frame

You don't realize how yellowed they become until you disassemble the art and start to paint that fresh coat of white.

You'll start by cutting off any backing from the art and lifting up staples or nails.

Do you see how yellowed this mat has become through the years?

I typically paint at least 3 coats of white paint on the mat. The texture of the mats really allows them to dry uniformly.

painting mats white

I allow the mat to completely dry overnight before placing it back in the frame with the glass.

You may even have art in your home that you love, but the mat color has dated it somewhat. This technique will give it new life with a quick update.

The paint will dry fairly quickly between coats. Place your mats on waxed paper or parchment paper so that they will not stick.

Make sure you paint that inner cut of the mat.

white painted mat
Look closely to see the dried paint on the edge that needs to be removed.

Before you place the mat in the frame, take a sanding block or sandpaper to that inner edge to remove any excess dried paint for a clean edge.

Cleaning your glass can be a challenge. I recommend cleaning on your counter or a table completely clean of dust. They tackle the glass on a clean surface.

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We have pets. I can't tell you how many times I have assembled the frame just to take it apart to remove a stray hair trapped in the glass. Check and double-check before putting that final backing on.

One thing that I did was purchase a roll of these adhesive brown paper strips to adhere to the back of the frame to clean up where the old backing was. This will help to hold the art in place and protect your walls from any rough frame edges.

New Art

The actual floral art prints in these frames were pretty fragile. As much as I tried to save them to use elsewhere, they just didn't look good.

I knew that we could easily find something that fit the look that they were going for on Etsy. I pointed the two of them in the right direction. They spent one evening looking through options before deciding on this set of European windmills. I really like them! You can find them HERE and HERE.

You will purchase them as a digital download. It's so easy!

This is not a new concept. It's been around for a while now. You can print these at home, but be aware that it will use up a lot of ink.

I opted to print mine at Staples as engineering prints in color. It's very thin paper, but looks really nice for framing! You'll go to the printing services tab and select BLUEPRINTS. I opted to print mine as 11×14. Your digital download will come formated with various sizes that you can print.

Make sure you select color. It cost me $6 to print both windmills.

I had to print my 11x14s on 18×24 inch blueprints. You will cut them out.

It is very important to NOT select the scale to fit box. If you do, the image will be stretched out to the entire white surface and distort the art.

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Notice how the art is printed on the page.

windmill art

Position the mat over the print and trace it with a pencil.

windmill art

You could just cut this out with scissors, but I use my self-healing cutting mat with a rotary cutter. It just makes it quick and easy.

art with a rotary cutter

Then simply assemble everything back together.

pair of art

In an ideal world, I would have just had new mats cut to fit the prints perfectly around. In an effort to be budget-friendly, we used the existing. You'll notice that there is a bit more space at the top and bottom as opposed to the sides.

vignette with art

For now, until Ashlyn moves, I may just borrow one to use here layered with the mirror.

chest with art
vignette with windmill art

I've got quite a few thrift store art pieces that I can't wait to transform with a similar look.

Check out these other projects NEW this month!

thrift store makeover

DIY Artisan Vase from Domestically Speaking

Reclaimed Wood Valance Shelf Redo from My Repurposed Life

Flower Pot With Metallic Copper Spray Paint from Petticoat Junktion

DIY European Art with Thrift Store Frame from Our Southern Home

How To Make A DIY Spoon Ring from My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia

Upcycling a Bamboo Tray with Blueprint Paper from Sadie Seasongoods

Upcycled Mail Organizer from House Of Hawthornes

Vintage Bentwood Chair Makeover from Organized Clutter

Trash to Treasure Picnic Basket from Reinvented Delaware

Office Chair Update from Shop At Blu

vintage art vignette with text overlay

Thrift Store Decor Roundups

Here are roundups from the past from The Thrift Store Decor Team!


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  1. I am now having serious regrets for art that I’ve given away and frames that I’ve passed up at the thrift store.

  2. Thanks so much! Yes, September will be here before they know it! Friends just gave them a nice couch and chair to get them started. They just sold house and downsizing. They gave them some nice things.

  3. Thank so much, Vicki! I’d love to see your collection when you get it hung. Nothing like vintage art!

  4. Great save on the mats Christy! Painting them made such a huge difference. Great tips for getting the new prints on Etsy and copied at Staples.



  5. Those vintage windmill prints are beautiful! I totally agree with you on the thrill of finding vintage framed art as well as unique frames second hand! I’ve got a collection of vintage art I hope to hang soon in our stairway. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I used to have those ornate floral prints in my dining room. I think I found them at garage sale and when I redecorated I sent them to Goodwill. I should have kept them for the frames!!!

  7. Very easy to replace the backing for a professional look. Directions won’t fit here. If you would like to know the trick to no wrinkles on the back contact me and I will share.

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