Upcycled Picture Frames – Decorating Ideas

Do you have a pile of old picture frames collecting dust in your basement? Get them out so you can upcycle them! With a bit of creativity, it’s easy to repurpose old picture frames or ones that you find at a thrift store to proudly show off in your home.

I have shared a few picture frame ideas over the years from 3D Frames for a Gallery Wall to making Photo Frame Mats Using Wallpaper or Making Ribbon Mat for a Photo Frame. I liked how I made all of these, but I really like the way I transformed a recent find of thrift store frames.

frames stacked against wall at a thrift shop
Thrift store picture frames BEFORE getting a new look.

Do you remember when I posted about finding this above set of black picture frames I bought for 60 cents each? At the time I had no idea what I was going to do with them, but for the price, I couldn’t pass them by.

self adhesive wall tiles from the dollar store used to upcycle picture frames.
Faux stone and vintage tin adhesive tile sheets.

Then on a trip to the Dollar Tree I came across these textured adhesive sheets and got an idea on how to transform three of the frames to fit my decorating style.

Cut scrap book to place around intact thrift store frame to make the frame larger.

For my idea I had to make each frame larger. To do this I went through my home decor and improvement supplies and found old garden stakes that took on a weathered look. I cut them to make a weathered wood frame around each existing frame.

scraps of corrugated cardboard to use for crafts
Swatch of Light-Blue-Faux-Grasscloth-Wallpaper

I didn’t stop there though. I needed to find a third texture to cover the set of frames as there were only two designs (stone and vintage tin) at the Dollar Tree and I wanted three. I thought about using clothespins to create a surface with texture the way I did to make a DIY Clothespin Picture Frame, but wanted something simpler.

I looked though my crafting stash and found corrugated cardboard that I saved from packaging and it worked. I used leftover wallpaper to make the mats for each frame.

Upcycled Picture Frames AFTER

Here is how the frames look now after I added my style to them. Each got a different texture that I painted white.

What to do with thrift store frames. Add paint, scraps of wood, wallpaper and dollar store tiles.

For the first picture frame, I covered the black part of the frame using the vintage tin sheet.

Close up of old picture frame makeovers using wood and corrugated cardboard.

To cover the second picture frame, I used the corrugated cardboard.

Scrap wood framed thrift store frame makeover idea that also uses wallpaper scraps and faux stone adhesive tile from the dollar tree.

For the third frame, I added the faux stone sheet.

A set of 3 thrift store frames upcycled with scraps of wood, tile and wallpaper.

I hung the three repurposed picture frames in my foyer. My favorite aspect of the frames is the subject matter. Seeing the smiling faces of my grandchildren makes me smile. Isn’t that what we want when we decorate our homes? To love every inch?

Total cost to transform the frames was $2.50 since all the supplies I needed were leftover from previous projects, except for the dollar store adhesive sheets.

DIY picture frames for family photo wall ideas.

I also like that the weathered wood I added to the frames coordinates with the Modern Driftwood Sculpture I made on the foyer console.

Upcycle Picture Frames Step-By-Step Instructions

supplies needed:

  • Old or thrift store frames
  • Scrap wood and saw to cut it
  • Dollar Tree adhesive sheets
  • Wallpaper
  • Photos
  • Wood glue
  • Spray glue
  • Craft knife, scissors and ruler
  • Spray paint
  • Staple gun
  • Masking tape
  • Pencil

Time needed: 4 hours

Enlarge and Transform Plain Thrift Store Picture Frames

  1. Cut Wood


    To make an existing frame larger, using a wood saw, cut 4 pieces of scrap wood to fit around the existing frame. Miter the ends to follow the lines of the existing frame.

    Set wood cuts aside.

    scrap wood cut to fit around a plain black photo frame

  2. Paint Inside Edge of Frame


    Paint the inside and outside edge of frame, no need to paint all of it as the top and sides will be covered. Painting the edges ensures the black color of the frame will not show up where the wood will join the frame in an upcoming step.

    paint inside and outside edges of photo frame.

  3. Attach Adhesive Sheet


    Cut adhesive sheet to size needed with a craft knife and straight edge ruler. Remove center piece and set aside as you don’t need it.

    how to decorate a thrift store photo frame with dollar store adhesive tile.

  4. Place Cut Adhesive Tile on Frame


    Make sure cut sheet fits, then apply spray glue on top of frame. Place cut tile on top. Gently press to make sure it adheres.

    Note: When cutting the sheet to fit the frame, the adhesive film on the back will come off. You can discard this as you can use spray glue to attach the cut sheet to the top of the frame.

    Adhesive faux stone tile from the Dollar Tree.

  5. Spray Paint Frame


    Apply 2-3 light coats of spray paint over the frame. Let dry. If you are new to spray painting, follow these Spray Painting Tips.

    spray painted faux adhesive tile in a spray painting box.

  6. Attach Cut Wood


    Place the wood cuts on each side of the frame, spread wood glue along inner edge of wood and attach to frame. Let dry.

  7. Cut Mat


    Measure frame and photo to figure out the size needed for the mat. Use a craft knife and ruler to cut to size.

    cut wallpaper to use as a DIY picture frame mat.

  8. Attach Photo to Mat


    Use masking tape to attach the photo to the back side of the mat.

    how to close up the back of a picture frame.

  9. Place Photo and Mat


    Place the glass, wallpaper mat, photo and cardboard backing that came with the frame into the frame.

    DIY photo frame mat idea using wallpaper.

  10. Close Up Back of Frame


    Use a staple gun to place a few long staples into the wood to hold the cardboard into place. Add tape to make sure the backing will securely stay in place.

    how to secure a photo in a photo frame

  11. Note: If Using Corrugated Cardboard


    When using corrugated cardboard to cover the frame, you can piece i4 cut sections with diagonal cut on the ends.

    how to decorate a thrift store photo frame with pieces of corrugated cardboard.

  12. TIP


    If corrugated cardboard gets flattened or smushed when working with it, use a large sewing needle to open the smashed channels.
    How to open and fix flattened corrugated cardboard.

Close Up of Frames

close up of thrifted frame with wood added and adhesive tile and wallpaper scraps.

Vintage tin texture.

creative craft ideas using corrugated cardboard. Make a photo textured photo frame mat.

Corrugated cardboard texture.

Thrift store picture frame makeover. Textured stone adhesive tiles from the dollar store used to decorate a thrift store frame.

Faux stone texture.

DIY picture frame ideas made using thrift store frames.

Before and After Thrift Store Frame Makeover Ideas

More DIY Photo Frame Ideas

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21 Comments

  1. Oh my goodness! You are such a genius, Diane! I love this idea and you’ve definitely opened my eyes to different ways I can repurpose frames. I never would have thought of this, but now it’s in my tool belt. Thank you!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Bettsi – Thank you. :-) I have to credit my many years of working in retail display where we had to come up with decor to decorate the store with the stuff in a prop room. I learned to become very resourceful and look at everything with new eyes.

  2. Valarie Sanford says:

    Again, you are some kind of genius…pinning

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thank you Valerie and for pinning. XO

  3. Hi, Diane! I have been a follower for many years now. One of my favorite things about you is that you give good instructions and lots of detail for your decorating projects. You make it so easy to follow and make the creations you have come up with. You also have excellent taste! Just gonna add…my favorite posts were when you were renovating your kitchen! It is now beautiful and up to date, without being out of line for the average follower’s budget! And by the way, your grandchildren are darling!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Debbie – Thank you so much for leaving me such a nice comment. XO. It is so nice to hear that what I write about and how I explain how to do it makes it doable for you. Just what a blogger wants to hear. :-) The kitchen makeover took a lot of time, but I knew I could DIY it to update it to fit my kitchen dreams vision. Thanks for reading and following me over the years.

  4. This is a wonderful idea!! Love the sweet pictures of the Grandkids 💜

  5. Diane,

    Everytime I open one of your blog posts I am blown away with your creativity! You are amazing😍

    Looks like I need to pay better attention shopping the Dollar Store for ideas.

    Your grandbabies are absolutely darling❤️

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks June. XO. I usually never find anything at the Dollar Store, but do buy greeting cards there. On my last trip I took the time to go up and down the aisles and was glad I did. Like you, I will have to pay more attention to what can be found there.

  6. You are (again!) a genius at creating beautiful, fun decor out of the stuff others might throw away! I just love these frames and mats! Like you, I love to paint and create unique frames and mats to display unique family treasures like pictures, old marriage licenses, vintage certificates of my parents and grandparents, and all kinds of, well, stuff. This is such a great idea.

    Did you ever decide on a name for your driftwood “fish”? If not, I would suggest Murray, since you “caught” him in Lake Murray. 😂 I want to try that project also. We brought home some gorgeous driftwood from our last trip to Maine. I don’t have a piece that big, but surely I can figure something out…. Thanks for all the super ideas and easy to follow tutorials!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Delanie – I didn’t name my driftwood fish, but Murray is the perfect name. From now on that is what he will be called. Thanks for the suggestion. I am sure you will figure out a way to decoratively use the driftwood from Maine. In the meantime, it can look nice simply placed on a table or console.

  7. Your subject matter is precious! This project takes me back a few years when you were at your former house and came up with so many fun projects. This is one I see myself and my crafting sisters doing. Thanks!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Darlene – I have so many photos of my grandbabies on my phone that I had to come up with a way to see some of my favorites everyday. As for some of the projects from my previous house, I did do more decorative crafty stuff since the house didn’t really need any updates like I needed to do when we moved to the dated lake house. Now that I have most of the updating done after living in the house for 7 years, I can post more fun decorating project posts.

  8. Great idea, the grands are very sweet!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thank you Cassie :-)

  9. Your creative mind amazes me. I admire people who can look at something and know how to make it beautiful or repurpose for another use. Love the frames and the content is even better!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Heidi – I think I like the content even better than the frames too. XO

  10. Jackie B. says:

    You outdid yourself this time, Diane! I admire so much how you can see disparate objects uniting. You have a wonderful gift.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Jackie – Thank you so much for your nice comment. I think we all have our gifts, mine is creativity, but on the flip side I can’t add 2 + 2 and struggle with anything having to to with math. :-)

  11. Wow Diane!

    Love this and the driftwood sculpture!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Robin – The driftwood fish came to be when I found a large piece of driftwood in the lake. With help from my husband, I was able to get it back to the house to turn it into a sculpture. Another reader came up with a name for him – Murray since he was fished out of Lake Murray were I live.