Upcycling Basics – Working With Frames

For the past couple of months, we have been exploring the basics of furniture painting in the Back to the Basics series. (If you would like to see those posts, you can revisit them here…) I want to switch gears a little bit now and talk about some of the basics when upcycling or refreshing home decor.

We are going to start with the upcycling basics for frames. During the month of July, the Junk Into Gems Challenge item of the month was frames, and let me tell you, there were some super cool projects submitted!

old frame


Frames are in abundance at thrift stores, garage sales, and flea markets. You can pretty much find them in any shape, size, or design you are looking for. Sadly, many of the newer frames are made cheaply and end up in the landfill after only a short time. They either fall apart or fall out of style quicker than people want them around.

Many of the older frames though were made to last and are typically wood or plaster. You can find anything to suit your needs from simple shaker styles to ornate ones that are works of art in and of themselves.

a vintage frame ready to be painted

Preparing a Frame for Upcycling

When you decide to upcycle a frame, there are a few specific things to remember.

First, always clean it well before painting or refreshing it. Depending on what it is made out of will determine how you clean it…
For plastic, use soap and water.
For wood, use a scrub brush dipped in soap and water.
For plaster, use a toothbrush to brush off dirt and then a damp cloth to gently clean the plaster.

Remember that the more ornate the frame, the more careful you will need to be. Work slowly to remove any dirt and grime from the details.

You will also want to make any repairs before going any further. If the joints are loose or rickety, be sure to add some glue (wood or whatever is appropriate for what your frame is made out of) and clamp the joints until they are completely dry.

reclaimed frame fall coloured wood and wire

What Can You Make?

Now that your frame is clean and sturdy, what can you turn it into? Well, the possibilities are endless. Here are some of the ideas from this month’s Junk Into Gems Challenge. You could turn your frame into a…

piece of art
place to hang flowers
or stand for a vase

reclaimed frame and wrought iron handles


You could also turn it into a…

jewelry holder
or shelf

small clothes pins added to twine on memory board

The possibilities for turning an old frame into something new really are endless and only limited by your imagination. The next time you are looking for some new decor, look through what you already have and maybe you have an old frame that you can turn into something new!

To join the Junk Into Gems Challenge or read more about it, click here…
(our next challenge starts Aug 1st)

To see some of the things I’ve turned old frames into, click here…

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