How To Gut A Thrift Store Frame To Create Farmhouse Style

June 15, 2016

DIY Farmhouse Frame

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One of these days I'm going to write a blog post entitled, "Top 10 Things To Buy At The Thrift Store." And in this Top 10 list I will most definitely include picture frames. Whether you actually like the artwork that's already in the frame, or you're simply looking for the perfect sized frame to fit your most recent family photo, thrift store frames are the way to go.

The selection is always varied in both size and type of artwork available. And they're cheap, people! I'll prove that today with my $1.99 orphan picture frame transformation.

I love white frames. If it isn't white when I find it, I paint it white. You might remember this awesome vintage white picture frame I turned into a DIY custom chalkboard.  

DIY chalkboard frame

I paid a pretty penny for this one at a flea market, mainly because I was too impatient to wait until I found one at a thrift store to paint myself. I've since learned to wait. And I recently found one that fit the bill.

thrift store cork board

(Sorry for the bad "before" photos, I took them with my phone and did not
 realize their poor quality until it was too late!) 

When I first saw this frame at Goodwill I was drawn to it by its size (huge) color (gold) and intricate detail. The more ornate the better. I could see that it had seen better days as a bulletin board but that was ok because I knew I wanted it for something else. Oh yes, and the price (can I say it again?): $1.99. Score.

thrift store cork board

Here is the sad state of the front.

thrift store cork board

Once I pulled off the top layer of thin, warped cork I could see that the inner cork board had really sustained some major water damage. So my next step was to remove the inner cork board altogether (otherwise known as gutting it). This would be the same as removing whatever might happen to be inside your thrift store frame - an old painting, a print, a photograph that's been secured to a cardboard backing, whatever. Not all frames will be the same with regard to the amount of work you'll have to do. Some might actually have an easily removable cardboard back and a piece of glass! If so, I say run with it, This one, however, was not so easily gutted.

thrift store cork board

In order to do this I had to first cut and pull off the protective paper cover from the back side of the frame. That comes off quite easily. Then you can see the staples that need to be removed.

Staple on back of thrift store frame



The heavy duty staples are best removed with a flat head screwdriver.

Staple on back of thrift store frame

I can't stress enough the importance of wearing protective eye gear when pulling out staples (would apply to nails as well). Sometimes they come out easily but other times they can be pretty stubborn and you might be forced to really pull hard. Once they do get dislodged they can go flying up in your face or even across the room. Not that I've had any experience with that.

How to remove staple from back of thrift store frame

Once they're partially out you can usually complete the job with flat nose pliers.

frame staples

Once all the staples are removed I always breathe a little sigh of relief. Sigh.

thrift store cork board

Moving on, here's the damaged board as I pulled it out of the frame.


After discarding the board, I went back and sanded down all the messy, rough spots that were left on the back side of the frame with 100 grit sandpaper (so that the back of the frame would not scratch the wall when hung). And now, after a good wipe down on both frot and back with a damp cloth, it's ready for painting.

Americana Decor Chalky Finish Paint

Not surprisingly, I chose to use this Americana Decor Chalky Finish paint in the shade Everlasting (white). I've used it on many other projects and really love that chalky looking finish. 



After painting the front of the frame, don't forget to paint the inside rim of the frame as well. Even if you fill the frame with your own artwork, photo, memo board or chalkboard you might still be able to see the inside rim. 


I went ahead and painted the inside of mine. It only takes a few minutes and is really worth it in my opinion. It doesn't have to be perfect. You just don't want to see a stark difference in color between the front of the frame and the inside rim.

AND VOILA

DIY Farmhouse Frame

I think my DIY Faux Farmhouse Cotton Stems look nice included in the vignette.
 I also think my DIY painted galvanized French flower bucket works well with it, too.

DIY Farmhouse Frame

I just love how it turned out! Since I'm a huge fan of hanging empty frames (and filling them with things like wreaths instead) I don't have to worry about how to replace what I took out. That will have to be a tutorial for another day. I purposefully decided not to distress it since I tend to go overboard when it comes to distressing, and I totally skipped using any wax. I'm a real rebel that way. Okay I'm lazy. 

DIY Farmhouse Frame

I hope you enjoyed reading about my
 thrift store frame turned farmhouse find. 

Thanks so much for spending time with me today!

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Leave a Comment!

Sharon @ Blue Willow House said...

The thrift store has been my go to for frames for several years. Love the way yours turned out.

Vanessa said...

I love it. Frames are the best

Pam~ Virginia Retro said...

Great ideas! Frames are so expensive new, so best to find them at thrifts and yard sales to restyle.

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