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DIY distressed painted picture frames for a gallery wall

Painted picture frames are one of my favorite, budget-friendly DIY decor projects.  Picture frames can be so expensive.  If you want a gallery wall, your total price will add up quickly!

Instead of buying designer frames, consider the DIY route.  Just buy inexpensive craft store or thrift store frames – you know those plastic black/brown frames?  Yep!  We are going to give them a major face lift with this tutorial.  All you need is chalk paint and a candle.  Keep reading!


Supply List

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These are the exact paint colors and products that I used:

Ikea White Custom Paint Formula from Behr at The Home Depot - perfect for DIY furniture and home decor projects

Tutorial – Distressed Painted Picture Frames

You can watch the video below for a quick overview of the project.  There are written instructions below as well.

Written Instructions

Step 1 – Navy Paint

Paint one solid coat of navy blue paint.  If you are not happy with the coverage of your paint, go ahead and do a second coat.  Let dry.

Step 2 – Light Blue Paint

Using a dry brush technique, lightly paint on some light blue paint.  There is no need to buy separate light blue paint.  Just mix a tiny bit of your navy paint with some of your white paint.  Let dry.

Step 3 – Wax

Roughly wax each frame.  Just use an inexpensive tea light for this.  Don’t be stingy either – just wax around the edges and the front parts that you want to appear worn.  The areas that have wax are the areas that will appear distressed and poke through your final layer of white paint.

Step 4 – White Paint

Add a layer of white paint.  You can use regular white chalk paint, but I strongly recommend using this chalk paint powder.  You can mix up small batches of chalk paint in literally any color!

Step 5- Distress

Once the white paint is completely dry, start distressing.

First, gently scrape the frame surface with a putty knife.  This will give you an idea of where the wax is, as well as where you should focus your distressing efforts.  Second, lightly sand with fine grit sandpaper.  The key here is: lightly sand.  It’s always easier to distress more than it is to add more white paint back!

That’s it!  Step back and admire your handy work:

Painted Distressed Picture Frames - a DIY tutorial

It’s Not Always Picture Perfect

I’m not sure why I feel compelled to share this with you all, but share it I will.  This wall was a labor of love and a true step outside of my comfort zone.  See, I built that sofa table from scratch.  I had never done that before.

I built that table, stained it, painted it, and then distressed it.  Whew!

Then I painted these frames, and took a stab at video making while I was at it – Yep, in case you can’t tell from my serious iMovie skillz, this was my first ever video.

After all of my hard work, I was ready to photograph my beautiful new family room wall.  I just needed to vacuum…

my new gallery wall fail

Well, as I vacuumed the floor, I noticed the table was about one centimeter off the wall.  I gave it a little nudge to make everything perfect.  The next thing I knew, this was my perfect new wall:

my gallery wall fail

All was not lost though.  I still think things look OK with just 7 frames.

The Big Reveal

How to Paint and Distress Picture Frames - update inexpensive mismatched thrift store frames to make a beautiful and inexpensive gallery wall

How to Paint and Distress Picture Frames and make a beautiful, stylist, and inexpensive gallery wall

How to distress and paint inexpensive picture frames for a high end gallery wall

Distressed Painted Picture Frames - how to update thrift store frames for an inexpensive and stylish gallery wall

Distressed Painted Picture Frames - follow this tutorial to make an inexpensive and stylish gallery wall

Distressed and Painted Picture Frames - a DIY Tutorial


Pin it - Don't Forget it

How to Paint and Distress Gallery Wall Picture Frames - paint mismatched, thrift store or other inexpensive picture frames and make a cohesive and stylish gallery wall


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  1. The frame you choose is supposed to protect your art. We have had a number of treasured and valuable items come into our shop because they were improperly framed and damaged as they fell to the ground. It is important to ensure that your art is properly framed by a trusted professional who is experienced.

  2. I love pictures and arts on frames. Really makes the design more appealing and beautiful. Nice.

  3. Frames on art really adds up to the beauty of it. It makes it more appealing and easy to decorate.

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