Design Inspiration

How to Thrift Picture Frames [tips for finding pieces for a Gallery Wall]

First, let me apologize for the, not one, but two random, incomplete posts that were blasted out earlier this week! Minor technical difficulties, my apologies! Now on to a post with some actual content 🙂
How to thrift picture frames & use them in a gallery wall - thrifted finds - tips & tricks - This is our blissToday, I am dropping in to share a few of my personal tips for buying those unique, one-of-a-kind frames to use in gallery walls or in other areas throughout your home. Vintage and second-hand picture frames are everywhere! I mean some of the places I pop into have aisles of them! You might not know exactly what you are looking for and you may not know where and when you will use them. But, when you can score a frame for as little as $.49, I say grab it now and figure out the rest later!

If you like the look of a gallery wall, but are worried that purchasing 4,5,6 or even 20+ frames can be costly, you are right. Store-bought picture frames can range from $10 – 100+ per frame. I highly recommend starting with a few frames from your local Goodwill or thrift stores in your area and then building your wall out from there. An eclectic gallery wall is so simple to achieve using frames of all different shapes, sizes and colors, so a thrifted collection is an ideal way to go. You can also incorporate a few thrifted frames when going for a more streamlined, balanced or monochromatic look. Start looking and you’ll be surprised what you’ll find!

Below, are my tips for thrifting picture frames and the key things I look for to help me spot the true gems (in my book!)

1 | Pairs or multiples

If you find a frame you like and there are more than 1, take them all! Using several of the same frames in a gallery wall give it that put together feel. You can use them next to each other or space them apart. For example, I found this pair of gold frames at Goodwill last year and had been hanging onto them for just the right use. They did not come with mats.
Pair of thrifted gold frames - goodwill frame find - this is our blissThey first appeared with a white mat on the playroom gallery wall.
playroom gallery wall with pair of gold goodwill frames - this is our blissAfter shopping my house for frames for the Guestroom Revamp project I completed for the One Room Challenge, I swiped them off the playroom wall, took the mats out and replaced the kid art with my two 8″x10″ Minted prints [top & bottom]. I then hung one below the other and placed a large, open frame around it. It now acts one, larger piece of art.
Guestroom revamp - Minted art - open frame - luggage rack - - dresser - fresh flowers - This is our Bliss

2 | Unique metal detail / hanging mechanisms

I don’t know how else to put it. If the frame has a great little metal hoop or ring attached to it, its coming home with me. You can use the ring to actually hang the frame by or there might be a sawtooth or something else and then the ring can just rest on the wall.

Round wood frame with unique metal detail - hoop or ring hanger - thrifted frames - this is our bliss

After removing the glass & art, I included it on another wall in the guestroom and left it as an open frame. If you look to the far left, there is a gold frame with a metal ring hanger as well. I loooove that one and I bought it for $.99.

Guestroom revamp - gallery wall - picture ledge - minted - This is our Bliss Guestroom revamp - picture ledge - gallery wall - This is our Bliss

3 | Interesting shape

or basically, any shape OTHER than a rectangle! I am quite a sucker for a round frame – I just love them! Breaking up the monotony of rectangular frames on your wall adds visual interest to your space. The eye is drawn to the piece that is slightly different and using a round frame or mirror is a great way to work some depth & dimension to your gallery wall.

Here you can see the 2 round frames on Simon’s pegboard gallery wall in his nursery. They actually started as wooden plate holders (similar to the one above, but without the metal hanger), but after applying several coats of white spray paint and adding some fabric, I added them to the wall along with various other frames & objects.
Nursery pegboard gallery wall - round frames with fabric - thrifted frames - this is our blissBaby Boy Nursery DIY Pegboard Gallery Wall + Navy, green & grayAs rare as it might, I would always say yes to any other shape out there! The gold octagon frame was a thrifted diamond in the rough – I haven’t found any others like it, but you can bet I would be first in line if I happened to come across another one. Like I said, I love to pick up frames that have a unique shape and this one definitely stands out amongst the others on the wall.
octagon thrifted frame - gallery wall - black white and gold - this is our bliss

The above shot is our stairway gallery wall. Although it took months to prepare for, the stairway gallery wall was not as big of an undertaking as one might think. I mean, I had frames stacked up and spread out our upstairs loft for quite.some.time. But the act of hanging it – I actually put it up one day while Ted was at work. He came home and said, “Ummm. How did you do that?” I actually don’t know the answer to this question and I am not sure if I could replicate this again. HA! I started at the bottom of the staircase, placed a few larger frames throughout, working my way up, and then started hammering away and filling in the gaps. This is NOT good advice to follow, but that is how I did it! It’s definitely the largest, craziest and most time-consuming gallery wall I have created to-date, but also my favorite.

 4 | Rounded edges

I found a few of these round-edge frames and really love how they are just so subtly different than an ordinary frame. The rounded edge gives the frame a slightly unique look. One might not even notice at first glance, which is what I like about it.
round edge frame - thrifted frames - this is our bliss(Maybe those edges were a trend of the 80’s???)

I painted one of these rounded edge frames white and used it on our stairway gallery wall, so I still have the 2 pictured above to use somewhere else. Again, buy in multiples!

5 | Don’t pay attention to what’s inside the frame

There might not be anything at all! I have scooped up a number of picture frames without glass or any backing. I have also bought frames with not so glamorous art inside. Although there could be an entire blog series written on super cool thriftstore art.

Exhibit A…

thrift store art in gold frameI simply removed the backing, popped out the glass and took out the matted art. I decided to leave it as an open frame again and hung it on the outside of a canvas for a slightly different look. Gotta love that gold + the simple detail on the inner edge of the frame. <3
Guestroom revamp - life doesn't have to be perfect - open gold thrifted frame - This is our BlissKind of like, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’… don’t judge a frame, but its art!

Tips for thrifting frames has been a topic I have wanted to write about for awhile now. People always ask where I find my frames and how much I spend on some of my gallery walls in total. Well, to be honest, I haven’t ever added up the total cost, but I can tell you I have saved quite a few pennies by hunting for unique frames around town. I plan to do a post somewhat related to gallery walls a couple of times per month, perhaps an occasional #gallerywallwednesday post. I will share some shots of the stairwell and several other gallery walls in our home and you might even see some walls from the past. I tend to switch things up every now & then! However, some of the walls in our home have yet to make their internet debut, so I will get workin’ on that STAT 🙂

Thrifting frames and beginning gallery walls can be quite intimidating, but once you get out there and start searching, it becomes a really fun hunt to see what you can score! It also helps to save some cash and maybe be able to put it towards more expensive frames or pieces of art to include in the gallery wall as well. A mix of art, photographs and other unique objects can result in a totally unique & artsy looking wall.

Have you attempted to put together a gallery wall in your home? Any good tips & tricks? Please share!


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