Turn old art into modern, chic art with this simple trick

Today I'd like to share a little trick I've recently discovered for creating fabulous wall art at very little cost!  The idea struck while out thrifting one day, and I had to test it out!  I hope you like it as much as I do! 


If you've been to thrift shops before, then you've probably seen the array of old framed art. Some of it is a real eye sore, right?  You look at it and think, "How could that possibly be hung on a wall?".    Believe it or not, there is hidden greatness in these old framed art pieces.  In this post you're going to learn what to look for in these pieces, so the next time you're out thrifting, you can snatch one up and try this trick yourself! 


Find a piece of art that has a sturdy frame and surface.  It helps if the surface is in decent shape as it will decrease your prep time, and make your life much easier when you go to "transform" it!  (I'll cover that later).   If you find a piece that has a unique, ornate, or beautiful old frame then you've hit it big!  Capitalize on this uniqueness and showcase it!  Bottom line:  go for the frames that have character, and in good shape!   If you're like me, you don't want to spend a ton of time prepping or repairing the picture! 

Another key thing to look at is the hanging "system" or the potential the picture has to be hung well...and safely.  Old pictures can be extremely heavy and might not have hardware at all. How can you add hardware to the piece so it can be hung?  Do you have a wall that can support a really heavy picture?  While replacing old hanging wire is usually a must and a pretty simple thing to do, sometimes screws/attachment hooks need to be replaced or added. Consider whether drilling or hammering into the frame could work on the piece.  Warning: Old pieces crack and crumble easily, especially when drilled into! 

Lastly, take a look at the surface of the piece.  Some are smooth, like painted canvas.  Some are "artificial" canvas (which can make this project even easier!), and some have a fabric-like surface.  Any of these types of surfaces can be modified.   So how do you modify the surface?  You grab some paint.....or fabric!    

Both pieces featured in this post involved paint.  There was no prep work at all.  Both had intact hardware.  One piece was painted and had texture already.  I simply painted over it, and hardly noticed the texture after painting.  Here is what the picture looked like before:  

The chalk lines you see are from me.  I sketched out the design before I began painting.  I had also just painted the frame black before taking this photo.  The frame was a scuffed up, unattractive brown hue before.  But notice the frame?  It has character....and that's what drew me to it.  I also appreciated the size of this picture.  It will great as a statement piece above a mantle, or sofa. 

Here is the same picture after a little planning and painting: 

The only supplies needed for this project:  an old picture/frame, paint and foam brushes.  Side tip:  You can find a bag full of foam brushes for VERY cheap at any home improvement store, craft store, or even Wal-mart.  Foam brushes can be easily cleaned, but it's probably not worth your time cleaning them considering their low cost and the fact that you can toss when done!  I am a firm believer in cleaning brushes and do so regularly,  but not these brushes! 

The second piece is quite a bit smaller than the first, and took very little time to make. I loved the frame and left that be.  Unfortunately I do not have a before picture for you but SO wish that I did!  I am not certain I even remember what the picture was...it was dark and dreary.  I'm sure at one time it was awesome.   But it's 2015 and it needed a new look.  It was not an original painting so the surface was very smooth.  It looked like a print of an original painting, or a picture.  Whatever it was, it didn't matter....because it painted up like a butter knife on bread! Did I just write that? And no rippling of the surface once painted either. 

Here it is NOW:

Supplies needed for this picture:  old art, paint, painter's tape, and foam brushes!  There is no way I could have painted a line that straight on my own, which is why I used painter's tape. Love painter's tape.  No measuring involved.  I eye-balled it and stretched the tape over the picture where I wanted the borders.    

You could also use fabric pieces on the surface if you prefer not to use paint.  Just use mod podge and paint the glue onto the surface and fabric, then stick away.  Choose fabrics that compliment each other, and cut out different size piece to create a fabric "collage".  

And that's it you guys!  Now you know an easy trick for turning old art into awesome, fresh, chic art!  It doesn't have to be time consuming...especially if you just want a simple geometric print like the one above!   

If you have old art in your basement, attic, or garage you could do this today!  For these pictures I used interior acrylic/ latex, flat paint (the same paint I use for many of my furniture pieces).  The metallic gold paint is a craft paint I found at Hobby Lobby.   

I hope you were inspired in some way to go out and look for some old art!  

Happy art thrifting!