Small Change: Frame Makeover for Paintings

A search for decorating makeovers often yields large-scale, wall-gutting, bring-in-the-pros revamps. It’s easy to forget the simple power of a small change.

There is a pair of paint by number paintings that I’ve passed in a local antique store a few times over the past year. They caught my eye because of a cherry blossom tree in one of the paintings (the cherry blossoms bloomed in the park on our wedding day–literally the morning of our wedding!), but I kept taking a pass on buying them. Between the swans and the dark frames, they were giving off a dowdy elderly home vibe I just couldn’t shake.

Then I developed a paint by number near-obsession. I remembered these paintings, and decided to trek over to the shop and see if they were still there. They were.

Note the contradiction of glare AND dullness from the same source!

On second (actually fifth) glance, it became clear that the paintings themselves were so much better than the presentation they’d been given. The wood frames sucked. And whoever framed these guys had put glass over them. Glass totally kills the message that these are “real” paintings. Furthermore, having glass so close to the paint could ruin the finish. Someone spent a fair amount of time fishing for all the numbers, and then put the thing at risk of being ruined. Christ, people! This is why we can’t have nice things.

The first thing I did was liberate these beauties from their glass cages. Look, texture! Now these paintings can breathe!


Now the frames needed help. The insert left in the frame tell us these are the finest quality… certificate frames. OK. First, the full-strength glass goes in the basement for a later use. (Later use likely = garbage can filler when we move. But it might come in handy… it is full strength!)

Time to paint.

Since I wanted this makeover to be cheap and easy, I used paint we already had in the house. I was torn between two satin-finish colors: a pale pink wall paint, and a stone grey spray paint. Hey, I’m modernizing… why not one of each color, the same way a dude in the park playing hacky sack would wear his Converse high tops? Just so it’s not too literal and matchy, I used the grey frame on the painting with more pink and vice versa. Ta da!


Now these babies have a soft sheen–not glare–in the sunlight, and the frames are a cheerful accent to the fun paintings instead of a coffin in frame form.

Tell me all about your best quick changes and mini-makeovers in the comments!


6 Responses to Small Change: Frame Makeover for Paintings

  1. Alexis says:

    Those paintings are awesome, and so is that wall color~

    • The Wife says:

      Thanks, Alexis! The wall color is in our soon-to-be-revealed dining room. The color looks a little different in person… it’s a pretty dark room, so it looks drab in photos.

  2. Those look amazing! Will you fly back over here and paint some frames for Traver’s toy room because I’m too lazy to figure out what color I want?

    • The Wife says:

      I am in love with grey lately. I don’t think you can go wrong with it. For T’s toy room, I would suggest grey or bright yellow. Both would look well with an authentic antique style map!

  3. Lizzie says:

    Wow. I cannot believe the difference! I REALLY love the grey one. It makes the pink tree pop! Love it!

    • The Wife says:

      Thanks! The pink tree is my favorite–I almost didn’t buy them as a pair because I only wanted the pink tree! But the husband talked me into getting both, and I’m glad.

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