Six Paint Transformations for Ugly Old Picture Frames and Mirrors
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Ugly old picture frames and mirrors are some of my favorite things to up-cycle with a little paint. Not only are old picture frames cheap and easy to find at yard sales and thrift stores, but they can be painted quickly with stunning results.

I found several old picture frames and mirrors on our recent Route 301 Endless Yard Sale adventure in North Carolina.

Let’s start with this one.


I really liked all of the curly-ques, but the metal was flimsy and tarnished. I thought this old picture frame would make a pretty tray to place on a dresser to hold jewelry—and I had the perfect piece of scrapbook paper to put behind the glass where a photograph would normally go.

I painted the frame dark blue and dry-brushed gray over it.

shiptray_closeupFor more detailed instructions on how to drybrush old picture frames, please read my tutorial here.

When it was time to cut the scrapbook paper to fit, I ran into a slight problem. I never measured the design so my Journal de Paris became …

photo 3

Oops! Time for Plan B!

Luckily, I had another piece of scrapbook paper featuring vintage postcards. This design of a ship cruising the high seas fit the space in my frame perfectly—and best of all, the colors matched my frame so I didn’t have to re-paint it.

I pulled the picture hanger off the back so the frame would sit evenly on a table or dresser, then flipped the cardboard backing around so you wouldn’t see the holes where the hanger used to be.

I think this would make a great little tray to set on a table in your entryway to catch keys and spare change.


Transforming an old picture frame into a pretty tray is a quick and easy DIY project. Scrapbook paper, wrapping paper and old postcards make great backdrops. Just be sure to measure your design first!

I used the same dry brushing technique on all of my frames featured here. I basecoated them one color, drybrushed a second color and finished by sealing them with clear wax mixed with gold mica for a little sparkle.

On this small mirror, I basecoated hot pink. Then brushed a color such a soft pink, it nearly looks white. I chose these colors because I thought they went nicely together … and because I had just enough paint left in the bottom of both cans for a small project like a mirror.

TIP: Little mirrors and picture frames are the perfect projects to get every last drop out of your can of paint! I have even sprayed water into a can I thought was totally empty, scraped the paint down the sides, stirred it up and had enough to do a frame. Not one bit was wasted.

pinkmirrorI painted this frame a bright coral color followed by chocolatey brown. I chose these colors to match a desk I am working on. Won’t it look pretty sitting on top?


These matching mirrors were trays already and did not have those picture hanging thingees on the bottom. However, if you wanted to hang them on a wall, you could easily do so by sticking on a few Command Strips. I painted the frames with bright turquoise followed by a softer turquoise on top. I chose these colors because I just really like turquoise! The bright, beachy color really updates these tired old trays.

turquoise mirror trays

turquoise mirror trays_closeup

Those are my treasures from our North Carolina trip. Here are a few frames and a mirror my mom painted recently.

peacock frames


shining seas frame

So the next time you find an ugly, outdated old picture frame or mirror, just imagine how pretty it will look painted a new color and—if the price is right—grab it!

Then share before and after pictures with us on our Facebook page so we can see what a nice job you did with it!

~ Courtney

All Things New Again is a family-owned furniture and paint boutique in Leesburg, Virginia (about an hour or so west of Washington, D.C.) We offer hand-painted furniture, home decor and several lines of paint for your next DIY up-cycle project. We also teach a Learn How to Paint Furniture Class every month. Please stop by the next time you are in town!