I hung up some Goodwill frames…come see!

Remember these frames?

I got them at Goodwill this past summer. I bought them because:

1. They had mats. I love mats.
2. There were 3 matching ones. Frames work nicely in sets of 3.
3. Their lines are simple, which makes for easy painting.

The original color wasn’t bad…it just wouldn’t work in my living room, so I knew I wanted to paint them black. Because I paint pretty much everything black.

I think I have some sort of paint-everything-black disease.

(If it’s a disease, I don’t want to be cured.)

I actually painted these back in August, when I painted Joshua’s bed (I, uh, painted it black.). But I couldn’t quite decide where I wanted to hang them until after Christmas.

Taking the Christmas tree down sometimes gives me a must-rearrange itch, and this was one of those years. I didn’t take any before pictures, but you can see what our living room used to look like in this older post, which includes a horrifying photo of the way our living room looked when we bought the house.

Anyhow, I moved things around and ended up with a perfect place on my wall for the three frames.

I kind of fail at taking pictures of pictures, but I’m going to show you these anyways (you can see better versions of most of them in my vacation pictures post).

This is the bottom picture.

The middle one.

And this is the top photo.

Did you notice the little table in the corner?

That should look familiar to some of you old-timers (or archive-readers!). It’s the first piece of furniture that I ever painted, and it kick-started quite a series of painting projects for me (I posted a before and after picture of the table way back when).

I had it downstairs for a long time, but once I rearranged, I decided it might be nice to bring it into the living room. Thus far, I really like having it there…the drawer is handy for storing things, and the shelf below is great for books.

So, for now this is where it’ll stay.

For those who might be wondering, I painted the frames using the basic method I outlined in my How to Paint Wooden Furniture post. I could have used spray paint instead, but since I was already painting Joshua’s bed, I used the brush-on paint.

The mats were mostly the right color, except that the cut part around the mat openings was darker than I wanted it to be. So, I used spray paint to paint the mats. It was my first time trying that, and I’m pretty pleased with the outcome. If you try it, I recommend flat sheen paint, and I’d also recommend that you be careful not to get the mat too wet with paint. As with most any kind of painting, thin coats (with adequate drying time between coats) are the way to go.

Oh, and if you like to look at painting projects as much as I do, you can browse through some of my older projects in the painting category.

Update! Our living room walls are now a lovely blueish-gray color, and I think the frames look even better against this new shade. All the details are here.


    • Kristen says

      Oh, that’s so funny…they DO look square in that first photo. Must be the angle, as they’re actually rectangles.

      I do love square frames, though. A set of 3 square matted frames would be awesome.

  1. Jean says

    After viewing the Pottery Barn winter catalog, I saw a large, weathered looking frame (only) with wire across the opening to hang cards on. I am now on the search for a large frame at yard sales, etc. to try recreate (although a little bit smaller) this rather costly item.

    • Kristen says

      You should definitely be able to find something like that! There are always plenty of huge, ugly pieces of artwork at Goodwill, and I imagine it’s the same at yard sales. Take out the ugly artwork, and you’ll be all set.

  2. says

    I lOVE this idea!!! I may have some frames in the basement…we are decluttering this weekend, and I would love to hang vacation pictures…I LOVE the black and white too!!! Who would have thought a bit of black paint and they look awesome!!

  3. Amanda Y. says

    I have “paint everything black” disease too! But I also don’t want a cure. I love the black and white or black and silver–it seems modern and crisp but simple!

  4. Sarah says

    Those are some awesome pictures! They look amazing with the black frames! I’m a huge fan of black and white photography. Beautiful photos and family!

    • says

      Sorry, my previous link doesn’t work… apparently I can’t spell! ;)

      This is spelled right:

      I made my first “real” trip to a thrift store recently. Growing up my mom wasn’t really open to thrifting, so I wasn’t either. Your blog has changed my perspective… I love the idea of giving things new life (like your frames!!).
      This year I wanted to spice up my wardrobe, so I decided to give our local thrift store a chance. I blogged about my experience. (two posts… one tells the story, and the other shows my finds!)


      I really appreciate you showing me that you can have beautiful things by saving, and shopping wisely, with a bit of creativity!

      • Jean says

        In my family we have Aunt 2nd Hand Rose, who works in a charitable thrift store. She finds wonderful one-of-a-kind things for us that friends ask where I found it–and I always respond “my personal shopper”. The dress I wore at my daughter’s wedding was from a resale shop, I bought it at half price and wore it to an event. When I could not find something to my liking for my daughter’s wedding, I decided on that dress because I really liked it. Saved a whole lot of money.

    • says

      Nope…these are just photos I printed out onto matte photo paper that I got for free after a rebate from Staples. So, if spray paint damages them, I’m really not too concerned. I’d just recycle the pictures if that happened.

      If they were vintage family heirlooms, I’d be more careful, of course!

      And thank you…I love my living room. It IS very me. :)

  5. Ellen says

    Kristen these came out wonderful! They look so great. I love the black frames, thinking I might change my wood frames to black in my living room this summer! I wish (and i have been on the hunt) for end tables threw free cycle. to paint black. I want to get rid of my end table in my living room for ages now… It’s so not me anymore!!! I had a while back found something in goodwill, and stupidly had to think about it… and you know what happen….. when I finally made up my mind it was gone! Shame on me!!!!

  6. says

    Fantastic! I did the same thing many years ago with green pant. What exactly was I thinking. I agree that black is the way to go. Your living room looks great!

  7. says

    You are so fortunate to have a Goodwill that prices items reasonably. These frames would cost at least $6.00 at ours here in western Washington. It’s cheaper for us to buy our frames at Walmart than Goodwill!

    I recently went in to Goodwill for maternity clothes and couldn’t touch an item – jeans, shorts, skirts, tops – for under ten bucks! I ended up at Penney’s and bought a bunch of brand new items for $6-10 each.

  8. Molly F. C. says

    Your Goodwill is either better than the ones where I live or perhaps you have a better eye of seeing the potential in an item. There are people who make careers out of helping clients redecorate their homes using what pieces that they already have. Hmmm, seems like you’re a natural at that!

  9. says

    Love the black & white photos paired with a white matte, black frame. It makes the details of the photo pop out!
    I’ve been painting frames as well this week. We are attempting to finish lots of little projects that have been pushed aside. I’m also in love with the metal spray paints. Both of our bathrooms have bronze accents and I have been revamping all sorts of stuff with a single can of paint! :-)

  10. says


    I’m not sure what is up with that. I bought a bunch of frames a few years ago and ended up asking my husband to paint them black. Shamefully, I still haven’t put a picture in them, so you know they’re not on any wall.

    Hey, I have a night stand similar to yours. I need to read your post about fixing it up. Yours is beautiful.

  11. tracy says

    I have a paint it white disorder. Which goes very well in my country cottage decor. Your black items look really nice and give your home a sort of elegant look. I like it. I hope neither of us is cured.

  12. Nora Muse says

    I love black frames, I love to take pictures and I love to put random pictures around but we are pretty much out of wall space. but that is the fun right? Haha

  13. lorie says

    We also recently painted our living room grey and we love it. The picture frames are all black, and a built in cabinet/fireplace mantle/trim all remained white. Except we will paint the insides of the bookcase builtins grey. The paint came from the 1/2 off gallons at our local Orchard Supply Hardware, where someone had returned “cape may cobblestone” in many gallons. We bought two (to be safe) for under $45. Happy. :)

    • Kristen says

      Oooh, nice! That’s so great that you were able to find the color you wanted that way. I had such a terrible time finding the right paint color…it took me several tries.

  14. Olivia Stock says

    I love your very practical and inspirational web site. I love the look of lovely, elegant things but the pocketbook doesn’t love the expense of some of them so scouring Goodwill and consignment shops is my retail therapy. Your site has helped me to realize that I can really go to town and re-invent an awful lot of stuff. Thank you.

  15. Tamara Ivy says

    I’m going to be gting a new couch. Which means I need to get rid of my oak stuff and go with black. “To match my new black iron and glass tables. My question is, I have an oak curio. CanI redo this in black, and how do I get around the glass?

    • Kristen says

      Yes, oak is very paintable! Put newspaper over the glass and use painter’s tape to secure it neatly around the edges so that you don’t get paint on the glass.

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