Frugal Decorating Tip #1: Unite Frames with Paint

By Kate Riley April 19, 2010

What a whirlwind weekend friends, whew !  I made some serious progress on my boy’s bedroom – the walls and closet doors are finally all painted, now I just need to add some accessories and hopefully pull it all together soon ! 

Meanwhile, I was thinking about ways to decorate your home in a cost conscious way, and one of the ways to create big impact with little cost is to unite art on the wall with frames all painted the same color. 

Here are some of my favorite examples:



kishani perera black mirrors

yellow frames on wall


bhg 100 ideas 

painted frames country living


bhg 100 ideas blue

black frames via apartment therapy


lgn wall display


via chic home decor


coastal living black frames



Image sources: O at Home; Kishani Perera; source unknown; BH&G 100 ideas; Country Living; BH&G 100 ideas; Apartment Therapy; Little Green Notebook; Better Homes & Gardens; Chic Home Decor; Coastal Living; Larson-Juhl

Lovely, aren’t they ?  Flea markets and thrift stores are the best places to find dollar frames, then all you need is a can of spray paint !  It doesn’t matter if your frames are empty, or filled with photographs or keepsake art.   Even when displayed in an asymmetrical manner, simply painting your frames all the same color works every time! 

More frugal decorating tips coming soon, meanwhile you can become a fan on Facebook and post your projects, or even ask me a question about decorating your spaces.  Other fan page members can chime in too !  Also, sign up to follow me on Twitter for sneak peeks into some of the projects I’m working on !  


  1. We have a wall of old black & white family photos in black frames-love the look. In fact, our realtor (and her stager/decorator) told us to leave it up-and had us remove lots of other art and personal mementos-in our house set up prior to it going on the market.

  2. You’ve proven your point. This will be the answer to someone’s design prayer today! Great job Kate…Have a wonderful Monday!

  3. You never stop do you! Incredible energy!
    Does your son have ideas for what could go inside the frames? Is he old enough to help paint them? I’m all for recruiting them early : )

  4. Those are great examples! :) I really can’t pick a favorite…but I do like the last two a whole lot. I know your son’s room is going to be amazing. Can’t wait to see. :)

  5. Wow, I had the empty frame hallway display upstairs for many years. When my children were little they would hang their artwork in them…a nice changing display!

  6. When you’re done redoing your house, wanna come help with mine? I always come up with great ieas and plans, but then lack the follow through.

    Maybe they can name a new illness after me- ADD: Attention Deficit Designing. ha!

  7. Wonderful examples. I love the diversity of examples you give, all so different but all illustrating the same point. You’re a good teacher!

  8. Though very creative, I find it a bit eerie looking at the empty frames. It seems incomplete. But that is just me! I like the idea however of creating a composition on the walls with same colour frame. Lovely!

  9. LOVE those examples but I SWEAR that hallway of white walls and white frames made my HEART hammer in my chest! OH I ADORE THAT PHOTO AND IDEA! THANKS!

  10. Wonderful ideas in each of the photos! I really like several of them, and have similar plans for the wall of our stairwell.

  11. Been thinking of doing this with my collection of frames recently…maybe i’ll try it out this week! I feel inspired:)

  12. We just did that very thing in our office! We had such a mish-mash of frames over the course of time, so we sprayed them all white to unify the space. Plus, they brought in a breath of fresh air and tied in with the white desk and wall shelf.

  13. Great photos – especially love the ones with yellow – I think that’s just the temporary solution we need for our living room! We need some more yellow in the living room to better flow with our dining room that has a yellow accent wall. Thanks for the great ideas!

  14. Thanks for this Kate! I’m wanting to work on my wall of pictures upstairs and am having a hard time, this might just give me the push :) HOpe your day is wonderful!
    Take care

  15. I’ve always loved this idea! I’m particularly drawn to the more colorful frames, but I change my mind often so I think I’m best sticking with the black I already have!

  16. Thanks for the inspiration! I rearranged a room recently, and a grouping of frames would be perfect. Now I just need to choose a color!

  17. Love it! I have been contemplating an art wall for some time now. I think to start with all the frames will be basic black wood, but I will definitely keep my eyes peeled for fun frames at thrift stores.

  18. Kate, this was an exceptional post!! Full of so much inspiration. Thanks so much for sharing. I especially love the frames that are all one color and the ones that have nothing in them. I think that is such a neat look. The long wall of all white frames was pretty awesome! I won’t look at cheap frames the same anymore. Isn’t it amazing what a can of spray paint can do? Love & blessings from NC!

  19. Oh… now THIS is something I feel I can do in our apartment, because it doesn’t require a huge space to work in for painting/refinishing/etc. Thanks for the inspiration!

  20. This is such a wonderful idea and we are completely in love with all of the white frame collections! Although, the 2nd photo with the black (or very dark blue) frames on top of the light blue wall is stunning! Thanks for sharing this Kate =)

  21. Great idea! I really, really like the third and sixth arrangements. I also like the last two. I would definitely have to put some plastic tak or something on the bottoms of the frames to keep them all straight though. Great post!

  22. Okay, the picture that shows artwork in baskets (7th from the bottom) — pure genius. Sometimes I’m blown away by the things people come up with.

  23. I just discovered that the framing dept at Michael’s sells “mistake” frames for super cheap! Its the same as the oops paints at Home Depot and Lowes. Someone orders a custom frame and they either measure incorrectly or the customer didn’t like it…whatever the reason. So they put it out on clearance to sell. I picked up two frames yesterday, gilt finish with nice carvings. One is a long and narrow piece. The other is a more normal 11×14 size. The framing guy said the longer piece would’ve been in the $100 range if I’d ordered it custom made. I paid NINE BUCKS for it. I am going to check other stores like Aaron Brothers to see if they have a similar clearance area. I’m dying to make one of the empty frame walls you have posted here! Thanks for the idea!

  24. I love these examples but would really prefer to do a wall of colorful frames. If I do this, however, what’s the best way to unify the display? Tan mats maybe &/or b&w photos? any thoughts or examples?

  25. You must have been reading my mind! I’ve been wanting to create a galley wall of family and friend’s pictures and all my frames are all different kinds. So I can just paint them regardless of what type of frame they are in already? All of the furniture in our house is dark cherry and I’m sick of so much darkness. My hallway walls are beige/taupe/tan what do you suggest that I should spray paint all the frames? I have some oval frames that were taken of my kids at Disneyworld in black frame. I’d like to add these into a group with others. Some are silver frames, some are oak, some are gold..It would look much better if they were all one color. I’m open for suggestions. I see people using wooden letters(Initials) to make the display look more interesting. Where would I get something like those? At Craft stores, perhaps?

    Hope you can make sense out of this posting. I’m trying to do two things at once. Listen to hubby trying to describe to a Verizon rep what is happening with his cell phone which he’s only had about 4 weeks..and knows nothing about using it. Bet our 13 yr. Granddaughter could fix it or tell him what’s wrong! Guess you can say that We are technology challenged or technology dummies!

  26. Tamara, thanks for that information on Michael’ that store is only 1 mile from me and I love to go there and they have done some custom framing for me before. I guess you have to ask about these reduced, unclaimed, mistake frames or do they have them advertised in some way?

    Kim at yellow brick summed up everything I was trying to say so much better than I did.
    Should have read all the comments first and I wouldn’t have been so long winded trying to describe what I was trying to say. Had another distraction behind me at same time.

    Debbie..what is pininterest? Not familiar with it.

  27. I love your blog! I’m buying my first home and looking for cost-effective ways to make it nice. You have fabulous ideas (this post is one of my favorites) but the best thing about your blog is that it’s not at all pretentious. Your ideas are very down to earth, as is the style in which you present them. I also love that you’re doing charity work – so nice to see someone like you be successful.

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