Ways to Update Your Wall Art

13 Hacks for Upgrading Picture Frames and Thrift Store Art

Wall art of california with flowers in gold frame

The Spruce / Almar Creative

There are hundreds of ways to fill your walls. Almost anything can be wall art, from plates to hats to musical instruments to old window frames, to well... actual art. You can also make your own art with a little artistic ability—or none at all thanks to widely available printables or apps such as Waterlogue. You can create art by repurposing art frames as well.

But what do you do if you have a piece of art you love, but it doesn't quite fit your space? Or maybe you have one that's the right size, but the wrong style? Here are 13 art hacks that will help you turn art that's not-quite-right into the perfect piece for your home.

  • 01 of 13

    Create a Faux Floating Frame

    DIY faux floating
    AKA Design

    Sometimes even substantially-sized art still needs a boost. Avoid the investment of custom-framing–which can be very expensive–and try this idea instead. "Float" a large empty frame around a piece of framed art to enlarge its footprint on the wall. Choose the same finish for both frames for a more cohesive look or mismatch gold and lacquer finishes for an eclectic, modern feel.

    Project Source for Faux Floating Frame: AKA Design

  • 02 of 13

    Enlarge the Frame

    Two frames glued together
    Lovely Little Snippets

    Gluing two frames together is a clever solution to the common problem of too-small art. Nesting one frame inside another results in a chunkier, more expensive-looking piece that gives more presence to a favorite photograph or small painting. We recommend sticking to the same finish for a sophisticated, dramatic finish.

    Project Source for Gluing Two Frames Together: Lovely Little Snippets

  • 03 of 13

    Enlarge the Photo Mat

    Enlarged photo mat with fabric
    Maggie May's

    Sometimes it's not the frame–but the picture mat–that's the wrong size. Adding decorative paper or fabric–such as burlap or jute–behind a photo mat and then centering your art or photograph on top allows you to frame items or objects that don't quite fit the edges of the mat. This is a common problem with European frames (i.e. Ikea) that come in non-standard sizes. Another solution is to edge the photo mat with coordinating washi tape to extend the size of it a smidge.

    This is also a great way to switch up the art or photos in any given frame without having to replace the frame—and works especially well with vintage photos that are in more unique sizes, like small squares.

    Project Source for How to Enlarge a Photo Mat: Maggie May's

  • 04 of 13

    Paint by Number Art Hack

    DIY paint-by-number wall art
    Under the Sycamore

    These next several ideas demonstrate how easy it is to update or personalize thrift store art. You may be inclined to pass over framed art at thrift stores, yard sales, or even your own basement because it lacks style, isn't your taste, or is super-outdated. These ideas, however, may help you see the possibilities in cast-off canvases!

    For example, by painting over an old-fashioned still-life, a trendy paint-by-number effect takes shape. This technique allows you to customize the colors in a piece of art to suit your taste, and it gives a more modern look to the painting overall. Best of all, you don't need any artistic ability to pull this off.

    Project Source for DIY Paint by Number: Under the Sycamore

    Continue to 5 of 13 below.
  • 05 of 13

    Add Some Sparkle to Boring Art

    Gold leaf on outdated art

    This project is similar to the paint-by-number art hack in the previous slide, but it gets a little more bling thanks to metallic gold paint. You could also add gold leaf to give a glamorous touch to an old landscape or even a black and white photograph.

    And remember it doesn't have to be gold paint—look at the tones in the art you're working with and consider silver, bronze, or even a metallic-infused shade of blue or pink, which will be even more unexpected in its appeal.

    Project Source for Adding Metallic Paint to Outdated Art: LiveLoveDIY 

  • 06 of 13

    Thrift Store Silhouette Hack

    Thrift store silhouette wall art
    Apartment Therapy

    This vintage painting becomes a personalized conversation piece when the moody florals peek through a silhouette frame that is painted right on top. This simple facelift turns outdated, ultra-traditional art into an accent with boho-chic style. We love how especially unique and fun this hack is—talk about a conversation starter!

    Project Source for Thrift Store Silhouette: Apartment Therapy

  • 07 of 13

    Add Words to the Canvas

    Stenciled words added to art
    Young House Love

    Another way to put a personal stamp on a lackluster painting is to add a quotation or phrase to it. Stencil the words right on top of the painting using paint, as seen here, or use vinyl letters that you peel off after painting the entire canvas to reveal the original artwork underneath. So clever!

    Project Source for Adding Words to Art: Young House Love

  • 08 of 13

    Re-Imagine a Thrift Store Painting

    Thrift store painting revamp
    Country Living

    Finally, completely re-imagine the Bob Ross-like scene of a thrift store or garage sale painting by adding in whimsical elements of your own. This old-school landscape gets a little more interesting with the addition of a tree house, a canoe, and strands of bunting strung through the treetops. In this case, thinking "outside the frame" turns what might be considered a tacky painting into a one-of-a-kind, playful piece for your home.

    Project Source for Re-Imagined Thrift Store Painting: Country Living 

    Continue to 9 of 13 below.
  • 09 of 13

    Paint the Frame

    Painted picture frame
    Dans Le Lakehouse

    The next few ideas demonstrate how changing the elements surrounding a painting can give it an entirely new look. 

    The power of paint never fails to transform even the most mundane of objects. This outdated frame, for instance, looks completely different after it receives a coat of glossy white paint. This newly-painted frame does a much better job of elevating the seascape it surrounds. The next time you come across artwork that looks outdated, imagine it with a different frame. That may be all the art needs to bring it back to life.

    Project Source for Painted Picture Frame: Dans Le Lakehouse

  • 10 of 13

    Add Hardware to the Frame

    Picture frame with hardware corners

    Give an inexpensive frame a facelift with the addition of corner brackets from your local hardware store (which has plenty of things for decorating touches). This simple touch adds modern, industrial style to your art, giving it a classier look at an incredibly affordable price.

    Project Source for Adding Hardware to Picture Frame Corners: Lonny

  • 11 of 13

    Add 60s Style to a Frame

    60s style painted frames

    Sometimes the style of a frame can cheapen or conflict with the art or photograph it surrounds. Elevating basic frames to match the taste-level of what's in them helps give a gallery wall or collection of art a more cohesive look. These fashion photographs from the 1960s now have mod frames that complement them thanks to the addition of paint in the classic colors of the decade.

    Project Source for Adding 60s Style to Picture Frames: Poppytalk

  • 12 of 13

    Add Texture to the Frame

    Rope on picture frame
    Hymns and Verses

    Similarly, these dollar store frames complement a collection of vacation photographs so much better thanks to a coat of paint and the addition of rope to give it coastal texture. You can try this trick on any easily purchased pack of frames from affordable retailers like Amazon and Bed, Bath & Beyond.

    Project Source for Rope Picture Frames: Hymns and Verses 

    Continue to 13 of 13 below.
  • 13 of 13

    Paint the Mat

    Painted picture mats
    The Sweetest Digs

    Finally, just as paint can update a frame to complement the art, it also works on picture mats. Painting basic white mats a fun, fresh color really makes art prints pop, especially prints that incorporate text.

     Project Source for Painted Picture Mats: The Sweetest Digs