When you are decorating on a budget, it helps to get creative. I kept seeing gallery walls that I just loved on Pinterest, but finding a way to get the look on a small budget was proving to be a challenge. This little upcycle was my solution!
I already had brushes and tools for this project (simple things like a level or screwdriver), so I just needed to buy the frames (about $2 each) and the chalk paint (about $35 I think?). So the project cost was about $40. Not bad to fill up a very bland wall! I consider this more of a “placeholder” piece, but am sharing the details, because I hope it can help someone else think creatively about how they can decorate in their preferred style WHILE staying on budget!
That said, this isn’t a tutorial post, but if you like this idea and want to give it a try, this should at least get you started.
I started with a whole bunch of cast off pictures/frames I found at garage sales.
I used the following supplies if you are giving this a try:
- Frames/mirrors (my local thrift stores are kind of out of control with pricing, so I found that garage sales were the way to go)
- Annie Sloan Chalk paint in Duck Egg (I now want to paint all the things this color)
- Soft Wax for finishing
- Sand paper (med/fine grit for distressing)
- Paint brushes
- Screwdriver or other tool to separate your frames from their old life (not super safe, but it worked for me, more on this below).
- Painter’s tape (so helpful for getting all the pieces on the wall)
- A level
- Ruler/tape measure
- New Hardware (you may need to put new hardware on the back of your pieces if the original brackets aren’t in the correct spots or are crooked).
To start, collect frames in a variety of styles (pick what you like). I think wood is optimal if you can manage, but I painted over a variety of finishes.
To release frames from their old glass and picture, I donned some safety glasses and gently picked the staples out with a flathead screwdriver. This is totally not safe, but I did it carefully and went slow, so it worked.
It’s really rewarding to throw away all the ugly prints and matting afterwards. Just saying.
I like to start with a clean surface, so I wiped down my frames before painting. I used a couple coats of chalk paint on each frame, distressed them lightly, and then finished with a wax. There are lots of great tutorials online for how to use chalk paint and wax if you haven’t tried it yet.
Note on distressing: You actually don’t need to use sandpaper at all. You can use a damp towel or I’ve heard (though haven’t tried) that baby wipes are fantastic for this. You’ll get a different look depending on what you use, so try it on a test piece or go super slow on your project. And use a light hand, it’s always easier to add more distressing than try to undo an overdone piece.
Once you’re ready to get your pieces on the wall you may find another set of hands useful.
I measured the wall and the full finished measurements of my gallery art (lay it out on the floor) and taped out a rectangle on the center of the wall. Then I made sure everything was level and hung the outer frames first inside the rectangle and then moved inward towards the middle.
A great way to avoid the craziness of trying to make a perfect rectangle from all these frames is to use a different mix of pieces. Maybe add in some oval frames or a wreath or something and just eyeball each piece as you hang it. Just make sure you can live with asymmetry!
Hope this inspires someone out there! I am happy to have something on my wall, and even happier that I still have room in my budget for other home-related items!