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Thrift Store Art – Refreshed for the Townhouse

When my parents were visiting, we made many-a-trip to the thrift stores (my poor Dad).  We even found a new-to-me Value Village when he ripped his only pair of pants and we had to make an impromptu Moore’s run.  It was at that Value Village that I found two lovely paintings, both of water, that made me smile.  This weekend, I removed them from their frames and gave them a blast of glossy white spray paint before reassembling them.  Both frames were a little beat up (and dated) but now are refreshed.  One day Hubs and I will make new frames for them (see here for one tutorial, and here for another), but right now paint was all I had time for.  It’s a cheap fix that made them both look modern, cheery and townhouse-appropriate.

One made its way into the office, replacing a small sculpture my Grandpa made (it will find a new home). The other is adding more zingy colour to the bathroom, replacing a black and white photograph that hung there previously.  Things are looking grim on the lakehouse purchase (competition – details soon), so these two paintings might be my only “waterfront view” in the foreseeable future.  At $20.00 a piece, these are the better deal (less headache, too)!

In the bathroom, I love the extra jolt of turquoise to tie in the colour from pretty much every other room.  My DIY yellow painting has a hint of turquoise and the new painting has a hit of yellow, so they work nicely together.  Plus, (is this too much information?), when I have a bath, the water crashing against rocks is my new view.  Seeing as this is a windowless bathroom, I’ll take what I can get!

How to take frames from blah to bright:

  • Using pliers, remove the nails holding the painting in place
  • Lightly sand the frame, to remove any sheen
  • Wipe clean with a damp cloth, allow to dry
  • Spray with primer (I chose a stain blocking primer – Beauti-tone STOPZ)
  • Allow to dry overnight
  • Spray with Rustoleum Painter’s Touch in Gloss White
  • Allow to dry for 48 hours to fully cure 
  • Hammer in finishing nails alongside the painting
  • Install eye hooks and picture hanging wire

This is a photo of the back before I disassembled it, but I did the same thing: using finishing nails to hold the painting in place (mine are straighter!) by hammering them into the frame alongside the painting:

And that’s it!  P.S. Check out this post on how to pick the right frame for your art – it might give you some DIY ideas!



  1. Amy
    May 27, 2013 / 1:58 pm

    Amazing! You have such a great eye for seeing the potential in objects 🙂

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 27, 2013 / 3:43 pm

      My Mom spotted one of them (the one in the bathroom)! I loved that they were both actually paintings, not prints. The frames were distracting, though. I pondered the larger one for a few minutes before taking the plunge and I'm happy I did because it's perfect above my desk.

  2. Jae
    May 27, 2013 / 5:32 pm

    Love the one in the bathroom. It has really great colors! The white frame is perfect for it.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 27, 2013 / 5:39 pm

      Thanks! Hard to believe it's from the 80s!

  3. Lets just build a house!
    May 27, 2013 / 6:39 pm

    i would have never chosen those but they look so great in your place!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 27, 2013 / 7:44 pm

      I'm going to take that as a compliment, lol. They are original paintings, have turquoise and are watery so, yup, townhouse-approved!

  4. cred
    May 27, 2013 / 9:07 pm

    Amazing! the paintings are lovely but it is hard to see that in their original frames. Just love the white frames. Now I have to keep an eye with this in mind.Looks great!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 28, 2013 / 1:16 am

      Thanks! My Mom had suggested a solid dark brown (like dark chocolate) for the one in my office. I kind of agree that it would suit the painting better and be a more modern take on its existing frame, but in the end I went with white because it just looked fresher and airier and more "me". I'm going through a white frame phase, lol.

  5. Anonymous
    May 28, 2013 / 6:39 pm

    holy cow! I would never have thought that such a simple thing as painting the frame could make such a huge difference! Those look absolutely lovely in your space. Kudos to you and you have inspired me check out the home decor section of the thrift shops a little more often. Thanks so much for posting this 🙂

  6. Ashley@AttemptsAtDomestication
    May 29, 2013 / 12:09 am

    Those look great! Can't believe what wonders a coat of white spray paint can do!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 29, 2013 / 12:34 am

      Isn't it amazing? I know the internet is overrun with easy spray paint makeovers, but I am still always in awe of how much paint changes things. Kind of like how I know trimming my hair will look better but I'm still always surprised when I leave the salon how much better it looks! These little, simple changes are my favorite and I'll never tire of them.

  7. Danielle from Storypiece
    May 30, 2013 / 6:00 am

    Those paintings are such great finds! I love the ocean and these are perfect in your place… especially the one in your bathroom. It always make me happy when art is given new life and appreciated again. You know the original artist spent a lot of time creating the work and it's awesome they both have new happy homes.

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