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4 Easy Ways to Make Custom Art out of Cheap Frames

How to make custom art out of cheap frames to showcase your family’s personality in your home. No artistic ability necessary!

I love a leisurely stroll through the clearance aisle. Hobby Lobby is my favorite hangout, but I can always find cute things at Target, HomeGoods and Ross too.

Depending on my stress level (aka intensity of the retail therapy) at the time, I may come home with the results of several questionable decisions.

I just can’t pass up a good bargain, and when that cute framed print is marked down 90% to only $2.49, I just can’t help myself, even if the print has nothing to do with my current decor scheme.

To make myself feel better about my impulse buys, I have to find ways to fit them in to our home and family, rather than just stashing them in my craft hoard supply. So I’ve come up with four different ways to personalize art and frames.

4 Easy Ways to Make Custom Art out of Cheap Frames

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How to Make Custom Art out of Cheap Frames

Repurposing an old frame or mismatched framed print into new art is one of my favorite ways to refresh my home decor. It’s cheap, easy, and leaves room for all sorts of creative possibilities!

Here are 4 easy ways to update your frames into your own custom art:

1. Add Scrapbook Paper

When I need cheap art for staging my flip houses, I often turn to scrapbook paper. For less than a dollar a sheet, it’s a great way to add color, pattern, and design without having to custom-print anything.

Here I found a cute farmhouse style framed saying, but it doesn’t quite match my colors.

Framed print says "Our Home is Filled with Love"

Since this is a frame that printed the artwork right onto the wood, rather than covering a print with glass, it was super-easy to update with scrapbook paper.

Frame, map, and map pins

I simply picked the paper that matched my office, and tacked it onto the front with color-coordinated map pins. (Although I kind of wish I had seen these metallic colored map pins first. That rose gold would have been pretty! Maybe for another project…)

Pinning a floral map onto a frame

So fun and easy!

2. Update your family photos (how to unframe a print)

Probably my favorite way to use frames is to showcase family photos. When I bought these frames at Hobby Lobby, I knew I didn’t need three prints of pink macarons. I also knew I needed some wall art for my new bathroom remodel.

Three framed prints of pink macarons.

I decided to update these frames with black and white photos of my girls. Here’s how easy it is to do:

First, order prints to fit the frame and mat. Simply measure the opening for the photo, and order your prints just a smidge bigger. You’ll want to leave a little overlap under the mat. I usually get my prints from Costco, but you can use any print service you like.

Measuring a framed print to replace with a photo

Once you get your photos, you’ll need to disassemble the frame. Every frame is a little different, but here’s the basic process:

Peel off any paper backing.

Peeling the paper backing off a framed print

Use pliers to pull any staples or tacks that keep the mat in the frame.

pulling the staples out of a framed print

In my case, the print was glued to the mat, so I had to use a craft knife to cut out the print.

cutting a print out of a photo mat

Then tape your photo to the back of the photo map, making sure to line up the photo so it looks correct from the front. (If you’re using heirloom photos, use acid-free archival quality tape.)

taping the new photo to the back of the mat

Before you reassemble the frame, make sure to carefully clean any dust or debris off the inside of the glass and the front of the mat. (There’s nothing more frustrating than discovering a pesky piece of dirt once everything is put back together!)

using a microfiber cloth to dust the glass of a frame

Now just layer the mat back into the frame and reattach using tape or dabs of hot glue to hold it together. If your frame is solid enough, you could also use a staple gun.

hot gluing the photo mat into the frame

Pro Framing Tip: It’s best to work on a padded surface, to protect the glass from accidentally breaking while you’re working.

Now hang your new family photos (Use a laser level if you have multiples!) and enjoy!

Three black and white photos in white frames, hung in a row

3. Brush Up on Your Art Skills

Having a frame that needs some custom art is a great motivator for creating something new.

I’ve been loving floral line drawings lately, and they’re even more fun when you make them yourself. You can find lots of resources to direct your line drawings, but I like this little book “How to Draw Modern Florals” for its bite-sized projects and easy step-by-step instructions.

That’s how I made this fun little time-lapse:

Or you can frame your kids’ artwork. It will make them feel super-special, and is sure to add lots of color and whimsy to your space.

4. Frame Free Printables

Free (or paid) printable designs are such a fun way to update your decor. I keep a whole Pinterest board of fellow bloggers’ free printables. I’ve collected more than I could possibly use, but they inspire me to creativity and productivity.

To download a blogger’s free printable, you often need to sign up for their newsletter, which is usually a win-win. You get a printable today, and updates later about their latest projects. It’s kind of like subscribing to an online magazine!

To use printables in your decor, simply print them out (sized to your frame) and insert them in your frames using the method I described in #2 above.

Here are a few of my favorite design printables available right now:

Custom Art from Free Printables

Turn any old frame, or empty wall space, into your own piece of custom wall art with these free printable drawings, paintings, and designs!

I hope that gives you a few ideas of how to make your own custom art out of cheap frames from the clearance aisle! And speaking of framed prints, check out how I made a giant chalkboard out of a thrift store print.


Creating a color-filled life. Conquering my little world one DIY project at a time. With lots of coffee and chocolate. Albuquerque NM. Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ Facebook