Weathered, Painted Frame Tutorial

A friend of mine started her career as a counselor somewhat recently. I know she must be fantastic at her job! She led one of the first Bible study groups I was in as a college student. 

Though I’ve never been a counselor, I don’t think anyone would argue if I said I think counseling has the potential to be both very fulfilling and very emotionally draining at once. 

My friend realized that, when she walked into her beautiful, neutral home after a day of counseling, she really craved color! I believe color can affect our feelings and give us energy, so that reaction is understandable. 

  Rather than paint a wall or buying a wild piece of furniture, we decided to add it in through accessories. She already had some great ideas for her space, it was just a matter of execution. 

The first project on the punch list was to refinish these frames. I noticed that she had a few items around her home with a super cool look I’ll call “polished distressed.” Taking my cues from what she already had and from inspiration frames we found at Hobby Lobby, the goal was to create a weathered, painted finish. She had these particular frames on hand, but you can find similar frames anywhere! The key elements here are the dark color and obvious grain. Any old rustic frame from Goodwill would do the trick.   I mixed up some too-pale duck egg blue and too-bold turquoise blue.  The result was this nice, medium shade. If you mix a custom color, be sure you have plenty! You don’t want to waste paint, but you do want to be sure to have enough to cover the whole project. If you run out half way through, it is unlikely that you’ll be able to replicate the color exactly. I probably made about 3 tablespoons worth of paint and didn’t use more than half of it. 

For honesty’s sake, I’ll disclose that I broke every painting law there is and mixed chalk paint with acrylic because I’m a rebel like that. I mix oil and latex all the time, too. Don’t tell anyone my deep, dark secret, OK? 

If you do this, it’s important to remember that both chalk paint and acrylics are relatively fast drying, especially when you’re applying the thin coats this project requires. 

Next, I began to dry brush the paint on. If you’re not sure what that means, I’ll show you below: 

 This brush is loaded with paint. See the shiny glob of paint on the bristles? You do not want this to go on your frame. 

 Instead remove excess paint by swirling off the extra until the bristles show. It’s still shiny, but can you see the difference?  

If you’re still not convinced of the importance of this, look at the difference in the brush strokes above. The top stroke was the result of a wet brush. If my goal was to totally coat this thing, it would be fine to slip it on and then spread it around. But for this project, we want the frame to look more like the stroke on the bottom. This was accomplished with the dry brush ! Apply the paint using gentle pressure (just barely touching the surface) and be sure to run the brush in the direction of the grain. If your frame doesn’t have grain, the dry brush technique applied as if there is grain will give it the subtle appearance there is.  

Remember that, while you can go back and add more paint later, it’s harder to remove it. Less is more! 

 Next, remove excess paint with a soft rag. This will remove any globs as long as you do it quickly, before the paint has a chance to dry. If you applied the dry brush layer thinly enough, it will leave the majority of the already-mostly dry paint in place. I painted one side at a time, then immediately wiped it off again.  


 I added some brush-on gold leaf liquid from Hobby Lobby. I will warn you, this stuff works well but definitely has a strong odor. You’ll want to be sure to work in a well-ventilated area and avoid breathing in the fumes directly (no putting your nose right over the project and inhaling). 

 Apply the gold sparingly using the same dry brush technique as before. The drier the application, the better! You don’t want a drenched-in-gold look.  After the piece is completely dry (within the hour if you worked carefully enough), use some rough sand paper and lightly rub away paint (still with the direction of the grain), and let some of the original frame show through.  The finished look will have a lovely, beachy, worn appeal, and just enough color to add interest without being overwhelming.  My best attempt at an “after” shot in my dark home.  

Enjoy, friends! Happy crafting! I can’t wait to share the next project with you all!

One thought on “Weathered, Painted Frame Tutorial

  1. Pingback: Mod Podge Sign |

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