How To Make Large DIY Rustic Frames From Outdated or Cheap Frames

Want to reuse those old picture frames you have laying around in your basement? Would you believe you can and turn them into fresh, new DIY rustic frames for your living room decor? Follow along as I share the step by step process.

How to make a DIY rustic farmhouse frame for your living room decor.

There are few things that make me as happy as a good restoration project. Now, I know I am a bit strange in this area, but when I take something that is old, unused and unloved and make it into something fresh, beautiful and useful, my heart does a little jumping jack.

The best part about this project is you get to create something handmade and save money in the process. That’s a double win!

So without further ado, the before and after…

How to make DIY rustic wood frames by reusing inexpensive photo frames, molding, and paint.

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Now, I have a little confession to make. The photo collage frames were not laying around in my basement. But, I do have plenty of other outdated frames down there just waiting for a makeover.

The photo collage frames I used for this project were purchased from T.J. Maxx. You see, I needed two frames that were the exact same dimensions and were on the larger side. So, I had to go on a little consignment store road rally to find these babies. They fit the bill; they were large in size, almost square and really cheap. Don’t be fooled by the picture, the frames are made out of some sort of laminated cardboard.

How to reuse a cheap photo frame to create a wood DIY rustic frame for your living room.

I know what your thinking…Why not just build them from scratch? Well, I didn’t want to figure out the glass part and I find it easier to just improve upon things that already exist. The upcycle/reuse concept is right up my alley. Especially when it involves saving money. So here we go…



Measure the width of your frame and add 1 1/2 inches to that measurement. This accounts for the 3/4 inch depth of the two side boards. (See image below) Write down your measurement.

Next, measure the height of your frame and write down that measurement.

Use pine 1 X 2's to create the outside of the frame.

I cut my boards on a miter saw. But, you can use the hand miter box down the Home Depot molding aisle to cut your boards. Another option would be to purchase a hand miter box, they’re only about ten dollars including the saw.

I made two frames, so there were 8 boards.

Lightly sand the boards and wipe them down.

Use pine 1 X 2's to create the outside of the frame.


Working on a flat surface, dry fit your boards to the frame. Be sure that the ends line up perfectly. It’s easiest to make any cut adjustments before you assemble the frame. There is always a slight curve in boards. I find it easiest to have the curve face the frame.

Run a small bead of glue along the bottom of your pine boards. Don’t use too much glue or it will ooze out when you press the boards to the frame.

Start with wood glue to attach your pine boards to the photo frame.

Firmly hold the butt joint into place and add two brad nails to each corner. (See image below.) If you have clamps, even better.

Use a brad nailer to attach the 1X2 board together.

It’s important to not lift your frame off of the flat surface. We haven’t secured the wood to the frame and the glue hasn’t dried yet.

Next, measure from the left inside corner of your pine frame to the right inside corner. (See image below.) Take the measurements for the top, bottom, left and right moldings and write them down.

How to measure moldings for picture frames.

Set your miter saw to cut a 45 degree angle. See image below. Place the molding on your miter saw with the 3/4 inch side flat against the saw fence. The 1 1/4 inch side will be on the saw table. Now cut the left miter of your molding. Using your tape measure, transfer one of you measurements on the piece of molding. The measurement will go on the long side of your molding.

How to cut picture frame molding.

Now move your miter saw blade to the left and set it at a 45 degree angle. Slide your molding to the left so your mark is on the left side of the blade, when lowered. Then cut the right side of your molding.

How to cut picture frame molding.

Here is how they will look when you are done cutting them.

Cut your moldings with a miter saw.

Dry fit your moldings in place on your frame. If they don’t fit nicely, now is the time to trim them down a little on your saw.


Using your brad nailer, attach the shoe molding to the outer pine frame. Working from the middle of the shoe molding, just where the contour of the molding heightens. Hold your brad nailer on an angle, so the nail goes through the shoe molding into the pine board. I added two evenly spaced brad nails to each side of the frame. You’ll want to use shorter brad nails for this. I used 1 1/4 inch nails. Measure the distance before you choose your nail size.

I did not put any nails in the original frame, because it is cheap cardboard and would not hold. If you are using real wood frames, you may be able to nail them. Just remember to remove the glass before you begin.

Attach moldings with a brad nailer to the outer 1 X 2 wood boards.

Since my plan was to paint the frame, I decided to caulk all of the gaps.

Caulk the gaps in your picture frame.


Now that the frame is tightly secured, flip it over, so the back side of the frame is facing up. Next, measure in 5 inches from the edge of the frame and make a pencil mark.

Measure to place your hardware on the back of the frame.

Now screw in your frame turn buttons to hold the original frame to the new frame. (See image below.)

Secure the photo frame to the wood 1 X 2 boards with hardware.


Start by quickly adding a base coat of black. You can use any latex black paint. This coat will show through very lightly later on, when we distress the wood with sandpaper. Let this coat dry.

For the distressed finish start with a black coat of paint on your picture frame.

Next, add a layer of dark gray/beige paint. I used some leftover Fusion Mineral paint in the color Algonquin. This is one of my favorite paint colors. Let this coat dry.

For the rustic finish add a beige coat of paint for the second coat.

For the next step, we are going to use a dry brush technique. This will only work with a dry brush. 🙂 Dip the very tip of your brush in a lighter beige paint. I used leftover Fusion Mineral paint in Cathedral Taupe. Then dab it on a paper towel. Now run the brush parallel to the frame. You can work in a back and forth motion. It should look like the image below. If not, add a little more paint.

Dry brush a third coat of paint in a lighter beige.

The last color is white. I used leftover Rustoleum Chalked in linen white. You can use any bright white latex paint you have on hand. Using the dry brush technique (same as above) add a little white paint to the frame.

The last coat of paint should be white, using a dry brush technique.

Once the paint is dry, you can sand it. This step evens out the paint colors and lets the black show through a little more.

Using a medium grit sandpaper, lightly sand the frame in the direction of the wood grain. Go for long even strokes over a back and forth motion. You only want to let the paint underneath show through a little.

Finally, sand your finish with a medium grit sand paper.

Here they are on my living room wall. I’ve worked so hard in this room. Click on any of these links if you’d like to see how I made the fireplace built-ins, over-mantel, picture frame molding, stenciling, window trim and door trim. I also made the barn doors last fall, but I don’t have a tutorial done for those yet.

Living room focal wall with updated DIY rustic frames.


I photographed some black and white rose prints for these frames. But, my dear husband advised against roses in the living room. 🙂 Sometimes in a family of all men, my feminine side comes out. I may use them in a future project, but for now I’ve made them available exclusively to my subscribers.

Free black and white rose printables for email subscribers.

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Do you like learning budget friendly ways to spruce up your home? Follow me on PINTEREST. Did you know that you can hover over the images below, click on the red Pinterest circle and save it to your HOME DECOR or DIY PROJECTS BOARD on Pinterest? It’s so helpful to Pin It now and save it for later, when your ready to start your project.

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I hope these DIY rustic frames inspired you to update those dusty outdated pictures sitting around in your basement. Thanks for stopping by!


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