Distressed Photo Frames

So I browse pinterest ALOT, and lately I’ve been loving the distressed furniture look. However, I won’t do a project unless I have some functional reason for it, so I open my jewelry drawers and WHAT A MESS and VIOLA I have a functional reason to do a project! What girl wants to pull out and have to untangle a wad of necklaces? Not me! So I took the need to organize the my pinterest obsession, unorganized jewelry drawer, and need to do an actual project and had some fun.

Distressing furniture is actually an easy project, and thanks to my hoarding grandparents I found everything I needed at their house. To distress furniture you only need 7-8 things and is only 5 easy steps to distress and just a few more to make it for jewelry organizer. So this is what we need:


Frames (Whatever size and however many you need, OR whatever piece of furniture you want to work on)

Primer (Optional)

2 paint colors for each frame

Paint brushes (Foam or regular, whatever you have around is fine)



Steel Wool Pad

Old table cloth (to cover your work space)

Optional: gloves to paint in (I’m a messy painter, so this is a must for me)


So once I’ve gathered all my supplies ( and my favorite form of entertainment, movies!)First Step: (Which is actually 3 step in 1) First, to state the obvious, I take out the glass and the backing of the frames, and pull out the staples that held the backing in, and sand them down. Second, grab the sandpaper! I originally was told to use the “block sander” but I found that this didn’t work well on these frames because of the ridges. So, instead I cut small pieces of sandpaper and sanded away. This step in important because it takes off the shine and helps prepare the frames for paint. Once you’ve sanded away and all the shine is gone wipe off all the dust with a wet rag or paper towel to clean your work area.


Second Step:

Prime the frames with a good primer (this is optional, but has been drilled into me to do anytime I paint). The reason to prime is to prepare a good adhesive surface or just so the old color doesn’t show through. So it basically gives you a blank canvas to paint on. So if you skip the primer, or even if you do prime, the next step is to paint you base coat of paint. I am using 4 different colors because I want my frames to look different. So I painted the base coat either a white or a dark blue.

Third Step:
Once you’ve painted and allowed to dry (about an hour or two should do) grab the Vaseline. I know why would you this? The purpose is to keep the top coat from soaking into the wood, and allows the distressing part to be easier. It actually does make a difference. I forgot this step on my white frames and when I went to distress it didn’t work as well. Do not use a lot, just a very thin layer otherwise it’s just a slimy mess.

Fourth Step:
Add your top layer of paint. For my project it was a white and a light blue. Let dry (again for an hour or two).

Fifth Step:
Grab a steel wool contraption. Kind of like an SOS pad without the soap. I found a huge one at Walmart for a dollar! I cut mine up, because like the sandpaper smaller pieces worked better. However, if you are doing this on a large piece of furniture you won’t have to cut it up. Rub GENTLY to remove some of the top layer of paint. Do not get in to much of a rush. Rub as much as you would like, but for this I found that less is more. So rub until you have found a happy rustic look.

Sixth Step:
GO SHOW IT OFF! I showed the guy’s in my house and their response was “ It looks old” which is exactly the look I was going for.

I am absolutely In love with these frames. So once you know the basic process you can do just about anything. I chose to take these and make them into a jewelry organizer. Look for my next post!
~ Katie


2 thoughts on “Distressed Photo Frames

  1. Looks really good, Katie. I have a piece of plywood that I need to paint for something for the wedding and wanted this look. Now you’ve shown me how to do it! Thanks! (unless you wanna come and do it for me? never hurts to ask LOL)

  2. Pingback: Jewlery Orginatization | Inspirational Adventures

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