What can I do with my grandmothers shadowbox?

I love this handed down piece, it's very special to me, however, the gold has to go. I don't want anything overpowering or to cheapen it. My den colors are light rustic red, tan and some iron. Please help with ideas.
  30 answers
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Dec 13, 2016

    I would spray paint the shadow box the color of the iron in you room which will make the piece truly standout .

  • William William on Dec 13, 2016

    I agree! It would tie the room together. Hate the gold! Good as an accent color.

  • Shawna Bailey Shawna Bailey on Dec 14, 2016

    By iron, do you mean that lovely gray I can see in your curtains? If yes that looks like a great color for the frame.

  • Polly Darby Polly Darby on Dec 14, 2016

    my first thought was iron also

  • Pat11183342 Pat11183342 on Dec 14, 2016

    I think if you do a dry brush Technic with a black or other color of your choice, it would look amazing. Yes the gold is currently over powering, but would be a really nice under tone to peek through. (Help keep Grandma's shadow box alive with a update, ie the gold is part of her generations style) .

    Dry brushing, if you don't know is when you brush or knock most of the paint out of the brush before painting the object. So the brush applies a very thin coat of the paint, thin enough the underlying color can be seen to some extent. I suggest looking up dry brushing on you tube. It's always easier to apply more paint than removing paint.

    Good for you holding on to your families treasures.

  • Cindy Hagemann Cindy Hagemann on Dec 14, 2016

    I agree with Pat on the dry brushing of black paint. I recently saw one of these redone in my antique shop - it was dry brushed black around the frame, with just a little gold peeking though and they replaced the mirror with wood and it looked great with the ornate frame against the rustic wood back.

  • Marilyn Zaruba Marilyn Zaruba on Dec 14, 2016

    Personally, I would hate to change it from the way Grandma had it. It isn't as if it is a BRIGHT GOLD, but it is entirely your decision. I never worry about family pieces fitting in.

  • Terri Farina Terri Farina on Dec 15, 2016

    I painted mine black with gold accents. It worked for the decore I had at the time. Go with you favorite colors. Or jazz it up with different colors than you decore to make it highlighted.

  • Sondra Sondra on Dec 15, 2016

    Please  don't paint this beautiful treasure. I agree the gold is yuk. Try rubbing/brushing some wood stain over and then wiping w/a cloth to remove some of the stain. The gold will peek through and not be so overpowering.

    Practice this on an old piece of wood or ? first, until you like what you see. And, do share your finished project w/us.


  • Nadine Nadine on Dec 15, 2016

    You could build or buy a glass coffee table with storage and place the shadowbox inside it. You could also build a larger frame around it using the iron color you have in the room. Both options would allow you to leave the shadowbox as is.

  • Ant11605640 Ant11605640 on Dec 15, 2016

    I agree with both Marilyn and Sondra. I cringe when I see someone has taken a vintage or antique item and painted it. Sondra's idea about toning down the gold is a good one as long as you don't over do it. I would use a paint that could be removed though in case you change your mind about keeping keeping grandmothers memory alive. I also liked Nadine's suggestion about the coffee table idea.

  • Jeannie Carle Jeannie Carle on Dec 16, 2016

    This is sooooo beautiful as-is!!! Please - don't take all the gold away - love the dry-brushing idea.

  • Kim Salmi Kim Salmi on Dec 17, 2016

    My own opinion is it's perfect as is ......if you love it ....it will fit in just fine : ) ....I once read a decorating tip that said ....if you fall in love with something ....buy it ...it will actually find it's own place in your home ......I feel this is true of family heirlooms too ....the love and memories carry over to your space. ....but in the end its your choice .....lovely piece and story : )

    • I agree. But I have never cared for things that match too much. The best designers will give you a "curated" look where things were gathered over time. My favorite homes are rather eclectic. Things the homeowner bought, refurbished, were handed down, whatever the case may be. Has more prsonality than just going to a furniture place and buying the suite of stuff as shown in the showroom.

  • Ginny Ginny on Dec 19, 2016

    Don't paint the wood...leave it as it has been and should be. Do you have some small, colorful trinkets that mean a lot to you? Place them on the shelves with small framed pictures or belongings of your family (mother, father, grandma, etc.) so they tie in with the story of the shadowbox. Make the shadowbox a "discussion" piece in your room. You will enjoy it more, believe me. Also, consider changing some of the trinkets seasonally - summer, spring, Christmas...use your imagination.

  • Mar12973023 Mar12973023 on Dec 19, 2016

    Agree with Gvargo. This is an antique and everyone knows that you diminish the value of the piece the minute you remove or paint over the piece. What may be a $10,000 suddenly becomes a $200.00 piece. It you really must change its appearance. Try using cloth to cover it being careful to only use cloth tape against the cloth to hold in place and not against the wood. It is beautiful the way it is. And a few pictures of your ancestors up there would be ideal.

  • I vote for the drybrush technique if you wish to update it.

  • Linda Parrish Linda Parrish on Dec 20, 2016

    My mother had a shadow box almost exactly like yours!! I would have given my eye teeth to have it today. She has passed on and the shadow, well it's just gone.

    Please love the way it is. It's gorgeous. You are very lucky to have such a wonderful treasure.

  • Ginny Ginny on Dec 20, 2016

    I thought of one more thing after closing my comment. Take off the wire or whatever the shadowbox is hanging by and replace it with hooks that are more substantial. Again, I suggest going to a professional framer who will know what will hold the weight of of the box and what you put in it. Your entire room looks very beige so I would add color in the shadowbox and elsewhere in the room. Put some colored marbles or stones (from craft stores/WalMart) in the glass jar for color.

  • Sheila D Sheila D on Dec 22, 2016

    You could remove the mirror and it will have and open shelf look.

  • One8414992 One8414992 on Dec 23, 2016
    It needs to be re hung securely so that wires are not being seen!!!......I would pick a lovely shade of paint and paint the one wall behind it! Remove all chakeys, polish and wax and rub the frame.....Then select "display items" that are "related" Think of telling a story.......Small ornate stand up picture frames and old family pics......Old vintage small ornate boxes, A few decorative china plates on stands, silver items, crystal candle holders which use the new electronic candles......Ladies vintage gloves, lace hanky and even a string of pearls peeking out from a vintage small chest or box.....Try to go for a specific ERA theme......Vintage china tea cup sitting in front of the standing plates......Tiny figurines in groups of THREE.....A tiny Bible with a cross and chain draped across the bible....Have FUN!
  • One8414992 One8414992 on Dec 23, 2016
    I would also introduce a long side table underneath.....Vintage in same style as display cabinet.....Introduce some soft ferns in old containers........Check Craig's List for side table......Buy a table LONGER than the cabinet for balance......About 12" or slightly more deep......
  • Diana Deiley Diana Deiley on Dec 28, 2016

    Everyone has wonderful comments. You have a beautiful piece. If you think you might sell it, definitely have it professionally appraised. If you are keeping it, make it your own. Chalk paint, in a color of your choice, might give it a charming new look. You can either keep the mirror or remove it, but do secure new hanging hardware on the back for stability and strength. Whatever you do I think Grandma would be happy knowing that you are enjoying the piece that she loved so much. Best of luck.

  • Van8360899 Van8360899 on Jan 02, 2017

    I bought a large shadow box at an auction and before I could get it on the wall, the mirror fell off. I decided to hang it without the mirror. I found that I liked it better with the wall color behind it and not as heavy either. It looks great hanging on the bedroom wall with a few things I had to decorate the shelves, mainly assorted porcelain high heels.

  • Melissa V Melissa V on Jan 03, 2017

    I would definitely take it to a frame shop and have that wire removed and replaced-probably with 2 separate hanging loops on each side. The typical wire hanging setup can eventually cause warping, and is not strong enough for heavy items. You can do mirror, no mirror, or transform the piece into an awesome picture frame!

    I think the color is ok, maybe needs a little cleanup and a wax or rub of some kind to bring out the details, like others have said. An appraisal or talk with an antique specialist might help out. Yes, let us see what the final look is!

  • Jcraw Jcraw on Jan 16, 2017

    When you take it to the framers to have the appropriate hanging hardware installed, ask them to remove the mirror. I think the weathered gold works perfectly with your colors. Change some of your chatchkas to reflect your look rather than the frame.

    Ask the framer to use L-brackets on the back to reinforce the frame and make it a mini-bar for your favorite liqueor and some interesting glassware.

  • Joanie Joanie on Jan 18, 2017

    The first thing that has to go is the Wire they hung it with. I would paint over the gold or distress it. All items on the shelves would be old or your Grandmother's. It was her shadow box......with the mirror on it you will see her shadows from her belongings. Those great memories will NEVER leave you!!! It is beautiful, btw!!

  • Marilyn Zaruba Marilyn Zaruba on Jan 19, 2017

    Aww..that changes things greatly, doesn't it? In that case, go with whatever works in your situation. Grandma would be proud no matter what.

  • Lindcurt Lindcurt on Jan 19, 2017

    To update the frame I would suggest a gel stain. They come in many colors and can be worked into the low spots and wiped off the high spots or just cover it all. Use a foam brush to get down in the grooves and wipe with a rag. No need to wipe with a rag if you just want to change the color. I've used the oil rubbed bronze which changes a lot of dated pieces to a more modern look.

  • Suellen Hintz Suellen Hintz on Jan 21, 2017

    You can easily replace the current wire hanger yourself. I don't mind a small chain, a newer wire, ribbon, or cord that hang from a picture frame, a decorative hanger, or something you find at a thrift store. I've got a domed glass frame with a photo of my husband's great grandmother as a young girl and it looks as if it is hung from a chain and medallion...that is a necklace that he wore in the 70s!

  • Irene Gronewald Irene Gronewald on Jan 23, 2017

    seeing your chevron curtains , white tall book shelves your colors.. light red.. beige.. wrought iron it may be this is not working in that room with your rustic look..if you do not wish to cheapen it...and don`t want it brushed with gold ..white or black paint..or painted at all... i would definately chang out wire hanger for hidden one and leave it as it is ,with only mercury glass tea lights to dance off the mirrored back...no trinkets