Create a Distressed French Vintage Look With Chalky Finish Paint

3 Hours
Found a steal on some frames at a yard sale, or have old frames around your house that are taking up dust?
A couple of months ago I was out at a couple of garage sales, and I came across this beautiful carved wood frame, for only 10 bucks.
A couple of days later, I came across a HUGE box of bulk 25 gorgeous but gently used frames at a garage sale, for only $25!! And these were no dollar store frames, either. They were all in the 5×7 – 8×10 size, with thick ornate frames. They weren’t actual antiques, but they could certainly be made to look like antiques.

When I went up to buy them, the guy who was selling them says to me in a really sarcastic “What on earth are you going to do with all of these frames?” I said “I’m going to paint them all the same color, distress them, and display them as art, on a big feature wall.” He stopped in his tracks and was like “Oh, wow… thats a really good idea. I wish I had thought of that before I listed them for sale!”

Too late buddy, too late.
Step 1: Gilding or Spraying the Frames

I love the look of gold peaking through a vintage color, so I gave all of the frames (except for the big one) a couple of thin coats of gold spray paint, so that when I sanded some of the chalk paint away, the gold would show through.
Step 2: Paint the Frames With Chalk Paint

Painting the chalk paint on was a super easy process as the paint goes on super smooth, and dries very quickly. You can’t really mess this step up (which is why I love this type of paint so much). I made sure I got some paint down into the crevices, because I was going to be distressing the more raised up areas and wanted those to show more gold, with the grey color in the deeper parts.

WET SANDING WITH A DAMP RAG IS AWESOME when it comes to frames!!!! Dry sanding with sandpaper on these frames, not so much (like 2 hours of painstaking work, not so much).

Don’t make my mistake and wait too long after painting, to wet sand the frame (wet sanding is basically taking a damp rag and rubbing away some of the fresh-ish paint)!!
Step 4: (Optional) Stenciling

DecoArt makes some great stencils, so if you want to give a shot doing your own artwork, I painted directly onto the glass for one of my frames (because someone had super glued the glass to the frame). You could also insert a canvas print and stencil onto that as well.

Step 5: Remove the backs of the frames, with scissors

Step 6: Add hanging hardware (if necessary)
And wha-la!! Beautiful, french inspired vintage frames used as wall art - this display covers my entire living room wall and cost me about $40 in total!
I tried to capture how they look, but the photos don't quite do them or the coloring justice - the wet sanding created just the perfect amount of distressing, allowing the gold to peak through.
Ashley Rader  {Giddy Upcycled}
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
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  • Judy G Judy G on Nov 24, 2015
    Very nice! Thanks for the tip on wet sanding.
  • Ariel Dunn Ariel Dunn on Oct 11, 2016
    Love it! Thankyou for this tutorial, it is exactly what I was looking for, so many other techniques get complicated with wax or glaze, but you make it simple with the wet sanding technique! Excited to make my "baroque" inspired frames with gold underneath and then painting black over and I guess to get the look I'm wanting I will wet sand it off. Thanks!