Tips for Buying Thrift Store Frames

Tips for Buying Thrift Store Frames

Buying frames from thrift stores started as an act of necessity and now it’s my default when it comes to framing artwork or photos.  It’s not only the prices, but the beauty of unique, vintage and hard to find pieces.  Even if you love Ikea frames (and I do too) adding a vintage frame here and there adds a lot of interest to your walls.

But, maybe you don’t want to collect frames so that you have a ready supply for any and every size of art.  You just want one or two frames for a project.  Here are some tips on finding the right frame at a thrift store.  The only tools you need are screwdrivers and a measuring tape.  I have used light wire cutters for removing picture hanging wire but usually heavy duty scissors will work for this also.

Before you head out, measure your artwork or your photo, whatever you are planning to frame.  If you want to mat your art (and don’t have a mat), you will need the measurements for a mat opening.  Write your measurements down.

Take a measuring tape with you to the thrift store.  It’s the only way to be sure your picture will fit.  If the frame has a mat, measure the opening around the art to see if it is the right size for your project.

 Once you have found a frame that might work, look it over carefully for any nicks, dents, scratches.  Inspect the corners where the frame is joined.  Then check the back to see how easily it can be taken apart.  Even if this is your first experience with dismantling a frame you will be able to tell the easy ones apart from the more difficult.  These two are easy.

 

I try to find framed pictures that come with a mat, especially a white or cream colored mat.  That cuts down on many other steps like getting a mat that is the right size for the frame and the art.  A custom cut mat can add to your cost.

This is the front of the black frame pictured above.  It is an 11×14 frame with a mat that has an 8×10 opening.  The photo is one I took of the ocean on one of our beach vacations.  I edited it to make it seem a little more artsy, then had it printed at Walgreens.  The frame was about $4, printing was about the same so for under $10 you have something for your walls.  I did this one for my son who is setting up an apartment.  More to come on that later.

The gold color and ridged texture on this tabletop frame attracted me.  It had no mat but I knew with it’s standard size I could buy one very inexpensively.

Of course, tabletop frames are made for easily inserting photos or art.

Sometimes I violate my own rules and buy a frame that does not have a mat.  This frame was perfect for some art I had purchased online.  Read this post about finding inexpensive art online.

‘Not so great, is it?  Frame shops will custom cut a mat for you and it is not prohibitively expensive.  I recommend taking the frame and picture in to be sure the cut is accurate.  That is my plan for this picture.

Lately I have been gravitating to these modern black frames.  Notice the one above has a square mat opening.  It measures 9×9, and it is brown.  So that mat probably won’t work for me.  However, since the frame is 11×14, I can easily get a mat to fit.  I will return the art to the thrift store since it won’t work for me, but may for someone else.

I bought this artwork on Minted and to my mind it works beautifully with this vintage frame.  The soft colors in the artwork meld with the mat and the frame.  The dings and nicks on the frame are part of the charm.  I’ve had this frame for so long that I can’t remember the cost.  But I do remember it was a chore to get the previous artwork out, professionally and thoroughly installed as it was.  Then placing my art and making sure it was centered was not at all easy.  I saved a lot of money but it took some time to get it done correctly.  All worth it to me.

Sometimes the art and the framing go so well together that I cannot dismantle them, like the one above.  Can you see the blue in the frame which picks up on the blue in the picture?  Luckily I liked the art and had a place for it.  Which brings me to another point.

I try not to buy frames and pictures that go together so well that it’s a shame to rip them apart.  Usually the prices are higher on those items anyway.

While I have had a few mishaps in my framing adventures I recommend it as a great way to get unique and inexpensive frames for your art.

So, are you ready to try your hand at framing with a thrift store frame?  Start small and maybe you will become hooked as I have.

Updating the Master Bedroom

Updating the Master Bedroom

Our master bedroom has looked like this for years.  At various times there were attempts to make it inviting and cozy.  I made the bedskirt and the pillow covers, as well as the curtains.  Yet for all the softness and texture that fabric can bring, the room lacked warmth.

It was one of those situations in which I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do so I decided to start with the obvious. There was no question that a new rug was needed, something soft underfoot that would add warmth and beauty to the room most of us want to be a sanctuary.

The room called for something traditional but edging toward modern.  And it absolutely had to fit the room.  No more making do with cast offs from other rooms.  I looked at several websites, but settled on the Wayfair site pretty quickly.  I knew this rug was the one the moment I saw it.  And it wouldn’t break the bank to get it in an 8 x 10 size.

The pattern was just interesting enough but wouldn’t box out any other decorating decisions to come.  And the gray and cream colors are pretty neutral.

After this decision was made, it was pretty easy to click over to headboards. The four poster bed had had its day.  Our style is still traditional but something I think of as modern traditional.  It was a difficult decision to move it out – we’ve had it forever!  Does everyone attach as much sentiment to their belongings as Mr. Bee?  Finally, I got him to agree to move it on.  It hasn’t gone very far however.  It’s still in the garage.

And getting rid of the heavy wooden bed frame would make putting down the rug much easier.  I bought a metal frame so that when we removed the wooden frame, we could place the rug, then set up the metal frame for the box spring and mattress.  So easy!  The headboard came later and was simple to place against the wall.

Without the big four post bed the room felt much more spacious and more modern, even though there are still antiques in the room.  The new headboard is  very reasonably priced at $250. Assembly went without a hitch.

With these changes, the curtains looked more humble than ever.  Searching online I found the ones I liked on the Target website.  A pretty blue, linen-like fabric, they are light filtering which the others were not. That is  a big plus since the morning sun streams into that window by the nightstand.

I moved this chair from the desk to this corner.  It would never have fit there before with the previous bed.

The room isn’t quite where I want it to be yet, but it’s getting there.  I’m trying out art and pillows from other rooms.  Probably new lamps would help too?  Still considering options there.  As someone who loves to read in bed, lamps can’t be just pretty.  They have to provide good light.

Starting with the obvious need for change, the rug, really got the ball rolling. Do you have rooms that make you wonder where to begin?  Start with the obvious, the worst flaw in the room and see if that works for you.

And it’s nice not to have  to climb up into bed anymore.  Now we can just fall in.

Have a great week!

Rose Arbor

Rose Arbor

You may recall that earlier this summer I posted about my roses which were having their most prolific year yet.  If you missed it you can read about that here.  This  year there was an explosion of flowers and vines and I suddenly realized I was going to have to provide a better structure.  Otherwise I was going to have a big tangled mess on my hands.  Soon after that post  I met with a local fence and deck company representative and signed a contract for an arbor.   And, finally, this past weekend, the workmen came to build it.

It is probably better to put the arbor up first, then plant your roses, or at least plan where an arbor might go before planting.  However, I was not at all sure I would be able to grow these very persnickety flowers since I get very little sun in my yard.  The site I ordered my roses from specified that most roses need at least 8 hours of sunlight a day.  I found one little corner of my yard that might just possibly meet those requirements and crossed my fingers.

Two years later, I couldn’t believe my eyes!

Can you see that flimsy, struggling support trying to hold up this flourishing beauty?  At least a couple of times a week I had to go out and shore it up with braces and cinder blocks and rope.   It was apparent the supports were not going to last much longer with such abundance.

I intended for there to be a lattice panel on the back side of the arbor,  in addition to the sides.  This is not the type of arbor you can walk through.  There is a lower flower bed behind the roses which prevents anyone from attempting it.   Of course with the iron bench in place, it is even more obvious.  But now I am not sure.  One rose bush will have to be relocated or removed if I do so.  I will have to think about it.   I do like the idea of an enclosed little spot in the garden.  But I have a feeling that moving that rose bush will result in its demise.   Possibly I can get a few vines to criss-cross in the back there.  And that would create the enclosure I want.  I will mull it over, which is how I make all my decisions.

I had to do a little trimming on the rose vines in order to pry them apart from the  supports and each other.  That was not an easy task and I waited until the last minute to do it.  Since August is not the recommended season for rose pruning I hope they survive.  But I can always order more, right?  The construction progress was hard on my grass, but it will come back.

When we bought our house the backyard was a slope down to the driveway, with very few plantings other than azaleas along the fence on the right side.   At first our improvements hardly seem to make a difference.  But the accumulation of small projects has entirely changed the space.  There is so much pleasure in seeing a garden evolve.

I don’t seem to have any before pictures.  It was the early 2000s.  We weren’t taking so many pictures back then.

I’m looking forward to having coffee out here soon!  That morning sun looks so inviting.

 

I’m already thinking ‘what took me so long to do this?’.  But, I remind myself that inspiration takes time and ideas evolve and build on one another.

Useful Gear for Grandma’s House

Useful Gear for Grandma’s House

Being a Grandmother has been heartwarming and fun and a learning experience.  It’s been quite a few years since my own baby care days.   What’s interesting is I ask my Grandma friends for tips, just as I asked my Mom friends for ideas and advice back in the day.  We can always learn from those who go before, right?

One question that has come up, is there any gear I should have for my home?  I have found that  yes it is easier to have a few things at your house.  Parents don’t have to lug so much stuff around just to come over for dinner and your grandchildren adjust more quickly to your house if you have a few items they use again and again. Most of the gear I have acquired is second-hand.  I make sure it is as clean as possible (then clean it again at home) and  in good working order before purchasing.

The first item I bought  was a Pack ‘N Play.  This portable crib was recommended by one of my daughter’s friends, and we have used it quite a bit.  We started off sharing it, but she eventually bought her own because we used it that much.  I paid $30 and it has been worth every penny.  We set it up for short babysitting stints in the beginning, and now my granddaughter uses it for the occasional sleepover.

A stroller may not seem like a necessity, but when I saw this one at a thrift store for $20 I couldn’t pass it up.  As my granddaughters get older and I get to babysit more, it will be very useful for strolling around the neighborhood, or just sitting in while we blow bubbles in the backyard.

Your family or friends may still own some things from their baby raising days.  It certainly doesn’t hurt to ask.  Luckily this  high chair that belonged to my husband’s family was still hanging around in a garage when I needed it.   It is a small folding high chair that will fit in a closet.  I will admit that it probably doesn’t adhere to today’s safety standards and we will never leave a baby in it unattended.  All of my children used it when we visited their grandmother and there were never any issues.  Obviously this is something you won’t need for awhile and there other options, such as seats that tie onto chairs.

Most importantly you need toys and books, and sooner than you think.  I had saved a few of my children’s toys, like the Fisher Price barn and animals and some dolls.  It’s a good idea to get them out before you think you need to so you can wash them or make any repairs.     Also, I saved most of our kids’ childhood books.  I recently brought them out to a bookshelf so they are more accessible.  Already my older granddaughter looks for her toys when she comes over to our house.

 

In my short Grandmother tenure (a year) these are things that I have found to be very handy to have at my house.  My motto is, the more convenient and fun it is, the more they will come!

A Make Ahead Breakfast Casserole

I know I have mentioned here that I am always looking for breakfast dishes that can be made in advance.  When I have houseguests, it always seems as if the morning slips by while we are talking and drinking coffee and I haven’t taken the time to feed anyone, because I’m having so much fun.  Also, truth be known, I’m not one to wake up all bright-eyed and bushy tailed.  So, having a casserole and some muffins all ready to go is the best option for me.  My guests get fed and I can still visit with them and not miss any conversation.

Last week some friends were in town and I had an opportunity to try this casserole.  It’s a grits and smoked sausage recipe and I knew I would substitute cooked pork breakfast sausage for the smoked sausage.  I used a 16 oz. roll of pork breakfast sausage which I cooked and crumbled before adding in place of the smoked sausage.  It makes a large casserole, fills a 13×9 pan, easily feeding 8 to 10 people.  My guests loved it.  My husband loved the leftovers.  And, it can stay in the refrigerator up to 4 days before you cook it.  It hits all my must-haves.

Smoky Sausage-and-Grits Casserole

Photo: Alison Miksch; Styling: Caroline M. Cunningham

I also made Classic Bran Muffins, which can be made ahead and frozen.  Add peach slices and some juice and your guests will think they are at a fancy B&B.  Ha!

I also plan to take this casserole to the beach when we go on our family vacation in a few weeks.

What’s your plan for breakfast when you have guests?  Please share in the comments!

We Painted the Brick!

Painting the brick exterior of our home has been on my wish list since we bought our house.  Unfortunately, it was not on any list of  Mr. DB’s and since there were other priorities I didn’t push it.  Every now and then when we drove past a pretty painted brick house I would point it out to him.  His response usually mentioned “maintenance issues”.   There’s always maintenance I’d say, as if we just had to accept it as the cost of being homeowners.   Adding to my painted brick houses board on Pinterest only fueled my belief that our house would look so good if it were painted.

Here we have a picture from those early days.  The landscaping consisted solely of English ivy from one end to the other, giving the property a somewhat sinister, deserted look.  While we were getting used to having a mortgage, we had little money for major improvements.  But we could pull out the ivy ourselves, and we did.   Little by little we added new plantings – it’s still a work in progress.

You know that expression lipstick on a pig?  I guess I thought  I could disguise ugly brick with landscaping and black shutters.  Didn’t work.

In another attempt at improving the curb appeal we had a tree cut down in the front yard.  We hate to cut down trees.  But I knew it would make a difference in the landscaping.  I wrote about that here.

Now we have more lush plantings that give us the perfect setting to display the American flag.

These half-measures did not make me stop wanting to paint the house. In fact, I became more and more convinced that we really needed to do it and now. I had painters at the house on another job and while they were here I got an estimate for painting the house. Hmm, less than I thought.  The maintenance will not be a big issue.  I was able to reassure Tom and he started really noticing some other painted brick homes in our neighborhood.  Gradually, he came around.

The brick color is Gateway Gray and the trim is Snowbound, both by Sherwin Williams from their HGTV home collection.  Interestingly, getting Tom to agree to paint the house was the hard part.  We quickly came to agreement when we found this color.  I bought many samples and we painted them on the side of the house.  Once we saw Gateway Gray we both knew it was the one, not too dark, not too light, just right.

The painters fixed the facing around the front door and removed an old intercom from beside the door.

Full disclosure, Tom isn’t the only one who hesitates on unnecessary home improvements.  I have to talk myself into spending money on projects that are purely cosmetic.   Shouldn’t we put that money in our retirement fund, or, if I’m going to be frivolous,  maybe toward a trip to Paris?

There are no regrets here.  We love the way it turned out.  It was just the fix the house needed.

How do you feel about painting brick?

My Notables: Noteworthy Articles and Products

There are always a few articles or products that I find so interesting and helpful, I just have to share them.

I have finally found a sunscreen that doesn’t make my face feel greasy or look shiny.

In case you are out of ideas on how to keep your kids occupied, this post from Emily Henderson may come just in time.

I can’t wait to  use artichokes in my next floral arrangement based on  this tutorial.

Friends recently served roasted tomatoes on crostini and it was delicious.  Top with mozzarella and basil and your guests may fill up on the appetizer.

Could you cut your weekly waste down to a tiny jar?

I would love to know what you think.  Let me know in the comments.

Favorite Vases

I really love playing around with arranging flowers these days.  Around here there are several places you can buy about  a dozen stems quite inexpensively which means you can buy a couple of bunches.  I cringe to remember the days I bought a ready made bouquet and jammed it into a pitcher (my attempt at artfulness).  But I have evolved.  Now I have quite a few vases and other vessels for my arrangements and I would never, ever buy a mixed bouquet from the grocery store.

Every now and them I am so pleased with my creation I must snap a picture and save it.  Will I ever make it again?  It’s unlikely, but, let’s face it, a picture is the only way a floral arrangement can survive.  I thought I would share a few of my favorites.  Hopefully, you will look at them and think, why, anybody could do that.  Yes, exactly.

I’m always going on and on about alstroemeria and that’s because it is the perfect flower for anytime of year.  They come in every color, they last for over a week, they are beautiful and at our Safeway a big bouquet is $5!  What more could you ask for?

I save the vases from floral arrangements I have received, like this clear square vase above.  The height is just right for seeing over on a dining table and it holds a good sized arrangement.  This arrangement is composed of several bunches from Trader Joe’s, which has the least expensive flowers around.  But I have noticed they do not last as long as the Safeway flowers.  Still, if I’m buying them for a specific event they don’t have to last a long time.

 

Those little daisy like flowers are chamomile.  I was going for a summery, just picked on the side of the road feeling here and the little chamomile flowers gave it just that touch.  I found five glass containers at a thrift store and made five arrangements for my table.  Did you notice the white alstroemera?  All of these flowers were from Trader Joe’s.  TJ’s does have a wider assortment than the grocery store.

Simple is always in style of course.  Peonies in a white footed vase will always delight.

When I found this green vase I tried to talk myself out of buying it.  As you can see I lost the discussion and I’m glad.  The shape and the color of the vase were created just to display two pink hydrangeas.

Okay, I know this one didn’t require a lot of creativity.  It’s a classic to put hydrangeas in a blue and white bowl.

This little turquoise pitcher is another thrift store find that called my name.  Again, I have never been sorry that I succumbed to its call for I have used it again and again.

Well, I could go on and on but that is enough for now.  As you can see, the possibilities are endless and well worth the effort.  Flowers, whether from your garden or the grocery store,  add that blend of beauty and warmth we all strive for in our homes.

Have a great weekend!

Summer Celebrating

I love summer for so many reasons, but especially for the salads and fruit desserts that I make at this time of year. Even though we can get the ingredients for these recipes all year I still tend to make them primarily when the weather is warm and the living is easy.  I thought I would put some of my favorite recipe links in one place in case you were looking for some simple but flavorful dishes.

Blueberry Tart

Potato Salad

Tortellini Salad

Deviled Eggs

And lastly, I could not come up with anything cuter than Emily Henderson‘s idea for a great Fourth of July party with kids (although she doesn’t mention food, just decor and games).  It is such a fun and adorable post though, I think everyone should see it and wish they were invited over to her place.

I agree with her idea (which is sort of what I have done) of gathering up your blue and white “stuff” and just adding red through food or other items – flowers – or clothing.  Then you have a red, white and blue party without investing in a bunch of kitschy party items you have to store.

I will bet you have a lot more blue and white around your house than you thought.  Put out some strawberries and watermelon on your table and you are good to go.

Happy Fourth of July!

Displaying the Flag

Displaying the Flag

For years I have struggled with how to display the American flag on our home or in the garden.  Our house does not lend itself naturally to flag placement.  We live in a typical ranch style house with no distinguishing architectural characteristics, such as porch columns or railings.

I love this display of the flag on the charming Victorian home.   And they have displayed the flag properly to the left of the door, according to this article.

Mr. DB leaned toward the flag pole idea, but I didn’t think it seemed right for our yard.  In the picture below they planted the flowers around it but it is a little stark for my taste.

Finally, after hours online and batting around some ideas, we hit on a solution that met all of our criteria.

I wanted the flag and it’s support stanchion to be part of the landscape.  Mr. DB wanted it to be central and to stand out. We found the perfect spot as the centerpiece of the landscape on the left  side of the house.  It looks intentional and purposeful there.

We purchased a 4×4 post from Home Depot and set it in concrete (using quickrete and their online directions).   It was a pretty simple project, after all the deliberation.

We are still looking for the right light so that the flag can be up at night.  Those lights in the picture provide a weak beam and aren’t really adequate.  Please let me know if you have suggestions!

I love to display the flag all of the time but particularly on the patriotic holidays, those times when we remember and reflect on  all the values that made us the nation we are.

Nowadays it seems as if we all have opinions on who is the most patriotic.   However, I would like to take this opportunity to dispel any notion that military families are more patriotic than others.  As a family member of a retired Marine, I can say that we chose that life, we loved it and felt honored by it, but we are no more patriotic than others who love and revere our great country.  And we all have our experience with the country; each is individual and unique.  That must be respected and acknowledged as well.

Do you have a traditional Fourth of July celebration or does it vary every year?  Ours certainly varies.

No firm plans yet, but I know we will take a few minutes to reflect on how very lucky we are to be Americans.