Today I'm revisiting an older project to show you how easy it is to make a picture frame shadow box and decorate with spray painted thrift store items.
Thrift Store Picture Frames
Let’s begin at the beginning. I am a hoarder lover of frames. I even have a frame “dept” in my garage where I store my extra frames. The repurposed picture frame shadow box project I’m sharing uses the frame that the green arrow is pointing at.
This Picture Frame Shadow Box was recently featured in Country Sampler Farmhouse Magazine!
Designer Challenge: Old Frames, New Uses!
I sold this shelf years ago. Can you imagine the owner or her friend looking through this magazine and seeing the shelf inside!
Paint sprayer marathon of old frames
A couple of years ago I had a primer painting party where I painted a whole bunch of frames at once. The frame in question is shown with the black arrow. So, I’ve had it awhile, and it’s been waiting for the perfect repurpose.
The problem was finding some wood that was sturdy enough for the box and dividers, but my typical 1x’s would be too thick.
Repurposed Drawer parts
My solution? To use the wood from these thrift store drawers. You can see it’s thicker than underlayment (too thin) but thinner than a 1x (too thick).
Handy Tip From Gail-Dismantle drawers to harvest wood for future projects!
Dismantle Dresser Drawers | Harvest the Wood
I dismantled the drawers with a rubber mallet and used mostly the longer rear boards for the frame of the shadow box. The front board had some holes and glue residue on it.
How to build a picture frame shadow box
I cut my repurposed drawer boards to size in order to fit them inside the picture frame.
This is a dry fit while I’m trying to figure out the configuration of the dividers shadow box dividers.
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Use clamps and wood glue
It was a little tricky getting all of the dividers in place. I used Gorilla Wood Glue, speed square and my Ryobi
Of course, a clamp is handy for holding the pieces in place while you nail.
This is the final design of my picture frame shadow box.
Spray paint Picture Frame Shadow Box
I used Honeydew spray paint, it's the prettiest green!
The Fusion paint didn’t want to adhere to this cheap mdf wood. So I used the Almond MAXX as a primer on the mdf. As you can see, the Honeydew worked great on the frame.
After a quick coat of the Almond, the Honeydew looked great on the cheap mdf dresser drawer wood.
Do you love the versatility of this shelf as much as I do? It can be hung four different ways depending on the items you want to display.
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Updating thrift store items with spray paint
These are the thrift store items I gathered to spray paint. Some had already been used (and painted) by me. That’s the great thing about painting—so easy to change up your décor!
Homeright Spray Shelter
The small white vase got Oxford Blue. I spray painted it in my Homeright spray shelter on scrap plywood. I simply picked up the board and moved it aside so I could do another color.
The vase, candle koozie, and little architectural piece were spray painted with Khaki.
This bird and vase were painted with Almond. I liked both of these items in the white chalky paint, but I LOVED them after I painted them with this Almond color.
My “G” also got some Oxford Blue. Isn't it fun to see the shadow left behind when spray painting.
Pretty Green Shadow Box
ahhhhh, My shelf makes me smile! I thought I loved the Oxford Blue the best, but I really am loving the bird and vase in Almond.
Here it is styled vertically instead of horizontally.
I chose to not put a back on this piece, to let the wall color show through. It would be easy to put a back on it, or even decoupage some fabric on the back. There really are a lot of ways to customize a project like this, especially if you’re using some spray paint to quickly (and easily) change up your items to suit your mood or the season. It’s just paint!
See an easy tutorial in my post Small Black Shadow Box, or Simple Rustic Shadow Box.
Soooo -- about my shelf ...... what would you do differently?
Related Content: Picture Frame Ideas For Home Decor and More
In your third picture, you have a couple of frames, I would love to buy from you if you are interested.
Unfortunately all of those frames have been re-homed already.
Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment.
So inspiring !! I love your shadow box 🙂
Thanks for the detailed instructions. Sooo helpful for us who don't use tons of tools. (Power saws can be intimidating )
I had saved the old divided light windows from my last home, and had a handy man make 'boxes' for them with adjustable shelves. I so love them in my craft room with all the colorful craft materials peeking thru.
So, I know I'd love a shadow box ! Thanks for the inspiration.
Thank you so much, I love how this project turned out. I think your project must be beautiful, and having it from your former home, that's soooo sweet.
It's really cute and the color is great.
Thanks!!! I truly love how this project turned out. I appreciate your comment.
I actually remember a shadow box my mother had when I was a child. I loved it so much and I was going to make one to try to replicate hers. In my travels of thrifting, I was telling this gentleman that I was picking something up from about my idea. He said oh hold on I think I might still have one. He went in his garage and then down to his shed and came back back with not only a shadow box, but the exact one that my mother had. I absolutely couldn’t believe it. I paid a little more than I wanted to for it considering it was in pretty bad shape but I knew I could restore it and make it what I wanted. I haven’t finished it yet because of other commitments but soon, very soon!
I love yours immensely! Not my color t all but it’s just gorgeous otherwise!
P.S. I forgot to ask…what width is the wood in the center for the cubbies?
The cubbies are all random sizes, I'm sorry I don't have the exact measurements.
Your story brought tears to my eyes. How wonderful that you found that treasure. I'm really, really happy for you!!
The only thing I might add is a dry brush of a chalky white paint on the corner embellishments, and along some of the edges to give a bit of a distressed look.
Or, perhaps a gold buff wax.
Beautiful frame, excellent idea. Love the paint that can be used on so many different surfaces.
Thanks! This shadow box picture frame has now found a new home. I did end up sanding the designs back a big to make them stand out before I sold it. I appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment.
Thank you for your comment, I love your ideas. Spray paint projects can be sooo quick and easy.
Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment.
I like it. It gives me an idea for what I can do with my father's purple heart and a picture of him getting it.
Ohhh Brette... I'm so happy that you are inspired by my picture frame shadow box project. What a wonderful way to honor your father.
hi...love the idea of using the dismantled old drawers for the shelves...i have a question.. did you use your nail gun for attaching ALL the shelves. im just wondering how you managed to fit the gun at the proper angle on the last shelf that you insert. what the sequence that you put the shelves in?...or did you did the shelves first, then place them inside the outside sides, then place the frame on top..thxs michele
As I mentioned above . . . it was a little tricky getting all of the dividers in place. I used Gorilla Wood glue, a speed square and my Ryobi nail gun.
I nailed where I could, carefully planning my strategy, and used Gorilla Wood Glue for extra help where I couldn't get the nail gun positioned. If you make one, just take it one step at a time, and work with your shelves until you have to look you love. I always start by making the outer "box" first, then make my shelves to "suit" me. 🙂
Thanks for stopping by!
I love, love, love this!!! I have a big frame that could be perfect for this! Can I ask how you attached it to the wall? Did you add some kind of hardware?
Thank you for your kind comment!
So far, I have only hung this on the wall for a photo op, resting it on a screw. Using two screws would be a very easy option. I typically use "d" rings for all of my hanging projects.
Have fun making your own. Please email me a picture, or share on Facebook! I'd love to see how yours turns out.
Thinking about doing this for Christmas gifts. Putting a backboard with pics of family showing out. Then could put small objects in the shelves with nephews etc peeking out over them.
Great idea and the nice thing is the wide variety of picture frames to choose from.
Hi can you please tell me how you attached the frame to the boxes? Thanks
great question! I didn't really explain that, did I?
I used Gorilla Wood glue and my nail gun, just like I did while forming the small boxes.
looking at the first picture with the Honeydew spray can, you can see that the thin boards just rest right inside the frame. (where the artwork would usually rest) Using wood glue all around the edge holds everything in place. Some nails with my nail gun sort of "clamp" it allowing the wood glue to set up.
A piece of mirror on the back of the box would be reflective and interesting, too. You could also make 3 boxes and group them on a wall like a trip tic. Great project...thanks!
I think a mirror on the back would be great. Since most of my projects go to new homes, I like to make them for the masses. I figure after someone takes it home, they can change it up to suit their personal tastes. 🙂 Isn't that the best thing about paint? So easily changeable. 🙂
What a cute shelf and I love that you can use it so many ways! The colors are so pretty, I especially love the blue, but that is no surprise! Great way to repurpose those drawers Gail!!
I love this shadow box. I have two frames that I want to do this with. Now to just find that paint! Love the colors!
What a wonderful idea to give new life to an old frame! Also a fun way to inject some color into a room's decor. I will be stealing this idea once I score the ideal frame. Thanks for another dose of DIY inspiration.
Debbie @ Refresh Restyle
Love the shelf and that color is awesome!!
Great tutorial! These items are out rageous to purchase.
great idea for the fame. i may need to do something like this soon. will be looking at the thrift store for a frame to use!
I love this! What a great idea! This would look super cute in my Michigan room with my adorable gray table!
Julie @ follow your heart woodworking
Love your shadow box! (Don't tell hubby but now I need to find some frames.)
The good thing about frames... they don't take up a lot of room if you store them correctly. Currently mine are not stacked so neatly. 🙁
I love Krylon--it's the only spray paint I use. The shadow box looks great, Gail! (And I would love to go to the world's longest yard sale...but I'm back to school the following week. Maybe I can find the closest spot and shoot over for the day?)
I was thinking the same thing.... to find the nearest spot and hit it up. It's less than 2 hours away, so if the weather is nice Saturday, I think I'll make a day of it. 🙂
Thanks for your nice comment on my shadow box. It's been a long time since I've made one. It was time to do another!
good luck with your first week of school. (and this next year)