Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Designer Inspired Frames

I adore Emily Henderson.  I love her comfy, liveable take on midcentury-modern-meets-LA-beachy decorating style.  While it worked quite well for me when I lived in sunny Florida, it is hard to incorporate that into the chilly wilderness of Pennsylvania--especially when there is a foot of snow on the ground!

That said, I just can't give up on the little treasures that Em has in store for me in the pages of HGTV magazine.  Okay, I totally talk about the divine Ms. H like we have brunch every Sunday at some airy cafe in La-La land.  I think she just has that approachable, friend-sort of quality... so I'm running with it.

In my current HGTV issue, Em did a whole house redec for a lovely couple and their little boy.  I love the chalkboard wall, but that would never work on the 145-year-old plaster walls that I have.  I also adore the roughed-up turquoise dresser which lends itself to the vintage+beachy thing that Emily does so well.  But, the things that I love the most from this photo are the frames!  Boring old white frames given a little bit of glitz and a whole lot of interest.  I love how it doesn't overshadow the artwork, or compete with it... it just highlights it while doing a spanking good job at being pretty.

And I like pretty.

If you're wondering which "current issue" I'm referring to, since I tend to get my subscriptions later than everyone else, it is the April 2013 issue and the front cover looks like this:

If you've been paying attention to the bedroom redecorating, you have seen these:

If you're wondering what the bottom print says, here's a more legible version:

The little boy says, "Hi Bear!"
The big bear says, "Hello."
The baby bear says, "Papa, I want to eat that little boy."

Okay, I like a little twist in addition to pretty.

So, one might think that you can just whip together these frames with some acrylic craft paint and some painters tape.  You can!  Well, almost.  I ran into some issues with this project, which is why I'm sharing it.  So, let's move on to the labor-intensive (ha!) part of this whole shebang.

I used the 2 oz tubes of craft paint found at nearly every big box store nationwide.  I used the Patio Paint version for the white, because I thought it would stand up to casual bumps and dings better than the regular.  I don't know where I got that idea, but I went with it.  You'll also need painters tape.  Width doesn't matter, but you want the sort for delicate surfaces since you do not want to pull your freshly-painted white base coat off of the frame.  I used FrogTape brand tape for delicate surfaces (it is yellow).  A butter knife or a ruler with a thin metal edge also comes in handy for when the tape is removed.  I used a 1/2 inch all purpose acrylic paintbrush (the sort you would use for a painting, not a wall).  Lastly, a sheet of fine grit sandpaper is needed if your frames are coated with any sort of laminate.

The first frame I painted is the one with the bear print.  It went off without a hitch and I completely forgot to take photos of the process.  The wood on the frame was not stained, and as far as wood goes, it was unfinished and a bit rough to the touch.  In other words, it was in perfect pre-paint condition.  That frame sucked up the paint like no one's business.

If you are using an unfinished wood frame, simply apply the tape to the frame (straight across, or adjacent edges... whatever floats your boat).  If your frames are laminated or have a shiny coating of any sort, you're going to need to do some extra work.
I tried to tackle the Ikea Ribba frames as they were.  The surface was smooth, but didn't feel lacquered at all.  I'm pretty sure the designers at Ikea developed some sort of anti-paint coating for these, because I wanted to toss it across the room when this happened:

It simply repelled the paint after about 30 seconds

I must have been tired that night, because I didn't sand that frame down first.  I dove into my stash of sandpaper and sanded away only the part that I was going to paint.

These took 4 coats of paint to get the paint opaque enough so the white base would not show up under the brush strokes.  

first coat

third coat

I didn't take a photo of the final coat before framing the prints, so I'll just have to work on the description of pulling the tape off without peeling the paint off with it.

Put your flat edge (in my case, it was a ruler with a thin metal edge) against the seam where the paint and tape meet on the inside lip of the frame.  Slowly pull the tape off of JUST that side, move the metal edge to the top part of the frame, hold it down, then slowly peel the tape.  Repeat with the bottom side of the frame.  You should have a mostly clean edge.  I had tiny imperfections where the tape pulled away unevenly, but unless you're really looking for it, it isn't noticeable now that the prints are hung.

Here's a cost breakdown:
  • Ikea Ribba frames:  $1.99 each
  • Craft Paint:  about $2.00 each
  • Painter's Tape:  Already had some, but paid about $6.00 at Home Depot
  • Sandpaper:  Already had some, but paid about $2.00 at Home Depot
For around $20, you can whip up some pretty frames for your photos and artwork.

I think Em would be proud!
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