The Big Ugly Painting: A Makeover

by Kimba on July 27, 2009

in Do it yourself

When I first saw the Big Ugly Painting (BUP, from now on) in Goodwill last week, my first thought was probably much like yours. Blech! It’s got that scary 1970’x frame and I particularly liked how the frame had been highlighted with burnt orange paint. {shudder}

The more I looked at BUP, the more my wheels started to spin. It’s a real (unsigned) painting. Grandma Esther probably took up oil painting as a hobby in the 70’s and this was one of her creations. How it ended up at Goodwill, I don’t know.

If you can get past the orange being unpleasantly highlighted by the frame, the colors aren’t bad…yellow, cream, white, green and even the orange. For $4.00, I figured BUP was worth bringing home to see if my hunch was right.

Would painting the frame a soft white, completely change the look of BUP and make it into something I love. I say YES!!! I’m totally in love now!

I took the picture out of the frame by removing the nails in the back. Then I cleaned the whole thing really well with baby wipes (they were handy). Then a coat of white spray primer and two coats of soft white spray paint (Rustoleum Heirloom White – satin finish.). That’s it!

I think Grandma Esther had a bit of Picasso in her. No? There was something about that changing the color of the frame that made it look like a totally new (and beautiful) painting, in my opinion.

BUP was a part of Today’s Thrifty Treasures at Southern Hospitality. If you want to see what else I found this past week, click here.


Darlene from Flax and Spindle had a very difficult job. She had to choose her favorite post from last week’s DIY Day as the winner of her beautiful Vintage Postcard Pillow on Linen.

Congratulations to Melanie from The Old White Cottage for her post on turning a closet into a crafting station! Shoot me an email Melanie and we’ll get you set up!

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1 duchess July 27, 2009 at 5:21 am

That did turn out cute. Once again you have vision. Grandma would be proud.
Have a great Monday.

2 Flax and Spindle July 27, 2009 at 5:39 am

Holy cow that came out great!! paint is the cheapest miracle isn't it?!

3 ~Linds~ July 27, 2009 at 5:44 am

Love it! Who woulda thought white paint could make something so drab look so fab! {*okay..I'm done with cliches!}

Have a wonderful Monday.

4 Flower Patch Farmgirl July 27, 2009 at 5:49 am

Amazing what a little paint action can do! I love it!

5 Richella July 27, 2009 at 5:55 am

Way to go! Isn't it amazing how that white flower jumps to center stage in the refurbished frame? I love the "new" painting! And I love the fact that you took what was once beautiful and made it beautiful again in a completely new way. That's cool.

6 TidyMom July 27, 2009 at 6:08 am

I LOVE it!! Amazing what a frame change can do!!


7 randee July 27, 2009 at 6:09 am

kimba – i must confess that when i saw it last night in the "before" stage, i didn't see anything wrong with it (i didn't even mind the frame-i must really be old). today – it's a brand new thing! i'm glad you saved it from a paint over 🙂 it looks beautiful in your corner.

8 ~*~Kate~*~ July 27, 2009 at 6:11 am

I LOVE BUP!!!! That is awesome. I would never have thught of painting the frame white. That looks like you paid $400.00 for it not $4.00.

9 The Scooper July 27, 2009 at 6:15 am

Now that's a great makeover! I may have to look at thrift store BUP's in a whole new light.

10 Monica the Bride July 27, 2009 at 6:24 am

The white totally made the BUP look more modern and fresh. Great find!

11 tales from an oc cottage July 27, 2009 at 6:27 am

See! White paint is magic!!! We shabby/cottage girls swear by it! Your Picasso looks amazing!

m ^..^

12 marty39 July 27, 2009 at 6:27 am

Love the painting now. You made the perfect choice in white. So glad you could visualize it. Great job. Hugs Marty

13 Laurie July 27, 2009 at 6:32 am

Okay, that is THE most amazing and SIMPLE transformation!! That means even "I" can do this! Thanks Kimba. You never cease to amaze me. 🙂

14 Sarah @ Thrifty Decor Chick July 27, 2009 at 6:39 am

I liked it before too, but now!!! It looks much better and super expensive!!

15 Kimm at Reinvented July 27, 2009 at 6:55 am

Wow, Kimba, you're instinct was right on and I'm so impressed with you! I probably would've only thought to save the frame with paint, but now I ADORE the painting!

16 Blushing hostess July 27, 2009 at 6:55 am

A vast improvement, well done!

17 Melanie July 27, 2009 at 7:03 am

I won? Are you kidding?? I never win anything! LOL Thank you so much!

And, the painting is awesome. Anytime I go to a thrift store, I *always* search the paintings to see if I can do something with what they have. I've gotten a couple of great things for my parents house and some didn't even need painting!

18 Songbirdtiff July 27, 2009 at 7:13 am

It looks wonderful! For $4 I would have bought it too, in spite of the horrendous orange on the frame. 🙂

19 Leslie July 27, 2009 at 7:17 am

I ALWAYS look at the prints/paintings as if I'm going to change the frame. This is a GREAT painting…congrats on your find!

20 Marci @OvercomingBusy July 27, 2009 at 7:24 am

Hey! I think that ugly painting was in the mission thrift store last week. I'm going back! Yours turned out fabulous!

21 Cindy July 27, 2009 at 7:27 am


22 Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality July 27, 2009 at 7:31 am

Oh, there it is! I love it now, great job with the white frame. I just finished up some white frames myself, so you'll see my project soon. Changes the whole look!

23 Lana July 27, 2009 at 7:36 am

It looks great! The white paint made such a difference!

24 Southern Fried Gal July 27, 2009 at 7:43 am

Cute! And I still LOVE that pillow and of course all your SLAH items!!!

25 Anonymous July 27, 2009 at 7:44 am

Hi there,

I am new to your blog and I just have to say that the repainting of that BUP took more courage and conviction than… than I would EVER have. It looks freaking fantastic. I am so impressed. Original art. Not mass-produced and printed by Ikea. I love it. You are to be commended and I am actually feeling a bit soppy about the fact that somebody's art has a new lease on life. Way to go!

Just Julia

26 Kendra @ Domestic Princess in Training July 27, 2009 at 7:44 am

I knew you would do something beautiful with it. I loved the painting when you first posted about it, it just needed the right eye to bring it back to life! Good job!!!

Kendra @ Domestic Princess in Training

27 Amanda @ Serenity Now July 27, 2009 at 7:45 am

I think BUP is looking mighty fine! 😉 Really, isn't amazing what a can of spray paint can do?? I can't believe I didn't hop on the spray paint bandwagon earlier. I have bloggers like you to thank! 🙂

28 Muthering Heights and Other Senseless Sensibility July 27, 2009 at 8:07 am

Wow, it looks much nicer!

29 teah July 27, 2009 at 8:11 am

lovely. the painting is quite like van gogh. you have a very good eye for treasures!

30 Joanna July 27, 2009 at 8:36 am

That really turned out great! I would have probably ended up just making a chalk board or memory board from it.

But with the frame a totally different color the painting is quiet lovely.

31 Twice Remembered July 27, 2009 at 8:46 am

Amazing! Such a small change with a BIG impact! It's lovely now!

32 Anna See July 27, 2009 at 8:55 am

I like it! It looks modern and warm at the same time. Love that heirloom white. My husband thinks I should buy it by the bushel.

33 the undomesticated wife July 27, 2009 at 8:57 am

I was wondering why you were calling it ugly, because I thought the actual painting was pretty! See, change the frame and it's gorgeous!

34 Nancy July 27, 2009 at 9:00 am

Amazing! Great job…it really turned out nice!


35 pendy July 27, 2009 at 9:04 am

I share your love of the transforming power of spray paint!

36 Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates July 27, 2009 at 9:10 am

Ah, it looks much better now!

37 Heather at Happy Chippy Junk July 27, 2009 at 9:22 am

Grandma would be very happy!!!

38 Meredith July 27, 2009 at 9:34 am

It turned out wonderfully! But then again, I'm someone who firmly believes that the ONLY two color options for frames are (or at least should be) black and/or white!

39 Denise @ Life on Stepping Stone Lane July 27, 2009 at 9:44 am

God bless the creator of spray paint!

40 Ashley @ AshleysBusy July 27, 2009 at 9:58 am

Kimba, the new frame works wonders for the painting, now it's crisp and clean 🙂

41 Bay July 27, 2009 at 10:02 am

So cute. I had my doubts about this one. ha ha. I am so jealous of your rug finds too! Who finds those for $20. Oh, that's right you do. Lucky girl.

42 LizO July 27, 2009 at 10:27 am

I've always thought that a frame has a lot to do with how people perceive the painting, photo or whatever it contains and you've proved me right.

Awesome eye you have and it looks really good!

43 momof3girls July 27, 2009 at 10:54 am

It is amazing how a change of paint color on that frame makes that painting look oh so chic!!! Great job!

44 Tabitha@ichoosebliss July 27, 2009 at 11:21 am

That's very pretty!

I now have a podcast show in conjunction with my blog and I hope you'll visit and listen to it!!

Peace & Blessings

I Choose Bliss

45 Shelby July 27, 2009 at 11:22 am

okay.. so I don't normally comment.. BUT WOW what a transformation… I have a feeling I will never be able to look at a BUP the same.. I may try to take it home and fix it up! THANKS!

46 Nicole @ BugaBoos July 27, 2009 at 1:05 pm

LOVE it!!! The painting really pops with the white frame! Congrats Melanie on winning, loved your closet craft room, you deserved it!

47 Valencia July 27, 2009 at 1:44 pm

That was too cute!!! I hope you get a chance to stop by my blog party!

48 Laurel @ Ducks in a Row July 27, 2009 at 3:09 pm

Wow – I would have definitely walked past that (if I ever did thrift shopping).

49 farmhouse wares July 27, 2009 at 4:26 pm

BUP needs a new nickname. It came out great.

50 AmberDusick July 27, 2009 at 4:36 pm

Fantastic! Amazing how the right frame can really change the look of what is inside entirely. It went from dated 70s and cheesy to spectacular!

51 Hi! My name is erica. Would you be my friend? July 27, 2009 at 5:47 pm

Cool! That frame completely turned it around!

52 VintageSunshine July 27, 2009 at 6:13 pm

I'm in love!!!

53 Rona's Home Page July 27, 2009 at 6:20 pm

You were right that the light color would make the difference in this picture.
I also love the pillow.

54 Nellie's Cozy place July 27, 2009 at 6:40 pm

Hi Kimba,
wow, you were sure right, that white frame makes all the difference. It does actually look like a pretty picture now. You have such a creative eye. Great buy on those outdoor rugs too. good for you, Isn't God good to us.
Blessings, Nellie

55 Carmen July 27, 2009 at 6:54 pm

I knew it would look great!!! I love it!

56 thrifty and chic motif July 27, 2009 at 6:56 pm

Isn't it amazing how paint can easily transform things. That looks beautiful! What a great find!

57 My First Kitchen July 27, 2009 at 7:56 pm

Oh, if only I had your thrift store vision. If it doesn't look like it could come out of a Crate and Barrel catalog, I have no idea what to do with it. 🙂

58 Steph July 27, 2009 at 8:38 pm

I am so glad you didn't use the canvas for something else too. I had a hard time seeing the beauty in it before you painted the frame. Good eye! I love it.

59 Amanda@Imperfectly Beautiful July 27, 2009 at 10:35 pm

How could anyone NOT love BUP now? Fabulous.


60 Jennifer Juniper July 28, 2009 at 4:34 am

I've been waiting to see what you were going to do with this. I really love the transformation and the fact that it's a real painting. Good snag 🙂

61 The Cherry Family July 28, 2009 at 1:17 pm

The white paint made all the difference! I have a painting question for you.. I am painting my kitchen table black and wanted to use a satin finish. The paint guy said that it will be harder to clean then gloss, but I really don't want to use gloss. So, since you have kids and a satin table, do you think it cleans easily? Thanks for your help! I Love your blog!! btw, i already sprayed the legs black satin and I wanted to roll the top.

62 Missy @ It's Almost Naptime July 28, 2009 at 5:23 pm

I am STUNNED by Grandma Esther's redo. STUNNED.

63 Marie July 28, 2009 at 5:58 pm

Hello Kimba – love what you did with the painting! This just confirms what I've already known – heirloom white can transform anything…even the BUPs of the world. Now the painting stands out, not the hideous frame. Great job!


64 Brittany at Mommy Words July 28, 2009 at 6:28 pm

Wow what baby wipes and white paint can do. I think I will keep baby wipes around forever! Great job!

65 Anny July 29, 2009 at 5:03 pm

Way to look past an ugly frama – it completely changed the feel of the piece 🙂

66 Lindsay With Lindsay July 30, 2009 at 9:15 pm

Very nice!!!

67 Sarah July 31, 2009 at 12:23 pm

Wow! The BUP is now the BBP (big beautiful painting). Love it!

Yay for Grandma Esther. The painting reminds me of Van Gogh's sunflowers:

68 Amber August 2, 2009 at 9:13 pm

It's amazing how something as small as a coat of paint on the frame gave this whole painting a fresh new look! Good eyes! It looks great in your cozy corner!

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