Mid Century Modern Wall Art

Mid Century Modern Wall Art

As soon as I spotted this retro wooden frame at a Goodwill, I was intrigued. It was as if some wood paneling and a picture frame had a baby and created this. I could also tell that the still life pictures were just printed cardboard- nothing of value to worry about. So I wondered if I could upcycle it in order to create some mid century modern wall art that was more our style.

vintage wooden frame to get a makeover

I mulled over ideas and options for freshening it up. Not that I planned to paint it, no- I simply wanted to change out the “artwork” in the three framed sections.

Once I had a plan in mind, I also realized that I might be able to use ANOTHER thrift store find, too!

vintage paper cutter at a thrift store

And yes, that’s how I found this vintage paper cutter at a Salvation Army- blade arm raised, near the floor. I felt compelled to buy it to save them from a lawsuit! (Though, I had fun with it during Halloween last year when I was promoting my book!)

Either way, I had an upcycling plan in mind and was ready to give my idea a go!

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From Retro Frame to Mid Century Modern Wall Art

First, I wiped down the l-o-n-g frame as thoroughly as I could with a damp paper towel. I also wrapped a bamboo skewer in damp paper towel to get the narrow crevices around the perimeter.

horizontal picture frame with three windows

Now to disassemble it! My plan was to cover the cardboard still life pictures one way or another; with paint, fabric, or something else entirely. I just wasn’t sure yet and needed to remove the paper backing to figure things out.

upcycling a vintage picture frame into mid century modern wall art

But when I removed the brown paper backing, I was greeted with a wooden panel and quite a few framing nails. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but for some reason, it wasn’t this.

changing out the artwork in a horizontal frame

To make matters worse, the little nails had been hammered and bent, so that their little heads were embedded in the wood! And since the nails were in the center of the frame, it meant that, quite possibly, the small frame insets weren’t adhered to the panel.

retro frame with wood panel

I mean, the center frame from the front was traced on the back. These little nails were likely structural- and there was no way I was going to try and pry them off, only to piece back together the entire thing later. There had to be another way…

So, I turned it back over and called an audible. Since I was going to have to approach this from the front of the frame, options such as paint, fabric, and paper were…well, less than ideal. Maybe even out of the question entirely!

But. But. Peel and stick wallpaper was a DEFINITE, albeit unexpected, possibility.

samples of mid century modern peel and stick wallpaper

Mid Century Modern Peel and Stick Wallpaper

Shortly after I came to the conclusion that peel and stick wallpaper was the solution to my problem, Spoonflower held a wallpaper sale. HOW thoughtful of them!

And luckily for me, they have lots of mid century modern or atomic patterns to choose from. As well as seemingly zillions of other styles, too. Wallpaper swatches are usually $9 but were closer to $6 during the sale.

First, I measured the sizes of the frame insets on my piece and created templates with scrap paper, going a few millimeters over. Then, I traced the templates on my wallpaper swatches and cut them out with my paper cutter!

cutting the peel and stick wallpaper to go in a frame

Hey, hey, it’s still quite sharp after all these years! See, it was a very good thing that I bought it and removed it from the thrift store floor.

When all was said and done, I had three swatches of wallpaper to use on my mid century modern wall art!

framing spoonflower wallpaper for eclectic wall art

Next, I carefully removed the wallpaper backing and stuck the swatches to the cardboard “art”. The samples came with a credit card-size smoothing tool that I used to press it firmly down.

Then, I used a box cutter to trim the edges and a butter knife to carefully tuck the edges under the frame insets.

peel and stick wallpaper as eclectic wall art

And yes, I goofed on the third one. I’d gotten a wrinkle in it and had to start over. Gah…happens to the best of us- thankfully, I still had enough leftover from my original Spoonflower sample.

framed wallpaper as mid century modern wall art

Thankfully, the third and last swatch of wallpaper went on much better than my previous attempt.

Voilà! My retro frame had been transformed into some mid century modern wall art that would look wonderful in our thrifted home!

framing mid century modern peel and stick wallpaper

Mid Century Modern Wall Art with Spoonflower Wallpaper

I’m not entirely sure where this framed piece will end up in our home (we’re still making those decisions). But for now, it’s hanging over the vintage speaker I mentioned in my “Thrifting for Our Home” blog post.

upcycling a picture frame with spoonflower wallpaper

In the end, I think this piece of mid century modern wall art turned out even better than I had hoped. Even if it did NOT go as originally planned!

diy mid century modern decor from the thrift store

Thank goodness for some peel and stick wallpaper, though, right? Which makes me think I’ll make a few more projects with it in the future.

decorating an eclectic home with framed wallpaper

What do you think? Will you be considering wallpaper samples for your future DIY projects? I’m not a “wallpaper the room” kind of gal, but I do love it for crafty projects like this!

And if you enjoyed this upcycling idea for quirky wall art in our home, then you definitely need to see how I created this woven wall hanging, as well!

circle weaving on a pizza pan

Craft on!


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framed wallpaper as mid century modern wall art

framed wallpaper in a vintage frame

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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.


  1. Great save. I would never think to use peel and stick wall paper. I’ll have to keep this idea in my old file box….ie: my brain. I purchased a frame like this too. I hope to use it for a few coastal postcards I bought at a craft show. But if that doesn’t work I now have another option. You see what others don’t. I love thinking out of the box.

  2. That is pretty fabulous! Good thing you are so persistent and not taking no for an answer. So unique and pretty at the same time. As soon as I see an email from you, it’s the first one I open. My daughter lives in Matthews and whenever we visit (fall) I frequent thrift and restores. Hoping to run into you one day, would be a real treat for this 70 year old thrifter. Hugs!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Thank you so much, Carol! I was definitely frustrated for a little bit and had to shove it aside, LOL. Cooler heads prevailed! Oh, and have you ever thrifted in Monroe? I recently drove down there for the day and there are BUNCHES of great thrift shops!

  3. Sharon Davison says

    I love the way of using peel and stick wallpaper. That would work even if you could get to the backs. So much easier! This looks great too! Good choice of paper. Also,mlove the lamp!

  4. OMG, I LOVE THIS! I hope that one day I can find such a picture frame, it’s awesome and I love what you did with it! I have that same arch lamp 😉

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Isn’t it so unique?? I tried to find similar frames online but to no avail. My fingers will be crossed for you!!

  5. That was a cool and unusual find. Nice that you were able to upcycle it.

  6. Sadie, you did it again. Nice job. It is very reminiscent of what I remember from the 50s and 60s.

  7. Interesting find; great upcycle! I love it when you explain exactly how you had to “fiddle” with something to make it work! It helps us other DIYers to save time when we come up with a similar problem!

  8. Betsy Lute says

    I am so delighted to find you! I had read all your years agoposts with such shared enthusiasms…then somehow lost track…..just now came across again a past post. I quickly checked your blog home and was thrilled to see you still are active! Woo hoo! Can’t wait to catch up. You just ” get my sense of vintage loves”. Thank you!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Oh, yay!! Welcome back, Betsy- I completely understand losing track. Happens to me all the time on social media, especially- seeing a post from someone or a page I follow that hadn’t posted in a very long time. <3

  9. Lori Jones says

    Love the way it turned out!! If you have kids you could even put pictures of them, in the squares. (Doesn’t have to be kids) and use the wallpaper as a “frame” for the picture.?

  10. Well, you certainly are nailing your mid century dreams in your beautiful new home! And this beautiful mid century modern wall art is perfection! In fact, your entire space is! What a feast for the eyes!

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