Monday, August 9, 2010

Knock it Off, Pottery Barn

So, who here can still afford to shop at Pottery Barn?  These days, not me, not most of my friends.  But I still want to live like I can, and what better way than faking it?  I came across these pics in the Fall PB catalog and remembered how fond I am of burlap:

Multi-Mat Frames
Source: Pottery Barn
The larger size will run you about $40...

Pretty, n'est-ce pas?  So here's what I started with:

Yeah, seen better days...

I got these guys a few years back for $30 at an antiques mall near Asheville NC--cute enough, but I was already tired of them when the oak tree started getting wonky.  So I dismantled them, tore apart the double-mats, and went to work.  First, I cut my burlap to size and ironed it, than just laid the mat on top and used a straight-edge to mark an X where I wanted to cut, like so:

Then I just used hot glue to secure each triangular section of the X to the back of the mat.  I didn't cut off the excess until I was done gluing:

Here's a shot of the front and back once I was done with the two mats:

By the way, if ever there was a stray piece of burlap, and especially at the inner corners, I just glued my heart out to make it work.

So when I was all done I popped the burlap mat back into the frame, and...I hated it.  That creamy-gray paint on the original frame just wasn't enough contrast with the burlap.  I needed it to be darker, a la PB.

Bland.  Boring. Yuck.

So I got my hands on some Minwax wood stain in Walnut, and slathered on two layers.  I had no idea how the stain would work over paint, and as it turns out, I have had better ideas.  Please don't use a wood stain over paint.  For the three days it took to dry, I was sure I was going to have to strip it off and start over.  However, this project taught me that if you ignore a problem long enough it fixes itself!  (Note: maybe not the best approach to, say, life in general). It did finally dry, and once I sanded off the shine, I was left with a really cool driftwood-looking finish:

Earthy.  Weathered.  Yum.

And for the final result:

I LOVE how they turned out, and especially with these architectural black and white photos in them.  I think its such a nice contrast to the natural, rough textures of the frame and the mat.  If you're interested, they are pics I snapped in Australia--one of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the other of the inside of a mall in Melbourne.  I edited both of them using Picnik, love that site.  Anyway, thanks for sticking through this incredibly looooooong and boring post about my burlap mats!

Now you go tell PB to knock it off, too!

P.S. Lovin' the Linky's at:


  1. Nice job, Shell! My birthday wish list is getting longer by the minute! ;)


  2. I loved this post! I just LOVE fun projects. I wish I had more time to do them, but it's fun watching someone else do them : )~ You really did a wonderful job with these frames. I know what you mean about working with stain. I had to stain all the baseboards & trim in my kitchen to match the cabinets we found on craigslist and it was a tricky job! I was actually quite surprised you did not put pics of your kids in the frames...glad you to see you are not ALWAYS in mommy-mode :)

  3. Thanks for the compliments! It is funny you say that about not putting the boys in the frames--I had pics of them all planned out to go in there, and then I realized these frames will probably be in the powder room, and did I really want to be staring at the boys while I am in there? Usually they are there in person anyway!

  4. The darker frames and the burlap mattes are a great combo! Thanks for linking up to the Burlap Month party at WhisperWood Cottage!

  5. I can not wait to try this! I am pinning it until I find a suitable candidate for transformation!

  6. I lovelovelove how they turned out! To be honest, I like your frames way more than PB! I think I might need this in our space... :) -Mika


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