Before and after of a thrift store painting makeover.

Hey there, my crafty friend! I’m so excited to share with you today an idea for an easy thrift store painting makeover. Our focus will be on using beautiful IOD decor transfers to create stunning upcycled thrift store art. Whether you’re a seasoned DIY enthusiast or a beginner, this project is perfect for anyone looking to add a touch of creativity to their home decor.

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    Before we get started, let’s gather just a few materials we’ll need for our thrift store painting makeover. Some links listed below are affiliate links from which I may earn a commission on qualified purchases. However, it is at no extra cost to you.

    If you learn better visually, scroll on down for a video tutorial!

    Materials Needed For Thrift Store Painting Makeover

    Thrift Store Painting (wood or canvas)


    White Paint

    Metallic Gold Paint

    Popsicle stick

    Simple Green

    Sponge brush

    IOD Brocante Transfers

    IOD Entomology Transfers (optional)


    Steps To A Thrift Store Painting Makeover 

    Step 1: Prep

    Begin by preparing your thrift store art for paint. Prepping anything for paint depends on the paint you will be using and the current finish on your art’s surface. You don’t want to skip this step; It’s important for a quality finish. I explain the process more in How to Prep Wood and Other Surfaces for Painting .

    Since I was using a clay-based chalk style paint, all I needed to do is clean it with a little Simple Green to make sure it was free from any dust or oils.

    For more tips on painting various surfaces, join my community and I’ll send you my comprehensive guide that you can keep handy. I’ll walk you through the essential steps and techniques for prepping various surfaces, from wood and metal to plastic and more. Whether you’re a seasoned painter or a beginner, mastering these prep methods will set you up for success and ensure your paint projects turn out beautifully.

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      Step 2: Paint

      Once clean, start painting over your store painting with white paint. (If you started with a dark surface, two coats of paint may be needed.) Allow to dry in between. If you’re impatient, like me, you can use a heat gun to speed the process along, but It is very important that the paint be nice and dry before applying the transfers to the painting. Transfers have a sticky backing and the stickiness will be lost if laid down in wet paint.

      Step 3: Seal Painted Surface

      If you are new to transfers or unfamiliar with the paint you’re using, I recommend sealing your paintings prior to applying transfers. You can use the same sealer that you use after applying the transfers. The sealant provides a firmer surface that is preferable when it comes to the transferring the images. I’ve used DIY paint enough to know that if my coats are not too thick, transfers will apply fine. However, if time allows, I do like to seal first. Better safe than sorry!

      If you’re loving the look of IOD Transfers, and want to know more about them, Read IOD Transfers; How to Use Them Over Chalk Paint.

      Step 4: Select Transfers to Apply

      With your store art prepped and painted, it’s time to select your transfers. Transfers come in various designs, and I love the versatility they offer. Don’t be afraid to combine elements from different sets. Mixing and matching different transfers can create a unique and personalized look. For this project, I’ve chosen some delicate flowers mostly from the IOD Brocante transfers and one from the IOD Floral Anthology transfers. Butterflies are from the Entomology transfers. Cut out individual elements you want to use, making sure to trim them to size.

      Step 5: Applying the Transfers

      Now, let’s move on to applying the transfers. Remove the attached backing, and carefully place the transfer onto your board, ensuring it’s centered and positioned just right. Use the stick that comes with your transfer set to rub the design onto the board. This process can take a bit of patience, but it’s crucial to ensure the entire design adheres properly.

      As you rub, lift the backing paper gradually to check that the transfer is sticking well. If you notice any parts not adhering, lay the paper back down and rub again. This step sometimes requires some finesse, but the results are worth it. The key is to ensure every detail, like the delicate antennae of butterflies, transfers completely.

      Step 6: Add Finishing Touches To Your Thrift Store Painting Makeover

      One of the joys of this project is the ability to customize and enhance your design. After applying the main elements, consider adding finishing touches with additional transfers, stencils, or even hand-painted details. For my thrift store art makeover, I decided to add a subtle touch of pale gold paint from Paint Couture. Using a popsicle stick, I lightly applied the gold to highlight certain raised areas, giving the piece an antique, elegant feel.

      Step 7 – Seal Thrift Store Painting Makeover

      When you up-cycle thrift store art, you should always seal it. Sealing your artwork is a crucial step to ensure its longevity and durability. I recommend using a product like Big Top, which provides a satin finish. If you prefer a more subdued, flat finish, opt for Paint Couture’s top coat in flat. The sealer not only protects the paint and transfers but also adds a polished look to your finished piece.

      When applying the sealer, use a gentle touch to avoid disturbing the transfers. A smooth, even coat will enhance the overall appearance and ensure all elements are securely in place.

      Sealing a thrift store painting makeover.

      Other Ideas to Consider

      The techniques used in this project are versatile and can be applied to various surfaces beyond wood. Consider using transfers on canvas, metal, or glass. You could create a beautiful gallery wall with different sized canvases, each featuring unique designs. Frames are another fantastic option; simply take out the existing artwork and apply your transfers directly onto the glass or backing.

      That’s it! The best part about upcycled thrift store art is that you don’t need to be an artist to create something beautiful. With the right materials and a bit of patience, anyone can transform a thrift store find into a stunning piece of home decor. The transfers do most of the work, allowing you to focus on personalizing and perfecting your design.

      Completed thrift store painting makeover.

      Thank you for joining me for this fun little thrift store art makeover. I hope this project has inspired you to look at thrift store finds in a new light and see the potential in every piece. Remember, creating art is about having fun and expressing yourself. Saving a little money along the way isn’t too bad either!

      Let me know if you’ve done any thrift store makeovers. I’d love to see your creations! Don’t forget to have all my makeovers sent straight to your inbox by joining below.

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        Happy creating, and I’ll see you in the next project!


        PS – Here’s a video if you learn better visually!

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