How to Update Boring Mats & a Peek at the Big Boy Room

I’ve been chipping away at the Big Boy room and the nursery, as I’ve mentioned. Both had pictures hung that weren’t really working. The solution was simple – the mats (or mounting board) needed a little makeover.

Using Decorative Paper to Dress Up Frames

In the nursery, I previously had baby photos of (almost) all S’s grandparents hanging over the dresser (Little Man has been standing in for my Mum, who never sent me one of her). You can see them in this “Before” picture:

For baby girl, we’re going to switch them out for baby pictures of me, the Mister, the Little Man and her, when she’s out (I still have to get those printed). But the mats were red and blue and obviously not going to work with the new turquoise/coral/lilac colour scheme (read the latest on that here). My simple solution was to cover them with some pretty decorative paper for an instant update.

You Will Need:
– Frame with mat
– Double-sided sticky tape (you could also use spray adhesive if you’d prefer)
– Craft knife
– Scissors
– Ruler
– Cutting board
– Decorative paper

That’s my Dad. Isn’t he pretty in his lovely little dress romper?
First, remove the mat from the frame and cut out a piece of decorative paper the same size as the mat.

Apply double-sided sticky tape along the inner and outer edges of the mat, then stick the paper on the top.

Turn the mat over and cut out the middle with a craft knife, then cut from the corners of the opening to the corners of the mat.

Score along the inner edges of the paper using the back of the blade:

Apply more double-sided tape along the inner edges of the back of the mat and fold the paper over:

And that’s it – put the mat and your photo or artwork back in the frame.
He looks even prettier now, doesn’t he? I did the same with the other three frames using different but coordinating papers:

I think with decorative mats, black and white photos look best – colour photos might compete and make the whole thing too busy. Now I just have to get the new photos printed and this little wall will be done.

Using Paint to Highlight Art
I had a print in the Big Boy room which also wasn’t working. It’s a sheet of wrapping paper from Paper Source with a great retro alphabet print, and I already had a big Ikea frame with kid-friendly plastic rather than glass. The only problem was that the frame and the mat were both white, and it looked a bit sad when I framed it:
You Will Need:
– Frame with mat
– Paint
– Paint brush or roller
This time, I just used some wall paint samples I had left over from when I was choosing paint colors for the room. I had a bright orange and a cream and mixed them together to make a softer orange that matched the alphabet print. One coat was all I needed. (Spot my little “helper” on the left there?)
I used a paint brush and the lines aren’t obvious. If you wanted a really smooth look, though, I’d use a small foam roller. I let it dry overnight, then put it all back together…

Much more fun for a kids’ room, I think. In the photos below, you can also see the stripes I painted on the wall in high gloss white. I hung the alphabet print low, so Little Man could actually see it properly, and the stripes help keep it from looking odd at that level…

He loves pointing out all the letters, so it really would be lost hung at adult eye level.
Oh, and did you notice the gorgeous canvas growth chart I found on etsy? I used it in my design board for this room (more on that here) and I was so pleased when it arrived in the mail – I love it.


  1. February 6, 2012 / 5:45 pm

    The mats are fab, but I'm in love with the turquoise/coral/lilac colour scheme! And, your tree, so sweet.

    (And, that 6 foot hanging ruler/measuring tape…love.)

    ~ Dana

  2. February 7, 2012 / 4:22 am

    LOVE the alphabet art and growth chart! Perfect choices!

  3. February 7, 2012 / 4:05 pm

    So cute! Thanks for the easy switcharoo tips. I have a few mats that could use an update! And thanks for linking up.

  4. February 9, 2012 / 3:19 am

    The growth chart is my fav! So cute!

  5. February 10, 2012 / 5:23 am

    I Love it!! Thanks so much for sharing today over at Passionately Perfect!

  6. February 11, 2012 / 9:55 pm

    That growth chart is perfect! Wish we had done something like that instead of marking on the kitchen doorway. Now I can never paint over it …. and it's looking a bit dingy after so many years …