If you are looking for creative ways to add color, variety, and dimension to your home decor, look no further.
The second in a pair of posts on alternatives to photographs, this post gives you 15 new ideas for things to frame (besides photographs).
1 • Maps • Graphically–and geographically–interesting, maps are a unique way to document your interests and travels while giving a dash of color and scholarly flare to your home or office.
2 • Stamps • Whether you frame a single stamp or a whole sheet, these miniature graphics are tiny pieces of pop-culture art that reveal your personal interests in a very mod fashion.
Framing is also a good way to preserve and display a collection of new stamps, but used stamps can come hand-delivered in a wild array of color with that inimitable patina of everyday use and those ever-interesting ink marks of the far-flung places from thence the stamps–and the letter or package–came.
3 • Notes, Letters & Envelopes • Framed art does not have to be solely pictorial: The written word can be just as lovely and sometimes even more interesting–after all, people are almost always sure to take a closer look at something written on a wall in front of them.
Written correspondence works very well: A beloved letter from a relative or a saved note passed between you and friend in middle school or even an envelope addressed with an ebb and flow of handwriting that you particularly admire. And the correspondence doesn’t have to be too lofty or romantic–a reminder jotted on a sticky note can be just as frame-worthy as a sentimental love letter.
Whatever the subject matter, whatever the reason, hand-written notes and letters make for a remarkably charming and intimate display, full of conversation-starters from any guests who happen by.
4 • Written documents • Any type of writing could be frame-worthy, not just letters. Much like the children’s artwork mentioned in a related post, children’s writing offers priceless opportunities to memorialize the everyday things you may otherwise overlook. And the honesty (and hilarity) that shines through these writings is matchless–not only in attempts at explanation and self-expression but also in the sincere efforts at just spelling out words.
But written work does not have to just be child’s play. Adolescent and grown-up documents offer plenty of framing opportunities as well–and these do not just have to mean hand-written work like poems or essays but can include other types of documents, even work-related ones, that might be especially meaningful, inspiring, or–even better–ironic. For example, mega-famous writer Stephen King used to hang on the wall all of his rejection slips from publishers (to be precise, he drove them through a nail on the wall, but the same principle applies).
5 • Pressed Flowers • A frame of pressed flowers is unexpected, romantic, pastoral, earthy, bringing with it a sense of wonder, adventure, and groundedness. The added appeal of this idea is that is so easy to acquire: simply walk outside!
Beautiful displays can be made from what you already have around you: the flowers from the front bed of house, leaves from a nearby wood, or even clover from right under your feet! And if you want to send a message with your framed flowers, look up the meanings associated with flowers from Victorian times (a chrysanthemum for truth, a dahlia for dignity, a tulip to declare love, and so on)–it would be at the same time very traditional and very steampunk!
6 • Recipe Cards • Perfect for a kitchen, a framed recipe card is fun, practical, and homey. If the recipe card has torn corners and grease spots and smudged handwriting from years of use, so much the better!
This idea makes for a thoughtful gift option for a family member–maybe your grandmother whose fried chicken or cornbread or dumplings are renowned in three counties–or even as a more general present for a house-warming, dinner party, or bridal shower.
7 • Sheet Music or Song Lyrics • Nothing makes for a harmonious home more than music, so find the right tune and frame it up.
8 • Fabric Swatches • The possibilities are endless when it comes to using fabric to punch up decor! Customizable by size, color, pattern, texture, fabric is a versatile and dramatic go-to option.
And, really, any type of fabric will do: A swatch of store-bought fabric, of course, but also consider sheeting, throw pillow covers, or even a shower curtain, which would certainly be hard to beat for cost, size and pattern!
You could also consider memorabilia items of the soft-goods variety, like baby blankets, quilt squares, team uniforms, and t-shirts. Who knows? Framing could be just the thing for showing off your collection of Hard Rock Cafe t-shirts from 15 years ago!
Think outside the box–literally: Instead of placing the fabric INSIDE the frame, you could stretch the fabric AROUND the outside of a frame (square or rectangular work best) so that the piece essentially becomes a wrapped canvas. You could have this done professionally or exercise patience with a staple gun, roll of duct tape, or a hammer and very small tacks and do it yourself.
9 • Magazine & Newspaper Pages, Covers, Clippings & Advertisements • Sometimes opportunity delivers itself right to your doorstep. Or mailbox. Frame up a newspaper article that grabs your attention or a magazine advertisement that ignites your imagination.
You could even start up a collection and have others join in the search: I once knew a girl who hung up in a large and striking display every single advertisement she could find for a certain product–and she had all of us friends in on the hunt because it was such fun to see if we could find one she didn’t already have that could make its way onto the wall!
Another idea is to frame a series of magazine covers that feature a sports team, especially if you can find covers that offer an variation on a theme–like the Sports Illustrated covers of the editions picturing a favorite football team that has won several Super Bowls or a college basketball team that has won, let’s say 7, NCAA championships.
10 • Book Covers, Jackets & Pages • A fast and easy way to inject a graphic appeal and studious feel to any space, book covers present an opportunity to reveal a single personal favorite or show off a collection of works.
This type of display does not to stop with the exterior of the book: Rip a page from a beloved novel or frame a favorite word and its definition from a page in a dictionary. You could even frame a series of words that are synonyms, form a whole sentence when strung together, or give a nod to a popular saying. For example, a girl’s nursery could feature the words “sugar” and “spice” and “nice” in reference to the nursery rhyme that little girls are made of “sugar and spice and everything nice.”
11 • Silhouettes • If you are interested in maintaining a hearth-and-home theme for your displays, silhouettes are a perfect alternative to photographs for keeping it all in the family. Striking in visual contrast and rich in personal sentiment, silhouettes are a winning choice for gifts for mother’s day–or any day.
12 • Art Prints • Original artwork by a professional is natural choice for framing, if you can find and afford it. If not, don’t despair–reproductions and printed copies abound. Easy to find at home retailers, online market sites, and book stores (remember those?), prints can be sold alone or, even better, as a set, which means you can choose to use a single or a set.
Exercise your right to show off your personal taste, whether it runs from abstract modern art to French impressionists to landscape sketches of local scenery. Just because we can’t afford an original Picasso does not mean we can’t enjoy looking at a copy of one in the comfort of our very own home.
13 • Comic Strip/s • Comic strips are fun and colorful and usually offer some apt commentary on an element of modern society, family, or work. Make a statement visually (and potentially philosophically) with a strip from the funnies or a collected volume.
Bonus: Comics usually provide a framing option for narrow horizontal shapes to add variety to a grouping or to fit those between spaces like above a piece of furniture or over a doorway or window–or even between the shelves on a bookcase.
14 • Corkboard • With the littlest bit of work, you can transform a picture frame into a corkboard–all it takes is cutting a piece of cork to fit the frame and then running a bead of hot glue around the inside of the display area of the frame. Press the corkboard into place and there you have it: A personalized corkboard in any size, color, or shape you like. This idea is a great option to use with a frame whose glass is missing or to mix in a bit of texture and variety to a room or group display.
15 • DIY Artwork • Get in touch with your artistic side and make your own art. If you have a flair for painting or drawing, then the sky’s the limit for you.
But if art is not your strong suit, you could pick up a paint-by-numbers kit and get to work (maybe with the kids) or try some decoupage (which is basically a fancy way of saying gluing paper to a surface). Flatten and frame some origami creations or decorative paper-cuttings. A little creativity can go a long way.
For more ideas, see our previous post → 15 Things to Frame (that aren’t photographs).