DIY · 15 Things to Frame (that aren’t photographs)

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Photo frames are one of the easiest ways to decorate the walls and tabletops of any home: They are simple to switch out for a quick update and come in an assortment of shapes and sizes, making them adaptable for any style or season.

#2 · An illustration clipped from a Peanuts coffee table book.

That said, figuring out what to put in all these frames can sometimes be a bit daunting. While many us probably have on hand plenty of school portraits, event photographs, and sports pictures to display, we may also want to add a little variety to our decor–and avoid the risk of turning our homes into shrines of our near and dear!

This post outlines 15 things to frame (besides photographs) that are easy, affordable, and probably already in your possession. Scroll through the list below for ideas and examples to use in your home or office.

1  •  Greeting Cards, Postcards & Stationery   •   These items are hard to beat for affordability and variety of design–and they usually come in ready-to-frame sizes like 3×5, 4×6, and 5×7.

#1 · One of 3 retro postcards framed together for a boy’s bedroom.
#1 · A friend gave me a framed set of postcards featuring architectural details that spell out my last name.

2  •  Illustration/s from a Book   •   Illustrations from children’s books make for particularly charming framed art–and even great gift ideas. But illustrations need not be limited to kiddie lit: Coffee table books and gift editions of classic literature typically include lovely illustrations.

#2 · Framed nursery rhyme with a custom mat.

3  •  Poem or Short Literary Work   •   A framed item does not have to be pictorial. Displaying a poem or short piece of writing is a great way to keep yourself inspired at a quick glance. And it’s quick and easy: Just print out a poem from a reputable online site or cut one out of an old textbook or even copy one by hand and then just pop it into a frame.

#3 · (and #6) A graphic illustration of a co-worker’s favorite poem (or, at least, part of a poem).
#3 · Ripped from the pages of literature–or at least from a literature textbook.

4  •  Calendar Page/s   •   Available in sundry styles and sizes–including bigger sizes like 8×10 and even 11×14–calendar pages are an affordable option for a larger frame or for a series of images since a calendar offers an array of 12 (sometimes more) pictures to choose from.

#4 · A calendar page from a Far Side calendar that dates back over 20 years!
#4 · Framed page from a calendar of Impressionist paintings.
#4 · Calendar page framed for an office shelf.

5  •  Playing Cards, Game Cards & Baseball Cards   •   Perfect for the bridge enthusiast, Uno expert, Candyland addict, or other card-based hobbyist, cards are easy to obtain and highly personalized, making it a thoughtful gift option. This idea is suitable for any card collector, really, from baseball to Pokemon–and might just give you a way to make useful those baseball cards you collected in elementary school. Frame a single or frame a set, cards are a cheeky, graphic way to add a little liveliness to a bedroom, bonus room, or man cave. Or even a bat cave.

#5 · Batman, the Dark Knight and the King of Spades.

6  •  Graphic Art   •   Usually an illustrated quotation or verse, this type of work can use style and color to reflect your personal interests and inspirations with style and color.

#6 · Original graphic artwork of an illustrated line from a Shakespeare play.

7  •  CD Album Cover/s   •   A chance to give new life to old albums that have been collecting dust in the age of iTunes and Spotify.

#7 · CD cover slipped from the case and into a frame. Music is art!

8  •  Record Album/s   •   If your musical tastes run a little more retro and record albums are more your speed (33 or 45), then frame your favorites for a pop of color and a punch of personal style.

#8 · A pop of color and a punch of style with this record album cover.

9  •  Puzzle/s   •   A fun way to involve friends or family and a playful way to fill a frame. Once you glue the pieces together, of course.

#9 · The Force is always with you with this framed puzzle hanging on your wall.

10  •  Scrapbook Paper, Wrapping Paper & Wallpaper   •   Big in size and bold in pattern, designer paper is a popular option for filling in large sections of a multi-opening collage frame or a series of grouped frames. It is also a fun option for a quick update for seasons and holidays!

#10 · Floral scrapbook paper in a distressed frame harnesses a modern farmhouse vibe.

11  •  Children’s Artwork   •   Those beautiful (usually abstract!) creations done by younger children with bright finger paints or crayons or markers add personal expression to a home in a way that is impossible to replicate. Not only will this type of art usually be an option for a larger frame, but children take a sense of pride and ownership in their very own home.

#11 · Child’s drawing in marker (& crayon & paint) and displayed in a hinged metal frame.
#11 · Colorful children’s artwork framed and matted in white for a more striking contrast.

Think outside the box: You do not have to use the entire piece of artwork nor frame it in the direction it was intended. You can cut to size a child’s painting to fit a frame or turn a piece sideways to fit the size of frame and the flow of the grouped frames.

#11 · Child’s pen-and-watercolor painting of a cityscape.

And you don’t have to focus only on the current children living in the home: Dig through those old boxes of childhood memorabilia and see what worthy work you might find from your own past! For example, a huge framed painting done by my brother-in-law when he was in elementary school makes a striking impression as the single piece of wall art in his family’s guest bathroom!

12  •  Drawings & Word Art   •   Maybe it’s a simple pencil sketch on a sheet of notebook paper or elaborate calligraphy on rice paper–either way, don’t overlook the frame-ability of everyday drawings, from doodles to masterpieces, of both pictures and words. You could even commission your child (or friend or neighbor or student) to pen something for you in just the right size and color.

#12 · Word art pen drawing by a former student depicting a repeated idea in the novel The Great Gatsby.
#12 · Drawing of the Chinese calligraphy for etiquette, one of the pillars of the teachings of Confucius.

13  •  Invitation   •   Typically delivered right to your door in ready-to-frame sizes, invitations are a fun and sentimental alternative to a photograph–and make for a meaningful (and affordable) wedding, anniversary, or graduation gift–especially if you have the artistic talent to add a few hand-drawn embellishments yourself.

#13 · High school invitation with hand-drawn illustration added.
#13 · Wedding invitation in a gilt frame.

14  •  Cross Stitch or Other Needlework   •   This frame-filler adds a bit of texture and dimension with a classic and homey sensibility. This option could preserve bits of family history–and not just for pieces that were originally intended for decoration. You could reclaim a needlepoint seat cushion or pillow or display or any handed-down quilt squares, embroidered handkerchiefs, doilies, or other fabric scraps you may have been handed down but weren’t quite sure what to do with.

#14 · Needlepoint car reframed for a child’s room.

15  •  Souvenirs   •   Gather up items from your travels far and wide because souvenirs offer a plethora of framing opportunities, including shadowbox frames, in the forms of ticket stubs (concert, airplane, theatre, etc.); foreign currency; flyers; bookmarks; placemats; brochures; napkins; caricatures; posters; receipts; playbills; and list goes on and on. In fact, I knew a girl in college whose walls were covered with menus that she had, er, borrowed from restaurants from all over the country.

#15 · Framed ticket stubs. These were decoupaged together to fill up the space for a large frame.

For more ideas, see our post → 15 {more} Things to Frame (that aren’t photographs).


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