18 Picture Frame Alternatives

Explore new, fun, and creative ways to display portraits, Polaroid photos, and other memorabilia with these picture frame alternatives. Make those cherished memories come alive as they become part of your home decor.
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Woman placing polaroid photos on string lights.

Picture frames are a wonderful way to brighten up a wall, but they can also be expensive or bulky or impractical for those who don’t want to make holes in the walls. Luckily, there are plenty of clever picture frame alternatives for those who still want to make a statement with their photos.

Just be creative. If you have glue, tape, or clips, anything can be used to creatively display your pictures. Just be sure that you create a copy of any original artwork or photos that would be hard to replace.

There are many services that will allow you to backup your photos to the cloud so you don’t have to fear losing them to computer problems, home accidents, or crafting related incidents.

1. Washi Tape

Pieces of Washi tape for picture frame alternative.Source: Etsy

Washi tape is made from colorful or patterned paper and is designed for use in crafting. They’re available online for under ten dollars.

Use them to elevate the look of taped up photos. This is a great solution for people who want the option to change photos throughout the year, too! Put up the best photo you took this month, or rotate through different seasonal or holiday pictures- you could even create a special display for birthdays or anniversaries.

It’s very simple to get elegant results by carefully taping the edges of a picture in tape, or you can add extra tape to create more ornate designs. The key is to keep your lines of tape straight, using a craft knife and ruler or straight edge to keep the look clean and elegant.

2. Binder Clips

Empty photo frames attached to binder clips on white background.For a fun, minimalist way to display your photos on a shelf, try binder clips. They’re a great option at the office, since you probably already have them around, or you can purchase them in your favorite colors. If you can’t find a color or pattern of binder clip that calls to you, you can also recover your binder clips quite easily with paper and glue to create a one of a kind match for your picture.

3. Sequined Pillows

Children's photos printed on sequined pillows.Source: Etsy

Sequined pillows have taken the world by storm this year, with the addition of clever color changing effects or the reveal of words or phrases that can be revealed or hidden under the sparkles. Did you know that they work great as picture frame alternatives? Create your own sequined pillow that reveals a favorite picture to create your own twist on the trend.

4. Calendars

Personalized calendar displaying an enlarged photo of two kids for the month of October. Wooden desk and other home accessories surround the calendar.Source: Etsy

Want to make your life a little more functional while displaying your photos? Calendars are excellent alternatives to photo frames. There are many options for printing your own calendar with your photos, or you can have one professionally printed for about the cost of any other calendar. You can even start the year this month, so there’s still time to start on last year’s resolution to get more organized. Add photos to get you motivated for a goal, favorite holiday memories, and personal events to help make your calendar even more special.

5. Tea Towels

Vintage images printed on tea towels that lie on a wooden background.Source: Etsy

Create an fun, artistic vibe in your kitchen with this custom photo tea towel, or maybe put photos of guests on the towels to use as napkins and place cards for a special event. Convince kids to help with the chores by letting them select a favorite photo or piece of art to put on their own dishcloth or cleaning rag. Or print the face of your ex onto a cleaning rag and have fun rubbing it in all kinds of gross messes.

6. Mugs

A personalized mug rests on a stone brick surface.Source: Etsy

Or why not have a photo printed on a mug, and ensure that you always know which latte is yours? If you have a lot of photos from your favorite park, you could pick one from each season and display them on a chic mug rack to create a fun, personalized display that will make you smile all year.

7. Your Fridge

Hand shown sticking magnetic picture frames on a refrigerator.


Source: Amazon

Remember being a kid, when your mom proudly displayed your drawings and photos on the fridge? Using magnets as alternatives to picture frames is a fun way to recall mom’s kitchen while still maintaining your adult sense of style.

Add small extras like confetti, shells, and sprinkles to this cute magnet photo project for a shadow box effect, or create cute round magnets with your favorite pictures to brighten up your fridge or give as gifts. If you’re not feeling crafty or want to cover up your whole fridge, try one of these magnetic photo pockets to create a pretty collage effect.

8. Your Furniture

Personalized rectangle table standing on carpeted flooring.Source: Etsy

Old furniture that needs a face lift, like tables, dressers, and barstools can make wonderful picture frame alternatives. All you need is a little bit of mod podge or clear resin, some pictures, and possibly some clear glass to create a wonderful piece of accent furniture that will liven up any room. You can have a lot of fun combining your personal photos with images from old magazines or books of art, as well.

9. Clothesline

Polaroid photos hung on a clothesline outdoors.

If you have a clothesline and some clothespins, you can use them to hang pictures pretty much anywhere. Mount an indoor clothesline to a piece of wood hanging on a wall in your home, and you can adjust clothespins or binder clips with different photos or works of art as needed. This home DIY blogger created hers in just ten minutes.

10. A Projector

Family using the projector in three different ways.

Source: Amazon

All these ideas are wonderful if you love paper photos, but if digital is where your heart lies, why not pick up a digital projector? Hook it up to a PC, smartphone or tablet and aim it at the wall of your choice to display your art or photos as a combination mood light and statement wall. The look is bold and futuristic and easy to customize based on your mood or decor.

11. Magnetic Knife Strips

A photo frame hung on the wall using a wooden magnetic strip.Source: Etsy


Magnetic knife strips can be used just about anywhere in your home to create a space where you can easily display photos, artwork, and special keepsakes. Since they can be held in place with double sided tape or command strips, you can mount them anywhere you want to liven up a wall. Grab some inexpensive, fun magnets to add even more visual interest, or magnetic poetry kits to make fun photo captions.

12. Blankets

Family portrait printed on a sofa throw lying on a gray armchair.Source: Etsy

If you have a large photo or piece of art that you love, why not print it on a cuddly fleece throw? It would look beautiful draped across your couch or favorite chair, or folded on your bed. An ultrasound printed on a blanket would make a cute gift for parents to be! If you have too many beloved pictures to decide, creating a photo quilt might be a good idea. Create fabric with your printed images and use them as panels in any type of quilting project- wrap yourself up in happy memories or create interesting artistic effects.

13. Clocks

Picture frame wall clock is displayed on an empty wall above a desk cabinet in a children's playroom.

Source: Amazon

Inexpensive clocks come apart easily, so it’s simple to add your own photo as the background. This would make a wonderful gift, and would be a fun way to focus on a daily goal visually every time you look at the clock. For music lovers, a piece of sheet music from a favorite song would be a unique gift.

You could also try creating an artistic schedule with a clock designed to hold photos– Add pictures of a favorite meal to lunch time, or a photo of someone you want to spend time with at a specific time of day to remind you to call or text them more. It would be a wonderful way to keep kids who can’t read yet up to date on daily events as well.

14. Hangers

Empty Polaroid films attached to clips on wire coat hangers hanging on a clothesline.

Check the back of your closet or your local thrift store for wooden trouser hangers to display artwork or posters for a fun, industrial inspired vibe.

15. Driftwood

DIY picture frame made of starfishes, seashells, and driftwood on blue wooden background.

Or if you’re always at the beach, you can bring the beach home with driftwood and string by creating a pretty driftwood photo display.

16. Ladders


White nursery room with picture frames and a ladder with pictures of animals.

If you adore the look of reclaimed wood from vintage home goods, keep on the lookout for vintage wooden ladders, they also make wonderful alternatives to picture frames. You can use rope or string to hang the photos inside the rungs, or perhaps just mat your images on poster board and lean them on the rungs.

17. Window Frames

Portraits of family members displayed on DIY picture frame made of old barn-style window frames.Source: Etsy

Check on Craig’s List in the for old window frames. Beautiful rustic looking ones are often available for a few dollars or even free when someone is remodeling or cleaning out a garage. They make beautiful window picture frames as they are, or you can use wire and binder clips to create a hanging window photo display for your photos.

18. Nightlights

Polaroid films clipped on string lights against a wall and beside an empty bed.Source: Etsy

Bring light to a kid’s bedroom, bathroom, or anywhere else you need light with this cute craft that takes about half an hour. Just print your favorite digital image onto transfer paper or freezer paper, then iron it onto some plain white fabric.

Secure the fabric into an embroidery hoop, and use that as the cover for your new custom photo night light. Print a guardian character onto a night light to protect little ones from nightmares or a favorite motivational quote on your own so it’s the first thing you see when you wake up.







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