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The Best Picture Frames and Ideas for Families: I’m framing a picture of Meredith Viera* for sure.

By Melissa Summers

I’ve been terribly neglectful of this site. I’ve been buzzing but mostly about really irritating morning talk shows. So what should we talk about today? How about something really exciting, like cocktails and playgroups? No?
Right, boring.
How about picture frames and display? I mentioned in an earlier post my intent to frame and display more of my family snapshots this year and I got an email from Wood from Sweet Juniper asking if I could share some because she would also like to put up some of their shots at their place.
The thought of me trying to find picture frames for Wood’s husband Dutch makes me feel like a pure midwesterner, the kind which calls K-Mart ‘K-Mart’s’ and Target, “Targets”. I’m trying to say I have pretty simple mainstream taste in picture frames. So I’ll start out and you can add your favorite frames in the comments. If you can’t do it for me, do it for Wood.
sectionalframes.jpgMy taste is a little more simple classic, but I thought West Elm offered some simple modern frames worth looking at. The first is this ‘sectional frame‘, The brushed metal is sleek and I like the slightly off center picture opening. It draws your eye to it and if you’re OCD, it will drive you completely insane. Weee!
motherofpearframes.jpgAnother offering from West Elm is this ‘Mother of Pearl‘ version. Mother of pearl is so pretty and makes me think of a more romantic/floral look, but on these frames it plays very sleek and contemporary. I also love Mother Of Pearl because it’s a wonderful swear word to use in front of children. Although sometimes when something really bad happens I’ll slip and say, “Mother of F’ing Pearl” and that sort of defeats the purpose doesn’t it?
marthastewart.jpgI know I just made fun of Kmarts up above but you know I can’t resist the Martha line. These are well priced and well made frames, I like this dark wood version with center rope detail. It’s not modern but a more classic look and at $8.99-$12.99 you can easily get a few versions. There are many online, but I’ve found more of the wide mat wall frames in the stores and have spent around $10-$25 on them.
exposures.jpgI have a hallway in my house I use to display a bunch of photos. In order to tie all the pictures together, I use frames like these from Exposures. (The ‘s’ is supposed to be there.) I like the simple lines and the wide mats around the photos. The wide mat and simple lines makes both colors of wood make sense together and allows your picture really pop out.
pictureledges.jpgI like to change out my pictures and wanted to be able to move my pictures around, add more and take away others. These picture ledges are great for that. Less holes in the wall, a sleek look and flexibility to change things around. Also, you can make these yourself for very little money and effort. I know you think you can’t but you really can. When my husband goes out of town for work I often feel some sort of pioneer spirit take over. It’s as though I want to prove I can do everything on my own when he’s not around. I’ve hung new wood blinds (friends scoffed they’d fall down in a month, 4 years later, still up!), painted rooms, installed under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen and I build picture ledges.
I’ll give you a quick tutorial: Print out a picture of the picture ledges at Room and Board, go to your favorite home improvement superstore. Find a nice looking lady worker near the wood aisle, show her your picture and she’ll help you figure out what you need. Stain and seal your wood, cut to size, nail the pieces together, install brackets on the back and hang on your wall (with a level!). Ta-da.
Maybe frames make you tired. So boring. So played out. You need more excitement in your photo display. Okay, I’ll share but I’ll warn you, if you’re bored by picture frames pretty soon you’re going to be heliskiing for excitement because your need for excitement is going to take over. But let’s start with these things.
sprayorganizer.nlA photographer friend of ours has one of these in his living room. I love peeking through the pictures and they’re always changing. Their home is very sleek, a 1960’s California style ranch and this clip on photo organizer looks right at home in their living room. It’s about the size of a floor lamp, only more interesting to look at. Of course, his pictures are so beautiful he could display them in a cardboard box and they would be breathtaking.
magnetrope.jpgI like sticking photos up on my fridge, I think of it like a revolving time capsule. My refrigerator is ridiculously cluttered at this point and it’s kind of embarrassing. Plus my realtor informed me that cluttered refrigerators don’t sell houses. Darn it. I think this magnetic rope display from PhotoJoJo could be my answer. The simple metal cable comes with 8 tiny (but strong) magnets you use to attach photos or other notes to the cable. Your choking fridge (and your realtor) will be able to breathe easy once again.
photoblocks.jpgAnother idea I think kids would love is this DIY Photo Block Kit also at Photojojo. The kit includes everything you need to make your own photo block set at home, you provide the 4×6 photo. Four wood blocks, photo safe glue and sealer all come with your kit, you put it together and end up with a unique way to show off your favorite pictures. I love this idea and can imagine how much fun my kids would have mixing and matching their faces.
Where do you find your best picture frames and display?
*Meredith, if you’re reading this will you send me a picture signed, “Dearest Melissa, What’s the difference?”

Published February 1, 2007. Last updated August 9, 2018.
Melissa Summers
About the Author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.


Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

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  • kerflop

    February 1, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    If you’re feeling crafty, this DIY frame display looks like fun:

  • littlewhiteliar

    February 1, 2007 at 2:20 pm

    I like to customize my own photo frames, since my pictures suck and tend to look even more amateur-hour in really sleek frames. Here are three things I have done and been complimented on (I’m excluding the ones that people say, “What the hell is that?” to):
    1) Depending on the style of the room, hang a ribbon, section of thin rope, twine, etc. on a wall. Then, using clothespins, hang pictures from it. Stained wooden clothespins on a thin rope look really rustic. Lacquered or colored clothespins on a ribbon are cute for a kid’s room.
    2) Shadowboxes are awesome, if you have a lot of memorabilia that goes with an event. I made one for the guy I went to Rome with that included a cheap rosary from the Vatican, a few photos of the city, a copy of my plane ticket stub, etc. People love to stare at shadowboxes.
    3) During the summer at camp, we always make those elastic message boards with the kids. They love being able to take their own favorite photos, letters from home, etc. in and out at will.

  • wood from sweetjuniper

    February 1, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    Thank you! And don’t worry, Dutch may be a design snob, but he’s cheaper than he is snobby. We don’t have a single frame in our house that wasn’t bought at Meijer’S (we’re midwestern like that), IKEA, or goodwill.
    It’s time to classy-up.

  • Marissa

    February 1, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    Oh, I’m so glad you posted this! I am still in search of some cheap 8×10″ frames, to hold prints from a calendar I love. I’ve been looking for about three years now… I think I will have to make a trip to Goodwill and poach some horrible collection of artwork just for the frames. I’m picturing that I’ll find something like

  • littlewhiteliar

    February 1, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    I just realized that I didn’t add any “buy this it’s awesome out of the box” links. So here’s one that speaks to my love of anything containing the word “reclaimed” in its title: Pressed Tin Photo Frame

  • Gwen

    February 1, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    I remember reading about a few innovative and fairly easy ways to display pictures. The first was to us a free standing or counter postcard spinner. This way you can change the pictures out easily and they don take up too much room and you can display a lot of pictures. Maybe a good idea for a pre-teen or teen’s room rather than the ubiquitous buliten board or just push pins in a wall.
    I also found the link ( to an easy photo wall that somebody had linked to at some point in the last few months. If I wasn’t renting such a small place I would do this in a second. It would also be a really good way to display your kids art of the moment.

  • AmandaT

    February 1, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    My favorite place for frames: Lovely gallery style frames, standard sizes custom sizes, mats… CHEAP. Real cheap. Who’s the commentor who has some 8×10 calendar pages to frame?? Check them out. I always get the Dick Blick Studio Metal frames. 8×10 is like 8 bucks. OR, buy say, an 11×14 frame for $10, and some pre-cut mats with 8×10 openings (pack of six for around $20-ish), and your prints will look all fancypants and professional and sht, like Melissa’s Exposures offering above. Wheee!

  • veg4me

    February 1, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    Wood mentioned it, but Goodwill or other thrift stores are a great place to find frames. When you purchase an expensive frame you usually don’t want to do any upgrades, but with a $2 Goodwill frame, I have no problem spending five or ten bucks on a mat color that I like. Then again, I’m the same girl who dove in to get a 1960’s Atlas out of the dumpster at the landfill and then framed up some of the pages. I’m all about spending big bucks on my artwork and frames, aren’t I?

  • pixie sticks

    February 1, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    do you have Aaron Brothers ( in the Midwest? Great basic wood or metal frames (with matting and without) AND Dutch should wait for their “Buy Any Frame Get Another for One Cent Sale.”

  • Stacy

    February 1, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    Since I love taking pictures I am all about picture frames. However, since I love taking pictures I also have a good half ton of them, so I need CHEAP picture frames. I usually like to shop Marshall’s or TJ Max for frames and can usually find some pretty unique ones.
    Another tip is that if you want to frame a large picture (11×14), a lot of the picture collage frames are that size. I have a few humongous pictures of my kids on the wall that didn’t cost much.
    Then if you want to spend a lot of money there are some pretty cool digital picture frames that can show a lot of pictures. I haven’t spent money on one of those yet, but they tempt me, darn them.

  • slouching mom

    February 1, 2007 at 4:14 pm

    I found the most wonderful way to hang art posters or large photographs. It’s not really a frame at all. There are two thin metal tubes that fit around the top and bottom of the photo or artwork. I can’t explain this at all well, so you’ll have to look for yourself at
    It is the most inexpensive way to hang wall art or photos that I’ve ever seen, and I think it looks clean and elegant. Leave it to the Scandinavians to come up with such a clever idea.

  • quirky

    February 1, 2007 at 5:21 pm

    I discovered photo post it paper. To save money I load as many 2×3 pictures on an 81/2x 11 sheet and then cut them out. They are stuck as a collage on a blank wall and I can continue to add to it as I feel like it.

  • pnutsmama

    February 1, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    ha! mother of pearl is one of our new ways to swear now that our kid is starting to pick up language.
    i’d second the recommendation for marshalls/homegoods/tjmaxx for unique frames, although it can be hit or miss, and you don’t usually have the choice to get more than one or two of the same style/size. i’ve done very well at biglots(or oddlots) and a store called national wholesale liquidator. these are all stores in the ny metro area, so i apologize if they aren’t out in the midwest.
    i’ve also done well at Kohl’s- their stuff is cheap (thank you globalism!) and they have ridiculous sales all the time- buy one get one free and if you have one of their charge cards you get tons of coupons for 10-30% off of that, too. we’ve found we can get multiples of the same style for ‘collections’ and you can do the whole buy a bigger size and matte a smaller picture. some of the most beautiful displays i’ve ever seen are very large frames with small pictures in them- they truly draw you in to the photograph.
    i would also recommend michaels craft stores (or similar chain craft store)- they always have great sales on frames, and you can get multiples of the same style or size there, too.
    finally, (not frame related) i would build off of the idea lwr had for using a piece of rope/ribbon to hang pictures off of- we did this with linen kitchen towels and clothespins on clotheslines on our kitchen windows in our first apartment and it was so pretty- someone always noticed it! although it’s more of a ‘country’ look as far as style goes.

  • Jenn Bo

    February 1, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    Dear AmandaT: Thank you for the tip. I looked for a pre-made 20″x24″ frame for YEARS! Seriously, like 3 years. Then I finally broke down and paid for a custom frame. Which cost almost as much as those fancy boots Melissa has (although, as she did with the boots I know Melissa would have found a better deal on framing). Anyway, I am forever indebted.
    Melissa: Thanks for bringing up the topic. I love frames!

  • jana

    February 1, 2007 at 11:30 pm

    I had a mish-mash of mismatched (say that ten times fast) frames that I had begun accumulating in my college years. I bought a can of black spray paint for a couple of bucks, removed the glass and backing from all the frames, and painted them all black. I used them to create a collage wall up the stairway. The different sizes, thicknesses, textures etc. works somehow since they’re all the same color and all the pictures are black and white.

  • kat

    February 2, 2007 at 3:14 am

    ikea! i heart ikea. i just a frame that hangs down from the ceiling.
    i also buy plain frames and then collage them with magazine cutouts, etc. when i’m feeling crafty that is. ooh and once when i had the crafty bug, i took mini clothespins and strung them along some fishwire which i taped on the fridge and on walls to have a revolving place for pictures, etc.

  • ~T

    February 2, 2007 at 7:12 am

    As the owner of a custom framing store, I’d like to suggest a few things that will make all of your precious images look great.
    First, if you’re going for a custom look on a low budget, buy a standard size frame larger than your pic. If your pic is 4×6 say, buy an 8×10 frame, or an 11×14 if you want a really bold looking mat. World Market has some great looking frames, and even some in big sizes( Have a mat specialty cut for you in a color that compliments the photo. While you’re at the custom framing store ask about some UV glass (conservation clear is what you want). It’s not very costly and will prevent all of your favorite images from losing their vibrant colors. Lastly, take all of this stuff home and assemble it yourself. Framers charge to put it together. Several of my very good customers use these ideas and their photos turn out awesome.

  • kaleigh

    February 2, 2007 at 9:24 am

    Okay, my favorite non-curse popped out by mistake and now I say it on purpose: Mother Jumper.
    I just bought some frames on clearance at Pier One. It’s not usually my favorite store, but the sale beckoned. I had finally scanned our wedding pictures and had my favorites made into 8 x 10’s (only 14 years after the wedding….) as an early Valentine’s gift to hubby.
    And thanks for the link, slouching mom….I’ve been looking for those things for a long time.

  • lim

    February 2, 2007 at 10:21 am

    The day after Thanksgiving I found digital photo frames at Macys (coupon, rebate – so the price wasn’t that bad). They were a big hit over the holidays.

  • Nicole

    February 2, 2007 at 10:51 am

    You can get awesome prices on a wide range of frames by checking out Hobby Lobby, Michaels, or other craft type stores. The two I’ve listed regularly have 50% off their frames…making it incredibly affordable to buy any basic/classic type frame that you want.
    During one such sale, I bought one of the pre-made frames, and I was able to have an original art piece framed for 30 bucks with custom matting, frame and all. You can’t beat that!

  • Huw

    October 24, 2007 at 10:10 pm

    Wow, what a great list of options! A few years ago I set about designing my own photo display system ( I use a low tack adhesive to attach them to the wall (so it doesn’t damage the wall) and make them in my garage at home.