If you’ve ever shopped for picture frames to hang photos in your home, you may have balked at the price of said frames and gotten discouraged from creating your gallery. Discouragement due to lack of options or cost can stall a project indefinitely, which is no good when you just need to get stuff done.
So if you need help frame shopping, I’m here for you. I have five tips for making frame shopping less of a hassle and more of a treasure hunt.
#1: Buy in bulk, and buy more than you need. If you’re creating a gallery, it would be a smart choice to buy lots of the same frame style once you find one you like, and to buy more than you need so you have room to expand later. Two places where you can buy lots of the same frames for not lots of money are Walmart and Ikea. Walmart’s “Mainstays” line is sold in sets, particularly for smaller size photos. You could grab a set of 6 smaller frames that all look the same on the cheap, and then sprinkle a few larger, unique frame styles (see #2) amongst the set so it doesn’t look quite so uniform. Even if you don’t use all six frames at once, you’ll have them so you can expand your gallery in two years without worrying about the frames matching, or having to find frames to expand your collection. .
#2: Go second-hand. Here’s where you find those few larger, unique frames to add visual interest to your gallery. Thrift stores like Goodwill and local RVA thrift places are treasure troves for unique items, and frames are no exception. You might consider taking a ruler or tape measure with you as you go, because “unique” frames can also have “unique” sizes, particularly if they’re very old frames. Even if they are standard sizes, they might not be labeled with the size. Side note: this is a reminder that buying frames before you print your photos is a good idea as well.
#3: Buy mismatched frames, and paint them. If you’ve been wanting to get some metallic frames for that modern look, but haven’t wanted to pay an arm and a leg for them, metallic paint could be the perfect solution for you. Copper, gold, or silver spray paint and 15 minutes in the back yard can get you the look you’ve been looking for. A couple of key points for this: 1) the trendy look you’re trying to get is best with thin frames, not thick or ornate frames. That’s not to say you can’t go with thick or ornate frames, but you’ll end up with a different look if you do. 2) Definitely don’t forget to take the glass out of the frame before you spray paint it. Just saying. If you can’t remove the glass because it’s in there with nails, the use of newspaper and masking or painter’s tape will save you some heartache later.
#4: Shop the sales (there’s always sales). If there’s one place I can always count on for having a sale because the day ends in “y,” it’s Michael’s. Seriously, they have a % off sale every weekend and twice on Friday (exaggeration on that last part, don’t hold me to that). If you can go there to pick up the frames you buy, you’ll save on shipping too.
Another online place to find constant sales is Wayfair. As I write this, they’re having a 65% off sale and 16×20″ frames are $12. That’s just an example, but keep an eye on that site and you’re bound to find sales once or twice a month.
#5: Check the Dollar Tree. You won’t find super large frames there – the biggest I’ve found is 11×14 – but for $1, this could be another way to buy lots of similar frames in bulk before you supplement with larger pieces. This could also be where you find those frames you want to paint, or even practice painting. Because $1.
I hope this short list helps you find the frames you need to get that gallery off the ground and onto your walls. What other tips for frame shopping do you have? Share them below!