10 Imaginative and Inexpensive Ways to Frame Your Favorite Art

October 13, 2015

6sqft’s new series Apartment Living 101 is aimed at helping New Yorkers navigate the challenges of creating a happy home in the big city. This week we take on framing artwork for the home without spending a lot of money.

If you’re familiar with 6sqft’s post 10 Great Places to Buy Affordable Art in New York City, then you’re probably now considering framing your new acquired artwork. Whether you are trying to get something framed, or you have a collection of frames just lying around, knowing how to approach the framing process will help make sure that your home decor and your efforts are on point. From where to find great frames on the cheap to creating your very own DIY editions from materials bought at your local hardware store, 6sqft has rounded up some inventive and inexpensive options to help you decorate your walls.


Not interested in buying a frame? Feeling some DIY action? Here are some great, easy ways to make your own unique frames.

chalkboard frames

1. Chalkboard paint 
As a black matte paint, chalkboard paint and a few sheets of paper can be a great way to frame artwork. You can paint a box on your wall and then use clear thumbtacks to gently pin your work on paper in front of it. The chalkboard paint conversely also works great as matting for images already in frames. Another idea we love is to paint an entire wall and then use chalk to create a mural. Murals are already framed by the wall’s dimensions and that will give you the chance to get creative with a ton of space at your disposal. And if you get bored with your design, you can always erase it and start anew to revive the wall!

Photos hanging on a string

2. Clips and string 
Sometimes a physical frame is just a little too expensive and it can be difficult to ensure that your measurements are spot on. One easy way to dress up a wall is to buy some sturdy string, connect it between two thumbtacks, and then use small binder clips or clothespins to hang your paper works from the string. This is a nice way to make an inexpensive and fluid gallery of work while breaking away from confines of a boxed frame. This setup also gives you the freedom to change out art or move it around at your whim.

wine cork cork board frame

3. Cork board 
While we often see cork boards as fixtures in common spaces to display reminders and notes, but these boards are also an easy way to put up some art. This is a great option for works on paper (like a print) or if you want to change up your collection every so often. Blank cork boards come in all shapes and sizes and can help you manipulate your wall space to create a personal design that perfectly suits your decor needs. There are also many cork boards that come already framed. But if you want to really put your own hand in making a cork board, save all of your wine corks and glue them on a flat board to make a literal cork surface like what you see above.


4. Build One with Materials from Big Reuse 
Located in Gowanus and in Queens, Big Reuse is known as the place to buy used construction materials. Using the assortment of wood they have in stock, you can physically take the time to make your own frame for your artwork without the expenses you would pay a professional. Plus, when we build things ourselves, the items hold more meaning and significance for us. Additionally, Big Reuse is also a thrift shop of sorts, which means that they may even have the frame you need already in stock.


  • 69 9th Street, Gowanus, Brooklyn, NY 11215
  • 317 26th Avenue, Astoria, Queens, NY 11102

empty frames as wall decorImage via Odd Stuff Mag

5. Empty frames!  
One of the best things about visiting antique shops or flea markets is the large variety of frames. There are all different shapes and sizes, many with beautiful designs on them. But often, the works we want to put into them don’t quite fit. Did we just waste money on another useless frame? No! Frames break up barren walls with their lines so try hanging a bunch of unique, empty frames on any wall to spruce it up a bit. Sure, the idea might seem odd, but if you manage to find unique frames, we guarantee that they’ll make your space feel far more extraordinary.



Getting artwork and photography framed can get very pricey—especially in a place like New York City. Of course you want your apartment to look nice and thoughtfully planned but realistically, finding bargain framing alternatives can be very tricky. Here’s a list of places to buy nice, sturdy and inexpensive frames in the city.

michaels nyc

1. Michael’s 
With “where creativity happens” as their slogan, Michael’s is the go-to for your creative needs. Michael’s carries nearly every crafty thing you could ask for, and because they are the superstore for creative people, they also have a frame shop. While framing in professional shops can get prohibitively expensive, Michael’s has pretty affordable prices and professionals who know how to get the job done right. And if you still find their prices to be a little too expensive, this also not a problem; each store carries rows and rows of of readymade frames. Store associates will also be able to help you find the right matting and sizes for any work you’re looking to hang on your walls.


  • 675 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10010
  • 808 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10025-5139

vinatge frames

2. Brooklyn Flea 
The Brooklyn Flea is a very popular choice for framing and there are several vendors there who carry only antique frames. The colors tend to be of the earthy variety—browns, dark grays, black—but there are also some large, elaborate pieces to be found as well. The selection is pretty remarkable, and with new inventory coming in every week, you’re bound to find something of use at the Flea.


  • This winter: 241 37th Street, Industry City
  • In the warmer months: 176 Lafayette Avenue, Fort Greene (Saturday); 50 Kent Avenue, Williamsburg (Sunday)

ikea frames

3. IKEA 
In the giant Swedish superstore, beyond the glorious showrooms featuring interior arrangements—and close to the art that you probably just picked up for your living room—is the land of frames. While the Andy Warhol-inspired print would probably look divine in your apartment on its own, the frames nearby provide some really unique ways to seal the deal. Their selection is as large and overwhelming as everything else IKEA stocks, but it’s so worth sifting through everything they have to find the perfect frame.

Location: 1 Beard Street, Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY 11231

urban outfitters frames

4. Urban Outfitters 
The trendy clothing store has begun to grow and expand their offerings to become a department store of sorts. So naturally, this means that there are art and frames aplenty within their walls. While they carry all different sizes with a pretty sweet selection, Urban Outfitters is not an expensive option, but rather a very affordable and reliable one. Just note that you might want to visit their website or give an individual store a call to find out if they carry what you’re looking for—as not all shops carry frames. However, if we were to point out our favorite locations, the Herald Square and Williamsburg stores are your best bets.

Locations: For a full list go here.

target frames

5. Target 
Another megastore with great section of framing options, Target is famously known for being cheap and having decent quality items. Their framing selection is huge and full of options suited for any occasion. You can also pick up all the tools you need to get all that artwork up here, too.


  • East River Plaza, 517 East 117th Street, Harlem, New York, NY 10035
  • Atlantic Terminal, 139 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217



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