Home Decor

4 Quick & Stunning Alternatives to Framed Art

No more art prints gathering dust on shelves.

May 26, 2020
Photo by Upton

If you’ve ever purchased an art print, then perhaps you already know the work that goes into affixing said print to a wall in your home. First, you must frame this piece of paper you already paid money to own. This requires that you either buy a frame, and either you're resourceful enough to frame it yourself, or you hand off your precious cargo to a professional framer who will do the work expertly, but for a considerable price. Next, you need to measure, sometimes level, and definitely hammer at least one nail into the wall to hang your framed art.

If you’re anything like me, you will procrastinate each step of the way, leaving your print lying gathering dust somewhere in your apartment, until you can muster the energy to complete these daunting, and often expensive, tasks.

Recently though, I procured a beautiful, abstract wall hanging that changed my perspective on decorating my walls. The piece of canvas came equipped with sewn eyelets that eliminate the need to puncture the art and that allow me to hang it with just two thumbtacks. My space was transformed on the very day it arrived on my doorstep.

I no longer dream of chic gallery walls, I only fantasize about one thing: discovering more alternatives to frames that allow me to decorate my rooms with art. Here are a few that I’ve already employed throughout my apartment…feel free to add your own ideas to the comments below.

Wall Hangings and Tapestries

When I came across the Upton Home cotton canvas wall hanging on actress Molly Bernard’s Brooklyn apartment in this article, I knew my prayers had been answered. I ordered it immediately and I am now so hooked on fabric art that I’m searching for another piece to hang above my new couch.

There are many perks to wall hangings and tapestries (which, by the way, no longer are just associated with hippies or dorm rooms). Even if the item doesn't have eyelets, it can typically be hung using trusty thumbtacks—yup, that’s it. You can also use self-adhesive Velcro tape or Command Strips to hang without putting any holes in the wall. None of these methods call for a hammer or any tools—I’m not sure it can get any easier than that.

In terms of aesthetics, cloth also brings softness and movement to a space in a way that a hard-surfaced frame simply cannot. Plus, no matter what you spend on the piece itself, the cost is inherently more cost-effective because you don’t need a frame.

Woven Art

I’ve been a fan of woven art for some time and I even tried my hand at creating an elementary version myself. Encompassing a variety of techniques including weaving, knitting, knotting, crocheting, and braiding, woven pieces display an impressive artfulness and appreciation for hand-skill. From macrame to textiles, this is a crafty way to add texture and character to a bare wall that needs livening up.

Perhaps the best part, though, is they’re super simple to hang. Anchored by a wooden dowel or a natural stick at the top, all you need is a string and a single nail or thumbtack. Often, the string comes with the piece.

Polaroid (Or Polaroid-Like) Photographs

For the holidays, my boyfriend gifted me a Fujifilm Instax, a camera modeled after the classic Polaroid. This is an extremely fun (and useful) toy that offers the instant gratification of suddenly having decor that's just perfect in its original form. I can instantaneously produce something creative, tangible, and complete. Most importantly, the retro film photos don't need frames.

There are tons of ways to exhibit these Polaroid-like images. Simply, you can rest them against a book or wine bottle on a desk or shelf. A step up might include posting them on a cork board or taping them to a wall. For an inventive display, try clothes-pinning them to twinkle lights.

Household Objects

Of course, there's always a case to be made for hanging common household objects—cutting boards, kitchen tools, or plates—on walls. Julia Child famously hung her kitchen tools from a peg board; mixing some useful with curious antique ones makes for decor worth talking about. Some people will even hang clothes and accessories: baskets, hats, even a beautiful kimono on its hangers—sleeve stretched and tacked for maximum effect. Any of these things are fair game—just slip them off when you need to use them!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Renee
  • Peter Rogness
    Peter Rogness
  • Molly


Renee February 5, 2021
That white one by a guy named Patrick is beautiful. All I can think of is how much of a nightmare to dust it would be in my house. Constant battle with dirt on the farm but I absolutely love it.
Peter R. June 8, 2020
There are so many sites selling affordable art now that it seems sad to not search out something that you truly love and support a working srtist at the same time.
Molly June 8, 2020
Thank you. Well said.
Molly May 30, 2020
Please consider buying works like these from an artist as opposed to an online store or outlet.