DIY Tape Picture Frames

When I moved into my dorm room for my freshman year of college, the first thing I did was unpack a gigantic envelope filled with magazine clippings. I had spent the entire summer going through various fashion magazines, cutting out pages with an X-Acto knife and saving them so that in the near future, I could wallpaper my entire dorm with them. I made a point of arriving early on move-in day so that I could stake out my space in the room and begin what amounted to an extreme makeover. It goes without saying that, upon finding me knee-deep in fashion photos with hands blue from sticky tac, my new roommate was none too pleased. I could tell that he, a quiet skater dude who brought just a single poster with him, was horrified by my shameless takeover of the wall space. At the time, I was quite convinced that I was something of a fashionista and could not be swayed from the belief that my decorating antics were at the absolute pinnacle of taste. In retrospect, I could have toned it down a bit.

When I moved into my first apartment a year and a half later, I had mostly abandoned this style of decorating. Instead, I was determined to make my new living space as adult as possible. After all, this was a real apartment. Equipped with cheap frames from the dollar store, I arranged several of my own photographs on my bedroom walls. Even if they weren’t expensive custom frames, they made me feel infinitely more grown up.

Indeed, there is something inherently sophisticated about hanging picture frames on one’s walls. Perhaps it’s because they lend a space some semblance of intent, rather than the feeling that random bits have been thrown together. Unfortunately, many rentals and dorms restrict frame use because of rules forbidding nails or tacks. Additionally, frames can be cumbersome to move and ones that aren’t from the dollar store can be quite costly.

As a cheap, easy and surprisingly chic alternative, consider framing magazine clippings, photographs and postcards with different colored tapes. The supplies travel lightly, can be changed frequently and can be purchased for very little. For more tips and directions on achieving this look, continue after the jump! — Max

(Image above: desk lamp from Schoolhouse Electric)

To make these fun and stylish tape picture frames, all you’ll need are a few images to frame, one or more kinds of decorative tape, scissors and an X-Acto knife or similar blade. For tape, we used Japanese washi tape (available at many craft stores or online here), black masking tape and copper foil tape. Tape comes in all shapes, sizes, colors and textures, so do some browsing and find what you like best!

When you have your materials assembled, begin by taping up a single image. It’s important to tape up and frame your images one at a time so you can be sure of how much surrounding wall space you’ll have left. Once your image is up, take a roll of tape and make a frame around your image, adjusting the size and amount of interior space to your liking. As illustrated in the first image, you can go far beyond a simple rectangular frame. Mix it up! If there are bits of tape that are longer than others or overlapping in awkward ways, use your X-Acto blade to carefully trim off the excess. Move the blade lightly over the tape to avoid putting marks on the actual wall. This technique is especially useful when making non-rectangular frames.

Ta-da! That’s it! Easy peasy. Now gather some tape and some pictures, and make yourself some snazzy frames. I guarantee you’ll feel instantly fancier.

  1. Camilla says:

    We are renting and were not allowed to put anything up… So when i saw this I was thrilled, but doesn’t it leave stains/grease marks like bluetack does??

    1. Grace Bonney says:


      no, washi tape doesn’t leave any staining behind.


  2. Valerie says:

    Love it! Thanks :) I get bored easily with my wall art and I was looking for something to do with all these post cards and newspaper clippings I have. Brilliant.

  3. Holly says:

    What kind of tape did you use to actually tape the pictures to the wall?! Did you put it on the back of the picture and press it onto the wall to stick?! Thanks!

  4. sony says:

    Luv it!! I put family pictures down my hall, but I like to switch it up w/ new pics of wedding and new babies , to honor luved who have passed.
    Now I have a way to do it w/o leaving a bunch of nail holes :-)


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