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Picture Frames

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT VINTAGE PICTURE FRAMES

You may have sworn off analog photography years ago—if not decades—but that doesn’t mean that picture frames have gone the way of dial-up tones and the passenger pigeon. In fact, picture frames still proliferate in most homes, bringing a nostalgic touch to even the most neoteric-feeling nightstands and dressers.

If you’re on the hunt for vintage picture frames that will enthrall your walls and vivify your vanities rather than bog them down with sentimental schmaltz, look for vintage frames with sleek, uniform finishes and pass on diminutive details. Before buying a vintage frame, ask yourself: will this frame filch eyes away from my photo? If your answer is affirmative, consider opting for something more pared-down with less visual fuss.

It can also be worth considering where your vintage picture frame will be taking up residence. Generally, dressers, vanities, and credenzas pack more heft than nightstands, meaning a larger photo frame is advisable. While nightstands can certainly benefit from a scaled-up frame, they can be a better place to work a wallet-sized double-hinge frame or a tea saucer-sized Murano frame.

Still having trouble picking a befitting frame for your beloved pics? To help, we’re spotlighting some of the vintage styles that are easiest-to-integrate into contemporary interiors.

5 VINTAGE PICTURE FRAME STYLES WE LOVE

Oval Picture Frames

Those looking to procure instant polish can’t do much better than an oval picture frame. A forever classic that harks to old-world glamour while retaining 21st Century appeal, the oval frame is perfect for making even the most simple photos feel like coveted heirlooms. From a technical stand-point, vintage oval frames are ideal for displaying close-up portraits that could otherwise feel a bit flat in a standard square frame. Curvilinear sides don’t just frame a photo, but cup it, lending whatever photo you decide to drop inside a bit of extra regalia. Thanks to their elongated shape, oval frames make for a powerful design element on any surface. If you’re concerned about an oval frame infringing on your photo, consider holding out for an oval frame with a square picture cut-out. The effect will be much the same as a standard oval frame, but you won’t have to stress over any ill-croppings.

Frameless Picture Frames

Frameless frames: an oxymoron? Not quite. Frameless frames, which are picture frames that sandwich a photo between two pieces of glass or acrylic, skew more minimalist than other frames on this list, but make no less of an impact in a room. Use these vintage frames’ sleek, borderless design to draw attention to an especially revered photograph. Their pared-down form also makes them a smart choice for offices and bookcases where a less-is-more mentality reigns supreme, Most vintage borderless frames will come equipped with a decorated pedestal base. These bases can range from simple and geometric to ornate and pictorial. It’s especially common to find borderless frames with weighty, sculptural bases from the Art Deco era. The era’s machine-inspired motifs and penchant for hard edges played miraculously well with the borderless design.

Foldable Hinged Picture Frames

In the early aughts, mall-based photo studios caught on as a craze and created a blitz of 2.5” x 3.5” photos. While wallets handled most of the onslaught, teensy-weensy hinged frames became the favored way to display optimal outtakes. As digital photography came into vogue and bantam photos fell out of favor, so did the bitty bi-fold frames. While there may be few reasons to revive the smallest sizes of hinged photo frames, a scaled-up version can be the perfect addition to a console or bookshelf that requires some gravitas. If ever there was a time to call on vintage hinged folding frames, kids’ portraits might be it. Especially if you have two kiddos, a folding frame can be the most streamlined way to display multiple photos on a single surface. Have three in your brood? Opt for a tri-fold hinged frame.

Simple Silver Picture Frames

While not necessarily a shape of frame, there’s no denying the stylistic prowess of a simple silver frame. Having earned status as a wedding gift go-to thanks to their classic appeal, silver frames have the ability to synchronize to virtually any decor. Silver frames make a striking complement to black-and-white photography and have the deft ability to make aged ephemera look markedly modern. Silver frames come in a wide array of styles, so if flat, mirrored silver isn’t your jam, consider seeking out a silver frame with details like beveling, buffed edges, beading, roping, or bamboo accents.

Glass Picture Frames

Vintage glass frames, especially colored glass frames, are a surefire way to add surface intrigue. Because glass wears a higher price tag than other materials, vintage glass frames tend to be smaller in size than some other vintage makes. Use a small glass frame in a gem tone to add personality to a desk, bookshelf, or bedside. To pump up the luxe factor, look for Murano and Venetian glass frames, which often showcase standout details like ribbing, scalloping, and other incised accents. A styling hack for vintage Murano glass frames? If you procure a frame in a vibrant hue like yellow, pink, or green, match your photo’s color scheme to the frame. It can have a next-level effect.