DIY Cardboard Hipster Frames

cardboard frames
Extra photos for bloggers: 1, 2

Our parents are still complaining about the Year of the Box. That was the year they got us this really big, fancy, expensive toy for The Holidays, and (rotten little squirts that we were) we had more fun playing with the box it came in.

It wasn’t really our fault, it’s just that you can make such great stuff out of cardboard boxes. Forts, spaceships, hats, even picture frames!

Oh yes, that’s right, cardboard picture frames.

Big urbane one-of-a-kind picture frames that will make you the envy of all the other kids on your block. (Well, the figurative kids anyway. Real ones aren’t that big on interior design.)

No matter what we get this year, we’re going straight for the box it comes in and making a whole wall full of these hip frames.

Photojojo’s DIY Cardboard Hipster Frames

Why’s It Cool?

Especially at this time of year, what with online shopping and everything, there always seem to be cardboard boxes lying around. Why not do something with them?

Cardboard’s hip. Seriously. Architecture majors and designers make stuff out of it all the time, like modern flower vases or Frank Gehry’s chairs.

If you need a new look for your walls, this is the way to go.

What You’ll Need


  • Photos
  • Cardboard
  • X-acto knife or utility knife
  • A pen or pencil
  • Tape
  • Colored string or yarn (optional)
  • Colored markers (optional)
  • Decorative wrapping paper or maps (optional)
  • Rubber cement or gluestick(optional)

Step 1: Draw Some Shapes

frame shapesFirst you need to choose some shapes for your frames. Do you want round ones? Rectangles? Spiky comic-book amoebas?

You can draw the shapes freehand directly on the cardboard with a pen or pencil. Make the shapes as irregular as you want- that’s part of the appeal of cardboard frames.

If your drawing skills are truly nonexistent, use software like MS Paint or Photoshop to combine simple shapes (rectangles, ovals, etc.) into picture frame designs.

Be sure to make the opening of the frame smaller than your photo so that the picture will fit nicely behind it.

Step 2: Cut Out The Cardboard

cutting frame outCut out the designs you drew on the cardboard using a utility or X-acto knife.

If you designed shapes in the computer, print them out and tape them onto the cardboard. Then cut through the paper and cardboard with the knife.

Slip a cutting mat (or an extra piece of cardboard) underneath before you cut out your designs, and be extra careful with that blade.

Step 3: Hang ‘Em High

attach photo and stringOnce you’ve cut out your frames, position a photo behind the opening of each one and tape it in place on the back of the frame.

You can hang your frames on the wall with double-stick tape, but we like to hang them from colored string.

Cut a few lengths of different-colored embroidery floss and tape each length to the back of the frame, at the top center. Make a loop at the top of the string to hang each frame individually, or attach multiple frames together to make a chain.

Extra Credit: Fancy Wrapping

fancy-pants framesNot a fan of plain brown cardboard? Fancy up your frames by drawing designs on them with colored markers.

If you’ve got old wrapping paper or maps lying around, glue them onto the cardboard with gluestick or rubber cement and let the paper dry before cutting the frames out.

More Ideas

  • Make the frames as big or small as you want. The only limit is the size of the biggest piece of cardboard you can find.
  • Mix different frame shapes together: classic antique shapes with comic book starbursts, or modern with art deco.
  • Make the frames in lots of different sizes and use them to cover a whole wall.
  • Mix plain cardboard frames with painted or paper-covered ones.
  • String together long chains of small frames and hang them in a doorway or in front of a window.

Photo credits: nuzz, doryexmachina, and ‘stpiduko’.