A while back, I fell in love with the modern, minimal look of standoff frames. Wanna know what I DIDN'T fall in love with? The price tag! Many of these styles can run $75-$100 for a single frame in the sizes I needed, since the structure is a little complicated and acrylic can be pricey.
I have tried many iterations of creating my own which resulted in tears, frustration, and a strained friendship with the guy who wields the drill in our house. I've discovered a middle ground, an affordable, easy hack that will tide you over until you can save up for the real thing!
- Printed artwork/photos
- Acrylic sheet(s)
- Standoff hardware (similar to this)
- Spray paint (optional)
- Magnet discs (like these)
- Double sided clear tape
- Hot glue gun and sticks
- Drill or screwdriver
1. Print your pictures: I chose to download these images from Etsy for a whopping $6. It's actually a single image cut into two pieces, which worked well for our space! For the fastest turnaround, I normally print my downloadable art at Walgreens and use the "poster" size. They ALWAYS have coupons so be sure to check- but mine rounded out to a little over $8. I also did a similar project with some artwork I drew as a child, and have framed prints from thrift stores as well. This is not the frame for your Picasso, but works great as a large wall-filler.
2. Purchase acrylic sheets: I needed two for my project, and found exactly what I needed in the plexiglass aisle of Lowe's. In the past for larger images, I used the plastic insert from a poster frame I bought on sale at Walmart! Any size or thickness will work for this, just measure your space and your image and pick something a bit larger than your print.
3. Prep standoff hardware: The "hack" of this is that we are going to mimic the look of a standoff frame without the hard work. To do this, I spray painted cheap disc magnets the same size as my standoffs a metallic silver and it worked perfectly. I have also spray painted the standoffs themselves gold with the same result. The magnets I bought were gray/black so this was necessary, but I also experimented with other silver disc magnets, flat batteries, and some other lookalikes to get the look.
4. Screw standoffs into the wall completely: Each piece of standoff hardware has a base and a screw. In a normal scenario, the screw goes on top of the acrylic and screws into the base, sandwiching it between. However, drilling the holes is where I failed each time, so this is where the hack begins! Take the provided screws and drill them into the wall where you want them. You can use the acrylic as a measuring tool to place them, I used masking tape to get each corner positioned correctly. Then, screw the top piece into the base once it's fastened to the wall.
2. Measure and tape images to acrylic: For this step, I measured in each side but mostly eyeballed the placement that I wanted. I placed the image face up on one piece of acrylic, added double sided clear tape (as sparingly as possible so it will still hold the image in place) and then placed the second piece on top of it to make sure it was in the right position. For the second one, I did the same thing but placed the second print on top of the first so I knew they were in the identical spot. The harder you press on the tape, the more it disappears. Remember, it may not be perfect, but just chant to yourself how much money you're saving!
5. Apply hot glue to the standoff hardware: Apply a small blob of hot glue to the top of each standoff screw and quickly press your acrylic sheet to fasten it. I found that I had to do the top first, press, and then do the bottom so the hot glue wouldn't dry. Press firmly so that the acrylic is as flat as possible against the screws.
6. Apply magnets: Now that your art and acrylic are fastened to the wall, the magnets should stick easily on top of the acrylic. If there is any issue, you can always hot glue them on top to get the final look, but it would be a little harder to reposition or remove.
And voila! Your own mini-gallery, for about $25. While this isn't necessarily the most glamorous long-term solution, it works perfectly for our guest bathroom for the time being. I hope it inspires you to think outside the box with a project that has been stumping you!