Displaying old album covers as art – Ideas from 8 reader homes

framed record albums as artOnce you have your mid mod mad pad up and running, it’s time for some tunes. We’re guessing that most lovers of vintage homes also have a hankering to hear  musical favorites the old fashioned way, too — on incomparable, scratchy vinyl. Good news: Vintage LPs can generally be found very inexpensively at thrift stores and estate sales. And more good news: The album cover art may be as good as — or better than — the music. Yes: Displaying album covers as art on your walls can make for a wonderful wall display that reflects your unique vibe. Even more so, because you can periodically swapped out the LP covers to suit your mood. Above: Readers Drew and Eric have used their record collection fill a wall in their cozy reading nook — and add some hip color to the space. Read on to see how seven more Retro Renovation readers have used records in their decor.

records on the wall for artalbum art on the wall in framesAbove: Reader MidCenturyThriftyGal has grouped her collection of framed records over the fireplace — and also around the corner. When you hang your album covers tightly together like this, the grouping reads as one large piece of art. The options for making groupings of records are endless. Since records are all uniform squares — it is easy to arrange them in patterns — which can create a variety of looks for your walls. The variety of colors, designs and subject matters on vintage album covers vary widely too — so no matter your taste, you can curate a collection that will complement — or stand out from — your surrounding decor.

grouping of vintage record albums as artReaders Rob and Julie have allowed a little more space in between record frames in their grouping. Combined with the more subdued color schemes of the records they chose to display — they achieve a somewhat calmer “piece of art” — their little pup looks like he is ready to take a nap.

jills-pink-bathroom-with-beatles-memorabiliaReader Jill used a similar amount of space between her records — all Beatles — in her Beatles themed gray and pink bathroom. Note, we’d guess that the humidity in a bathroom might do damage to album covers, even when they are encased in glass — or especially when they are encased in glass — over time. So, best to check the market value of your album covers first. Album cover art is a collectible, and some are very valuable!

hang records on the wallReader Uncle Atom tacked up his records on the wood paneling in his rec room — with a vintage turntable close at hand. His colorful and kitschy arrangement of records goes well with the pattern on his floor tiles — and the subject matter of the albums he chose to display add a youthful energy to the space.

vintage album art collectionThis reader has used albums to add color to their otherwise neutral space. The wider spacing allows them to fill more wall space and spread the color around for maximum impact.

framed LPs on a wallAbove: Reader Andrea’s album art display has a theme — it’s a “bongo wall”. Very clever!

hang vintage records on the wall as artInstead of hanging multiple record albums together in a group to display as art — reader Tina has selected a favorite record to display — letting it stand alone.

Whether you choose your records to exhibit based on your favorite genre or artist, or simply for the color of decorative nature of the cover design — hanging framed vintage record albums make a great piece of art in a mid century styled home.

Readers, do you display album cover art?
Do you have design tips for others who want to do the same?

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Comments

  1. bryantm3 says

    i don’t know— i’m young so maybe older folks don’t know, but vinyl records are back now, and we actually listen to them. hanging them on the wall like they’re some anachronistic reminder of a bygone era… just seems weird. i wouldn’t hang a record unless it was a signed copy or very rare or something like that. i mean, i have 200 albums easily. it would be like hanging DVDs on the wall. why would i do that? i couldn’t ever watch them!

    do you remember back to the future 2, when he went in the “80s cafe” in the future and it was hilarious because looked nothing like the 80s? that was a very clever satire of the “50s style diners” that started popping up in the late 80s, that were so exaggerated and overdone that they looked little to nothing like a diner in the 1950s would. i call that the “faux-50s” look. one of the staples of these “50s diners” was gluing records on the wall. but really think about it, do you really think people in the 50s hung records on the wall? i know it’s the artwork, so it’s a bit different, but to me it just feels phony.

    • Jeff says

      It’s just a kitschy thing to do. It’s not because this was done back in the ’50s. Yes, “younger” people are listening to vinyl these days and have been for a long while (I was one of them and still am). Also, you don’t need to actually hang the cover WITH the record inside it. Maybe you mentioned this because you’re trolling the site for some reason, but you just hang the record cover and leave the record in its liner sleeve.

      Album artwork can be appreciated as actual artwork for hanging in the home. And it doesn’t have to be retro ’50s records. I personally will be hanging my favorite album artwork regardless of era.

  2. says

    Thanks for including our display, Kate and Pam. I use a transparent vinyl plastic hanger shaped like an upside-down Y. I buy them from ebay seller “dsmyser.”

  3. Allycat says

    Ikea has cheap album frames for sale, perfectly sized! If you live near a store, they are in the Home Decoration Dept. :)

    • Just another Pam says

      Thanks for the tip Allycat! I’ve got a couple of covers I want to display, including one called After the Dance showing all the couples in a 50’s kitchen that’s adorable.

  4. BlueJay says

    I don’t hang the cover art, but I do play them. We’ve switched almost exclusively to vinyl. If stored and maintained properly, vinyl (even vintage vinyl), should sound fantastic for years. Our record collection only seems to expand though, along with our books… :D

  5. Lynne says

    Oh, yeah, go to the thrift stores. I volunteer at my local store, and our LP’s are sold for 10 cents each. Some of the Christmas ones have fabulous vintage graphics. You could swap out the everyday ones for Christmas ones at the holidays! We just has a fabulous Elvis Christmas album donated.

  6. says

    Back when I was in college in the mid 80’s, I used to do decorate my various apartments with vintage album covers. I went mostly for the “lifestyle” records – covers showing fabulous furniture, clothes, etc.

    As for nowadays, I have a USB turntable and like to pick up albums that look interesting and convert them to digital. But I use a “catch and release” – one they’re done, it’s back to the thrift store – I spent too many years lugging albums around to hold onto them :-)

    • metalcabinetsdontburn says

      I like that ‘catch ‘n release’ idea. – had a laugh when I read it. And unlike the poof fish, little or no harm is done to the record!

  7. Maryanna says

    I agree that hanging them on the wall means you can’t listen to them! That’s no fun. My husband and I have a large collection of vinyl and a fantastic turntable. We created a comfortable listening nook in the corner of our den, with a chaise longue and comfy pillows.

    I suppose if you’ve got an extremely rare or valuable record, it could be frame-worthy. Or perhaps if you only had the jacket and the record was damaged or missing. Otherwise, I’d have to leave it on the shelf with the others.

    • Mark Reynolds says

      Maryanna, Why would one leave the vinyl inside the album cover, if framing the cover? It would be easy enough to store the albums in the inner sleeve(or buy extra sleeves to store them in. one could even keep more records by the turntable that way, as there would be less space taken up by the cardboard covers…It seems ideal, and actually more functional, for playing the music!

    • says

      I do play mine on the old blonde record player. The plastic holders makr it easy to swap them out, so in December I put up the Christmas albums, then swap them out. I’ve got themes – old TV shows, old teenage dance covers (I almost have enough twist variations to fill the wall of 43), and I’m working on covers featuring a flower power/psychedelic theme, cars, boats, trains and planes, mid century furnishings and more. Gives me something to look for at sales. :-)

  8. Frances G. says

    We have tons of albums and do listen to many of them, but have a section of Hawaiian LPs hung in our Eichler kitchen. There’s a dozen hanging on skinny wall spaces between the long windows looking into our atrium and they are always a conversation piece. The covers are so fun we *had* to display them!

  9. Jessica says

    What a great post. I love the albums in the bathroom. I never would have thought to put them there. Just a tip, you can also get the album frames at AC Moore or Michaels, and use a 40 percent off coupon and get a pretty good deal.

    We do our albums by color group, so right now its yellows and oranges. Its led zepplin, marvin gaye live, and judas priest, which are quite the combination. Someday I’d love to do a whole wall of them around my basement fireplace. This website is a nonstop spot for inspiration.

  10. char says

    I have them leaning against the hi fi console, I listen to Spotify tho. I do have some Beatles albums framed on the garage wall. The Frank Sinatra Wee Small Hours is a great cover. My fave is “Love Me or Leave Me” w/ Doris in that turquoise dress. I also have an enormous collection of old magazines which can be displayed on a coffee table or just in an iron magazine rack, and I just change them around. Oh, and the old TV Guides are on the (modern) TV stand, the best one is the Warhol Agent 99 Get Smart cover and of course, Star Trek.

  11. Drew R says

    This is Drew, who’s reading nook is featured on top (thanks Kate, you made my day!) Eric and I love the kitsch appeal and bold graphic design found on old albums. So, we sorted through hundreds at our local thrift, buying albums that were colorful/well designed/campy, not necessarily for the music. Additionally, as we didn’t want to drill into the brick wall, so we removed the records (to lighten the load) and attached the frames to the wall with command strip hooks. It was an inexpensive and fun project that gets a lot of comments from our guests. I plan on collecting kitschy holiday albums to swap out for the next holiday season.

    Just a tip – if you use a command strip adhesive product, follow the instructions closely and be sure the surface you adhere the hook to is cleaned well with alcohol. We had one frame fall during the night as I failed to complete that step.

  12. Robin, NV says

    I definitely agree that this is decorating on the kitsch end of the scale – not that there’s anything wrong with that. I liked the photos from Christmas that had holiday albums displayed. If I were to decorate with album art, that’s what I’d do – put them up temporarily for the holidays. I also dream of doing a retro cocktail party with bossa nova music playing on my turntable. It’d be cool to have the albums on the wall for that too.

  13. Michelle says

    I have four frames and all the Beatles albums.
    Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt.Pepper and Abbey Road are my favs to display.

  14. tammyCA says

    Michael’s also has album frames that go on sale often. I have a small collection of albums just because I like them even ‘tho I don’t have a record player. Some are for the colorful artwork, usually children’s & stage musicals, but some I hope to be able to play again when I find the right player.

  15. says

    Thank you Kate and Pam for featuring our living room record collection! Our collection numbers in the hundreds, so framing a few does not keep us from having plenty to listen to. Besides, it only takes a minute to take the album out of the frame if we wanted to listen to it. We change them out all the time.
    Framing record albums is not a new trend. It was also done to decorate walls in the 50’s. Check out this album cover I just framed:

    http://midcenturythriftygal.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/new-stuff-177.jpg

    Sherree

    • Kate says

      Wow — that is an awesome record album cover! And proof that hanging records on the wall is something that was done in the 50s. Thanks so much for sharing!

  16. julie s says

    Sherree, that is so funny you showed that picture. I own that album, and it is what inspired me to hang my album covers!

  17. Barb S. says

    Speaking of hanging albums that you can’t listen to… When my husband and I put our music collections together, I noticed we had a lot of picture discs. Those were the ones I chose to put on the walls. They don’t usually have the best listening quality anyway. I wonder if they had colored vinyl back in the day? I would love to see some vintage red or orange albums on the wall. Maybe from the 70s??? I loved this post!! Thanks~

    • Sarah g (roundhouse) says

      Yep there sure was! I’ve seen yellow myself, and a quick google search shows that there was the entire rainbow!

  18. says

    I have album art in several rooms and I put mine in themes. Right now in the living room, I have a set I call “bored women with cigarettes.” In the bar I have “couples in love,” and in the guest bathrooms I have “girls with guns.” I change them with holidays and seasons. I also have a huge collection I play on one of my three turntables. Yes, be careful of displaying albums in often-used bathrooms as the humidity can cause mold and rust (frame) to occur. Having albums is fun, but hunting for them is even more fun!

  19. chuck says

    I’m not hanging the audiophile 180g vinyl reissue of Pink Moon on the wall…that goes on the Rega where it belongs.

    …but I will hang up goofy stuff with cool covers, and I’ll rotate them out occasionally. Right now I have the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack up next to its doppelganger, Sesame Street Fever (with Grover out on the tiles in the white tuxedo in lieu of John Travolta!)

    What I won’t condone are record label coasters or melted record bowls. For me it would be like a vet having taxidermy dogs in the waiting room.

    • Record Guy says

      I agree with your disliking record coasters in certain cases. I buy collections of records all the time and see so many records that have been severely scratched, warped and/or molded from improper storage over the decades. I see nothing wrong with resurrecting these otherwise useless damaged records into a useful item that can be used on a daily basis.

  20. Mandah says

    This is probably a stupid question, but why risk damaging the valuable covers? Why not just make a repro or something to hang on the walls and keep the original safely on the shelves?

    • says

      I am not sure how any damage can occur when framing an album cover. They are then protected from dust and edge wear. The damage occurs when they are left out and we thumb through them, stack them, stand them up like books, and handle them :-)

      • Mandah says

        True, but I guess I should elaborate. I mean the ones in the bathroom, the article mentioned that it can’t be good for them and I agree.

  21. Jodi says

    I have framed records in the cubbies of my expedit (which is loaded with albums). I have picture discs on the ceiling in my den. I also framed a collection of chu-bops. If anyone remembers they were little record albums sold in the 80’s that had a piece of gum inside. I used to buy them back in high school and I still have a few of mine left but I bought the whole set off ebay some years ago. There were 32 and they fit perfectly into two album frames. I also have all kinds of record totes displayed all around my house and I have 45’s everywhere. I love to decorate with records, and yes I still listen to them too!

  22. says

    We slide our album covers into aluminum channels, see our blog post on this at http://www.ranchoredux.blogspot.com/2010/02/diy-thrift-store-decor.html. It’s really easy to swap out albums, so we change them around a lot. Like Uncle Atom, we do Christmas albums at Christmas, and right now we have a cha cha theme going. Other categories: exercise albums, Hawaiian music, funky dance covers, cool 50s graphic design. We love looking through albums at thrift stores. We mainly buy them for cover art but we play them on our old Columbia hi-fi console as well.

  23. Shiloh says

    Just this past week, I “framed” the very awesome, retro “Whipped Cream and Other Delights” album by taking an old thrift store picture frame, (about twice the size of the album cover), painting it white, and setting the album inside of it…really, just resting against the wall on the top shelf of a bookcase. It gives the appearance of framing without touching the cover or encasing. I like how it turned out!

    • holyjunk says

      I have the same album displayed. It is considered one of the best (and sexiest) as far as album artwork goes (rolling stone). love it!

  24. Jason says

    I used a combination of framed album covers and photos on a small corner wall in my living room. Of course, I am more of a jazz guy, so my albums and photos are June Christy, Chris Connor, Anita O’Day, Dean Martin, etc, etc. Endless possibilities and a great way to display and protect your album covers.

  25. shirley says

    i need suggestions on making copies of old record album covers to be displayed in location where i don’t want to leave the original.

      • shirley says

        My boss has over a 1000 old lp’s he would like to display them for the public in an covered but yet open to weather building for viewing. he wants to make copies of these in a poster style or framed on good paper that would hold up to the weather.

        • pam kueber says

          I think you need to consult with a printer on this. My first thought is to print them on vinyl – but a printer will know. Good luck.

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