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Box Or Shadow Box Picture Frames? What's The Difference?

box style picture frames on shelf

Shadow Box & Box Frames Explained

When it comes to framing our photographs, we commonly think of either standard picture frames or floater frames.

But there’s another style of frame that can create a different look & add another dimension to how you display your images .. these are called box frames.

So What Are Box Frames?

Deeper than standard frames, they were originally used to display memorabilia & create 3 dimensional art. Now popular for displaying photos, as the print can be recessed further back instead of flush to the front of the frame.

Sometimes there's confusion as to box frames & shadow box frames.

I’ve even seen floater frames called shadow box frames, but they are 2 different things.


Related Article:


How Is A Shadow Box Picture Frame Different To A Box Frame?

What is a shadow box frame? It's simply a box frame, but raised mats are used to create shadows & a sense of depth.

Multiple mats can be used at various depths to great effect.

This is achieved by adding frame slips, which are channels mitred into the frame.

The mats are then able to be slotted into these channels.

It’s a creative way to add interest & another dimension to the print.

shadow box picture frame

6 Reasons For Using Box Frames

They’re just a different & interesting way to display a photograph or print.

There’s a number of ways you can be creative with this style of display.

1. Free Standing

Because they can stand up all by themselves, you don’t need to hang them on the wall.

They can be used on shelves, on a mantle or anywhere there’s an interesting nook or cranny.

box frame sitting on table

2. Gallery Wall

Gallery walls are very popular & the great thing with displaying photos in this way is frames don’t have to match or be uniform.

Having an image displayed in a large box frame, with other smaller frames arranged around it, is a wonderful way to create a focal point.

box frame gallery wall

3. Safeguard

What better way than to protect your photograph or print.

It’s not going to get knocked about in high traffic areas, plus you can use glass to sit it behind.

Even ambient sunlight can eventually fade photographs, so a print sitting in a deep box frame will have extra protection.

4. Display With Other Items

The depth of the frame means you’re able to display other memorabilia alongside the photograph.

An example may be you have an old photograph of your grandfather & you can display his war medals or other memories with his image.

picture frame box displaying items

5. See The Light

By fitting some LED or other small lights within the frame, you’ll have a wonderful & magical display when the sun goes down.

By using 2 or more illuminated frames, you’re even able to create some mood lighting.

6. Unique Gift

Stuck for gift ideas? Because these styles of frames can do more than simply hold a picture, you can create an original gift for someone.

Perhaps a holiday photograph of a trip you went on with a friend & using mementos from your journey together to further add that personal touch.

Where To Find Picture Box Frames

A quick search online will bring up many suppliers of these types of frames.

Your local framers should also have some choice, if not they can make them to order.

Otherwise, have a go at making one yourself.

Again, there’s some good instructional videos & online resources that explain the process.

Those old wooden fruit & veggie boxes may even be a good candidate for a box frame makeover.

Final Thoughts

Picture box frames, they’re a unique & different way to display an image.

I like how they can be a DIY crossover.

You could make one yourself, or modify & decorate a premade one to your own style.

I can also see how they could be a wonderful way to keep the children occupied & using their imaginations.

Did you find this article helpful?

I hope so! Please feel free to pass it along to someone who may also find it useful.


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