Magnaframe
Photo: Amazon

Gallery walls are definitely The Thing To Do when decorating a home these days, but if you don’t have the creative eye to design your own, or the cash to pay Framebridge to do it, Magnaframe is a unique, affordable, and easy-to-install alternative.

Every Magnaframe box includes multiple frames, (the $99 multipack they sent me had two each of 5"x7", 4"x6", and 4"x4"), and as you’d expect at these $50-$100 price points, they aren’t the highest quality frames out there. They’re made of either white or black plastic, and there’s no cover glass (or even cover plastic) to protect your photos. For my money, I think the 6-pack of 4"x4" squares can create a cool Instagram IRL-like effect, and is the best value at $50.

My slapdash gallery, with lovely stock photos inside. This entire thing is held up with nothing but magnets and a single 3M command picture hanging strip, but the outer frames were definitely pretty precarious. If I was installing it for real, I would screw them all in.
Photo: Shep McAllister

But what Magnaframe lacks in expensive materials, it makes up for in unique features. The front of the frames—rather than the backs—snap off to allow you to place your pictures, making it easy to swap photos out at will without removing your gallery from the wall. And as you may have guessed from the name of the product, the sides of the frames are lined with magnets that allow the frames to snap together in any number of patterns.

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That doesn’t mean the magnets are strong enough to hold up your photos by themselves; you’ll still most likely want to attach each one to the wall individually. But the main “anchor” frame includes a built-in bubble level that makes it easy to place, and as long as you get that one right, the others will automatically be level as well. They all install from the front—just take out the photo and you’ll have access to the attachment holes—so you don’t have to do any careful measuring or pencil marking to get it right.

The overall effect probably won’t win any design awards. The main selling point here—magnets—means that you can’t space the frames out like a traditional gallery wall, and the maximum 5"x7" frame size means that your Magnaframe collage will probably be an accent, rather than a whole-wall statement. But arranged properly and with the right photos inside, I see it as a a cooler, more modern version of the collage frame, and one that you can keep adding onto as you make more memories over time.