Colored vinyl records make exceptional decor accents.

Creative Ways to Display Vinyl Records

by Brett Levine

Vinyl records -- with their wild and colorful covers -- demand to be displayed. Whether they have multicolor designs, gatefold sleeves or die-cut reveals, album covers are art in themselves. Well-known graphic designers such as Milton Glaser, who designed the "I Heart New York" logo, or Josef Albers, each turned their attention to the humble record cover during the course of their careers. Whether large or small, cover or disc itself, the vinyl record offers a distinctive design element to your home decor.

Covers Frame Graphics

The easiest approach to decorating with vinyl records is to place the record cover in a frame. Standard framing options range from frames that hold the 12-inch sleeve to ones that can hold the disc and sleeve separately. Many mainstream retailers offer a range of record frames for single and double albums. If you are in doubt about what approach to take, focus on a record era such as the 50s, or on designs by specific graphic artists. For example, Josef Albers created a huge range of covers for Command Records, many of which are found in used record stores and thrift shops today. If you plan to display just the cover, the condition of the record inside does not matter.

In the Round

If displaying record covers seems too structured for you, try placing the vinyl disc itself on the wall. When you remove them from their sleeves, attach them to a wall or other surface with pins, screws or tacks. Only use records you do not plan to play because sun and dust damages vinyl records over time. To hang 45-rpm singles -- the small records with the big holes in the middle -- use a plastic 45 adapter. Adapters come in a wide range of colors and quantities. If the standard colors do not fit with your design scheme, paint them with any paint suitable for plastic before inserting them into the record. You can even use funky or custom tacks of varied sizes and styles rather than simple thumbtacks or plastic pushpins.

Trim It Up!

Plastic tile trim for ceramic tiles creates an unexpected way to display vinyl records. One benefit of using the tile trim is that records slide in and out of the trim quickly, so you can change your display regularly. One shortcoming with the tile trim method is that each consecutive row has to hold the bottom of the record above it, so your layout and design options are limited, but it works wonders for covering a large space. Paint or paper the background before installing the trim for even more variety and personality.

On the Shelf

If none of the above methods meets your design needs, use a picture rail. A picture rail accepts two-dimensional or shallow three-dimensional objects such as photographs and paintings, so you can use it with vinyl records as well. Whether the rail is long or short, traditional or contemporary, it makes changing the display a simple matter, whether you use long-play albums or 45-rpm vinyl records. Regardless of which approach you take, think about your arrangement first. Decide whether you want to emphasize the sleeve, the disc or both.

About the Author

Brett Levine is a writer with more than 17 years of experience writing for a range of national and international publications. His articles have appeared in "Art Papers," "B-Metro," "Alabama" magazine, "Object," "Urbis" and "RealTime." He holds a Master of Arts in arts administration.

Photo Credits

  • Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images