Decorating with postcards

Whether your summer travel plans involve a trip across country or a tour of the Greek Isles, chances are likely that you will buy a stack of postcards. Postcards capture a moment in time, reminding us of the place where we watched the sunset over the lake, swam with the dolphins or tried our first merlot.

Incorporating them into your home decor can keep the memories alive and show off some great photography, scenery or artwork. Vintage postcards can impart some cheerful, old-fashioned charm. And over time, you can trade out the postcards you're displaying with fresh images.

Displaying postcards is simple, and because of their small size, they blend into any setting without overpowering larger pieces.

Selecting postcards for display? Aim for a mix. The handful you brought back from Acapulco will complement the one the neighbor sent from her Alaskan cruise.

To make things a bit more interesting, consider displaying the back of a few that you have received from others as well. Cards with distinctive postmarks or unusual stamps can enhance a grouped arrangement and help break up the composition.

For a themed look, edit by subject matter. A few possibilities are annual trips to Maine, wine country tours through Napa Valley or family jaunts to the beach.

If wall space is limited, try spreading postcards on a coffee or side table or inside a rimmed tray, and cover with glass.

For the bookshelf in need of a makeover, line the inside with recycled maps and postcards using decoupage adhesive. The decoupage method, a playful alternative to paint and wallpaper, allows you to customize your design.

Glass jars filled with colorful postcards make an instant centerpiece.

Need a gift for the globetrotter in your life? Add a personal touch to a blank journal by wrapping the front with patterned paper. Attach a favorite postcard to the cover, and embellish with a tag, ribbon or buttons.

Tips and tricks

Round out your postcard collection by searching flea markets, estate sales, postcard shows or online auctions.

Buying items in bulk is a good way to save money. (Postcards sold individually are frequently geared toward collectors seeking rare pieces at a higher price point.) You can often negotiate with sellers on cards with slight damage.

Pieces that show a bit of wear and tear should not be overlooked. Their appearance indicates a certain appreciation as they have been passed around, handled and viewed by many.

Postcard tray


* Decorative tray (unfinished wooden tray, lacquered tray or woven rattan-type tray)

* Acrylic primer (such as gesso)

* Acrylic paint

* Foam brush

* Fine-grit sandpaper (if using an unfinished tray)

* Glass (2- to 3-millimeter thickness, as used in standard picture framing)

* Postcards (a mix of vertical and horizontal images)


1. Using a foam brush, cover all sides of tray with acrylic primer. Allow to dry completely.

2. Apply a coat of acrylic paint in desired color to tray surface. After paint is dry, sand lightly before applying second coat of paint. (For best results, use paint in an area with moderate temperature that is well-ventilated.)

3. Arrange postcards inside tray and cover with glass. (The frame department in your hobby store will cut glass for a nominal fee.)