Design Tips

Expert tips from our Framing Fanatics

The art of framing can be a daunting task. There are so many frames and mats to choose from, in every shade of white or off-white you can imagine. Whether it’s a treasured keepsake, a family portrait or a painting, every piece is different and requires its own, focused approach.

We polled the Framing Fanatics at our Pictures Plus stores for all the tricks of the trade. After 30 years in the art and framing business, our merry group of framers had no shortage of tips to share with you.

1. Choosing a mat color

  • Fish gyutaku with frame and mat

    Neutral colored mats allow a framed piece to work well in any room setting and compliment a variety of room décor.

  • Framed painting with neutral mat

    Avoid mats that are brighter or darker than the art, which take the focus away from the piece.

  • Fine art photo of Hawaii with black and steel color palate

    From masculine or feminine to serious or whimsical, the mat and frame combo really add character to the finished piece

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2. Choosing a mat size

  • Black framed art with oversized mat

    Consider using a mat border that is wider than the frame itself. An expansive mat keeps the emphasis on the art and prevents your eyes from interpreting the frame and mat as equally sized bars and stripes.

  • Koa framed diploma certificate with museum conservation glass

    An expansive mat also lends a feeling of importance to the piece and can be used to draw attention to a special achievement or award.

  • Father-daughter preschool art project in 2” grey frame with rivets.

    Opting for a frame without a mat can give a more intimate, cozy feeling to the piece.

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3. Choosing frames that complement the art

  • Italian landscape painting with ornate gold frame.

    Consider a frame inspired by the same country where the art originates from. For example, the gold ornate frame accentuates this landscape painting of the Italian countryside.

  • Framed geometric art piece with white mat.

    A square frame profile enhances art with geometric shapes, such as this Cubism piece, while a round frame profile complements the large brush strokes seen in Post Impressionism works.

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4. Hawaiian Koa veneer frames

  • Passport in koa shadowbox with textured mat and museum glass.

    From an award certificate to a passport, sports medals or fine art, Hawaiian Koa veneer frames work beautifully with anything you might want to frame.

  • Koa shadowbox frame with coral.

    When paired with organic elements, a Koa veneer frame is particularly stunning.

  • Traditional Hawaiian feather lei with Koa frames.

    Stacking two Koa frames is our favorite way to really make a statement and honor the piece being framed.

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5. When in doubt, simple frames let the art speak for itself.

  • Futuristic art with white mat and simple black frame.

    You can always count on a classic black and white combination to finish off a piece of art beautifully.

  • Framed tryptic painting.

    White mats are the industry standard, and for good reason! They isolate the image from the frame, creating breathing space that allows you to fully experience the artwork.

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