Factors to Consider When Choosing a Frame for Your Picture

Posted on: 14 May 2015

The frame you choose for your picture needs to do justice to both the image and the environment you place it in. The picture frame is the physical border between the room and the artwork and needs to relate to both. While there is no absolute right or wrong, following are some factors on how to choose a frame that does justice to both the picture and the room.

The Room Containing the Image

When choosing a frame for the image, consider the style of the room where it will be placed. Generally, more traditional rooms with ornate architectural details lend themselves to more decorative frames in gold or silver, or frames made of woods such as mahogany and walnut.

The simpler lines of contemporary rooms lend themselves to clean streamlined frames in black or other solid colors. Alternatively, modern frames in a traditional looking room, or an ornate frame in a modern environment can create an eclectic feel.

Also consider the wall color. If the frame is too similar to the wall color, it will tend to disappear. Additionally, make sure the frame and the mat surrounding the artwork contrast to some degree. If they match perfectly, this draws attention to the framing rather than the image. Also, remember to make sure that the frame and mat are not exactly the same width as this creates an odd stripey look.

Will the new artwork be positioned alone or grouped with other images? If you're arranging pictures on a wall, either choose a consistent framing styling for all the artworks or diversify the frames in an obvious way. If the frames are different, make them obviously different so as to create a deliberate statement. Otherwise, it can look like a design mistake.

The Image Itself

As well as considering the style of the room containing the artwork, you need to think about the style of the image itself. Generally, traditional art suits a more ornate frame, and modern artwork suits a clean, streamlined frame. However, the reverse can sometimes work such as when you frame a modern image in an elaborate frame or vice versa. Such contrast can create a distinctive effect. 

If you remain aware of both the style of the artwork and the room and make deliberate choices regarding the picture framing, this will provide you with more control in creating the impression you want.

The size if the artwork in also relevant. Generally, thinner frames suit smaller pictures, and wider frames suit larger images. A wider frame provides a larger picture with presence while a narrower frame works by not overwhelming a smaller image. If you are grouping multiple images together on a wall, thinner frames also usually work better, unless you are going for an eclectic look of contrasting frame styles.

Narrower frames tend to recede to the background, allowing more prominence for the picture, whereas wider more ornate frames draw attention to themselves and become a distinct part of the artwork; they become more than just a framing device.

Bearing some of these factors in mind, the style of both the artwork and the room, and the size of the artwork, will provide you with more control when creatively choosing a frame for your treasured artwork.