A bare wall is like a blank canvas. Creating a lovely gallery wall to display family photos, children’s artwork, or heirloom paintings can enhance a room. The arrangement should look attractive, while allowing individual pieces to stand out. Before deciding what goes where, follow these tricks and tips for choosing the best frame for your pictures.
Style and Material
The style of your picture will help guide your choice of frame. An oil painting handed down for generations would look odd framed in a sleek metal frame. Similarly, the drama of a black-and-white photo fades when surrounded by heavy wood. Think about matching the frame material to the style and period of the piece.
Consider the décor of the room where the picture will hang. Black or white metal frames work well in an airy, minimalist space, and a wood frame adds warmth. There’s nothing wrong with contrast or mixing and matching styles—if you’re careful, that is. One big accent piece that stands out as a contrast to the room is better than a jumble of styles.
Most people focus on the colors in the pictures, without first thinking about the color of the walls they’ll hang on. The frame color shouldn’t match the wall, or the picture won’t stand out. As for matching a color in the picture, consider the overall impact of the piece—are the colors subtle and warm, bright and bold, or cool and calming? The frame should enhance the feel of the picture, not fight it.
Whether or not to add a mat is an individual decision, but if you’ll be displaying a collection of photos or artworks on a gallery wall, the group will hang better in uniform framing. The mat should be a different color than the frame to draw attention toward the picture. Matting increases the size of the frame required and is ideal to fit small photos in standard-sized frames.
The type of backing on your frame affects how it can hang on the wall and whether you’ll be able to easily switch pictures inside the frame from time to time. Wood frames often have flat nails called “brads” that hold backing within the frame. Flexible brads bend so you can change artworks or photos easily. Do-it-yourselfers can salvage old frames without backing using a picture frame stapler and new backing.
Before selecting a frame for your pictures, consider style, materials, color, and where the picture or pictures will hang in your home. If the choices are too overwhelming, your local frame shop can provide helpful suggestions to narrow your options.