How to Choose the Right Frame for a Picture or Painting

Decorating your home with beautiful prints and photographs can really make it feel like your own. You can express your taste and sense of style through the framed artwork you choose to showcase. But choosing the right art for your home is about more than just choosing what goes in the frame. You also have to pick the right frames to make your artwork pop.

Frames come in wood and metal, black and white, or in a full range of other colors. Which frame will best complement your artwork? Sometimes, it’s best to match your frame color and style to the rest of the room, while other times, you may want to tie it directly to the artwork it showcases. Let’s take a look at some of your options for choosing the right frame for a picture or painting.

Match Frames to Your Room Decor

The frame you choose can tie your piece of artwork into the rest of your room decor, or it can make it stand out – and not in a good way. So, you may want to choose frames that match the rest of your decor. Wooden frames, especially in light colors, work best with rustic and traditional decorating styles, while sleek metal frames best suit more modern and minimalist decorating styles. 

Of course, wood and metal frames aren’t your only options. If your home decor follows a light and airy theme – such as a coastal theme, for example – choose a white frame to blend in. White frames are more eclectic and casual, while black frames are more traditional and formal. A solid-colored frame can lend an art gallery feel to your walls. 

Match or Contrast a Color in the Picture

But there’s no need to choose between just black and white. While some decorators advise against choosing a frame color to match one of the colors in your print or photograph, this is a strategy that can really make your artwork pop. Choosing a colorful frame that matches the most prevalent color in your piece will create a sense of symmetry and stability, but you can also choose a frame that picks out a less noticeable color in your piece to really draw attention to it. 

Another option is to add some contrast by choosing a frame color that’s the opposite of the colors that appear in the piece. A metal frame in bronze or silver is the safest choice for adding contrast to a piece, but you can take a risk and choose any color you like – especially if the piece is a black-and-white one.

Go for Something Simple and Classic


If there’s no specific color in your piece that you want to emphasize and you don’t want to go for the contrasting color look, you may want to stick with something sleek, simple, and classic in a neutral color, like beige, white, black, or brown. White picture frames are clean and timeless, and they can really make all the colors in your piece stand out. Choose black picture frames when you want a traditional, formal neutral look. Frames in brown or beige can add a little more personality while still remaining neutral. 

Know When to Use a Mat

Matting your piece can add a neat and tidy, formal edge to the display, while creating some space between the art and the frame. You can even choose a colored mat for your piece, one that will bring out specific colors in the piece or add a little visual interest. Colored mats are a popular choice for double matting, in which two pieces of matting are used to create the appearance of a double frame. 

Should you use a mat for displaying your piece? It depends – most people don’t use mats for very large, poster-sized prints, but they can be almost a necessity for smaller pieces. A mat can add a special decorative touch to smaller photos and prints, and if your piece is smaller than about five inches by five inches, you will need a mat in order to properly fit the piece into a frame.

It’s not always easy to choose the right frame for a painting or photograph. When in doubt, you can always choose a classic, sleek black frame, or something in another neutral color like black, beige, or white. The right frame and matting can make all the difference for the presentation of your artwork, and really tie the room together, besides.

How to Choose the Right Frame for a Picture or Painting was last modified: by