Art & Decor Trends

To Frame or Not to Frame?

Laurie from Upper Saddle River New Jersey had a difficult time finding the right frame for her oil painting. I wanted to tell Laurie that she is not alone and it can be a difficult task. To give Laurie or any of you who are contemplating on matching the right frame to your masterpiece and home decor, I compiled a comprehensive report that is generally accepted among interior designers. If you have any thoughts or other insights then let us know. If you have any other interior design or wall decor related questions, remember to Just Ask Brei

“Art consists of limitation. The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame.”
–Gilbert K. Chesterton

Applying a frame to your painting can be a tricky process, as it is the link between your interior style and the presentation of your artwork. The right frame can act as a catalyst or a piece of artwork in itself. In other words, it can either blend the painting into its surroundings or help it to stand out. In choosing a frame, the proprietor should consider their interior decor, the style of the painting, and what aspects they look to bring out in the artwork.Metal frames can bring out different features of decor. Black frames are used in chic and subtle environments. Imagine Wild Sunflowers in a breakfast nook with taupe walls and a simple black casing.

Gold is a classic and traditional choice. Frame a 19th century Monet -Regates a Argenteuil or any traditional landscape with gold and you will notice how it brings out cool colors–blues and greens.Silver represents a coolness in an interior and is often used for very contemporary and cool-based paintings–The Light of Venus, for example.
Wild Sunflowers with New Age Black frame

Regates a Argenteuil with a Gold frame
Wooden frames will warm up a space; they will work with almost any color scheme as well as artistic style.A still life or a nice contemporary piece with deep reds and yellows would be accentuated with a wide, dark wooden frame.Ornate frames provide a good representation of Victorian artwork, landscapes, and country scenes.
When visiting a museum, a patron will take notice that most traditional pieces are ornately framed.If there is a certain color scheme that the owner would like to focus on in the interior or to pull out of the painting, color painted frames are also a good choice.Depending on taste, if the painting is the single focal point in the room, consider these points:
Apples in a Bowl with a Wooden frame

  • It may be more important to match the frame to the surroundings and interior. This way, the painting more easily evolves into the living space, and makes its impression on the viewer, not the space.
  • or, on the other hand, if the artwork is of much value to the owner, highly prized, or just something to boast, the frame can be used to emphasize the painting itself.

Either way, the frame will always serve its most functional purpose–to define the piece. The creative choice is up to the owner and allows a chance to show pride in the artwork, the decor, or both.

Kandinsky with a black studio frame
For the more minimalistic owner, here is yet another option. Hanging a painting raw, or without frame, can suit a very contemporary home and would most typically be applied to a contemporary piece, i.e. Rothko or Kandinsky. If the sides of the canvas are unfinished–staples and odd paint splotches–which is standard, the owner may prefer to frame the edges with a studio frame, or to let it be as is. Either way, screw eyes and wire hanging will be necessary. This is also a more economical way to hang the work, as it is something that can easily and quickly be done by the owner.
Raw hanging will allow the viewer to focus entirely on the artwork itself and give its owner a break on the cost and search for the right framer.
In the end, framing, like choosing artwork, is all a matter of opinion and personal style. Use your judgment, use your flair, use your creativity. Who’s to say a 19th century Monet can’t be raw framed and wire hung in a contemporary space? Who’s to say a cool-based Kandinsky can’t be lined with an ornately carved wooden frame? It’s not my style, per se– but that’s just my opinion. What’s yours?

About the Author:

Breiana Cecil graduated Cum Laude from Ball State University in May 2005 with a Bachelor Degree in Interior Design and a secondary study in Studio Art. While at university, Breiana gained experience working as the Resource Librarian for the Interior Design Department, the Gallery Assistant for the B.S.U. Art Gallery and as an intern with the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 2004. She has since worked as an Interior Designer for Williams Sonoma Home Store in Indianapolis, IN. Breiana is an avid enthusiast of the art and design world and intends on and looks forward to continuing her contribution to the industry.

About the Author

Amitai Sasson of is an art world traveler on a mission to seek out the beauty and passion of the art world. As an avid enthusiast of art and oil paintings, he contributes to as Chief editor and writer.