Creative framing solutions often feature ways to highlight your family.

Creative Ways to Frame a Picture

by Anya Deason

Whether it's a wedding photo or a child's watercolor, a special picture deserves a frame design that will attract attention. You can arrive at a framing solution via multiple paths, but the first step always involves analyzing the space where the frame will hang. A creative frame design for a kitchen picture has different design perimeters than a stand-out frame in a child's room. Applying some room-related analysis won't inhibit creativity. A framing project, like any other artistic endeavor, involves solving a visual problem. Evaluating the colors, tones and style characteristics of the specific work you want to frame facilitates a creative design.

Creative Multi-Openings

Multi-opening mats don't always involve separate mat openings for pictures. Additional mat openings are often used for objects that relate to the picture. A photo of a child who won a spelling bee might fill the top mat opening, while the winning word might be featured in calligraphy letting in the opening below. Three-dimensional objects, such as Girl Scout badges, are often incorporated in a multi-opening, which sometimes involves an elevated top mat. A collection of creative multi-openings makes a meaningful stairway grouping, displaying interests or accomplishments of your family members.

Elevated Mat Floats

While artwork is generally taped beneath a mat's bevel or inner edge, it's sometimes difficult to cover the edges, or the edges have decorative value. A mat float, which involves taping artwork to the front of mat board, is effective, especially for artwork that extends to the edges of heavy paper. Consider adding an outer mat that is elevated by taping foam core underneath. When positioned a half-inch from the artwork's edges, a box-like effect is created. For subtlety, match the elevated mat to the mat that work is mounted on or use contrasting colors if that is appropriate in the room, for example, in a lively nursery frame.

Weighted Mats

A simple way to increase the prominence of a picture is through weighting the mat, which involves exaggerating the dimensions of the mat on the bottom or sides. While this type of matting is often seen in museum settings, it's less common in homes. For a small, sepia-toned photograph, try a taupe mat with a bronze frame, which relates to the dark tones of the picture and to dark furniture and flooring. Sides 3 inches wide and a 4- or 5-inch bottom mat hoist the tiny picture to a noticeable height, and embossed mats also enhance small pictures.

Fillets, V-Grooves, French Lines and Painted Bevels

A fillet is a decorative wooden strip that inserts under the mat. Though commonly used under mat openings, fillets are sometimes glued to the lip of frames to extend the frame's color range or to relate directly to the mat's fillet. Black can be incorporated in a frame design by a V-groove, which carves a black line in the middle of the mat. Since the bevel is also black, this creative option is effective for rooms with black furniture and frames. Other creative options include painting bevels to match particular colors or drawing French lines relating to the artwork's colors.

About the Author

Based in Franklin, Tenn., Anya Deason has more than 15 years of decor-related experience, assisting leading interior designers and owning a custom frame shop. While working at Lyzon Gallery in 1999, she wrote descriptions of artwork for Sotheby's online auctions. Deason holds a Bachelor of Science from Tennessee Technological University.

Photo Credits

  • George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images