Office Art: Framing Tips

Tips, instructions and ideas for choosing wall art, pictures or prints for your office, and how to frame them yourself.

One of the easiest ways to add a little personality to your office, whether it is at home or at work, is to decorate your office with framed art. Having your artwork or photos professionally framed can be very expensive, but with a few tools and a little know-how you can do it yourself.

The best and cheapest way to go about framing art for your office is to shop around for a pre-made frame that you like. You can find frames that come in all shapes, sizes, colors and materials, those that come with mats and those that are just frames, with glass or plastic to protect the photo. All of these choices can be pretty overwhelming, but there are some steps you can take to make your decision a little easier.

First, choose the piece of artwork or photo you wish to frame. This sounds simple, but there are things to think about here, too. If you want to frame a photo or a series of photos, say that you took on your vacation or from your wedding, you will need to decide if you want to blow them up, mount them together in the same frame or in different frames, or keep them small and mounted in the same frame. The answers may depend on the quality of the photo and if you have the negatives (which will allow for a cleaner image when enlarged) if the pictures logically belong together (as in a series, like someone swinging a bat or tossing a bouquet) and what kind of frames you like.

Once you have chosen the photos or art you want to frame and know what size it is, you can begin thinking about matting. The mat adds to the size of the photo and makes it look more professional. A mat can be used to hide the ragged edges of your preschooler's latest work of art or to add unity to a group of pictures. It's by no means required to use a mat, but it can add a professional look to your framing job and set the tone for the whole office. Mats can also help draw different accessories together by using a similar color theme. Mats come in different widths, and the general rule is to use a narrower mat on a smaller picture. You don't want the mat to take over so people notice it instead of the art it surrounds.

To help you choose a color for your mat, consider the colors in the picture you are going to frame. Perhaps there is a subtle color in the background you want to play up, or a dominant color you would like to compliment with your matting choice. If you don't know what color might look good with your picture, you can get someone at a crafting or frame shop to help you by describing the colors in the picture to them. They can offer you some good choices you might not have thought of.

Of course, if you are buying a frame with a mat already included, you might not have much choice as to the color or size of the mat that is included. If this is the case, choose the color that you think will go best with the artwork. Usually off-white or gray will look good with almost any picture, that's why they are such popular choices in the pre-matted frames. Black is another popular choice, and it can look good if the picture inside is very bright, otherwise it might be overpowering.

If you're buying a frame of a standard size that comes with a mat, look around the framing department and see if you can find pre-cut mats in the size you need that don't come with frames. These sections of the store often offer more selection, different shapes and colors to coordinate with different pictures.

Now it is time to consider the frame itself. Of course the frame and mat go hand-in-hand, and if you're choosing a frame that comes with a mat the mat decision will be made for you. The frame is almost as important as the picture itself when giving a room a theme or trying to set a mood. Do you want your office to be playful? Spartan? Utilitarian? Romantic? Modern? Do you want it to look like an antique shop? Or a beach hut? All of these moods are possible with different kinds of frames. Let the piece be your guide and choose a frame that harmonizes with it. If the picture is wild, choose a more subdued frame. Think about any other accessories that may be in the room that you will want to coordinate with.

Remember, too, that coordinate does not mean match. Just because the desk set in your office is brown leather doesn't mean all your frames have to be brown leather, too. But it does mean you have something to work with, warm colors, perhaps leather in a different shade or just dark brown wood. The things that are already in the office give you a place to start, but it doesn't have to be the place you end up.

Again you'll want to consider the size of the picture you are framing and not choose a frame that is too big for the photo. If the frame is very large, the art will be dwarfed and people will say, "Oh, what a lovely frame," and not even notice what's inside the frame. Aim for simple rather than flashy, elegant rather than garish. And remember that you'll be seeing this picture and this frame a lot, every time you are in your office, so take the time to pick something you love and hang it in a place of prominence in your office.

Another option for really large, strangely shaped pieces or if you really want to showcase the piece is a custom frame. Most custom frames are wood, and you can choose various sizes and stains or paint colors. You can buy the parts at a frame shop and build the frame yourself or pay the people at the store to do it for you. This will probably take longer and certainly cost a lot more, but if you aren't very handy or don't want to do it yourself that is a good way to go. You can also get a frame made of plastic, with a mat surrounding the picture and a piece of foam behind the picture. The layers are all clamped together with clear plastic clamps and the mat serves as the frame. This is a beautiful choice for really nice pieces such as large art prints, but it can be very expensive.

Have fun choosing the artwork and frames that will decorate your office. This room is the place where you spend the most time, and you should have things to look at that you enjoy, that look good and that reflect your personality.

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