Deciding whether you should custom frame your art comes down to a number of factors, including price and how much protection the piece requires.If the artwork is delicate, an atypical size, or worth a lot to you - whether in monetary or sentimental value - then custom framing should be considered.
It's also a great way to really elevate a piece to a statement focal point, especially when part of a gallery wall.
'Choosing a custom or bespoke frame for your art is an easy way to update a piece,' says Katie Lion, Senior Interior Designer at Kitesgrove. 'Whether the existing frame looks tired, or doesn’t quite work with the rest of your space, custom framing allows you to personalize artwork to uniquely suit your tastes and the space the artwork will be situated in.'
How to decide if you should custom frame your artwork
1. Seek advice from a professional framer
'A frame can make or break a picture, so I would only ever use an experienced framer who has lots of samples to hand and can show you – as much as possible – how the end result will look,' says interior designer Irene Gunter founder of Gunter & Co. 'It also never hurts to do your own research. Look for inspirational ways that other pieces have been framed. Take note of colors, proportion and scale. Be open to new ideas.'
Irene adds: 'Think beyond the basic mount and frame; you could have a gold or fabric trim between the picture and the mount, for example, or you could even have a stepped mount in different colors. The options are endless, and your framer will be able to to talk you through them all.'
2. Consider if the artwork is delicate or expensive
When it comes to how to choose a picture frame, custom framing is a worthy investment if your artwork is an original or was particularly pricey. Or if it's delicate in any way.
Artwork can be prone to fading or sun damage, so it's good idea to consider UV protection glass to prevent this from happening.
Irene Gunter says: 'If you have precious or delicate pictures, particularly if they’re in danger of fading in a sunny room, be sure to discuss UV protection glass with your framer.'
3. Due to where the artwork will be hung
Is you artwork going in a dark, cocooning snug or a bright, airy room filled with sunlight? If your piece is going to be in direct light, it may need that extra layer of UV protection glass.
You may also want to consider investing in non-glare, museum-quality glass if your piece is going to be in a naturally light room so you can fully appreciate it.
'We often specify low-reflection glass,' says Irene Gunter. 'This minimizes the light reflected from the glass and stops the artwork from looking like a giant mirror. Low-reflection glass can get pricey, so it's a good idea to know where you're going to hang the piece to decide whether it's worth splashing out.'
4. The size of the piece
If you intend to invest in a super-sized statement piece of art don't forget to consider the fact that it will likely need to be custom framed as shop-bought frames generally come in standard sizes only.
It's a good idea to check online before you buy to make sure standard framing fits your piece if you are not keen to splurge on custom framing.
5. Remember that custom framing is an art in itself
Custom framing is an artisanal process that requires skilled craftsmen to carry out the job. This means that it is not usually cheap.
However, do remember that framing is an art itself, and it's well worth the investment if you have an expensive or delicate piece that needs protecting to ensure it lasts for years to come.
Custom framing can also transform an artwork, with savvy style choices helping to enhance and bring a piece to life even further.
Cat Dal, of Cat Dal Interiors, says: 'There are so many fantastic new shapes/textures/finishes on frames these days, they can be just as much a feature as the art itself. Recently we used vintage woven rattan frames on some watercolor postcards from Singapore, and placed them in a vertical row above one another in a bathroom - this helped cement the scene and atmosphere for the room.'
Is custom framing necessary?
'Custom framing can elevate what could be a very ordinary print into something extraordinary,' says Irene Gunter. 'Obviously, these kinds of frames don’t come cheap, so depending on your budget, perhaps it’s not a solution for every piece of art. However, it’s certainly worth the investment for hero pieces.'
How do I choose the right art frame?
Artwork frames can come in variety of textures, finishes and colors, which means they can be as bold or pared-back as you wish.
Try mixing styles for an interesting pairing. Kitesgrove's Kate Lion says: 'Juxtaposing a modern frame with traditional artwork or vice versa can create an intriguing contrast, and it is always important to ensure that the two complement each other so that the quality of both the artwork and frame isn’t compromised.'
She adds: 'For larger pieces we prefer to use a more simple frame, bringing the artwork to the forefront and allowing the artwork to be the focus.'
Irene Gunter advises speaking to your framer about getting creative. She says: 'People typically gravitate towards standard colors for their frames, even though there are millions of other options. This is where an experienced framer will come into their own. They will be able to advise you on color and get the exact shade you want.
'And, remember, you don’t have to restrict yourself to one color. For example, the front of the frame could be silver while the edges are white or green. It pays to be creative. The end result will look truly unique.'
And Cat Dal says: 'For areas requiring a little playful touch, or a punch of color, we recommend a glossy wavy frame or bobbin frame to take the artwork to the next level.
'We always take advice from professional framers, in terms of concerns about sunlight glass suitability, so I recommend spending time at your local framers describing your space and ambitions for the art.
'For large scale pieces I recommend a large mount, and the frame itself matching the wall color, so the art commands the attention.'
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Ruth Doherty is a lifestyle journalist based in London. An experienced freelance digital writer and editor, she is known for covering everything from travel and interiors to fashion and beauty. She regularly contributes to Livingetc, Ideal Home and Homes & Gardens, as well as titles like Prima and Red. Outside of work, her biggest loves are endless cups of tea, almond croissants, shopping for clothes she doesn’t need, and booking holidays she does.
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