I have installed a gallery wall in every apartment or home that I have owned. Over the years, I have used a variety of framing methods, from buying frames from Target and IKEA to using a custom framing shop. I usually let the art piece and budget restrictions determine which path I will take. Like most things, though, I think the magic lies in the mix. You can really elevate simple, store bought frames by arranging them alongside more luxe frames.
Here are a few examples of each type of framing method, arranged cheapest to most expensive, along with my thoughts on each.
Frames bought from Target. Using store bought frames is cheap, quick, and allows you to easily change out the picture inside. Plus, Target and IKEA have some great looking options with interesting mats to really set off the image. I like to use this method for photos, since I change out the photos every so often.
Art-to-Frame custom frames. Art-to-Frame is one of my favorite sources for when you need a custom sized frame for an inexpensive print or poster, or even a painting picked up in a flea market like the one in the gold frame below. They have a variety of options and ship right to your home. I will note that the frames do not come with the hanging attachments already on, so you will have to install. For me, this little bit of work is worth it for the price.
Framebridge. Framebridge offers a great custom service for a good price. Their website is convenient and you can ship them the piece directly and have it returned a few weeks later. My favorite framing choices from them, however, came when I visited their store in Williamsburg, NYC. They have many more frame and mat options in store, and you work with their framing experts as you make a decision. Since it is not exactly a cheap service, I like having the expertise available. Also, this is a small thing, but the extra options can really make a difference. For example, I had the black and white floral print below framed online using a floating style. They did not offer an off-white background online, however, so it came with a white background. While it still looks good, the difference in color does bother me a little. When I went in store, they had the option for an off white background like the center picture.
Frames from an art gallery that were included with the piece. If I am buying a piece from an art gallery, I try to have them keep the original frame on whenever possible. They have already used their expertise and judgement to select a frame, and often the method they use is more expensive than what I can do on my own. I also consider the frame as part of the piece, and it saves the hassle of framing it yourself down the line.
Custom frame from a frame shop. I have only used this method once, on a large piece that I bought at an art fair. It looks incredible, but it did cost an arm and a leg. It is likely not something I will do again unless I buy a very special piece.
A mix of several framing methods in the assemblage below. Clockwise from top – Art-to-Frame, frame included with piece, and Target frame.