Finding favorite pieces of art and photos is the easy part — it's the exhaustive search for and the prohibitive price of frames that I could do without. For those of you who aren't down with the idea of displaying art and photos outside the frame, take heart! Finding the perfect frame doesn't have to mean breaking the bank.
Any good thrift store lurker knows that the very best deals on frames are the second hand steals. So if you're up for the hunt or desire a collected-over-time look, begin your search with thrift stores, garage sales, estate sales, and flea markets. If you do decided to go this route, just remember:
• you're looking for the right shape, size and detailing, not necessarily the perfect color or finish. An ugly veneer frame with awesome details and a sturdy build can be made perfect with a coat of paint.
• it's the frame, not the artwork inside or even necessarily the glass that should appeal to you. Most hardware stores will cut a new piece of glass for you for pennies compared to what it would cost for a brand new frame.
• a variety of frames in different shapes, sizes, and colors can be harmonized with a coat of paint if you desire a more unified look. Spray paint is your friend!
If the second hand stores in your area are lame or non-existent, don't forget about eBay and etsy. You may be paying slightly more, but there are still plenty of good deals to be had on vintage and second hand frames.
If, however, you're looking for a quick fix or a consistent "new and shiny" look, there are some great mass-produced options for you as well:
• picture 2. American Frame has some of the best deals on the widest variety of custom-sized frames. I learned about them from the talented Lauren Liess of Pure Style Home who used them in her stunning entry makeover. The company also allows you to upload your own photos to the site to be printed and custom framed in one fell swoop for a fairly reasonable price.
• picture 3. Ikea's Ribba frames are a consistent favorite for a reason. They are surprisingly sturdy and come with a ready cut mat for a hard-to-beat price. The thin frame and wider mat is perfect for a clean modern look. My biggest gripe is with the largest size, 27 1/2" x 39 1/2", which comes with cheapo-looking plastic cover rather than real glass. My favorite finish is the metallic silver, however it can dent easily during transportation.
• picture 4. Target's Room Essentials Wood frames are great ready-made options. I learned about them from the inspiring Jenny of Little Green Notebook who has used them in her old living room as well as many client projects. As Jenny noted, they are great for groupings and come with a decent looking mat.
• picture 5. If your greatest concerns are quick and easy with little guesswork, Urban Outfitter's set of 10 frames is an option, especially for $32. The group comes with a variety of sizes in a consistent finish in your choice of black, white, or wood. As reviewers noted, don't expect anything fancy or really expensive-looking.
• picture 6. Urban Outfitter's Snap Photo Frames are another fun and inexpensive option for a playful and youthful room. The set includes 9 plastic frames that are supposed to make ordinary snapshots look like Polaroids.
• picture 7. CB2's gallery frame set is a favorite to many. While $100 for a set of three frames isn't cheap per se, I've heard many people say that they're worth it. The thin aluminum frames make for a clean-lined look that requires little guess work.
Ready-made options are not the only way to go when it comes to new frames. Be sure to check out your local frame shops. The quality will be hard to beat, and you may be surprised by the deals the owners are willing to cut, especially if you're having multiple pieces framed at the same time.
Also, big chain craft stores like A. C. Moore, Michaels, and Hobby Lobby have periodic 50% off frames sales, so be on the look out.
I'm sure you knowledgeable readers have some great framing resources to add to the list, so let's hear them!
Image: Sarah Kaye via pink wallpaper