Most people pay little attention to the frame that surrounds a picture, dismissing it as simply a convenient way to hang the piece from a wall. However, frames have been around almost as long as art and, over the years, have become appreciated as something more than the “finishing touch” that adds dramatic flair to the pictures they enclose.
There is a wide variety of decorative picture frames available, whether you choose to shop for them at the local mall or have a custom frame designed specifically for a particular piece of art. Brightly-colored, ready-made frames can proclaim “It’s a boy!” while providing a spot to show off the newest addition to the family. Others are designed to look like everything from the family car to a favorite pet with slots for the pictures you want to display.
If your budget will allow you to spend a little more on the frame for a particular piece, there are styles that reflect the elegance of bygone eras while others add dramatic flair to the art you want to showcase in your home. It pays to shop around and look at different types of decorative picture frames before you decide which ones are right for you. There are Internet sites where you can download a copy of the art you want to frame, and then see how it looks in a range of styles. This free feature can be especially valuable if you’re just starting to decorate or are considering renovations to your home.
Sometimes, homeowners prefer a unified look, adding the same type of frame to the art that decorates every room, while others choose different styles that reflect the taste of individual family members. While it may not seem at first as important as where you’re going to place that new sofa, decorative picture frames can add or subtract much from the overall style of a room.
When hanging pictures, remember that some pieces are best shown individually, while others are more effectively displayed as a group. When grouping pieces of art together, it isn’t always necessary to select the same frame for every picture. While the decorative picture frames don’t necessarily have to match each other, however, they should relate to at least some of the furnishings in a room. If your tastes run toward country or more traditional furnishings, it is often advisable to look at wood frames first. If you enjoy modern or eclectic décor, then the clean lines of metal will probably work best.
Some people enjoy using just frames to decorate their living space. A variety of gilt-edged, ornate frames, interspersed with different colors or textures of contemporary styles, can sometimes create an interesting accent in a room. It can also be an inexpensive decorating choice because unique finds often turn up at flea markets and garage sales.
The history of decorative picture frames can be traced back centuries to the early years of the Christian church. While a type of border or frame appeared around art about 3,000 years ago, the church first used the type of frame we are more familiar with to define religious art. The heavy, jeweled-encrusted frames sometimes were as elaborate as the colorful images they enclosed.
With the advent of the Renaissance in the 15th century, wealthy aristocrats and merchants decided that their portraits deserved an equally fine setting, so they commissioned craftsmen to create elegantly carved frames that reflected their social status. The value of hand-crafted frames increased as the importance of art grew in the western world.
Over the years, decorative picture frames have changed to reflect contemporary tastes. But classic styles, such as Baroque and Rococo, are still favored by many homeowners for traditional art. So, even though you can’t sit on them to test their comfort, or you can’t taste them to see if they’re the right flavor, decorative picture frames are an integral part of creating a home that is uniquely yours. Choose the ones that are right for you.