Here's how to make your artwork look like a million bucks. 

By Caylin Harris
Updated July 01, 2019
How to Frame Art
Credit: Getty Images

Any design pro will tell you that the difference between a good room and a great room is tension. No, not that kind of tension (even though some home projects might make it feel that way). We’re talking about design tension, which is the result of juxtaposing two items that feel decidedly different, such as pairing a sleek, modern coffee table with an antique rug. When paired correctly, the contrasting elements strike just the right balance. This principal applies when you’re deciding how to frame art, too. Once you have your art picked out, follow these steps to frame your artwork in a way that complements your style and adds visual interest.

Find a complementary frame

How to Frame Art, Ginkgo Leaf Print
Credit: Home Depot

There are many factors at play when framing art: not only do you have to take into account your personal taste, but also the design of the room and the artwork itself. To create a minimalist look, choose a frame that can blend into the wall and really lets the artwork shine, as shown in this "Get Growing I" wall art from Home Depot, which comes already framed so you don't have to worry about framing it yourself. When surrounded by a white frame and matting, the blue of the ginkgo leaves really pops.

If minimalism isn't your thing, pump up the contrast. If you want there to be more of a balance between the art and frame, choose a frame in a color or texture that contrasts the piece. For a cohesive look, pull from colors or finishes that already exist in the room. While you can absolutely pair a modern style frame with modern art, remember that you will get more interesting results if you pair it with a less expected option.

Whatever frame you end up choosing, make sure the acrylic or glass cover is UV-resistant. It will protect your art over time, but it’s not magic, so delicate artwork should never be placed in direct sunlight.

When to mat a piece of art

Matting a piece of art feels fancier and more sophisticated—hands down. But not all pieces need it. For example, a modern, large-scale photograph that’s visually striking doesn’t need to be muddled up by adding a mat, and any sort of artwork on canvas won’t need a mat, either. Otherwise, most pieces can benefit from the visual space a mat creates. Color-wise, it's a safe bet to stick with neutral matting, except in rare cases. White matting works to highlight a colorful piece, while black or gray matting can provide contrast for a light or muted piece.

How to style your artwork

Get creative!Artwork doesn’t always need to be hung. In fact, if you’re indecisive, resting it on a piece of furniture, like a cabinet or sideboard, allows you to layer and rearrange pieces on the regular. Smaller pieces can also be included on your shelves and styled with books, plants, or flowers. To ensure that your shelfie game is strong, make sure that everything sitting on the shelf isn’t the same size and shape. Variation creates visual interest.

If you prefer to hang your art, gallery walls are a popular choice, but don’t be afraid to feature one or two large-scale pieces on a wall instead. Pay attention to the scale of the work against the blank space of the wall, as you want to avoid displaying a tiny piece in the middle of a big blank wall. Gallery walls are great for filling up a large expanse, and they work especially well if your prints, paintings, or photos are small to medium-sized.