How To Choose The Frame Color For A Painting

Choosing a beautiful artwork is the hard part of buying art – until it comes time to frame it. 

Framing isn’t just about hanging your artwork; a frame helps to anchor a painting in your space and tie it into a room’s decor.

Picking the right frame for your artwork can be as tricky as choosing the actual piece. A quick trip to a frame store can leave you instantly overwhelmed. There are so many colors, styles, and sizes of frames available to choose from. 

How To Choose The Frame Color For A Painting - Eden Gallery

Not only do you have to choose a frame itself, but you’ll also need to consider whether you choose a frame with a mat. The right or wrong picture frame can completely change the artwork and how it works within your space. 

Sometimes artwork comes framed, and in these situations, you’re in luck. When a painting comes framed, it means the artist chose the frame to complement their art and display it as they have intended. If your artwork comes framed, then it’s usually a good idea to keep the original frame. 

But what about unframed artwork? How do you know which frame to choose and what will suit both the painting and your decor? There are so many elements you will need to consider when selecting a frame. This article will help you find the perfect frame for your piece of art.



Types of Frames

How To Choose The Frame Color For A Painting - Eden Gallery


Frames can come in various materials, but the most common are wood, metal, glass, or plastic. Each material has its own variances, with different colors prints, finishes, and styles. Metal frames can vary from gold, bronze, silver, copper, or tarnished versions or any of these. 

Woods have endless variations in both type and finish; wood types range from bamboo to oak or pine, and everything in-between. They can be polished, painted, varnished, stained, or unstained. Plastics and glass also come in many different colors and finishes, from matte to glossy.


Width is another important consideration. Frames can come in all different types of widths. Antique frames tend to be wide, heavy, and ornate, they are as beautiful to look at as the picture they frame. 

But modern and contemporary frames are typically thinner; they usually let the artwork take center stage and don’t try to steal the limelight. 


Frames are often either square or rectangular, but they can also be decorative. A decorative frame can be ornate and even three-dimensional. Decorative frames can come in shapes, colors, textures, and materials. In contemporary interior styles, decorative frames are less common for larger paintings and more likely to be used as photo frames.

How To Choose The Frame Color For A Painting - Eden Gallery


A mat is a thin strip of paper or material that sometimes comes included within a picture frame. This framing feature may also be known as a matte or mount. A mat serves as additional decoration and creates a space between the artwork and frame. A mat can fill the gap between a larger frame and a smaller picture, allowing smaller paintings to fill larger spaces.

A mat also allows you to choose a brighter or more ornate frame without it overwhelming the artwork. Not all frames will come with a mat; some frames sit right on the edge of the painting. Modern frames and artwork are often mounted with a mat, but this is less common when framing older artwork.


Frames come in every color imaginable. However, some of the most popular frame colors are neutrals such as white, black, cream, or grey. Unpainted wood or gold and silver metal frames are also popular choices. 

Neutrals are a safe and easy choice, but that doesn’t mean you can’t choose a bold color like red, pink, orange, or green if the artwork and room call for it.

You shouldn’t be too concerned about matching specific colors in your artwork to the frame color. Instead, it’s more important to consider the overall tone of the image when selecting a frame.

Prints & Patterns

Prints and patterns are less common on contemporary frames than they once were. Before the modernist era, frames were ornate and as carefully created as the artwork itself. Frames could be painted or carved with intricate prints and patterns. 

While these decorative styles are less common in contemporary galleries, the juxtaposition between an ornate patterned frame and a modern piece of art can create a nice visual tension.


How to Choose the Right Frame Color

Color is the most crucial consideration of a frame, but width, material, and the mat can affect whether a color is a good choice. A red-stained wood frame is very different from a red plastic frame.

And while a thin gold frame may be chic and contemporary, a wide, heavy gold frame is more old-fashioned.

If you want to choose a bold color but are concerned it will distract from the artwork; then a mat can create a visual separation between the two.

You don’t need to match specific colors in your painting to the frame color. Consider your existing room decor and how a frame matches or compliments the overall style.

It’s more important to match the frame to the room than to match a color in your artwork to the frame itself. A frame can help tie artwork into the style of a room. For example, if you’ve chosen a bold piece that contrasts with the decor style, then a frame can be a bridge between two different aesthetics.

If you decide to match your frame to colors in the painting, you should choose an accent color or tone that isn’t the most dominant or obvious color. This strategy helps to prevent the frame from blending in with the artwork too much.

Consider the overall tone of the painting when choosing a frame. Lighter frame colors often work well for more casual pieces, while darker frames add a feeling of formality.

To help your artwork stand out, choose a frame color that’s different from your wall color. You should also select a different color for the frame and the mat. If these are too similar, they draw attention to the framing instead of the artwork.

Metallic frames create a more luxurious and glam look. Metallic frames in silver, gold, or rose gold are popular choices for modern art such as prints and art photographs

Galleries often frame artworks simply using natural wood frames or monochromatic frames that are either black or white. This style of framing allows the artwork to catch the eye without distraction from the frame.


How to Choose Frame Colors for a Gallery Wall

A gallery wall will feature multiple paintings, photographs, or both. When framing numerous pieces of artwork close together, you should consider the overall effect of seeing all the art at once. 

A triptych or series of paintings by the same artist should usually be framed in a uniform color. The artist intended these artworks to be displayed together, not sold and displayed individually. An identical frame helps connect and anchor them together on a wall.

By comparison, a gallery wall is made up of contrasting or juxtaposed artwork from multiple artists and even multiple styles. Therefore, you can frame each piece individually to create a distinct space for it on the wall. Gallery wall frames can be complementary colors and materials, but you should avoid being too matchy-matchy. 

Using a mix of frames in neutral tones or within the same palette works well on a gallery wall and creates dimension. You want a gallery wall to look like it has evolved as your art collection has expanded.


To Frame or Not to Frame?

Some images don’t need framing. It’s becoming more common for artwork, and canvas paintings, in particular, to be left unframed. If the canvas has been stretched and the spies of the artwork look tidy and clean, you may choose to leave your artwork unframed. 

This style of the unframed canvas is called “museum wrap,” and you may have initially viewed your artwork displayed unframed like this. Mixed media artwork or anamorphic art is also often left unframed, especially those artworks which are three-dimensional or have uneven edges. 


Let’s Get to Framing!

Still not sure if you’ve chosen the right color frame for your painting? Here’s a good way to sense check your framing decision: step back and look at your artwork. 

The dominant colors in an image should immediately stand out to you. But if the frame is the first thing that catches your eye, then it’s overpowering the artwork. As a final tip, choose a frame that compliments your artwork but doesn’t exactly match. 

If you’re looking for more ideas and inspiration on how to frame or display your new artwork, you can explore some of our artists’ work displayed in collectors’ homes.

Remember that like art, your choice of frame is subjective. If you love it, that’s what matters most.


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