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The Frames.co.uk Guide To Framing Art (and Hanging It)

Posted on Tuesday 9th March 2021   |   How To

The Frames.co.uk Guide to Framing Art (and Hanging It)

We’ve all spent a lot more time at home this year than we would normally, and so we know that many of us have pieces of art lying around our homes that we have just not hung. 

This could be because the thought of putting a permanent hole in our wall seems frightening – something we need to give some serious thought to.

The other thing that might be off-putting as well is the wide range of choices out there – from a0 picture frames to the colour of matting, and the style and colour of your frames. It can all feel a little bit bewildering.

Here at Frames.co.uk we aim to make the world of picture framing an easy and less daunting one. So, here is our simple approach to framing and hanging, sprinkled with a few words of wisdom to help you to get your artwork on your walls in an easy a way as possible.


The Basics

Your home doesn’t have to look like a museum. The majority of us collect things that wouldn’t be considered masterpieces in the normal world of art, but they are things that we love. This could be a photograph that we took on honeymoon, our children’s best scribblings, a picture that we loved at an art fair, a vintage poster of our favourite holiday spot, even a vintage quilt that is too precious to use. These are the pieces that we want to help you frame, without you feeling intimidated by the process or having to spend a fortune. 

Make sure you keep the long-term in mind when you frame items. Matting materials need to be acid free and there should be a dust cover on the back of the mat. Traditionally, most frames come with a glass front but you can choose acrylic as an alternative now as this is lightweight and tends to be shatterproof. The downside of acrylic is that it is more easily scratched than glass. 

If you want to frame an actual painting that has been done on canvas, then you need to approach this in a different way. Oil paint on canvas is quite hardwearing actually, and you can hang it in sunlight without fear of damage and also dust it lightly as well. You may want to think about avoiding covering the picture with acrylic or glass, so that you can see the build-up and textured sweeps of the paint when you look at the picture. You can still use ao poster frames to finish the piece off. 

The majority of pictures, especially watercolours, and textiles should be hung in a well-shaded spot – never in direct sunlight. Watercolours work best when they are hung in a shaded bedroom or dark hallway, as this will protect the colours and not wash them out too much.


Mounting matters

The mount, or border, is the thin piece of paper like material on which your piece of art sits – and it is mostly decorative - a sort of backdrop to allow the artwork to shine. 

Some people choose not to use a mount, especially with large-format photography as the image tends to have a greater impact without. Multiple pieces, such as diptychs and triptychs, can also look better without mats as it makes them a tighter, more cohesive story.  However, if you have any work that has been done on paper – such as a drawing or a watercolour – then these can look even lovelier with a mount. 

The whole point of the mount is to place more focus on the art itself, so when you are thinking about what colour of mount to choose try and restrain yourself. White and off-white will pretty much look fantastic against anything, but if your artwork is predominantly white or you want to add some drama – then black or grey might be a good choice to really set it off.

You can even think about adding a different colour mat as an accent behind your main mount to create a thin line around your artwork. Pick a colour that is found in the actual piece of art itself – such as a grey undertone or a piece of red.

Exercise restraint with your frame as well, anything will look great when paired with a clean, white frame – it’s a fool proof choice. However, you should let the art take the lead. Green toned paintings, for example, can look amazing in a gold frame – it can make them look like they are glowing. 


The key principles of hanging

Adding art to your living space can be the most transformative step, if you keep it in the same style as the rest of the room and its surrounding architecture. 

To hang art like a pro:

  • Before picking up your hammer, plot out what you are going to hang and where
  • Trust your instincts and go with what looks good, especially if the space you are hanging it in has architectural features such as archways or mantelpieces, or strong furnishings. Have someone hold the piece up where you are thinking of hanging it, and then step back and take a good look at it. A common mistake many people make is to hang their art too high, which makes it looks like it is floating. 
  • Use a measuring tape, every time. This is essential, especially if you are hanging your art in a space that is a gallery style – such as alcoves, hallways and stairs. In these spaces you should hang your pictures so that they are around 58” to 60” from the floor. If you are hanging one piece of artwork above another, make the 58” to 60” point in the middle of the pair, with two inches of space around the edges.
  • Gallery style hanging doesn’t always have to be regular and in-line, you can embrace irregularity. Lay your pieces of art on the floor and play around with where you want to hang it. Once you are satisfied with your positioning, measure the full width and height of each and then mark the furthest points on the wall using a pencil. Then start hanging. Remember, that imperfection is OK – the ideal spacing between pictures is usually 2” but if you don’t always get that it’s fine
  • Don’t line everything up with other things in the room, it can feel monotonous. Keep it dynamic by breaking the lines up 
  • Create focus with the images you use, by positioning a single portrait as if it is looking at a group of works and placing darker pieces at the top of the group so that all the weight is not at the bottom 
  • Leave some walls blank. Don’t be tempted to cover every wall of your home with art, having some blank space will bring even more attention to those pieces you do choose to hang
  • If you make a mistake, don’t panic. If you make a hole in the wall and it’s not quite in the right space, it can be fixed. 


Whatever size frame you are looking for, from ao size to a6 size, Frames.co.uk are here to help. You can call us, email us or write to us and even check your order status online.

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Frames.co.uk is a trading name of In The Frame (Manchester) Ltd. Company 05082556. VAT GB738474009. ICO ZA286204.
© 2019 In The Frame (Manchester) Ltd. 56 Ashfield Road, Sale, Cheshire, M33 7DT. All third party logos are respective of their registered owners.