How to Decide If You Should Custom Frame Your Art

framed art in living room

Amy Leferink at Interior Impressions

No space is complete without art, but once you've picked out pieces that have captured your attention, then next step is determining where you'd like to display them—and sourcing the right frames. While it's easy enough to go to the store and pick out a few frames that speak to you, some pieces deserve a little extra TLC or may not fit within a standard sized frame. If you're curious about the custom framing process and aren't quite sure which types of pieces should be tackled professionally, we're here to help. Below are five factors to keep in mind if you're considering going the custom framing route.

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1. Consider a Piece's Size

Of course, from a practical standpoint, a piece's dimensions will play a role in determining the type of frame you'll need to purchase—and how accessible that size of frame is to buy. As designer Linda Hayslett explains, "Artwork is to display an emotion on a wall, and framing helps create the mood for that reaction. If it's a large or atypically sized piece, then you can't just go and buy a standard frame."

framed art in hallway

Michelle Berwick Design

2. Think About Whether a Piece Needs Special Care

While all of the art pieces that you're displaying in your home should at least hold some sort of sentimental value, some pricier or more delicate works will require more care, and that should be taken into account when looking at framing options. As Hayslett notes, "Some prints, reproductions, or creations cannot be in direct sunlight or need protection from lighting in general, so there are different types of glasses to consider for framing."

When textiles come into play, special framing may be necessary, too. "The mounting of a piece can be important as well," Hayslett notes. "If you have something that's of a fabric quality such as a Hermès scarf, for example, how it gets mounted to preserve the fabric is important."

And investing in a frame may truly be just that, an investment, Hayslett adds. "Custom framing can preserve special pieces or materials by keeping the artwork intact. It can help with light damage, humidity, fading and more. Otherwise, the asset could be eventually lost." So don't be daunted by paying a bit more up front. "Quality custom framing is really expensive because it's an art in and of itself," explains Daniel Koren, co-founder of "You need a craftsman, and that's not cheap. So when you've got a really special piece of art—either because it  is very expensive or because it's particularly meaningful—you don't want to skimp here."

framed art in basement

Gray Space Interior Design

3. Determine Where You'd Like to Hang a Piece

As designer Emily Wood advises, "Consider both the materials and final location so that you splurge only when necessary." Not every frame option or configuration will be of use in every space. "For example, the non-glare, UV-resistant museum quality glass would be a good investment for a watercolor in a sunny east-facing room," Wood comments. "A thickly textured painting on canvas may be better appreciated without glass, especially when placed in a room without strong direct sunlight."

art in kitchen

Mary Patton Design

4. Think About How a Pro's Opinion Could Help

Do you feel stumped about how to best display a piece? It may be worth stopping by the frame shop to at least learn about various options. "If you're unsure of the direction, utilize the professionals," Wood offers. "Ask your framer for advice, have them show options of larger and smaller mats, warmer and cooler toned frames. They have seen it all and can guide you to avoid the overwhelm of endless options."

That said, keep in mind that there is no one right answer when it comes to choosing a frame. "Sometimes the most simple frame is the best," designer Liz Caan notes. "In other cases, I splurge on museum quality framing for special pieces—the frame is also an art form."

artwork in living room

Andi Morse Design

5. Consider Any Time Constraints

Are you giving a special piece to a loved one as a gift? Are you hosting an event in your home and looking to have your gallery wall completed by a particular date? It's important to consider such factors before dropping a piece off at the framer's. As Hayslett says, "Depending on what you're looking to do, for custom framing you should consider that it could take from two weeks to three months." Wood agrees. "Turnaround time varies greatly. There seems to be a resurgence in the appreciation of artwork coinciding with the interior design boom of late, so I've found them to be a little longer these days." So plan accordingly!

framed art above bar cart

Victoria Bell