A while back, I framed up a few pieces of art that I’d been meaning to get to for the longest time. And I got some questions on Instagram about where I source my frames, since pretty much all of the frames I use are a medium to light tone wood and a very particular depth.
I had never thought about how hard finding good ready-made frames were until multiple people asked. So, I thought I’d put together a quick list of where I shop for the ‘perfect’ wood frames when I don’t have the time or patience to wait for a custom frame job.
For me, the best frames have a profile depth of 1 – 1.5 inches and a frame width from the front of .25 – .75 inches (most of mine are .75 inches). Too far off from those dimensions (at least for me) and I find them to be too thick or too thin. I spent a lot of time figuring out the proportions that I liked best when I was in art school and had to frame up my artwork for group shows, etc in a hurry – that still looked professional.
A lot of frames come with a pre-cut mat already inserted in the frame, but if it doesn’t fit your artwork, you can either skip the mat all together, get a custom mat made locally (at a mat store or someplace like JoAnn or Michaels – the mats themselves are pretty affordable), or cut the mat yourself. I did a lot of mat-cutting on my own when I was in school too and while it’s not for everyone, it definitely will save you money in the long run to cut mats yourself if you have a lot to do. Pro tip: If you are going to cut your own mats…Go with archival mats, which are a little more expensive, so the core doesn’t change color over time. And then purchase a mat cutting tool like this one in combination with a straightedge or this one (higher end that’s all in one).
Jerry’s Artarama: Dumb name, but they have good prices on modern ready-made frames and have lots of different options. They’re super affordable and good quality. Don’t get me wrong, there are some real ugly options on the site in terms of fancy / elaborate frames, etc BUT I like the unfinished deep gallery frames. You can buy them in bulk or just one and they have sizes ranging from 4×6 to 18×24. I used them for many of the frames in Hayes’ room.
One thing to note on these frames is that it is literally JUST THE FRAME – no glass or plexiglass and no backing. So you’d have to purchase those separately. I usually just skip the glass or plexiglass with these and make my own backing with cardboard. It’s not the most professional solution, but not one will ever know what it looks like in the back anyway and not having glass or plexiglass means that you won’t catch a weird reflection when you photograph a space with artwork.
Ikea: Ikea used to have a particular wood frame that was awesome! I’d use it all the time…But I think they stopped selling them unfortunately. They have a birch effect HOVSTA frame that’s pretty good for the price ($10 for 12×16 and $13 for 16×20). They also have RIBBA frames in white and black and those are right in line with what I mentioned at the beginning of the post.
Urban Outfitters: These natural wood frames aren’t very deep on the sides, which annoys me a tiny bit. BUT they’re a good option and go all the way up to 30×30 inches in size. There’s also a walnut version (again available in lots of sizes), white wood frames and black wood frames option, if you want to skip the raw wood look.
West Elm: They have some modern frame options in a couple wood finishes, black, white, and metallic. The only drawback is they don’t really have large sizes. So if you have a big piece of art to frame, I’d skip this option.
Room & Board: They discontinued the maple frames, but I was able to snag a few before then and they’re really high quality. If you have another wood preference in mind (something darker like walnut or super light like sand) or prefer white, black, metallic, etc I would highly recommend these frames.
CB2: CB2 has some simple gallery oak frames that would work as well. They’re a little more expensive, but I imagine the quality is higher too. I don’t have any of these personally though, so I’m not 100% sure.
Michaels: The Fly to Tokyo print (and one other) in Hayes’ nursery above was custom framed at Michaels. I hadn’t used their framing services before and I’m not sure whether I’ll use them again because they didn’t have any raw wood frames similar to what I normally use. BUT they do have a nice, simple white option and black too…it’s just not the depth I would typically go for (not deep enough). I wanted to include this one on the list because the frames are good quality AND they can do pretty fast turnarounds (like under two weeks). So even though they’re not pre-made, this is a relatively fast option. And great for framing pieces that aren’t standard dimensions. This is the frame I picked for the Tokyo print.
Thrift Stores / Yard Sale: Thrift stores can also be a great place to look for frames…though the simple / modern options are probably a bit tougher to find. I’ve even found frames at yard sale / estate sales before that had artwork already in them and I just switched it out. As long as you can remove the existing artwork and/or the mat, you’re good to go.
Framebridge + Simply Framed: And then if you do have more time to wait for your pieces to be framed and you don’t want to go the DIY route for framing, Framebridge and Simply Framed are great options. They both make the process super simple and while it is more costly than buying ready-made frames, you also have a lot of options for customization, etc – like floating mats, which is my favorite way to display framed artwork.
So that’s it for now. Let me know if you have any questions about framing, etc.