Frugal Framing – Part 1

One of the best ways I’ve found to decorate my home is with framed art on the walls.  I don’t just buy pictures, I get them from a variety of sources. I’ve framed a puzzle, picked up prints on Freecycle and printed my own photographs.

Framing is a wonderful way to decorate walls but it can be expensive. Even with high value coupons, paying for custom framing can be beautiful but costly. Using standard frames is nice but can appear boring. What’s a frugal gal to do? Make your own and use materials you can find for cheap or free.

Step 1: the Pictures

Start with the pictures you’d like to frame.  Even if you don’t know which photos to print, choose a size to work with.  In the past I’ve used Walgreens Photo Posters with great results, a 12″ x 18″ print costs $12.99 with a coupon.

I chose a 2″ mat around the perimeter which makes final size approximately 16″ x 22″ plus the frame which would add another 3-4″.

Price the posters and make sure your shots are a high enough resolution to avoid blurry posters or unfocused prints.

Step 2: Make a Template

I like poster board from Wal-Mart – it’s cheap, easy to store and make sure it’s unwarped.  I took a poster ordered from Walgreens and unrolled it on the poster board.

measure poster board

The cups are in place to keep the poster from rolling back up.  I’m using 2 pieces of 12×12 scrapbook paper as a mat 2″ on both sides.  After measuring the poster board I drew lines and cut it to size.

Lay out the mat

It’s a little uneven so next time I’ll cut it larger and overlay the picture.  You can match up the edging at the corners or in the middle of each edge. Play around with different mat materials, try fabric, patterned paper or textured material.

Next overlay the picture to see how it looks.

Ready to Frame

You can probably tell this is a practice photo for me, the edges do not match up well and I probably won’t use this color matting.

Step 3: Determine how to Hang

This is the fun part.  Take some bright photo paper and tape it so it measures the size of your intended poster size.  I made four in orange paper so they would show up on my boring white walls.

Using plastic packing tape “hang” the prints in the room and adjust accordingly.

Arrangement A

I like things a little more symmetrical. Plus the one on the far right looks like an after thought. Maybe if I added a fifth print on the lower right.

Arrangement B

This is a little better, but if I do more portrait than landscape prints how would that look?

Arrangement C

Okay, but a little high when I stand next to them.  Lowered looks okay, so I moved on to the short wall between the bathroom and my closet.

Arrangement D

Looks about the right size, it’s perfect for a wall that can’t have any furniture.  On the wall behind the bed there’s another arrangement possible.

Arrangement E

I’m still playing around with the paint schemes for the room, I have the colors I want but this wall drives me nuts. It’s not symmetrical, the A/C filter is off to the right and I don’t have a bed frame yet.

I am planning a thin shelf right below these prints, about 3″ wide and floating on the wall. I’d like reading lamps under the shelf and 3 to 4 prints on the wall.

Step 4: Add the frame, cover and hanging mechanism

Whether you add glass or plastic is up to you, most framed prints need a layer of protection from dust and light.  You can buy picture hangers at the store and install easily – I’ll cover that in the next post.

Until then, get outside and take some pictures!


3 thoughts on “Frugal Framing – Part 1

  1. Kelly, can I make a suggestion about that last asymmetrical wall?

    What if you painted it two colors, or even two tones of the same color. As the doorway I can see through the opening on the left is the same height as the door on the right I would mark out a horizontal line all along that odd wall – ignore the fact that the opening will not line up.

    Paint the upper portion above the line a lighter color or shade than the rest of the walls. The idea is to make the top of the door spaces blend. Alternatively I would paint just this wall a contrasting color to the rest of the room which would help unify it

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