The Mustard Mill

Choosing your perfect picture frame

Our framer has nearly fourteen years' experience in the business, and a lifetime working with form and colour. There are literally NO RULES when it comes to framing, and everything is open to debate. It is all about personal taste, with a few time-honoured conventions that tend to make the results more pleasing.

Picture frame

Choosing a frame isn’t a professional’s decision; it’s down to the person who will love and adore the picture. However, there are a couple of cautious rules of thumb that can be kept in mind.

Consider the picture rather than the room

Your art will likely go with you everywhere you live, and there’s no guarantee your décor will remain the same for the time in which you have the picture. Far better to frame the picture with something that clearly suits it, than to try to help it blend in with the surroundings.

Ensure the picture is centre attraction

This may seem obvious, but it is possible to over frame your picture, and is not to be recommended. The frame has a mere supporting role: your picture is the most important part of the presentation. Wide and fancy frames have their place, but they need not upstage the main act.


The majority of framed pictures will have one or more pieces of thick card surround, outer to the image, but inside the frame. This ‘mount’ provides a little depth, space between the glass and the picture, and gives you the opportunity for a little more creativity in framing.

Mounting pictures isn’t always necessary

Most pictures benefit from a mount: that thick piece of card that directly frames the picture within the outer frame. Some pictures, however, do not look as good with a mount. For example, oil paintings are often not mounted, and posters may also be best without. Sometimes size considerations mean there needs to be no mount.

Two mounts are better than one

It is one of the secrets of framing that if a picture looks good with a mount, it will look even better with two. Why? Who knows? Doubtless this is related to composition, depth, and perspective, but even without knowing the reason, this is a truth in framing: double mounts look better.

Decide whether a mount should be pale or dark

Most very successful mount colours are pale: a cream, light grey, or some kind of very gentle pastel. However, even with that in mind, you shouldn’t be afraid of choosing a black mount, especially suitable for photographs or some poster-style images.

If using a double mount, consider using an accent colour for the inner mount—the one nearest the picture. This can be very striking, although you must beware of picking up on a very minor tone in the painting and thinking ‘Eureka!’ It may not work as well as you expect.

The best way to choose your mount colours

Take a long look at your picture in good daylight. If you can identify the general tone of the image, you’ll find it easier to decide on a mount colour. For example, the tone may be largely blueish, greenish, or reddish.


Use space to help frame your picture

One of the few real rules of framing is not to glaze directly onto the image. If you really don’t want a card mount, but you still want your picture to be glazed, it would be best to use a glass spacer—a special S-shaped piece of moulded plastic that creates an airspace between the picture and the glass. The plastic will be invisible behind the frame, so it doesn’t spoil the look of the piece.

Which glass is best for your picture?


Standard clear glass is perfectly acceptable. It’s clean, you can see through it, and it protects your picture.


Reflections on standard glass can be a problem, especially if the picture faces a light source, such as a window. In these cases, you may wish to use frosted glass, to minimise reflection. This does not usually obscure the image, although it may with some.


The newest type of glass available to us is known as superclear glass. It comes with specialist coatings that make it anti-reflective, but rather than frosted, it appears … superclear. From a few feet away a picture framed with superclear glass will appear to have no glass at all.

We can offer a range of grades and prices, depending on the different levels of protection you require for your picture. For example, UV protection is very popular, to slow colour fade for pictures exposed to daylight.

Discussion is the best way forward

When it comes to choosing between a million colours and styles, materials and shapes, framing can be a difficult process of decision making. However, you are not on your own!

If you’re really stuck for ideas, give us a call, or drop in to discuss your framing needs. Being in the framing shop, you’ll be hit with a barrage of ideas and possibilities that you probably wouldn’t have already known about.

Anyone can learn to frame a picture, but a good framer will help you choose the right details of size, proportion, shape, colour and so on. It is these details that will make the difference to your enjoyment for years to come, and this is the aim of our business, so drop by, come in, give us a call, or drop us a line, and let’s talk about what you need for your picture.

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