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The secret to custom framing on a budget

Framing art in a way that looks custom doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.

In fact, I have bought most of the frames for my house for less than $10 each. Even really large ones, $10! Want to know how? Second hand! The key to make them look custom? The mat


Did you know that you can order custom mats that will fit any frame and picture size?

Online stores like Frame it Easy, Matboard and More and Frame USA are great don’t-leave-the-couch options. And stores like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby will do it at a great price as well.

aligning my collection of (mostly thrifted) frames for the hallway wall gallery
I buy most of my second hand frames from neighbors through Facebook Market. I especially adore second hand frames because:

-The price is unbeatable. Second hand custom frames are usually dirt cheap to begin with. What’s even better? You can always negotiate! Especially if you are buying several from the same person, or buying other items, always ask to give you a deal on that frame you have eyed. 

to mat or not to mat?

A few times I have taken home the frames for free, Yes, for free. I was picking up something else and I happened to enquire about that frame I saw they were selling… -“you can have it” has been the answer on several occasions. 

-Great quality. Yes, you have to filter a lot of crap. But most of the older frames were made by hand using great materials, unlike the ones manufactured these days (unless you custom frame it at a shop)

-It is better for the environment. Because reusing is always less impactful than buying new.

-It adds soul to your home. One of the secrets of making your house a home is not buying everything new. Antique or vintage items that show wear add interest to your space and differentiate it from looking like a West Elm window display. 

-It’s unique. I love that even if I am buying an art print of a famous painting that has been mass produced and that everyone and their grandma have in their living room, by using a pre-existing frame I am making it unique and adding a curated and more authentic look to that piece.

I went for the "Rosie" matted version

Already convinced? Check out these tips:

You can refinish it. Don’t think that because a frame color doesn’t go with your space you cannot change it. You can spray paint, dye or stain any wood frame and make it literally any color. 

The best places to buy dirt cheap/quality frames are Facebook Market and Ebay. What’s great about FB Market is that you will save a lot of money on shipping by buying locally. 

Other great resources are Goodwill, Salvation Army and any local thrift stores.