An Expert’s Guide to Creative Art Framing

Creative Framing

Just as a piece of art can transform a space, a frame can change the way you experience the work, giving it depth and dimension and allowing it to stand out from or blend in with the rest of your décor. “Your frames on the walls are an extension of your style, and are equally as important as the furniture in your room, so we often refer to art or frames as ‘furniture on your walls,’” says Beate Casati of Gordonsville, Virginia-based Cavallo Gallery, who treats framing like an art form, hand-crafting custom frames from small individual pieces to suit her clients’ tastes. To illustrate the power of a good frame and offer ideas for how art can be enhanced through creative framing, we provided Casati with a series of original fashion illustrations on paper form the 1920s, and asked her to work her magic. Above are some of the options she designed, and below she outlines her approach, which she notes are mainly classic due to the subdued tones and subject matter. For additional inspiration, visit the Cavallo Gallery on Instagram.

Over-the-top formal: For a timeless and formal option, Casati suggests going with a look that will evoke a sense of texture and elegance. To illustrate this concept, she employed a finished corner gilt frame with linen rag matting, water gilded filet on mat (bottom, right), resulting in a look that would beautifully complement classic décor.

Dark and dramatic: If you’re looking to make a statement, Casati recommends incorporating a combination that will make the artwork pop and show up well on a wall, like an Italian lacquer and gilt frame with a dark gray rag mat combo with a painted gilt bevel (top, left). This is perfect for when you want to add a sense of drama to a space.

Pretty and playful: With its moderate weight and sense of movement, the art framed with an off-white double rag matting with karat gilt bevel (top, right) is a beautiful and somewhat whimsical way to go. If this is in line with your tastes, Casati says to aim for a similar combination that’s less formal but still elegant, which will offer nice versatility.

Crisp and clean-lined: For a graphic design with dimension, try a no-nonsense, low-profile frame with a bit of texture or patina paired with a mat detail that echoes an element of the art. Casati demonstrates this look above, with the Italian-made frame with graphite watercolor line added to the matting, which picks up on the graphite color of the drawing (bottom left, interior). By connecting the frame with the drawing, the look is cohesive, and breaks up the flatness of the mat space.

Natural with a vintage vibe: For those who prefer a Scandinavian look and somewhat vintage feel, Casati suggests considering something in the vein of a maple burlwood frame with plain matting, like the example you can see here. While not flashy, the look has a distinct personality and natural feel that would work well alongside mid-century modern décor.

Art as object: Floating artwork between double glass (see an example here) results in an interesting and ethereal treatment that shows off the edges and transforms the art into an object on the wall. “Design credit on this goes to Jan Roden of And George,” Casati says, adding that the shadow behind the piece is gives the look depth, and keeps the finished piece from looking too solid.

TSG Tip 299 from Beate Casati of Cavallo Gallery in Gordonsville, Virginia. Cavallo Gallery is featured in The Scout Guide Charlottesville.