help with picture frame please

massagerocksSeptember 18, 2012

My parents had a picture painted for them while they were on their honeymoon in 1949. It is a painting of the sand dunes along Lake Michigan where they were camping. I was lucky to find it in her basement and she's letting me have it. I recently rearranged my family room furniture and my couch is on a big wall that goes up to the second floor and is completely bare. The colors in the pic look good in my room and I love the sentimental value of it. My room is painted SW Blonde, the couch is a purply-maroon and 2 side chairs are yellow. I've been looking for a 3rd accent color, maybe this pic has it in the turquoise-blues? Here is a photo of the picture. Do you think I need to get a new wider frame, or is the original one okay? If a new frame is needed, what kind of wood and should it be matted? Do you have any suggestions as to what would look good on either side of it?

here a few pics of my room. the painting in real life looks more like the first pic on the couch

no flash, colors are brighter than appear here

chair is on a small angled wall next to couch

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hi massagerocks, i love that you are using a piece with family history in your space and as you say the colors are great.

I don't know much about framing artwork but you instinct is right it is too small to sit above the sofa alone (an art piece or arrangement looks best if it takes up about 2/3rds the width of the sofa).

if you want to leave it as is - the two places to could put it are 1) to layer it in front of the mirror on the mantel or 2) to put it where the mirror is above the chair (I assume this is a narrow piece of wall).

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 10:13AM
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I would not want such an important piece to fail at anchoring your sofa, and I think that's what would happen, even if you reframe it.

I have a meaningful piece, a watercolor, I hung right outside our bathroom, where I see and enjoy it on its own many times a day as I exit.

Do you have somewhere your painting can hang and be showcased by itself?

What a wonderful thing to own!


    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 10:52AM
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It looks like an oil painting, which does not use a mat when framed. You could use it as it is, though a wider frame would make it more important. A medium toned wood, I think, as it is a "nature" scene. Nothing too ornate.
If you can find a couple or three smaller oil paintings of water or landscapes that are similar in mood, a grouping above the sofa would look good, IMO.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 10:54AM
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first of all let's get it straight? is it a watercolor or an oil...?
It looks like a water color to me, and if that is the case I would get it reframed and matted by someone that knows the "rules" about the proper size for a mat and about double matting that won't distract from the art etc etc. And hang it over your sofa, off center with the plan of finding 2 smaller "somethings" to hang at one side.
Or if it is oil, hang it where that clock is. Not fond of a big buisness like clock in a "relaxing" room...that sort of clock belongs in the kitchen or the office.
Great picture by the way! Love the story and the colors are very good in your room!!
Linda C

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 11:05AM
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The painting is an oil. If i hang it where the clock is, what should i put over the sofa? The walls are one, but the part with the clock on it is slightly angled and not as high as there is an open railing from the hallway above it.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 11:17AM
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I would reframe the painting in the "Plein Air" style - Here's a painting I reframed this way.
It came from
I've ordered from this company many times, and always been happy.

Here is a link that might be useful: Plein Air Royale collection

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 11:31AM
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You absolutely need a much bigger frame and yes you can frame an oil painting with a matted frame. Take it to a framer and tell them your dilemma, they'll come up with a good solution. If you stick with a smaller frame then place it along with two other items to balance the look so that it covers 3/4 of the wall behind the sofa. I love the look of two wall pockets at an angle with air plants in them. If you were to do something like that put the painting off center to the right when you're looking at the wall head on and the other two pieces to the left. In either case you still need a larger frame.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 11:37AM
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If you do want a matted effect, I'd look at using a linen liner rather than a board mat. You can use it without glass, which lets you see the surface and texture so much better. Some collectors and museums now cover certain paintings with glass to protect them, but usually they're framed without.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 11:48AM
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Although it's a lovely piece, the frame doesn't do it justice. The frame is insubstantial, rather than showcasing the art.

I recommend taking it to a framing shop and seeing what your options are.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 10:00PM
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I agree re: the painting needing a larger/more substantial frame. I am a recent, and total convert to choosing the right frame to set off artwork to its best advantage. Spent more $ on a frame last year than I ever imagined I would on a frame for an oil painting done by my late MIL.

The frame we (frame shop owner and I) picked out really "made" the painting. We considered using a less expensive, narrower/simpler (plainer) frame made from the same wood, but it just wouldn't have done the painting justice. The frame we chose really helped the painting look like as special as it was, and is.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 10:18PM
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Yes to what Bronwynsmom said about the linen, it would compliment the painting so much and no glass of course.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 12:27AM
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I'm having trouble seeing this with a mat, maybe b/cus I've known it as is for my whole life. Thank you for the link to the Plein Air frames, Bronwysmom, I love all of them. They even have a driftwood one

I found these sconces laying around. I bought them years ago because I thought they were pretty, but never figured out what to do with them. They've been decorating the side of a hutch, on the floor turned upside down. Pathetic, I know. If I get a 3 inch frame and use these sconces on either side, it'll be about 2/3rds. the length of the sofa. What do you think of that idea? And if good, what would I put on them? Please be honest, I really appreciate everyone's opinions!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 8:46AM
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I hate to be the naysayer, but I still think your piece is going to look lost on that two-story wall.

Can you tape the shapes on the wall, stand back to get a shot of the entire wall, and take a picture?

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 9:07AM
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I know I often think very differently from many other amateur decorators but I like vintage frames and would not reframe this painting. There is something about old original frames that often feel as if they belong with the painting. IMO there is no frame that will make that painting large enough to put over your sofa and I don't personally like the idea of using those sconces with it. I'd find another location in the room for the painting and hang as is.

Lovely to have such a nice sentimental object to enhance your decor.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 12:44PM
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Have you thought of "double framing" this picture? A framer did one for me and it turned out very nice. Double framing is putting a wider frame around the narrower frame that you have. Not sure about the little shelves...maybe if they didn't have the gold on them...JMHO

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 1:47PM
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How about hanging it to the left of the big window? The direction of light and shadow is a very strong element in the painting. It would be nice to have natural light coming from the right.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 3:42PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Definitely reframe with a much wider frame...not a fan of the sconces with it. Take it to a frame shop...or I've gotten really fortunate with a framer at our local Joann's who has a really good eye and does a great job. Let them help you with frame size. Then place it in the room where it fits...not over the sofa just because the space is there.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 7:17PM
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I like the driftwood-look frame you found on that website, but you might be surprised at how wide a frame you can get away with. I just measured one of our framed oils: the painted part shows as a ~17" x 17", yet the frame is ~3.5". It's over one of the LR fireplaces - low-ceiling room and with "objects dart" on either side of the piece.

Re: the driftwood-look frame, I think the style would work very well with the piece; not so well in the room as a whole however.

Plus what others have said about the relative sizes of art vs. sofa and wall: your piece, even with a large frame, will be too small. You could add additional pieces of art or sconces or other items to fill up the space horizontally. Those things would not help with the vertical space however, and the style of the sconces you have clashes with the painting.

To give you an idea of how we filled up the horizontal space over our LR sofa: the sofa measures 82" and the painting above it, including its wide frame, measures 52". The room is low-ceilinged (same room as the 17 x 17) and is longer than wide...same shape as the painting come to think of it.

Not that I favor doing what's "in" vs. doing what you like (to the contrary, usually), but linen mats for oils are "out" and have a very dated look.

Having said that, we have an oil in the MBR in both its original linen mat and its original (washed? pickled?) wood frame. (I'm not sure what one calls that kind of treatment of wood.) This piece looks really good. We also have an oil with linen mat/original narrow wood frame in another room, and that one definitely doesn't look good. The former is a scene of a boat at dock; the artist was born in the 19th century and died in the early 1960s. The latter is an abstract cityscape by a mid-century modernist. So you can see how the linen mat might not work with the latter....If you like the look of linen mats, you could probably get a very successful effect with your oil.

Something to bear in mind re: linen mats. They can get dirty and stay dirty-looking.

Even with a new frame and, possibly, mat, if I were you, I'd try to find a spot in a more casual room or spot for your painting, and one with ceiling height that would be more proportionate to the painting.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 10:38AM
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