The Framing Challenge: Choosing the Right Mat Color

Fodor Mauer/ August 14, 2019/ Artwork/ 0 comments

Have you ever spent more time than you’d planned at the frame store, shuffling through hundreds of mat choices? Taking your time isn’t a bad idea because the mat you choose can either enhance or detract from the presentation of your piece. It may help to take a friend for second opinions, and you can also consult the frame shop staff; they will likely know basic framing and matting principles. A brief overview of basic mat color considerations may give you a head start.

Neutral, Black and White Mats

Whether you use a framing shop near Elmhurst Il or one in Billings, Mont., this group of mat samples will likely take up several inches on the rack as they have versatile benefits. For subtler images that might be overpowered by color, try a neutral mat that matches a dominant neutral color in your piece. A black or dark gray mat creates a clean, classic look. Bright whites work well when the image contains very light-values and with more contemporary pieces.

Colored Mats

Color theory is a complex field, and having some basic ideas on board may help you conquer that L-shaped sea of colored mats.

  • Mats that match your piece’s dominant color can draw attention to that element.
  • Mats that contrast with the dominant color can bring attention to the whole piece.
  • Darker mats can make a strong statement with darker images.
  • Mats that match a background color can draw the eye to your piece’s focal area.
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Choosing a colored mat can be easier if you are versed in some color principles. A quick look at an online color wheel may help make the process more enjoyable.  

If you’ve ended up at the frame shop, you are probably working with a photo or art piece that is valuable to you. Because of the many choices, it may take time to choose just the right mat for your special piece. Now that you have some basic guidelines, you might just find the perfect mat and frame combination will come together effortlessly.

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