DIY Custom Frames

You wouldn’t be able to tell based on my excessive “DIY” pinboard. However, this project wasn’t actually meant to be a DIY project. I fully intended this to be a simple purchase, enjoy, and move on sort of thing…but sometimes you just gotta roll with it.

Now that we’ve completed most of the “big projects” I’ve started to focus my attention on adding some flair. I’m starting to think about photos, art, collectables, and decor to define “our look”. The first thing I wanted to add was a small collection of prints. My grandparent’s purchased them at the 1947 World’s Fair and I’ve been dying to display them. They are bright watercolors depicting foreign cities across the world. Out of the 9 photos, I chose four vertical photos that I wanted to frame.

A friend of mine mentioned that she was going to IKEA so I asked her to pick up some frames for me. I measured the photos and decided upon the 19×24 inch frames. I wanted a thick mat and these frames would allow 5-6 inches around the photos. I was so proud of myself. I’d decided on the artwork, I’d picked out the frames. All I had to do was pop the prints into the frames then I’d be done! We’ll, I was wrong. However, the good news is that you get to benefit from my ignorance. Let’s begin shall we?

Once home, I promptly opened the frames to lay my photos in and finish this project. However, I ran into a problem. Three mattes were white and one was off-white, WHAT THE? Not even 2 and 2! ARG. This threw a wrench in my OSD world. On to plan B.

  • PLAN B: Go to Michaels to buy mattes using my coupons.

*Skip to me rocking back-and-forth in the fetal position in Michaels* 



Of course they don’t carry metric sizes. Darn you IKEA! I love you, but this is America. Where we have measurements that make sense. I digress.

  • PLAN C: Buy mattes that are close to the correct size. Then cut them to fit.

Yes, mattes. I ended up having to buy 2 mattes for each frame because of the frame sizes. I got really large frames because I’m a fan of expansive matting. So, instead of buying 1 very expensive “custom” matte, I bought 2 so the small photos would fit in the big frames! Here’s what I did to customize my store bought mattes.

  1. Flipped the frame over and popped the backing out of the frames. **Careful not to break the thin glass. Not that I did that…ever.
  2. Using the backing of the frame, I traced it on the back of the larger matte. This showed me where I needed to cut the matte.
  3. With a nice pencil line as my guide I cut the matte by laying a large metal ruler next to the line and following it with an XACTO knife. **Note: This method won’t give you an angled look. However, I’m not a huge fan of angled mattes anyways because they seem a little outdated. Plus, they are wicked hard to cut.
  4. I cut the inner matte in the same manner because my OCD wouldn’t let me have a matte that was thicker on the sides. Right?! … anyone?
  5. Once I had both my mattes cut, I taped all three pieces together on the backside. This way I could check to make sure everything was centered and otherwise gorgeous.
  6. Once I was satisfied with the placement I popped all three pieces into the frame.
  7. Bam done!  Unless you have multiple frames…**Repeated this 4 times…fun.

The end result was well worth the effort. (As a side note…my walls are not actually indigo as these poor photos depict. They are more of a navy and I’m baffled by where this blue is coming from.)

Additionally, can you spot the dog in the photo above?! I didn’t event know she photo-bombed me until I uploaded the photo. She’s such a ninja. Below is a closer photo of the paintings which are still a bit blurry. I’m working with an iPhone camera people … cut me some slack! Aren’t they amazing?

Anywho, I decided to group the images in a block of four. Why? One being that I only had one wall that was only so big. And adding them in that arrangement made the room look taller. Bonus! So, the room that Taylor and I decided we’d decorate last is now the closest to being done.

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