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RISMEDIA, June 11, 2009-(MCT)-Looking for a way to freshen up your decor and put a new face on your living space – without spending money you don’t have?

Try framing a few pieces that you already own and love, whether it’s landscape art, prints, posters or exquisitely woven tapestries. But don’t fall into the trap of expecting the art to carry the entire decorative load.

Peter Novak, owner of Moderne-Aire, a Walker’s Point, Wis., antiques and framing shop specializing in early- to mid-American styles, says “a big part of (framing) is interpreting the artwork and conveying it appropriately.”

When approaching a framing job, Novak studies the art’s history, and how it is interpreted, before suggesting a style. For artworks from the Arts & Crafts period, often associated with Mission style furniture, a frame designed from hardwoods, especially quarter-sawn oak, is a good fit, he says.

Roma, an Italian molding company, has “almost a cult following” these days, Novak says. The moldings, used to build a frame, are reminiscent of the Art Deco period and can transition into more contemporary styles. Novak has also noticed an increased focus on eclectic decor, where the frame doesn’t necessarily match the rest of a room’s furnishings or even the art itself. You can even turn the framing philosophy on its head, he says, by enhancing a mediocre piece of art with a stand-out frame.

Shelly LaLonde, owner of South Shore Gallery & Framing in Bay View, Wis., says she’s noticed that black and silver frames are hot right now and gold is not as popular as it used to be. However, bronzed finishes such as antique copper have made a comeback in the last decade.

“Trends come and go. I tend to go for something that really complements the piece and not the decor,” she says. “I frame in mind of something lasting forever.”

Even a poster can fade after 20 years, she says, and for this reason she does not use paper mats because they contain acid that, over time, can damage an image.

“Posters are collectible, and you never know where you’re going to hang it. A couple of years later, you could already be losing the red and yellow colors,” says LaLonde, who specializes in archival framing and does most of her jobs with conservation glass.

She advises against hanging framed pieces near extreme heat or cold because paper can stretch or shrink over time. Also, she says, never hang a piece in a bathroom due to that room’s increased moisture. Even so, with the right glass inside the frame, exceptions can be made.

“The only place I wouldn’t ever hang anything is strong, direct sunlight,” she says.

Linden Laurent, a senior designer at Betty Johnson Interiors, recommends a simple test when you’re deciding where to hang your art once it’s framed:

Take a large sheet of kraft paper, or even an old bedsheet, and lay it flat on the floor. Map out the wall’s design, using the actual pieces of art as your guide.

Then hang the sheet on the wall.

If you’re not happy with the look, continue shifting pieces on your “mock-up” wall until you are.

Use different sizes and shapes in a grouping, so that the finished design doesn’t look “cookie cutter,” Laurent says.

To make a smaller space seem larger, hang an oversize piece rather than small decorative arts. “You can actually only see so much at one time,” she says.

A common mistake is to hang the art so high that you need to step on a stool to see it best.

“If it’s a walk-through area, hang it at eye level,” Laurent says. For art that will hang near a sofa or side chair, lower it so that it’s at eye level when you’re sitting down.

©2009, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.