How To Get Custom Museum Matting & Frames {on a budget}

Okay, so we all know I like to be thrifty, right? And, admittedly, sometimes I can be thrifty to a fault. It pains me to spend a pile of money when I know I could get, do, or make something for less.

But sometimes, in order to do something “right,” you just have to invest a little dough.

01 family pic frames

But old habits die hard… So even though we wanted enormous photos framed in custom, museum style matting, we still wanted to keep an eye on the bottom line.

02 family pic frames

Custom mats cost so much I literally considered buying the uncut mats and cutting tools and learning how to do these myself. BUT we saved some money on the 20″ x 30″ frames thanks to a buy-one-get-one-free sale at Michael’s. I had a few family photos printed at WalMart (!). If you want oversized photos from there, click on “posters” in the online photo store, and choose photo [rather than poster] paper. These 12″ x 18″ photos were only about $8 each. HARD TO BEAT!

Since my frames are 20″ x 30″ and my photos are 12″ x 18″, I figured that I would have 4″ on the left, top, and right and 8″ across the bottom. This is called “museum matting,” when there is a bigger white space at the bottom. I think this look feels classic and sophisticated.

03 family pic frames

I decided to mount the photos to the backing of the frame (there is usually a sandwich piece in between the back cover and the glass–that’s what I used). In order to figure out exactly where I wanted my photo, I lined up my cut mat with the backing piece and marked the inside corners of the open part of the mat (above photo: pencil mark, upper left). Then I moved those marks out about a quarter- or half-inch each (above photo: mark below left).

04 family pic frames

I gave the back of the photo a spritz of Craft Bond spray adhesive and set it directly inside my four corner marks (the original marks were covered by the photo, hence the moved out marks).

05 family pic frames

And shazaam! One down, two to go!

06 family pic frames

Since we were doing a trio of photos, I flipped the image on the right (above), so these two outer photos would “face in” towards the middle one.

07 family pic frames

I put the cardboard frame corners and backing piece back on each frame to keep them safe from dinks before hanging.

08 family pic frames'

And the cardboard corner wraps were extra useful when we did hang the pictures: we blue taped the wrappers to the wall to get the framed photos positioned just how we wanted them before committing to nail holes.

09 family pic frames'

Even though these weren’t dirt cheap or free, we still saved an additional almost 40% off Michael’s “60% off custom framing” prices, huzzah! My thrifty self can sleep in peace!

010 family pic frames

So, where do you high-low it in your decor? And what’s worth paying for to you?


You might also like these posts…

LINK hubs' frames get a makeover

LINK A Little Picture Frame DIY For Sissy’s Room

LINK A DIYer’s Home Art Tour


3 responses to “How To Get Custom Museum Matting & Frames {on a budget}

  1. Beautiful pictures! I also want to share a handy place to frame. If you buy a frame (which are usually 40% off) at Hobby Lobby they will mat and frame for you for $1.50. I’ve had many things framed there and the finished product was very professional.


  2. Pingback: Wait, I Can Explain… | CampClem·

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