Antique Picture Frames In Contemporary Interior Design

Antique Picture Frames In Contemporary Interior Design – A very pleasant fact about antique picture frames is that they have so many different uses. When well chosen, they can be used for all kinds of imagery, from the staid to the startling, and fit in with all kinds of interior decoration schemes.

Though the use of antique frames for dignified and formal pictures is fairly obvious – they are practically designed for traditional style portraits and for presenting photographic records of memorable, serious events like award presentations or weddings – they can also fit in as an intriguing contrast to more contemporary imagery. Everything from modern photography to modern art can sometimes look good when paired with one of these frames.



Antique picture frames to present modern pictures

Modern imagery is often very different from that of the past, with its own unique emphasis on the unexpected, its love of the abstract, and its frequently simple but highly effective look. Art and photography that you decide to put on your walls may range from the trendy to the cutting edge, from the starkly beautiful abstracts of nature (for example, rippling reddish-gold sand dunes under a deep blue desert sky) to startling images reflecting contemporary issues.


(photo by Melissa Mercier)

Sometimes, the best settings for these pictures are slender, efficient metal frames that present a thin ribbon of colored steel around the edge of the picture, providing support and little more than an outline. However, antique picture frames can also look good with some modern pictures, though the choice has to be carefully made.

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In many cases, the contrast should be subtle rather than glaring. Thinner frames with decorative elements lightly etched into the surfaces look better with many pieces of modern wall art than do wide masses of baroque, carved wood full of festooning grapes and overstuffed cherubim.

The color frequently looks better when it is a fairly close match or just slightly darker than the general hue of the image – stronger color contrasts can be distracting when the more ornate decoration of the frame is already providing a balance to the image’s relative simplicity.


Michelle Nussbauner’s design

Antique picture frames to contrast with contemporary interior design

The second approach pays less attention to what image is being displayed inside antique picture frames and instead focuses on how they fit into the interior environment as a whole. Contemporary interior design usually relies on intriguing geometric volumes, clean lines, and uncluttered planes to produce an exciting, cutting edge effect.

There is always some risk, though, that a contemporary interior will end up too plain – by making everything starkly simply, nothing stands out, and the effect isn’t quite what was intended. A quick, easy ‘fix’ to this is to add a few ornate antique picture frames to the scene. The richness of their shapes, carving, and ornamentation restore the piquancy of the modern design by providing good contrast to it.


Picture frames are good for this purpose because they occupy a limited area, so they won’t dominate the overall design, but are in a highly visible area (on the wall) more often than not, so they also will not pass unnoticed. Arranging several antique picture frames asymmetrically can even emphasize the bold lines of a wall of ‘sculptural’ proportions on which they are hung.

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It’s often surprising how a mix of styles can add dramatic interest to a room, and this is precisely the case when you use antique picture frames with contemporary furnishings. The flourish of an antique frame amid utilitarian contemporary surroundings will bring out the best of both styles.


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