You’ve decided that you want to enhance a particular piece of artwork for your home. At this point, you may have even picked out a certain frame that you really love, and feel fits well with the image.

But, have you given any thought to the mat?

The process for selecting mats to complement both the central art and its surrounding frame can be a puzzle. With the wide selection of colors, styles and even quantities for any given piece, you may not know where to begin. The good news, however, is there are certain principles you can apply to the array of choices available to you.

Focus on the Art, Not the Room

A common mistake is to consider mats (and frames, for that matter) that would look good on the wall of a specific room instead of focusing on the piece. This notion should be secondary in choosing the best mat layout. Even if you want to project a special mood in an individual space, the mat still needs to be evaluated primarily in relation to the art itself.

Ultimately, the mat’s job is to heighten the work, drawing the viewer’s eye to the central image. In a nutshell, that is a mat’s true purpose.

Single Mat Techniques

One of the nicest aspects of matting artwork is you can choose single or multiple colored borders to surround your art. For just one mat, keep in mind that the color should not overshadow the art’s content.

The eye naturally moves to the part of the image that has the most color. This is why it’s often best to choose a mat shade that doesn’t dominate. Creams, whites, grays and light blues or greens are among the ideal choices for this kind of a mat configuration.

Double Mat Approaches

You have more room to be colorfully creative with double mats. That’s because you can choose a stronger tone for the outer mat, allowing the inner one to be more of an accent. Still, the challenge is to pick an interior mat color that leads the eye to the composition’s main image.

Remember that you don’t want the more powerful shade as the inner mat. That color scheme will not ease the viewer’s glance to the featured artwork.

Width Standards

After deciding on one or two mat compositions, the next question is about width. There really is no set rule in this area. However, some professionals believe mat width depends on the artwork’s size. For this concept, a smaller piece of art deserves a wider mat and vice versa.

Still, your personal preference has a lot of weight in this decision. You’re always free to experiment with width sizes, seeing which level of thickness feels right to you.

In Conclusion

Picking the perfect mat colors and combinations are fun aspects of the framing process. As long as you place the integrity of your artwork as a top priority, you really can’t go wrong.