Art & Framing Within Your Budget

Let’s face it.  Everyone is budget-conscious right now.  Maybe it is even good for us to think about the value of things we buy and experiences we pay for.  Filling up our lives with a bunch of junk is clearly not a life-affirming thing to do.  However, selecting the right stuff, things and experiences that enhance our lives, that connect with something within us or with people we care about,  those things are worth what we pay.  The trick, of course, is to figure out what is worth our hard-earned and increasingly scarce resources.  One of my favorite books, Your Money or Your Life, by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin, talks about looking at all of your financial transactions and evaluating whether you have gotten good value for your money or not, with an eye to changing your purchasing habits in the future.  It is a really interesting exercise given how difficult it is to make , save, and invest money right now.

Our niche in the marketplace has always been good value.  We don’t play games with inflated prices and discounting.  We offer good prices every day and strive to give good value in every framing job.  We also look for art that is worth more than it costs.  Our niche is “affordable originals”, although we have everything from prints that cost a few dollars to large originals in the thousands of dollars.  We are happy to work with our customers’ budgets in a number of different ways.  We also like to suggest some art and framing acquisition strategies that help our customers get the most for their art and framing budget.

Plan Your Art Purchases

A great deal of art gets purchased when people are on vacation.  They are blowing money like crazy.  They are having a good time.  They are in a scenic spot with lots of stores and galleries around.  They have the time to shop.  They want a memento of their trip.  They walk into a beautiful gallery staffed by an excellent salesperson.  They find an image they love.  They buy it and take it home.  Once they get home, they realize that it really is too small for above the fireplace, even though that is the place they have agreed screams for a beautiful work of art.

Many people don’t look around their home for where they need art.  They just buy art when they see it.  Don’t get us wrong, buying art you love when you find it is a good idea.  It’s just that when you don’t have a plan, you may buy the wrong art for your home.  Most people need bigger pieces of art than they have.  It is easy (and cheaper) to buy small works of art.  The problem is that most homes need some larger pieces of art, which tend to be more expensive, to highlight the focal points of their homes – above the fireplace, above the couch, above the bed, the big blank wall in the dining room, in the entryway.  If you have even a basic plan, you don’t blow your art budget on a bunch of small pieces of art that don’t give you the visual punch you want.  You are prepared and open when that perfect piece in the perfect size and shape comes along.  Your home will be more beautiful.  You will enjoy your art more.  You will have spent your art and framing budget wisely.  You may find that a smaller number of larger pieces will make your home look more inviting.

What to do?  Prioritize.  Take a look around your home.  Where are the spots that cry out for a beautiful work of art.  Write them down, with dimensions.  How wide is that big blank wall in the dining room?  What is the distance from the top of the mantle to the ceiling?  Try to imagine what size piece would be the optimum size for your important potential art locations.  Start noticing other people’s art in their homes and offices.  Does it work?  If so, why do you think so?  If not, again, why not?  Educate yourself.  Look at home magazines and catalogs.  They don’t always get it right, either.

Once you have identified the places that need art, ask yourself which one or ones need art the most.  Then, start your search for art to fill those places.  The trick is not to be distracted by art you love that won’t work well in your home.  There are millions of beautiful works of art out there, but not every one of them will look good in your home, with your paint color and furniture style.

Don’t get us wrong.  We advocate buying art just because you love it.  Buy it, find a place for it in your home, and enjoy!  But if you have a limited budget, making a plan will help you get the most art and enjoyment for your money.

You are not on your own.  Ask your artsy friends for some ideas.  We love to help people find the right art for their homes.  We do home art and framing consultations to help you use what you have well and to help you find art for those important spaces in your home.  We encourage you to take art home, so you can see if the color and size work before you buy.  Trust us, a little thought and planning will go a long way toward beautifying your home while stretching your budget.

Other Ways We Can Help

Of course, the quality of a beautiful original work of art custom framed professionally is hard to beat, but if the budget won’t allow it, we can help.  Here are some other art budget-stretching tips:

  • We can help with whatever part of a framing job you need including:
    • Cutting a mat to make a print fit into a frame you already have
    • Spiffing up the framing for art you love that is in a tired or dated frame
    • Repairing or touching up framing you have that has gotten beaten up
    • Dry mounting a rippling poster or print
  • Price shop – Check out the national chain’s “sale” to see if it is really as good a deal as it sounds.  We dislike framing “sales” because usually the sale is 50% off an inflated price.  We keep our regular prices reasonable so you don’t have to wait for a sale.  Our everyday prices are surprisingly competitive with other frame shops’ “sale” prices.  But if you find a good quality frame shop that stands behind their work with better prices than ours – you should consider a switch.  Obviously, we don’t think you will find better value anywhere.
  • Pay attention to quality – Cheap frames and cheap art that fall apart or fade are not a good value.  You are just wasting your money.  A minimum level of quality is necessary to make your art look good.  Plastic and particleboard frames are really hard to make look good.
  • Consider posters or giclees of images you love.  Some publishers are printing beautiful images on high-quality paper for amazingly low prices.
  • We usually begin designing beautiful framing treatments without considering price.  Our job is to show you the best your art can look.  However, if the price is higher than the budget will allow, we are happy to look with you at less expensive alternatives.  Sometimes eliminating a mat or changing a frame can make the project more affordable.  One caveat – sometimes saving a few dollars is not worth it.  If you really love the more expensive framing treatment, it might be worth it to wait until the budget allows it.  You would hate to think every time you look at your art, “I wish I had gotten the more expensive frame I loved.”  That would be false economy and would not be a good value.
  • There are very few things you can spend your money on where you get a custom-designed product that can have such a big impact on the look of your home.  Maybe this is the time to think about a ramen noodle diet so you can afford more art and framing.  Just kidding!