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How to Inexpensively Frame Oddly Sized Art, Without a Custom Mat!

Remember the enamel art I bought at the Christmas Fair when I was in Budapest?  I still love how each piece is the same Hungarian landscape in four different seasons.  Since I have now officially spent time in Hungary during each season, these mean a lot to me.  The original framing was a bit traditional and bulky, so I asked if I could purchase them without frames to save some money and also to make them easier to pack.  Honestly, they never would have fit in my suitcase like this:

Enamel art from Hungary

I knew they’d fit in simple, white Ikea Ribba frames, but I figured I’d have to spring for
custom mats.  When I got them home and bought some frames, however, I
realized custom matting might be tricky.  In addition to not being
square, each piece is slightly convex.  The original matting was imperfect too.  Not to worry! Hubby & I came up with the genius
idea to avoid custom mats but still create a polish look: paint the cardboard mounts!

Here are the enamel pieces, unframed and mounted on their cardboard backing:

Enamel art from Hungary

Enamel art from Hungary

Enamel art from Hungary

Using a really small angled brush with firm bristles, I carefully painted around the enamel with some leftover paint (the same blackish greyish mystery mis-tint I used for the railing, the custom frame for the black white painting, the dipped stool and about a million other DIY projects.  I love this magic colour).  Here’s what they looked like when I was done painting the cardboard mount:

Alternative to custom mat for picture framing

I let the paint dry a few days to fully cure, then I popped the enamel landscapes into four Ikea frames.  I love, love, love the result.  The little strip of almost-black makes each piece POP and keeps them from getting lost against the white frames, mat, and walls.  I opted to hang them in a vertical row between the curtains.  That space always needed something.

Hanging a column of art between windows

Ikea Ribba Frames

Ikea Ribba Frames

Column of art

Black curtain rods; white sheers

Even from a distance, these little gems still pack some punch and I like how they connect the cooler and warmer colours in both the living and dining room.  Plus, the black makes sense with the black accents splashed around both space, including the frame of the new dining room painting and the curtain rods.  I’ll definitely consider just painting a backdrop (even if I have to mount it on some cardboard myself) the next time I have some art that needs a custom mat. 



  1. Amy
    January 22, 2013 / 2:01 pm

    These look amazing! Love the placement. Well done as always 🙂

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      January 24, 2013 / 1:49 am

      Thanks Amy, you're making me blush!

  2. sugarshellandbutterknife
    January 22, 2013 / 2:01 pm

    They look really nice! The artwork is very pretty and those Ribba's really showcase them well. I just used some Ribba's for the first time recently and was surprised at nice they really are. Painting the edges of the art was a good idea, too, but I would have been scared 😉

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      January 24, 2013 / 1:48 am

      Thanks! Don't worry, I was scared!! But I knew that we could pry them off the cardboard if need be. They are just glued on with a dab of some kind of adhesive.

  3. Kelly
    January 22, 2013 / 2:13 pm

    What a difference from the original frames! I love the little black border and the ribba frames….and the vertical arrangement.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      January 24, 2013 / 1:49 am

      I am always amazed at the difference little changes can make. A bit of paint, a new frame – sometimes the littlest tweak can have the biggest impact. Which my wallet likes.

  4. Jae
    January 22, 2013 / 2:44 pm

    What a great solution. They look great there!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      January 24, 2013 / 1:50 am

      Thanks!! That wall looks so much for finished now. Now I see how sorely it was missing just a little something.

  5. Vintage Market Place
    January 22, 2013 / 3:37 pm

    Tanya what a huge difference!!! They flow so great and i love how you put them in a line down very designer eye there!But i have to say i am so in love with that last shot. The mid century bar stool as an end table is perfection!!! You really do have a great eye for fresh design!Amy

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      January 24, 2013 / 1:53 am

      Awww, thanks Amy! I bought the cute little stool at a flea market and it is deceptively petite. Perfect for a mug of coffee. A bit wee for my bum, but a nice place to perch in a pinch. Mostly it's a great table for the chair, a place for a mug without eating too much floors space. Sometimes I drag it over to the fireplace and sit there. Funny thing, though, it was handmade by someone in the 1980s! I thought it was mid-century. It's random, and might even be one of a kind, and I love it so.

  6. Nicole
    January 22, 2013 / 3:37 pm

    What a fabulous idea. They look gorgeous. I have some art that I've been wanting to hang, but couldn't spring for the custom frames/mats, so this is absolutely perfect. And those enamel pieces are beautiful.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      January 24, 2013 / 1:54 am

      Happy to help!! Hope this idea works for your new art too.

  7. Marge
    January 22, 2013 / 5:47 pm

    Brilliant! They look fantastic.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      January 24, 2013 / 1:54 am

      Thanks Marge!

  8. Jen @ RamblingRenovators
    January 22, 2013 / 11:00 pm

    Those look great and you've situated them in the perfect spot. And what beautiful natural light you get in that room!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      January 24, 2013 / 1:56 am

      Thanks Jen! Yep, that space gets tons of light from patio doors and huge windows. We need them, though, because the front of the house on the mainfloor has almost none! A sliver of a window by the front door!! So the only light comes from there.

  9. Amelia @ House Pretty
    January 23, 2013 / 12:06 am

    They turned out ridiculously awesome! I love each piece and that they have special meaning to you. I'm trying to convince my husband that our next big trip should be to Hungary (I have a little bit of Hungarian ancestry), so don't be surprised if you get a Hungary- related email from me one of these days!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      January 24, 2013 / 1:57 am

      Thanks Amelia. Definitely visit Hungary!! I will do a post on must-see things soon and am more than happy to speak via email. I'll even give you some language tips!

  10. Lets just build a house!
    January 23, 2013 / 12:46 am

    those are perfect. i love art that has a meaning and you did a great job framing them too!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      January 24, 2013 / 1:58 am

      I love art with meaning too. It makes me smile when I see it and I think that's a huge part of the importance of art. I'm not really good at being concerned with what's popular, who is an important artist or whatnot. I like art that makes me smile.

  11. Anonymous
    January 23, 2013 / 4:07 am

    Well done Tanya! I love how the strip of black goes perfectly with the curtain rods. It's utterly gorgeous.Mari

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      January 24, 2013 / 1:59 am

      Thanks Mari. I also love it with the curtain rods. The new art helps to make the black accents make sense.

  12. Staci @ My Friend Staci
    January 23, 2013 / 6:55 am

    They go perfectly right there!!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      January 24, 2013 / 2:00 am

      Thanks Staci! I had planned on that spot when I bought them but so many of my other ideas weren't so good in person, I was certain these would look less than ideal. So a big sigh of relief when I loved how it looked! I love it when a plan comes together . . .

  13. cred
    January 23, 2013 / 1:39 pm

    great solution- they looks great. The townhouse gallery is really coming along.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      January 24, 2013 / 2:01 am

      Thanks!! Expect more art soon. I'm framing randomer (it's a word) and randomer (okay maybe not) things.

  14. Kelly @ JAX does design
    January 23, 2013 / 5:27 pm

    What a great idea, and the art looks amazing! And such a wonderful reminder of your time spent in Budapest 🙂 I wish I'd seen something like these when we were at the Christmas Market in Budapest a few years ago.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      January 24, 2013 / 2:01 am

      Small world! The booths are juried and they try to shake things up, focusing on handmade crafts as a theme. Too bad this artist wasn't there then.

  15. erica | wicked bride
    January 25, 2013 / 4:47 pm


  16. May 6, 2019 / 5:48 pm

    Tanya! This is awesome!!! This is a saving tips that can potentially save hundreds off of custom framing bill. Your frames actually look like they are custom framed.

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