Custom framing is so darn expensive. #amiright? Even if you layer promotions and coupons and holiday sales, a small custom framing project can still run hundreds of dollars. There are certainly items that are worth that money to have an impeccable framing job done (such as degrees and special awards, photos or artwork). But what about those items that are special and you want to look really nice (like your recent family portrait or say, your new awkwardly shaped art from Minted), and you just can’t fathom shelling out hundreds of dollars for something that might not be on your wall forever? Well – I have your answer! My friend recently shared with me this super savvy budget framing tip, and my mind was blown. If you don’t know about this trick either…you need to!

budget framing

Here is the situation I find myself in all.the.time. I have a boatload of empty frames in the garage (from all the various walls in all our various homes). And then a new piece of art or a photograph comes along, and none of the frames I have work. Usually, the size isn’t quite right or the scale doesn’t match the mat I have or can easily buy off the shelf.

white picture frame next to an art print of a flamingo wing

Take for example this cute new little print I got from Minted (Flamingo) for my entryway gallery wall. I loved everything about the design and the colors…and honestly, I also loved that the square shape contrasted with all the rectangle pieces already on my wall. Even though Minted offers frames and mats with their prints, with all the frames I had available in my garage, I couldn’t justify the added $20-$40 it would have cost to have them frame it for me. Plus, I wouldn’t have been able to specify my preferred frame size and mat dimensions to get the right look for my arrangement. But the selection of square frames is limited in most stores, and a square mat in a specific size is not something you can (typically) go pick off the shelf. You might think custom framing is your only alternative…

white picture frame next to an art print of a flamingo wing

But did you know that you can get a mat cut…any size and any layout in any of the mat materials available…at Michaels? (And probably other framing stores like JoAnn Fabrics and Hobby Lobby….but I haven’t checked there personally.) Yep. Just the mat. No frame. And they can probably do it while you wait (depending on how busy they are and if they have your preferred mat in stock). By having professionals cut just the mat, you can use any off-the-shelf frame you can find (or already have) and end up with a pretty custom budget framing job for a fraction of the cost.

white frame mat with a square cut out of the middle.

With my needed dimensions in hand (a 7.5″ square cut out of an 11×14″ rectangle), I walked into Michaels and up to the custom framing counter. After a few minutes designing the mat on the computer and ensuring everything was right, the sweet gal cut this mat for me while I waited. It cost me $13.

white frame mat laying on top of flamingo art print

I came right home, popped the new mat and art into my old frame and hung it right up on my entryway gallery wall. A square piece in a rectangle frame is not the most common thing you can find. But it’s exactly what I needed for a specific spot. I’m thrilled I didn’t have to pay a fortune to get it framed, AND it got one more thing out of my garage. Wins all around!

a custom framed picture of a flamingo art print.

If you have some art you’ve been wanting to get on the walls but have been dreading the cost of framing, I hope this budget framing trick helps you out! Even though I show a small frame and awkwardly designed mat for this framing project, this same trick can be used to save money on almost any frame job. Even if you have to buy a big new frame, combining an off-the-shelf frame with a custom mat is still likely to save you hundreds of dollars for a still very custom look! Mind blown 😉

I hope you all have a great weekend ahead! Back here next week, I’m going to shift gears a bit. I’ll be sharing my favorite way to learn new skills as a busy Mom, as well as the baby products I can’t live without the second time around! See you back here on Tuesday!

See You Soon!