How to frame a work of art

This was one of my first real lessons in decorating:

I was in my early twenties and had picked up a pair of original watercolor fashion illustrations, and I was having them framed.  I took them to a place on Union Street in Park Slope Brooklyn, where the man took them out of their cardboard sleeve gently, as if they were significant works.  He used small felt sandbags to hold down the corners while we talked.

I started to tell him about my decor, and how I wanted to frame them to go with, well, with whatever my fancy was at the time.  (This?  Maybe this.)

Oh no, he said.  You have to frame a picture for the picture, not for the room it will hang in.

He selected frames I never would have imagined, frames that suit the era evoked in the paintings as well as the color and the texture of the watercolor.



Not only are the frames just right, but they have worked in each of my subsequent homes because they are not trying to "go" with the decor.

There are exceptions, of course, but this rule always works.