Saving on Home Decor: Self-Matted Photography

I have always sought to have tasteful home decorations with minimal cost; I want my home to appear comfortable yet not cheap to guests. It took me a long while, but I came to understand that the most effective home decorations came from my own heart.

Given that my level of artistic talent is not high, I sought out areas where I could maximize the skills I have (patience, an enjoyment of digital photography) to make inexpensive home decoration. As a result, a wide variety of photographs line the walls of my home, depicting various scenes of people and nature, quite often drawing interesting comments from my guests.

My process for selecting photographs for matting and wall display is as follows.

Take lots of pictures. Digital photography enables you to take enormous numbers of pictures. Don’t worry about the perfect shot, just take a large number of them and find the best ones later. I’ve probably discarded 99% of the images I’ve taken over the years because I don’t hesitate when I begin taking pictures.

Take a wide variety of pictures. When I first started, I tended to take lots of pictures of clouds and deer. Now, I take pictures of everything that strikes me as aesthetically pleasing: cars, people, buildings, and so on.

When you have a pool of good pictures that you’d like to frame, have others pick ones that are interesting or pleasing to them. I tend to be slightly biased towards certain pictures (running deer, old cars, old records, people’s faces, and clouds of distinctive color). So I usually just make a large pool of everything that I consider strong enough to be worth hanging and let others (like my wife, for instance) help me select which ones to use.

Determine arrangement and sizes. It is a good idea to keep some elements in common and vary other elements. For us, we tend to use black frames and black matte boards for all pictures, but we vary the sizes quite a bit. We also often arrange pictures in grids, with four similarly themed pictures in a two by two grid, with others hanging individually.

strong>Visit your local photography store. You can then make decisions on whether to cut your own matte board or get pre-cut boards (obv., cutting your own is less expensive, usually by a dollar or two) and also selecting appropriate frames. Remember that the purchase of the matte board and frames is the only expensive part of this whole process, so if you want to splurge on nicer frames, this is the time to do it.

One nice thing about the purchase of the frames and matte boards is that they’re reusable. If you feel like changing your photographs, you can use the same matte and frames over and over again, changing arrangements and individual picture selections. This enables you to give a room a new, fresh feel if you switch from, say, a black and white print of an old man’s face to a bright photo of a sunflower.

Don’t limit yourself. Once you have the basics purchased, photography is a very modular method of home decoration. All you have to do is change the arrangements and the photograph selection and you’ll completely alter the flavor of a room.

Photography can be an inexpensive and highly personal way of generating classy modular home decor.

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