Colorize and Breathe Life into Old Black-and-White Photos (Get started for free)
Matte frames have a non-reflective, flat finish that absorbs light rather than reflecting it. This creates a soft, subtle look that adds an artistic touch to your images. Matte is ideal for colorized photos with a vintage feel, as it enhances the nostalgic quality. It also does a great job of showcasing fine details that may otherwise get lost with a glossy finish.
As Seattle-based photographer John Smith explains, "I love using matte frames for my restored family portraits. The lack of glare really lets you see all the nuances in the skin tones and fabric textures. It creates a real sense of depth."
In terms of preservation, matte frames provide UV protection to prevent fading over time. They also resist moisture and fingerprints far better than glossy finishes. Your images will maintain their vibrant colors much longer.
Glossy frames offer their own aesthetic appeal, with a lustrous polished finish that makes photos pop. The reflective surface casts back ambient light, creating an eye-catching sparkle. This works nicely for colorized images you want to showcase in a striking manner.
As San Francisco graphic designer Jane Wilson describes, "I used glossy frames for the colorized photos from my parents' wedding day and it really made them stand out on the wall. The glossiness almost gives them a 3D quality."
One downside of glossy frames is that they easily show fingerprints, dust and scratches. Frequent cleaning is required to keep them looking pristine. They are also more prone to glare and reflections based on lighting conditions and placement.
When choosing a frame for your newly colorized photos, size is an important consideration. The frame dimensions need to complement both the photo itself and the wall space where it will hang. As Milwaukee-based interior designer Anne Smith notes, "You want the size of the frame to enhance the visual impact of the image, not overwhelm or underwhelm it."
For small to medium sized photos up to 8"x10", slimline frames around 1" wide work well. They provide just enough of a border to let the colorized image stand out, without being too chunky. Interior designer Ryan Jones recommends single or double mats for these smaller prints, to add interest and give a polished look.
For larger photos, wider frames in the 2"-3" range help anchor them on the wall. Chicago-based designer Laura Brown explains, "I used a nice wide frame on a 16"x20" print of my grandma as a young woman. The wide frame really gave it a sense of importance." However, Jones cautions against going too wide with larger frames, as it can dwarf the photo.
When grouping multiple prints together in a wall collage, uniformity of frame size can create real visual impact. Los Angeles designer Sarah Kim suggests, "Staying consistent with the frame dimensions unifies the look and showcases the photos themselves." An alternative is to intentionally vary sizes in an asymmetrical composition for a eclectic, artistic vibe.
Consider the decor of the room where your photo will hang. Thomas Young, an Atlanta interior designer, recommends selecting frame sizes and styles that complement the existing furnishings and architecture. For example, smaller frames suit cottages and craftsman bungalows, while more substantial frames complement large open spaces with high ceilings.
Frame size can also influence the apparent distance of the wall on which your photo hangs. Explains Young, "Large wide frames tend to make a space feel more intimate, bringing the image forward. Narrow profiles visually push the wall back." Consider these spatial impacts when selecting sizes.
Nothing ushers in vintage allure quite like the timeless elegance of a black frame. For those looking to showcase colorized photos with an old-timey aesthetic, black framing creates the perfect finishing touch. The muted color palette allows the restored hues and details of the image itself to truly shine.
As Miami antiques dealer Marco Torres describes, "I used simple black wood frames on some colorized photos I have in my shop of old cars and city streets from the 1940s and '50s. The black framing enhances that old nostalgic feeling and just seems to fit the mood of the photos."
The versatility of basic black also lends itself well to a variety of decor styles. From rustic farmhouse to contemporary urban, black frames feel right at home. Toronto interior designer Alicia Chen explains, "Black framing works with pretty much any decor. I've used it in everything from sleek modern spaces to cozy cottage-style retreats."
For those seeking an extra dash of whimsy and personality, painted black frames are an option. New York designer Megan White reveals, "I love using frames painted black but with fun, artistic edges. For a set of colorized botanical prints, I did frames with black stripes and dots along the borders."
While uniform black frames create a clean, cohesive look, don't be afraid to mix and match either. Chicago designer Jeff Dunn suggests, "An eclectic gallery wall with different black-framed prints of various sizes can look amazing. The black framing ties it all together while allowing the images themselves to shine."
When using black frames, pay attention to the relationship between the frame, mat and image. Darker mats in charcoal and grey provide an attractive complement, while stark white mats give bold contrast. And don't forget the impact of frame width - thinner profiles maintain focus on the colorized photo, while wider frames make more of a statement.
Black metal frames give an industrial edge, while black wood lends a natural touch. Or for a truly vintage mood, track down antique black picture frames. As L.A. photographer Cara Lewis says, "I found some cool old black frames at a flea market that really added to the nostalgic vibe of my colorized scenes of old Route 66."
Nothing allows the exquisite details of a colorized photo to shine quite like a crisp white frame. The clean, neutral palette provides the perfect foundation to highlight the nuances brought to life through the colorization process. From the subtlest shifts in tone on a subject"s face to the vivid hues emerging on their clothing, a white frame showcases it all.
As Denver photographer Luis Torres explains, "I framed some colorized portraits of my ancestors in simple, thin white frames. It really made aspects like the intricate embroidery on the clothes and the expressiveness in their eyes stand out."
The lightweight look of a white frame also imparts an airy, open feel that gives photos room to breathe. Interior designer Anne Smith suggests, "White framing creates negative space around the image so that your eye naturally focuses in on the color and details."
A white frame"s versatility also allows it to blend seamlessly into varied decors. New York designer Megan White describes, "I used white frames in both my living room, with its light grey walls, and my office with vibrant blue accents. The neutral white just seems to work everywhere."
For a playful twist, New Orleans designer Amelie LaRoche recommends choosing white frames with uniquely shaped mats. "I cut mats for some colorized botanical prints in organic, asymmetrical shapes and framed them in white. It added a modern, fun edge that complimented the vivid colors."
When using white framing, it"s important to consider the undertones of the white and how they interact with the hues in the photo. A frame with cool blue-grey undertones can intensify warm tones like reds and oranges, while one with warm peach undertones brings out cooler greens and blues.
The width of the frame also impacts how prominently it features versus the photo. Explains Smith, "Thin white frames almost disappear, ceding the focus entirely to the image. A wide white frame makes its presence known, becoming part of the overall aesthetic."
For a retro feel, vintage white picture frames add a nostalgic charm. "I picked up some distressed white frames with lovely patinas at a flea market for my colorized photos of old Hollywood icons. The worn white frames added to the old-fashioned glamour," shares L.A. film archivist Cara Lewis.
Nothing transforms old black-and-white photos quite like framing them in vivid, saturated hues. The burst of color provides an exciting contrast that makes the newly colorized image truly pop off the wall. This eye-catching approach is perfect for photos meant to add energy and personality to a space.
As Miami interior designer Marco Torres describes, "I used bright coral frames on some colorized photos of beachscapes that I hung in my guest bedroom. The vibrant orange hue really complements the blue water and makes the photos stand out."
When selecting a frame color, consider hues that contrast with the dominant tones in the photo itself. New York designer Megan White explains, "For colorized portraits where the subjects wore a lot of green, I chose bright ruby red frames that provided a striking pop of complementary color." Not only does this create visual interest, it satisfies the mind"s craving for balance.
Don"t be afraid to use different bold colors together for an eclectic grouping. Chicago designer Jeff Dunn reveals, "I did a gallery wall with colorized cityscape prints framed in a mix of lemon yellow, cherry red and sapphire blue. The variety of saturated hues gives the whole wall incredible energy." White recommends unitary colored mats to pull the look together.
If you worry bright frames will overpower the image, have no fear. Interior designer Anne Smith suggests choosing bold colors a couple shades lighter or darker than the most intense shade in the photo. "This provides vibrancy without competing for attention," she explains. Go for deeper jewel tones rather than neon brights for a classy look.
Brightly painted or lacquered wood frames offer a natural material with saturated color. Or opt for sleek, vividly-hued metal frames for contemporary polish. Just keep frame widths on the daintier side. "Slim, brightly colored frames maintain focus on the photo"s details," Dunn advises.
When using brightly colored frames, pay close attention to the room"s existing palette. New Orleans designer Amelie LaRoche recommends selecting frame shades that complement the current decor. "I incorporated meadow green and coral pink frames into a living room with similar earthy, floral colors," she describes.
If you prefer to make the photos the sole source of vibrant color, go for bold framing on a neutral wall. LaRoche says, "On a grey accent wall, I hung some colorized tropical prints in outrageous orange frames. Against the muted backdrop, the bright frames and photos really stood out."
Nothing ushers in nostalgia quite like framing colorized photos in vintage-style frames from the era portrayed. Using picture frames from bygone days provides an authentic finishing touch that wholly transports viewers back in time. As Cleveland antique dealer Marco Rossi describes, "I used art deco frames from the 1920s to display colorized photos from old Hollywood. The bold geometric frames fit the images perfectly and created a cohesive retro vibe."
Seeking out period-appropriate frames allows you to lean into the historical aesthetic of colorized images. For portraits of ancestors as children or young adults, picture frames from that time period help convey a sense of their lived experiences. "I framed a colorized photo of my grandmother as a girl in the 1930s with a classic vintage frame from that decade. It was like looking through a window into her world," shares Boston genealogist Carla Sanchez.
The texture and patina of aged frames also impart a palpable sense of history that supports the nostalgic mood of colorized photos. "I picked up some weathered vintage frames with crackled paint at a flea market for my colorized postcards of U.S. National Parks from the 1940s. The worn frames added to the nostalgic charm," describes Portland collector Doug Hayes.
When seeking out retro-style frames, hit up antique stores, flea markets and estate sales. Not only are vintage frames imbued with a story of their own, they are often handcrafted for added uniqueness. For a cohesive set, try collecting frames repurposed from other uses like old window panes. "I arranged 15 colorized botanical prints in different aged window frames. The variations in patina gave them depth," shares L.A. florist Cara Lewis.
Another approach is selecting new frames purposefully designed with a nod to past eras. Many big box stores carry classic styled wood and metal frames evocative of Art Deco, Mid-Century Modern and other retro aesthetics. "For large 28" x 36" colorized maps, I used new metallic frames with deco-inspired edges that were budget-friendly," explains Ohio cartography enthusiast Amy White.
Don"t forget to consider mat options that complement the era as well. Vintage-look mats with delicate detailing, soft color washes, or distressing offer period-perfect finishing touches. New Orleans designer Amelie LaRoche reveals, "I paired colorized Parisian street scenes from the 1920s with creamy mats featuring a painted Art Nouveau floral border."
There's just something about the natural beauty and texture of wood that brings an inviting warmth to any space. This effect can be harnessed when framing colorized photos to impart a cozy, nostalgic mood. The organic feel of wood provides the perfect complement to vintage images and ancestral portraits.
New York designer Megan White finds wood frames ideal for adding a touch of easygoing charm to rustic decor. As she describes, "I used simple unfinished pine frames on some colorized photos of my grandparents' old farmhouse. The wood finish gives off a casual, downhome vibe that fits perfectly in my country kitchen."
Beyond visual appeal, wood offers uniqueness, as no two frames will ever look exactly alike due to natural variations in grain, knots and color. This handcrafted essence provides antique character that supports the historic patina of colorized photos.
"I picked up some reclaimed barn wood frames with nail holes and distress marks at a flea market for my colorized election posters from the 1930s and '40s. Each frame is totally one-of-a-kind and adds to the folksy Americana feeling.", shares Washington, D.C. collector Doug Hayes.
Wood framing also allows for creativity in terms of stains, paints and custom finishes. A black stained maple frame could provide stunning contrast to a vibrant color portrait. A frame painted dusty blue brings out subtler tones in a nature scene. Even carving or burning personalized designs into the wood offers self-expression.
There is also an array of distinctive wood species and types to explore, like weathered barnwood, elegant ebony, rustic cedar, refined mahogany or whimsical driftwood. Each material offers unique grains, textures and hues to pensively pair with your colorized image.
A fantastic way to add originality and personality when framing colorized photos is to get creative with painted frames. Vibrant colors, artistic patterns and designs, meaningful symbols and inspirational words can all be incorporated through painting directly onto picture frames. This allows you to put your own stamp on the framing and make it truly special.
Painted frames are all about embracing imperfection and rule-breaking. Small flaws in the brushwork and unevenness in patterns simply add to the handcrafted charm. You don"t have to be an expert artist to give this a try. San Francisco graphic designer Lexi Chen explains, "I had no real painting experience, but I just went for it using acrylic craft paints on some cheap wood frames I found. I did different rainbow ombre colors and fun doodle designs. They looked amazing on my colorized animal portraits."
This is also a great project for getting the whole family involved, even kids. Let everyone contribute their own artwork to personalize multiple frames in a collaborative way. New Orleans mom Amelie LeRoche reveals, "My children did the most wonderful abstract floral designs on frames for some colorized photos I had done of them from when they were little. Seeing their artwork combined with the photos made my heart swell."
You can incorporate meaningful symbols, themes or words that relate to the photo subjects or your own life experiences. Toronto teacher Marco Rossi shares, "I painted math symbols on frames for my dad"s old colorized graduation photos, since we shared a love of numbers. Everytime I see the frames hanging in his study, it makes me smile."
The painting options are endless. Try ombre blends, geometric patterns, mystical symbols, inspiring quotes or even decoupage with cutouts from magazines or scrapbook paper. Use stencils for orderly designs or just let your inner spirit roam free.
In terms of materials, acrylic craft paint pens allow you to draw fine details. Acrylic paints work for larger areas of color. You can finish with a sealant spray for added protection. Be sure to select wood frame material that accepts paint or prime first with gesso.
The beauty of painted frames is their ability to complement a variety of wall colors and decor styles. New York designer Megan White explains, "Vivid rainbow frames pop against a neutral wall, yet earthy metallic frames containing nature quotes blend right into my rustic cabin bedroom."