Skip to content

Category: Life

cheap trick: how to get inexpensive custom framing

I’ve held off writing this post because there’s a definite possibility that everyone already knows about this “trick” and my brain was all, “What if everyone that reads this gives their computer the side eye and thinks to themselves ‘there goes Molly again with the totally useless information'” and then I realized that’s a silly thing to be worried about because THIS WHOLE BLOG is useless information. In the grand scheme of things.

But if I help one of you pull the trigger on framing some art you’ve had rolled up under your bed for eight months, or if I help you save some money, then BY GOLLY it’s worth it. I’d like you to picture me delivering this paragraph on top of a desk, à la Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society. Now rip apart your textbooks! 

inexpensive custom framing

I guess I’ll get to the point: to get the look of a custom frame for large or irregularly-sized art, I buy a ready-made frame from Hobby Lobby, then have their framing department cut and install a custom mat around the art. I’ll lay out specific tips below, but for large art (somewhere between 16″x20″ and 24″x36″), the total cost for frame/mat/hanging hardware normally runs me somewhere around $60 with this method. For comparison’s sake, a similarly sized custom frame from an online company who sells directly to consumers is about $150, and the sky’s the limit for a true custom frame from a local framer. Obviously each one of these options has its own perks, like more unique and interesting frames available from online companies and the quality craftsmanship you’ll find with local framers. But right here, right now, we’re talking about lowering the barrier to entry on custom framing so that you can get some dang art on your wall. 

cheap custom frames


  • Buy your pre-fab frame from Hobby Lobby while their wall frames are on sale for 50% off. I am not exaggerating: this sale happens every other week. One time I showed up to get a print framed while the frames weren’t on sale, and the awesome guy in the framing department said that if I wanted them to not start work on it until the following week, when the frames would be back on sale, that he would still extend the discount. Deal! But yah, that’s kind of an important part of this strategy. Make sure you get that ish 50% off!
  • Use your 40% off coupon for the mat. Hopefully you guys know that you can always, always find a 40% off one regularly-priced item coupon on the Hobby Lobby website. Use it for your mat to bring the cost of the job down significantly. Important: you can only use one of these coupons per purchase, so if you’re framing a bunch of pieces, pick them up one at a time so that you can use the coupon for the mat for each piece. 
  • Think about the size of your art, the size of your frame, and whether you’d like a large mat or a small mat. For a large mat, buy a frame significantly larger than your art. As an example, my “See Mystery Lights” print is 20″x28″. I knew I wanted a large mat, so instead of buying the 22″x28″ frame, I bought the 24″x36″ size. 
  • Always have them add hanging hardware. I think this actually costs $3 and it is so friggin worth it to have a wire installed. Makes hanging so easy!
  • Try to avoid looking directly at the Riesens while you’re standing in the checkout line. This is the only place I have ever seen Riesens sold in public. They are so delicious and chocolately and chewy and caramely. My mouth waters just thinking about them. LOOK AWAY.

finnegan blue

So there’s my “trick,” which was really several tricks rolled into one, you’re welcome. Related: I’ve cobbled together most of our smaller frame sources (that work nicely for smaller and regularly-sized art) for each room on the Shop Our House page, if you’re in need. Also, Finn. 

Any good framing tricks up your sleeve that I need to know about? Or cheap tricks in general? (They’re illusions, Michael.) 

Disclaimer: Hobby Lobby has no idea I exist and this post is *not* sponsored. 



currently: july 2017

With July’s end comes the end of our summer hanging in Austin with no travel plans. I feel like we made the most of it this month, with trips to the movie theater, a 65 degree pool, and margaritas inside when it was just too hot to be outside. We’re really looking forward to some fun trips this month, but summer in Austin has been pretty sweet. 

Making: My fourth trip to Ikea since we’ve moved. It’s a blessing and a curse to have one twenty miles away. 
Cooking: My sister sent me this recipe for honey sriracha turkey meatballs and they were *baller.* Also made this healthy-ish orange chicken (so yum) and fish tacos with “chipotle crema,” which FYI is the easiest way to feel sophisticated even though you’re literally just scooping adobo sauce from a can and stirring it into sour cream. If you want to really put the nail in your coffin, pronounce it with a very slight accent. 
Reading: Continuing the Great Harry Potter Re-Read of 2017 with the Chamber of Secrets. This may have been my best decision of the year. 
: Zero emails in my inbox, always. I used again today to unsubscribe from over 450 subscriptions. BAI!
Enjoying: The sheen of a freshly oiled cutting board. Wish I was making this up. 
Listening: To Matt’s horror, I’ve been listening to My Favorite Murder while I get dinner ready. It’s like hanging out with two of your best girlfriends, chatting in an in-depth way about famous murders. It can (obviously) sometimes get a bit graphic, and Matt will just yell from the next room “WHAT!” “WHY!” “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!” 
Needing: Finn to get over his frog obsession. So far no casualties, but every night when it gets dark he wants to go outside every 20 minutes, a new excuse every time. “I think I left my collar outside.” “I forgot to sniff an important corner.” “I’m just going to meet some friends.” If anyone knows how to stage a dog intervention about frogs, lmk. 
Smelling: Right now? At this very moment? My chapstick.
Wearing: Now that I’ve safely secured a couple pairs of these: holy moly, these are the best budget leggings I’ve found. They are thick, comfy, not shiny, not see-through, and they have the elusive side pocket that will fit your phone. So just to catch everyone up to speed: cargo pants are cool now, as long as they are in legging form. 2017 is a trip.
Loving: Craigslist connections – not the romantic kind. I snagged two amazing purchases in July, and both times the item happened to be located in my neighborhood, less than a mile from our house, and I randomly knew the seller of one of the items. What are the odds?? (Reminds me of this episode of This American Life, which is so good.)
Watching: The Big Sick in which Holly Hunter stole the show as usual, Dunkirk which was gripping and whose soundtrack is almost as good as Inception’s, and Game of Thrones obbbvvviousslyyy. 
Bookmarking: I’ve never felt prouder to be a millennial, this is a good spot to get lost for five minutes, and I realize this is so old but it’s new to me, and taught me one of my favorite new quotes: “The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s eleven-thirty.
Feeling: At the beginning of writing this post I was ruhl cranky. Something about sitting down and typing out these pretty silly, meaningless words makes me feel a little better. I’m still cranky. But grateful. 


currently: june 2017

June was pretty wonderful! We had mostly the whole month to hang out in town, settle into the new home/neighborhood, and host our first weekend guest (my sister was the lucky guinea pig). We’ve been able to make lots house progress, even though the changes have been pretty simple – like moving furniture around, getting art hung, or switching out grey blackout curtains for white cotton ones. Blackout curtains and I don’t get along. I don’t know how yall do it. Every morning my body was like WHAT GD TIME IS IT GO BACK TO SLEEP YOU FOOL. 

Making: We made some non-permanent posts for our string lights – if you missed it, you can find the post on posts here.
Cooking: I made my very favorite summer meal — a salad trio including: this chicken salad with feta, corn, and blueberries, this yummy spicy gouda pasta salad, and a simple caesar salad. So great. Also tried these shrimp foil packets which inspired me to make an old standby of my childhood, what we called “boy scout potatoes.” A classic!
Reading: In honor of the twentieth anniversary of the first Harry Potter book release, I’m reading them all over again. It’s been forever since I have done this and I can now officially say that even as a thirty year old, I love these books. The first one is available for free here through Amazon if you have Prime!
: I need another pair of slides like I need a hole in the head, but come on
Enjoying: Morning walks with Finn in the new hood. He especially likes the yard with chickens. So many sniffs!
Listening: I just wanna see the light. And on the opposite end of the spectrum: changes. Related: I need more workout music! What do you love to listen to?
Needing: I’m leaning towards getting us a security system. This one is the frontrunner. Would love your advice! Do you have a system you’d recommend? We’re looking for a low monthly monitoring fee, nothing hard-wired, reliable performance, and great customer service.
Smelling: This scrumptious candle. Love the ceramic container, too.
Wearing: Can’t stop, won’t stop kimono-ing
Loving: A whole month of (mostly) being in town, and using a lot of that time to pull this house together. It’s really starting to feel like home. 
Watching: GLOW which so far is really fun, Captain Fantastic which was an unexpected total treat of a movie, and I need to make time for my yearly summertime viewing of Wet Hot American Summer.
Bookmarking: This was useful to me, this website has been so helpful in researching stuff for the house, and this post articulated something that’s been bugging me for a while.
Feeling: Discombobulated by the long weekend and short week. Though I’m not complaining!