Change your frame of mind

There is magic in the mix of frames and subjects in this contemporary bedroom suite that creates an eclectic, personal aura.

I have a series of frames that I’ve collected over the years. Some are better quality than others. The frames are black, dark metal or wood. I see a lot of examples of photography and small artwork hung together in identical frames. Is it poor design to combine different sizes and shapes?

A: Composing an arrangement with a mix of frames can be great design, and you are in good company. This is a perfect way to break up large, bare walls, especially in homes with cathedral ceilings. Such as selection of art is showcased in a suite in the avant-garde Hotel Pulitzer in Barcelona, Spain. The hotel’s designer, Lazaro Rosa-Violan, has created stunning contemporary spaces that are filled with atmosphere and light.

There are nine frames on the wall beside the bed, all different in design and materials. Some are stepped, some metallic, gilded and etched. They are about the same size and are lined up, touching each other. This arrangement breaks many rules, yet it works. It covers most of the wall, and around the corner is an oversize framed kimono that takes up equal space. It gives the impression of a beloved personal collection that a well-traveled homeowner has hung for amusement.

This neither looks nor feels like a hotel room. And that’s the idea. The wood canopy bed and table stand warm up the neutral black-and-white linens and furnishings. Satin and velvet cushions and leather chairs are a luxurious feature that pampers the senses.

The decor is detailed and personal. The magic is in the framed art. I hope this inspires you to create an arrangement for your home that looks just as special. It takes some patience and some measuring, but it’s time well-spent.

I have collected frames from just about every source I can think of. I have a few special silver frames that have been handed down from my grannie, old mirror frames I have repurposed, yard sale and antique store finds, inexpensive store-bought frames, and some I have made myself.

Building a frame is not difficult, and you can finish off the wood to look like any material you like, from embossed leather to bamboo, steel or stone. I’ve read books on arrangements written by the pros, and I always end up trusting my eye. One trick is to set up the framed photos or art on the floor and move them around until they look right. This saves nail holes.

Q. I have an ongoing dilemma that I hope you can help me with. I’d like to know how to decorate the area behind/above a flat screen TV. The TV is on a 60-inch-wide-by-27-inch-high console, so there’s lots of wall space above.

Think of a flat screen TV as a framed picture. Since yours sits fairly low, why not line up a row of framed photos or art on the upper wall? The pictures can run the width of the console or wider. Another option is to paint in color blocks. Have a lighter shade of a neutral color such as gray or beige on the wall above the TV, and a darker shade blocked off behind it. Color blocking creates interest and is easy to do.

Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Email questions to You can follow Travis on Twitter at, and visit Travis’ website,