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Dark vs Light Wood Frames: Which Is Best For You?

When it comes to home decor, you want to create something that will look good for years to come. One trend that has been around for quite some time is the use of wood. There are endless amounts of ways to bring wood into your home decor, from flooring to furniture, from large-scale cabinets to small, strategically placed accessories. Here at Frame It Easy, we offer both wood and metal frames, so you may be asking yourself, why choose wood frames over metal frames? It’s completely a personal opinion, and which you think will look best in your space.

There are tons of different wood colors to use in your home and don’t be afraid to mix and match. Whether you want to choose light-colored wood frames, dark-colored wood frames, or add a little bit of both to create something unique, we will be going over all of our wood frames, both dark and light.

We have three different types of wood frames — Dayton, Granby, and Derby. In this post, however, we will be focusing on the Derby and Dayton, since those are the two wood frame options that come in light or dark colors.

So what is the best choice for your space? Or is adding a little bit of both the best option? Let’s find out!

Light-Colored Wood Frames

First, we will introduce our light-colored wood frames to you. Light-colored wood frames are a great way to brighten up your space and lighten the mood (buh-dum-tiss). If you have a bright and natural aesthetic to your home, light wood frames might be the way to go, even if you are using white wood frames.

Derby and Dayton In White

family gallery wall
Derby frame style in white

Our Derby is our most popular wood frame style; it’s also the default style on the website! So if you want a wood frame that has a minimalistic vibe, but will still brighten everything up, Derby in white should be your choice.

Our Dayton frame style is our natural wood style, with a flat profile face that is 1 ¼” wide. It’s made from a North American hardwood that’s either stained or painted and is made in America. Because our Dayton frame style is natural wood, you will be able to see the grain pattern of the wood, this makes each frame even more unique, which we think is pretty cool!

The great part about our Derby and Dayton frames in white is that they are a pretty neutral color; it goes with just about anything. It won’t clash with any colors, and will only brighten the overall piece. This means, as long as you want an overall bright display, you can go crazy!

This doesn’t limit it to the colors of the piece, either. You can also go wild with matching the matboard colors, too. Whatever you end up with, the white frame will lighten it up!

bedroom decor
Dayton frame style in white

Dayton In Whitewash

Whitewash picture frames

Our white frame might be too pristine for what you are looking for. If this is the case, the Dayton frame style in the color Whitewash frame is for you! Just be mindful that it will only brighten your art to an extent. Have something on off-white paper that you want to compliment? This frame would be great. Beach photos would look great in this frame color due to its natural look.

Derby In Wheat

line art wall decor

Now, just because this frame isn’t stark white, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the ability to brighten up your room. Our Derby frame style in the color Wheat is a neutral, earthy color that can still create an eye-catching display on your walls.

What could this frame color go with? Well, if you have a bright landscape photo, it would make the sun shine in it that much more. Line art would look great displayed in this frame color and black and white photos can have their chance to look bright!

Dayton In Sand

Dayton frame in Sand

Looking for a natural wood counterpart to our wheat frame? Well, Dayton in sand would be your best bet. It’s not the same frame, just to be clear (that’s why they’re in different sections). But the colors themselves are similar. That said, if you put them side by side, you would definitely see differences in the hues.

This frame goes great with earthy colors, too. Like grass green, ocean blue, or even browns and maroons. Neutral-colored abstract art can also stand out on your walls wrapped in this frame!

Dark-Colored Wood Frames

Alternatively, dark wood frames could add a consistently dark tone to your display, by making a dark ring around it. This could create an elegant spot on your wall that stands out boldly. It could be a great centerpiece for a display, or it could just be an individual frame on your wall — one that attracts attention no matter how far you are from it. Indeed, most people like to have brighter walls for their homes. This creates some great contrast spots for your wall.

Derby In Coffee

Sabrina 28Bree29 Larson @rainandpineblog 018

Want to go as dark as possible without going jet black? Coffee might be your best bet. Our Derby frame style in Coffee is a very dark brown, almost like everyone’s favorite caffeinated beverage. This is a frame that, due to it almost being black, makes it nearly universal. Have a photo with a lot of dark browns? This could be a good choice to complement it. In addition, this color goes great with the Papyrus matboard. So if you’re looking to mix some colors for a great display, that would be a great choice.

Keep in mind, too, our Derby frame style is wood but is wrapped in a decorative laminate. This means you won’t actually see any of the wood on the frame.

We do, however, have natural wood frames. So let’s have a look at a great dark color in that style…

Dayton In Cocoa

Phuong Bodeen @raising3foodies 001

Want a darker wood frame, but want something more… natural? Our Dayton frame style in Cocoa might be for you. It’s a bit lighter than our Derby in coffee, but it still keeps with the drink-themed names. Yes, Cocoa might be a bit lighter than the coffee frame color, but it still can accommodate pretty much the same types of display ideas as its Derby in Coffee counterpart.

Maybe you want something just a little brighter, or maybe you just want to have that natural woodgrain visible on your wall. Either way, this is still definitely a great frame to add to your display. Again, while the Papyrus matboard would still look great with this frame, the Cloud matboard would also have a great aesthetic!

Derby In Merlot

Cheri Kevane @strangefarmhouse 010.jpeg

Who doesn’t love the rich color that a nice glass of red wine brings? Continuing the beverage theme here, this is a frame that has an elegant dark red color. This unique color will truly make your photos stand out, whatever it is you choose to frame! Family photos are always a good idea because they truly can show off the personality of your family, plus, who wouldn’t want to see your family’s smiling faces every day?

Derby in Black Grain

Riley Campbell @campbell house 001

Having a flat black frame is great. It’s a universal color, will go with just about any print, and just has a great all-around look. That said, patterns can be great, too. This is where our Derby frame style in Black Grain comes in. Keep in mind, this is our Derby frame style, so like mentioned before, the grain is just a printed pattern on the laminate, and not actually part of the wood — which still looks great!

Wrapping Things Up

Always remember our golden rule, when it comes to home decor — there are no real rules! Do whatever you think looks best. It is your home after all! If you want to make a gallery wall with every other frame a different color, we say, go for it!

Just remember a few things before designing your frames, and you should be all set to go!

  • White wood is, hue-wise, universal, and can brighten up just about any art or matboard.
  • Whitewash is still bright but has a bit more of a beaten-up vibe to it.
  • Derby in wheat and Dayton in sand are similar and have great earthy vibes to them.
  • Derby in Coffee is our darkest frame color that isn’t black.
  • Dayton in Cocoa is almost as dark as the coffee frame, and it has a great natural wood look.
  • Derby in Merlot has a striking color, and could easily pop on your wall.
  • Derby in Black Grain has the universality of a black frame but also has a great pattern on it.

Once you’ve figured out which frame color is the best for your home, head over to our Frame Designer to start creating your custom frames.

As always, if you took any of our ideas, be sure to share them with us on social media so we can see what amazing things you created with your decor.

Want to be one of our Featured Friends? We will share your photo in our weekly email for all our framing friends to see. Join our mailing list and send your photos to with the subject “Featured Friends” and tell us why you love Frame It Easy!

Ready to get creative?

Whether you have a piece of art ready to frame, or you have something for us to print, we've got you covered. Our online custom picture framing perfectly fits not only your art, but your style and budget, too! Use our custom frame designer to create a frame, or browse our suggested frame designs. Happy designing!