Wall Art on a Shoestring

by Kathleen Wilson


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There are lots of great cures for filling those blank or boring spaces on your walls, without spending a lot of money. Remember this is a great place to show creativity and personality, so make your walls your own, and use these clever ideas as starting points to dressing your wall areas on a budget!

Most anything can be framed or hung and brought to life on your walls. Need some ideas? CD covers (great for teenagers rooms), music magazines covers, seed packets, kimonos, christening gowns, baby dresses, pieces of lace, children's art, that bouquet of roses your husband sent you, favorite quilts, old love letters, gloves from your wedding day, a beaded purse, old photos picked up in antique shops (less than a dollar!), etc. Don't let traditional ideas about what should be on your walls hold you back.

Look for frames at garage sales- even if the picture inside is hideous, the frame itself might be well worth the measly buck you paid for it!

I often cut photos from garden catalogs and frame them for great looking botanical photos. How about using old calendar photos, book plates, and greeting cards? Try looking for end of the year clearance sales, used book stores, garage sales, etc... This can work for whatever your theme is, from floral fantasy to sports to cows!

Visit your local antique stores and search for inexpensive collectibles that you can group together on a wall. Utensils, postcards, old keys, etc... can offer a graphic and creative display, and can be very inexpensive!

Learn to quilt, and make a simple wall quilt to hang. Try a memory quilt, and make each square out of a treasured piece of your children's clothing or blankets. There are many books at the library available for free use, and it is much easier than you think if you keep to beginners projects. Quilts can also become lasting family heirlooms, so give it a try!

Make your own picture frame. Try just gluing together four twigs for a rustic look, make bread dough frames and paint them to match your room (glue a picture hanger to the back) or cut foam core board or cardboard in a frame shape and cover with fabric.

Dress up your current frames for a detail that can't be missed! Your glue gun will come in handy here! You can glue a variety of items to your frames to make them one of a kind. Small pinecones, seashells, buttons, pasta, coffee beans, driftwood pieces, bottle caps, wine corks, wood cutouts, small novelty toys- the list is endless! Arrange the items in patterns or randomly on paper first before you start gluing. Try combining more than one item on the same frame.

How about just a coat of paint? Bring a roomful of mismatched frames together by painting them all the same color. This is also a great place to try out a new faux finishing technique- if you make a mistake, it takes very little paint to start over!

Decorative items don't have to fit in a frame to be great wall art. Paint an old wooden board with thoughtful prose, hang a wooden ladder and use it as a display shelf, and tools or farm implements are an old favorite. A section of charming fence, an old window, even a piece of interesting molding off an old house can be real eye catchers, and add a sense of history.

Make nature prints on fabric or paper, then frame. You can actually use a real leaf, fern frond, or flower, lightly paint one side, then gently press onto your surface. Try several test prints first, and experiment with adding several colors at once. This procedure works best if there isn't too much paint, so blot on a paper towel first so you get a better image.

I hope this inspires you to bring your imagination to your walls! Remember, even though these projects are quite inexpensive, or even free, the best thing about them will be the personality you impart with them in decorating your home!


Kathleen Wilson publishes KW Design's Budget Decorator, a bi-monthly newsletter dedicated to home decorating and crafting for the "budget impaired"! She is also the author of the soon to be released KW Design's Best Budget Decorating Workbook, a mini course especially designed for the budget decorator. She can be reached via e-mail at ke_design@excite.com, or at our website at www.thebudgetdecorator.com

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