One of my favourite things to do is decorate my flat. I like to switch things up every now and then, but I don’t have a lot of money so instead of repainting or buying a new sofa, I stick to things like artwork and special collections. Today I’m going to walk you through some of the art I have in my home and break down the cost for you, plus I’ll share some of the tips I’ve picked up over the years.
The above photo is the gallery wall I have in my living room. I’ve recently changed a few of the pieces and I like this version much better. I’ve collected a bunch of difference sized pieces that I really love, with some similar colours and textures. When I do a gallery wall I tend to lay all the pieces out on the floor to get an idea of placement, and then I eyeball the arrangement on the wall. Sometimes I take a photo of the floor arrangement on my phone, so I can refer to that if necessary. For more precise instructions, try this tutorial.
Right, now onto the kinds of art I like to have in my home!
Frame magazine posters/pages, pretty paper, etc: One way of getting cheap art is to use things from magazines, be it a poster (Frankie magazine provides one every issue) or a pretty page. Alternatively if you come across some nice wrapping paper or even a fabric remnant, you can frame those too.
On the left above is a Frankie poster that I framed. I grabbed the frame from The Warehouse for $20, but unfortunately I can’t find it on their website. Sigh. I love this frame not only for how it looks but because it comes with two mats: the one you see above as well as a collage with eight photo spots, so if I feel like doing something else I can. I’ve done the same thing with another Frankie poster in my bedroom (above right), this time using a hand-me-down frame, so this project was essentially free.
Find cheap ‘finished’ art: Another option is to find art that’s ‘finished’ or already framed – i.e. stuff you don’t have to do anything with but hang. Aside from begging friends and family for stuff they don’t want, you can try thrift shops if you’re that way inclined. I don’t usually have a lot of luck finding great finished art in second-hand shops. I either like the print/painting but hate the frame or vice versa. Thus, you will typically find me scouring stores (especially those of the department variety) for pieces that are in the reduced/last-call section or that are covered by a sale. Stores I particularly like to check out are The Warehouse, Kmart, Farmers, Briscoes, Typo and Bed, Bath and Beyond.
The framed rabbit print above is from The Warehouse ($20), which I grabbed this on sale for about $12, although I don’t think $20 is super-expensive for a framed piece of this size. I really love this print, it’s just so cute and…well…BUNNY. I’ve been really impressed by The Warehouse’s art range lately. Some of my favourites are:
Get creative: If you’re of the creative persuasion and like getting stuck in and making things, this route may be a good option for you. If you paint, draw, take photos or make anything else you can hang on a wall, go to town and have fun! If you aren’t super crafty or are just stuck for ideas, here are some places to start: literally chuck acrylic paint in complementary colours on a large cheap canvas, make a collage of Instagram photos and frame or stick them onto a canvas, make a weaving, or draw on heavy paper or canvas with a Sharpie.
The above canvases were ones I whipped up one afternoon. I took two very cheap white canvas squares, did some Google image searching for inspiration, sketched the designs lightly with pencil and then went over using a black Sharpie. I carefully erased any left over pencil, then hung using 3M picture strips. One tip with this is that you can paint the canvas with a layer or two of acrylic paint first, which will make things smoother for the pen. You could use white paint of course, but any colour will do. This project cost me about $8 for the canvases and 3M strips.
Buy online: Of course, you can find a lot of great art online. Etsy, anyone? The beauty of being able to buy online is having access to greater variety and, sometimes, affordable one-off original pieces. The most frustrating thing is finding something that you like because there is just so much to look through (or maybe the ridiculous shipping prices some shops have). My tips for this is to think about where you need a piece of art to go, what size you’d like it to be, any particular colour scheme you’re looking for, and what kind of mood you want the piece to have. Then you can narrow it down again by subject matter, style (realism, abstract, illustration, etc) and meduim (photo, oil, acrylic, pen and ink, watercolour, digital, etc). Use all of these parameters to help figure out the best keywords to use in your search.
The above print is one of seven that I bought from Flapperdoodle, by wonderful artist Kate Gabrielle. I love these cute illustrations of her Flapper girl character. The 1920s have always held a soft spot in my heart so these prints make me especially happy. I’ve dotted them around my gallery wall to fill in space between the larger pieces.
So there you have it, a basic guide to finding and using inexpensive art to make your space a little more homey. I hope it was helpful and please do share any of your own tip, tricks, and sources in the comments!
1 and 2. Thrift store finds.
3. Limited edition print from ArtSharkDesigns, frame bought from The Warehouse several years ago.
4. Gift from a friend, source unknown.
5. From a market in the Gold Coast of Australia, 10 years ago.