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Art and Beauty

Cheap, yet Happy Wall Art

By 10/12/2010September 7th, 202336 Comments
How about word Art? Best Day Ever by Erin Jane Shop via Centsational Girl

Finding affordable art for my clients is one of the biggest challenges in my design business. Clients that hire me do so because they want their home to look finished. And it’s accessories and art that truly turn a house into a home. Finishing and styling a home can get expensive (even with a Homesense nearby) so unless you have an unlimited art budget as well, you need to get creative.

Or this chalkboard wall at Isabella & Max Rooms via Simplified Bee
After colour on the walls the easiest and cheapest way to bring happiness into your space is with lighting (you need it to illuminate the colour and walls) and meaningful art is right at the top of the list!

Since I’m now in a townhouse with many walls that need art, I started searching on-line for ideas on creating my own. I recently mentioned in this post that I have decided in this house that I don’t want to hang anything unless it’s meaningful to me.

If you don’t have the time or the inclination to creatively cover your walls then art from a box store can still make your space beautiful (for sure!) but then you can upgrade, when you travel the world, or even in your own hometown, or by reading the ideas I hope will be posted here!


One of my on-line clients Amy Burger described it best in this email:

“I like your new post, re: Every time I buy a piece of art to put on the wall from a store I look at it like it is just a thing…there’s no connection. Bought it at TJ Maxx and that’s all it is. I have a big floral picture from Ethan Allen and that is all it is…a big floral from Ethan Allen. Same with some prints in my bathroom from Kohls…no meaning to them so they bug me.

I think I’d rather put some interesting botanical wrapping paper samples that I got on a gift from a friend in the frames rather than the boring Kohls prints. It is hard though to have an assemblage of prints or things like paintings from my Grandma and have them work in the house because they don’t match. We see so many catalogue images of perfectly decorated model homes rather than homes collected.

I like to look at my things and know where they came from or from whom. There’s no thrill in saying I got it from a big box unless the story is that I saved a boatload of money, which is all the story you need on towels, area rugs, blue jeans and Halloween Decorations!”


Photography as art by Tim Irving via Centsational Girl

Have a great weekend!

Related posts:

Does your Art have a Story?
How to Decorate with Art?
Do you need an Accent Wall? Take this Test.

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  • Centsational Girl says:

    Wall art can be anything that makes your heart sing ! A kid's painting, a beautiful photograph, framed botanicals, or wallpaper panels. Lovely post Maria ! I'll add a link to your party! One of my inspiration posts on wall art!


  • Jennifer, Inside Out Colour and Design says:

    Hi Maria,
    I find it very difficult to advise on art because it is such a personal thing. I like the pieces to tell a story or evoke a memory too. Like the Solomon Island Shell Money which our housegirl gave us when we left the country. It was part of her dowry and very special to her and now us. My daughter's cut Baby Gap sneakers also take me back to wonderful times. This is my post on meaningful art. Hopefully it might trigger some ideas.
    Happy collecting.
    Jennifer XX

  • Anonymous says:

    Try Zatista, an online source for original art–lots that is very affordable and you are supporting artists directly.

    Also, you can buy art kits from Marimekko.

  • Karena says:

    Art need not be terribly expensive, it should however really speak to you! Graphics can be so fun!

    Art by Karena

  • Brillante Home Decor says:

    Being a photographer I believe a few good images (B&W especially) can create the right atmosphere in any room (I even have many B&W in my bathroom and I love them, I also like to put at least one of my pictures in each client's house when possible)
    Photography is usually not expensive (unless you buy BIG names), another source are estate sales, flea market for oil painting, watercolors etc.
    I always try to buy original art, not reproductions.
    A link? could be:

  • Jennifer Duchene says:

    love to create art from frames from found stuff and from personal pieces, jewelry. Collections Personal photos. Did a post a while back on the art of hanging. sharing some interesting groupings.
    Maybe you have inspired me to do another one.

    I also have some empty frame ideas on facebook

    Maria you always get me thinking !

    Hugs. Jen

  • Sarah {The Student Knitter} says:

    Art that you have created, even simply and cheaply, can be so much more meaningful than something store bought and can save you a TON of cash, too!

  • Heather says:

    Not my idea but Trifty Decor Chick did something lovely in her boys room which I want to emulate in my boys rooms too.

  • Splendid Sass says:

    I believe that art should be personal or none at all. These ideas her are very helpful. Love chalkboard paint, and I use it frequently.
    Have a nice day, Maria.

  • Marlis says:

    I have found that if I love a piece it will fit in our home.. Although presently I have one framed print and one unframed tapestry too many :(..
    I have finally gotten brave enough to show my own art in our home.
    This link shows the inset for a shrine brought back from Santa Fe:

    I'll have to find the post of the quilt I made that I had framed.

    Big steps for me.. but they mean something and I love them.

  • Marlis says:

    Found it.. and here is an art quilt that I created that I had framed. Fits the space perfectly. Quilt came first.. not the space!

  • Erika at BluLabel Bungalow says:

    Painting Stripes always does the trick, especially in a kids room! Labor intensive, but budget friendly!

  • Laura Fowler says:

    My husband and I love art, buying and just looking for it. It seems to be the thing we buy when we travel. I'm not a big clothing shopper nor do I want the typical "junk" you buy when you travel. So we love to look for art fairs, gallery walks, etc and bring home a piece of art with us. It doesn't have to be large and usually is not. Now, not only do I love all the art in my home, but when I look around I think about the great places we've been and where we were when we bought each piece.

  • I agree that art that is personal is so much more meaningful. Here's a post I wrote about hanging art in a client's home – by using art they had gathered from their travels, we created a grouping that spoke to their passion!

  • Donna says:

    I love this idea Maria. You know how much I enjoy making fabric art. I didn't quite title my link right. It just has my name but it's a link to my "Colorado Rockies" wall hanging. I make them all the time. My favorite art are paintings from friends. I have several! Using a decorative shelf, eight feet long, I also made a display of my antiques in the dining room. The sky is the limit when it comes to wall art, as far as I'm concerned. Great idea, Maria!

    Donna @ Comin' Home

  • diane@onlinefabricstore says:

    My mother was an interior designer with a very sophisticated style. She always had a small painting hanging on the wall of every home she lived in. It was a glossy black frame with a solid gold what looked like a punched gold metal depiction of an Asian farmer. It was very chic and you always assumed it was expensive and collected during her travels with my father. I finally asked about it one day and all it was was a Christmas card she had received and loved so she framed it. I took that same idea many years later and framed a small corner of a handmade wedding invite and hung it in my guest room as the colors and floral design were perfect. this just proves that art surrounds us all, you just have to open your eyes.

  • Ideezine says:


    I like to lead my clients to explore this option. It gives them some options and generates more ideas. Using family photos, children's art work, and photo's for using with the picture wall company kit.

    Personally, I like to spend a day just snapping shots with my iPhone and printing them out on great photo paper. Frame them and use wall ledges to rotate the looks in rooms.


  • Kate at Dream To Life says:

    I love this post! It is SO IMPORTANT to find art the "speaks" to you….too often we all make impulse buys that end up sitting in the guest room closet! I'm really trying hard to ignore the impulse and go with the gut and the heart!


  • barbara@hodge:podge says:

    I loved creating a wall of art and photos that were special to my daughter. We painted a few canvasses together, collected special photos and hung up a few monograms to make it her own. Hardly cost a thing as I bought a few frames at Ikea and the rest was spray painted thrift store finds!

    BTW: Love how you are putting your rental together. You are inspirational as I rent as well and am trying to create a place of my own within the constraints of renting. A challenge but gets the creative juices flowing.

    I added a link to your linky party:

  • Elizabeth Brown says:

    Maria, thank you so much for letting artists get their "affordable" wall art out there. It is very generous of you to share your stage, and why you are so successful. I can't wait to see everybody's work.


  • Juliane says:

    Well said. We need to get rid of the distractions! I love the idea of a large wall mounted chalkboard that evolves daily. wall art

  • Struggler says:

    I've found that framing meaningful bits and pieces can work well – lyrics from our favorite RockBand song is one example. For another piece, I cut butterflies from the sheet music of a song which means a lot to me. The snag with this approach is, I end up with a lot of smaller items, rather than anything big with real punch.

  • Leah says:

    I like making quilted wall hangings. It's time consuming, but personal, enriching, and (usually) economical. It's fun to express your own creativity in your home instead of spending money on someone else's.

    Other than that, I have some paintings done by friends hanging on the walls. Not quite sure how "good" they are artistically, but they have meaning for me and the colors work with my home.

    Old family photographs are good, too. I have baby pictures of my grandma in my little one's nursery. 🙂

  • artist Linda Paul says:

    Hi Maria
    Here is some really affordable original contemporary art that is custom matched to any colors in your decorating scheme.

    They can be ordered in any quantity and any size starting at $125.00

  • Ann @ Rose et Lis says:

    Hi Maria,

    I often take another approach to "art" on the walls, as you can see in my linked post, "A wreath and a recipe".

    We grow many hydrangeas, so I gathered an armful, dried them and created the 25" wreath. It is a labor of love and you can create it exactly as you like. This particular wreath was sent to Leigha at Elle Oh; she won my 100th post giveaway.

    Fun idea!

  • Cindy says:

    Hi Maria,
    Purchasing works from art students is an inexpensive option, plus you are supporting emerging artists. In North Vancouver, Capilano University has annual sales of textile arts, pottery and prints.

  • KanataDweller says:

    Hi Maria,

    You are one generous lady. I enjoy the many tips you've posted in your blog.

    The "art pieces" we've used in our home are inexpensive. The ones we put in our main hallway are mostly aboriginal arts while the ones in our family room are close-up pics of white orchids which I took myself. I had them printed and framed using square frames from Ikea.

    Warm regards,
    Kanata Dweller

  • Anonymous says:

    Great idea Maria!
    I visited the Picasso exhibit in NY at The Met this past summer. I bought the exhibit poster which was also one of my favorite of his paintings (the Dreamer). The poster was $22 then I bought a poster size frame at Michaels for $25 and voila – a great piece of art for my office along with the memory of attending the exhibit.

  • Annetta Killian says:

    I really appreciate the chance to share my work with a wider community. This is a great idea! I second the post about trying out, mainly because I have a store there! I posted my website in the link up area, but also have a link to my zatista site, it's
    Again, thank you so much Maria for this opportunity. I love your blog and tell everyone I know about it.

  • Sherri Cassara says:

    Maria, I absolutely love your blog and have learned so much about color, business tips and blogging encouragement from you. I have just started blogging and this is the first time I have left a comment (I have been a dedicated reader though!). I can very much relate to your topic on art as this is often my biggest challenge with a client as well. I have to say I am very relieved when I find that they have a nice collection of art already. Thank you for your generosity in sharing what you know.

  • Pudel-design says:

    There you have so many pretty good ideas for showing art!
    Really cool link party!
    Thank you for hosting;)
    Lovely greetings…

  • Lauren says:

    I totally think it should be personal & meaningful. It has to speak to you.. love this idea maria!!

    -ps thanks so much for the mention!! 🙂

  • Wendy says:

    just finished picture gallery in our familyroom – i happy with the results –

    now, i need to figure out how to showcase my new print…

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi Maria, I am a painter.
    If I could have one suggestion it would be: A very large scale child painting!
    I like images that are more than an image, wich a reproduction is and a painting is not. One of the reason for this is that it has a "material reality". What I would suggest as a painter is:
    1- It is too bad poeple spend so much money on the same impressionist painting reproductions when they could buy original artwork from young artists. Just for instance, as an art student we produce tons of beautifull large scale nude model charcoal drawings that will end up rolled in a stocking room.
    2- We enjoy an artwork more if it has some sort of mystery. If we understand everything from the first day in the image there is a chance we'll get bored after a while. Dont be afraid of the "unknown".
    – Choosing artwork is a personal experience. It is hard if not imposible for couples too agree on wich piece to buy. I have seen this in my studio so many times. When it happens I tell poeple and they suddenly relax and the one who's more pasionate about it chooses it, (Or the one who pays?).
    -I have once done with a client-student the experience of giving a workshop consisting in coaching the realisation of a large piece ( 2 X 7 feet ) for a special place in her home. SHE made it, and it costed the material and my time. ( 2 afternoons of four hours, about 400 can. dol.). This person was a beginner student. She achieved it quite well. She also learned a lot in the process. I also made it with kids (who many times paint beter than adults). What about a very very large childpainting?
    Pascale Poulin

  • Anonymous says:

    Sorry me again. I want to add something the success recipy to the large scale child or "student" painting is the profesional touch: The material must be professional, For ex: As a support, a large good quality frames linen canvas, or a good wood panel.Then this touch could also be the help of a profesional, a painter, who mixes the colours first etc. Good luck! Also personnaly I hang on my wall thimgs I bring from my travels. Pascale Poulin

  • amy pools says:

    There's nothing wrong about buying wall art – whatever price range you can afford. It's true that your photograph or your kid's drawing might be more meaningful and belong to the central spot of your wall. But sometimes you see a painting you immediately connect to, it makes you feel something incomprehensible yet rather familiar. It might not match you room in color or size but you still have got to have it because of that emotional connection.

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