Affordable Wall Art Ideas

Family Frame

Sometimes it helps to think outside the frame. We turned this divided window into a frame perfectly scaled for over the sofa. Sand, prime, and repaint a salvage-yard window, then fit a precut mat and a favorite photo into each opening. Keep them in place with framer's glazing points (find them at crafts stores). We added a vintage knob to give our new artwork old-fashioned character.

Curate Your Blooms

You'd be surprised how beautiful close-up photos of flowers can be--even the snapshots you take with your own digital camera. Take your favorite flower images to your local photo center. Have them enlarged to enhance the details, and ask that they be printed on canvas, rather than photo paper. Crisp white frames make these pretty petals pop, but you could simply stretch the canvases over frames for a modern edge.

Measure Up

You can scoop up old rulers--some with cool retro logos--for a few bucks. These bird prints, cut from the pages of a dime-store book, match the old-fashioned vibe. We used wood glue to affix the rulers to cheap wooden frames. The rulers are applied differently on each frame to keep things interesting.

Magnetic Attraction

A message center can be a lifesaver for on-the-go families. This project takes that concept a step further. Rather than one boring bulletin board, the entire wall is coated in four coats of magnetic primer and a top coat of yellow. This way the even the littlest members of the family can contribute artwork and special notes.

DIY Tip: We love this idea for a work space or crafts room, as well. Instead of an inspiration board for your latest projects, you could have an entire wall of inspiration!

Jewel Box

If jewelry looks dazzling on you, it makes sense that it could dress up walls, too. We bought cheap thrift-store frames and backed them with fiberboard covered in pretty paper. We used old cabinet knobs and pushpins to hang necklaces and bracelets. For earrings, we secured two lengths of ribbon horizontally across a frame, using thumbtacks to reinforce it. Earrings dangle from the ribbon. Even brooches and pins have a home here. We backed one frame with corkboard, so pins slide in easily. No more digging through cluttered drawers for the pearls--it's grab and go.

Natural Instincts

These are not your 4-year-old's sun-catchers. Our sophisticated project brings refined outside style to inside spaces. We plucked single leaves from a hosta, fern, caladium, and palm, then sandwiched them between framed panels of glass. (You can find the frames at crafts stores.) Cup hooks screw inconspicuously to the window trim, and the frames dangle from eye hooks via thin chains.

DIY Tip: Swap out the leaves every few weeks when they begin to brown. For a long-lasting display, use dried leaves coated with acrylic artist's spray to prevent discoloration.

Bedtime Tea

Tea conjures feelings of warmth and relaxation--a perfect match for the bedroom! Here, heirloom teacups and saucers radiate a welcome ambience above the bed. Chocolate- and pink-color ribbons are strung vertically down the wall. Hardware-store plate hangers and cup hooks hold prized china firmly in place.

Photo Album Display

It's like a photo album for your wall! We modified a piece of common molding to make a picture rail. Decorative golden picture hooks fitted with short lengths of hardware-store chain suspend all sizes and shapes of frames. Simply cut the chain to the desired length and top with a circular link. Then hang each piece and enjoy happy memories each time you pass by.

Buttoned Up

Monograms are a fabulous way to personalize any wall. Use your computer to enlarge a letter in the font of your choice. (We enlarged ours to 5x7 inches.) Print, then cut it out. Discard the letter, and keep the outline. Use it as a stencil to glue all shapes and sizes of buttons inside the letter. Remove the stencil, let the glue dry, and hang.

Location, Location

Old maps have a special place in our heart--and if you're lucky enough to score a big one (like the pull-down kind your teacher used in geography class), don't let go of it. Here, we repurposed a giant world map as wallpaper for an entry. We took color inspiration from the faded greens and blues of land and sea. Rows of hooks, a bench, and plenty of boxes and bins get high points in the storage department.

Window Treatment

Inexpensive window grid inserts from a home center liven up this family bulletin board. Here¿s how to make one of your own: Cut a piece of plywood to the size of the window grid insert and cover it with cork, batting, and fabric. Secure the fabric to the back of the plywood with a staple gun or finishing nails. Then nail the grid to the covered plywood and glue on buttons at the intersections. Hang it in a high-traffic place so family members don¿t miss notes on the way out the door.

A Cut Above

Antique cutting boards and bread trays add a rustic touch to the kitchen. This approach works beautifully in cottage-style or farmhouse kitchens.

DIY Tip: Before pounding the first nail, trace the shapes onto craft paper and cut. Tape the pieces to the wall and try different groupings until you find the arrangement that works best.

Flower Power

Sometimes you just have to splurge on art. Offset the cost of expensive art by going DIY for the frames. Use a miter saw to cut pieces of picture molding at 45-degree angles. Use wood glue to assemble the four pieces, then reinforce with picture-framing nails.

Map Quest

We told you we couldn't get enough of vintage maps. Find a flea market frame in need of a little TLC. Clean it up, prime it, and repaint. Lightly sand the edges to mimic aging, then add a light coating of crackle finish to give it a time-worn appeal to match your vintage map.

Get Framed

Most people pass right by photo frames that have lost their glass. We think they're perfect for this project. Simply give them a fresh coat of paint (clean white always looks fab and fresh), then display a beautiful object inside. Here, plate hangers from a hardware store support antique plates.

Special Delivery

You don't have to be a collector to appreciate a pretty stamp. Teeny-tiny frames sell for a dollar at discount stores, so stock up and frame favorite stamps. Check eBay for vintage styles.

Think In Threes

These acoustic ceiling tiles, each of which measures 12x36 inches, are covered in wrapping paper and then framed. Consider painting a portion of the wall behind artwork groupings to set them off even more. This formerly white expanse gets a big style boost from the chocolate-hue stripe painted horizontally behind the bulletin boards.

It's a Wrap

Wrapping paper has come a long way since the old-school Santa Clauses and hologram-happy birthday papers of the past. Today's wrapping papers are modern and distinctive--finding a great one is a gift unto itself! We adore this moth-print paper so much that we framed it. To copy the technique: Cut your favorite patterns from wrapping paper and glue them to mat-board backing. Then simply pop the board into the frame.

Mirror Images

These mats might look like mirrors, but we achieved this reflective look for a lot less. The mats are made using a spray paint that looks like mirror. Simply place the glass from a photo frame face down on a drop cloth and tape off the photo opening in the center. Spray on the mirror paint and let dry. Remove the tape. Place a photo in the center. We've found that black-and-white images look particularly striking against the mirror treatment.

Round the Clock

Globes are updated all the time, but don't think you have to toss an old one. This fun 3-D clock is a breeze to construct. Cut the globe in half, and fit a clock mechanism and hands through the hole where the stand once supported the globe. Most crafts stores carry basic clock-making parts. Follow the manufacturer's instructions, and you'll be ticking in no time.

Beachy Keen

In this comfy dining room, tablecloths stand in for artwork. Simply stretch and frame sections of tablecloth in frames painted fun, bright colors. Leave the glass off one frame and hot-glue a starfish to the center. This is great rehab for stained cloths destined for the trash. Just cut around that red wine stain, and no one will know.


It's hard to beat the funky retro patterns found in old handkerchiefs. Whether Grandma gifted them to you or you scored a haul of them at an estate sale, put them to good use on your walls. We used mat board and cut-to-size glass (your local hardware store can cut glass for you), then displayed them in groupings of like colors.

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