Walls are the biggest canvases in your house. But when you look around, you may see that these canvases might not be doing anything to enhance your home. Maybe scratches and scuffs make your walls look dingy. Perhaps your youngest took the "canvas" part a little too literally with his crayons and markers. It could be that your vision is clouded by out-of-date, orange and gold wallpaper that saw the presidency of Jimmy Carter. Or your pristine, new, builder-beige walls are lackluster and uninspiring.
Whatever the reason, many of us have been disappointed with our wall décor -- or lack thereof. So, what do you do when that 30-year-old wallpaper just doesn't do the trick anymore? Or the bare walls of your beautiful new home leave you and your guests yawning in boredom? The answer is simple -- liven things up with unique, creative wall art displays.
Hitting local galleries and artists' collectives would be one fun and exciting way to secure a wide variety of cleverly conceived wall art. But it could also be quite pricey. If you're on a budget, a better option would be to take the matter into your own hands by creating your own wall décor. If you can afford it, pick up one key professional art piece that you simply can't live without; not only will it make you happy, but it could inspire your own creative efforts.
Read on to learn how you can create your own wall art using metal, glass, old album covers, stencils and natural materials.
Metal Wall Art Displays
Considering the increased interest in green living, people have been using a variety of recyclable materials in their home décor, including metal. And you don't have to be a welder to try your hand at using this versatile material.
Professional metal art pieces can be large, dramatic and oversized. As with other larger art pieces, something of this scale should be placed in a room large enough to accommodate its size. In a small room, it might be imposing rather than engaging. Since you'll be creating your own metal wall art, it's up to you to decide the size and scope of the project. Let the space dictate your direction.
Once you've selected the room, it's time to select the metal. For this project, you want a metal that adapts well to molding, etching and bending -- so go with aluminum. Start by purchasing a sheet of aluminum (24- or 26-gauge or so should work well for a small room). In addition, you'll need a desired pattern or shape, a ballpoint pen, a pair of scissors or tin snips (depending on the thickness of the aluminum), sandpaper, a small hammer, silicone and a piece of plywood.
Follow these four basic steps to create a metal art piece that will suit any room of your home:
- Place your pattern or shape on top of the aluminum sheet and trace the pattern onto the aluminum using the ballpoint pen.
- Once the pattern has been traced on the metal, cut the pattern out of the metal sheet using scissors or tin snips.
- The edges may still be jagged, so use the sandpaper to sand the edges of the metal to the desired smoothness. Depending on the thickness of the metal, you could use the hammer to roll and smooth down the edges to create a lipped edge to your creation.
- Use the silicone to adhere your finished metal art to the wood [source: Selvidge].
If you want to be even more creative, you can find a large frame for the plywood and tack the plywood to it. Before mounting your metal art on the plywood, paint the plywood a solid color or use a mixture of colors and a pattern. Voilà! You have an interesting, one-of-a-kind piece of artwork for your wall.
While metal has been an increasing trend for home décor, you may want something more traditional and elegant. Read on to find out how to create your own glass decorations.
Glass Wall Art Displays
Wall mirrors have garnered popularity for decades, and it's a timeless look that never goes out of style. But while many people still fancy the traditional mirror in a standard frame, there are other ways to create a design on your walls that will reflect your personal style, if not provide visitors a glimpse through the window to your stylish soul.
OK, that was a little corny for a lead in -- but we couldn't resist it for this project. You can use an old window frame as an accent to your mirror. As you'll learn with this project, making wall décor from glass doesn't have to be difficult, and recycling fans will love the old window frame hanging on your wall.
First, you need to find a window frame. You can find old window frames in many places, including salvage yards, flea markets, junk shops, antique shops and yard sales. Once you've found the perfect window frame and purchased a mirror to fit it, it takes only a few simple steps to create a mirror wall display for your home:
- Remove the glass and any material that is holding it in place.
- Remove any peeling paint or unnecessary hardware from the window frame.
- Lightly sand the frame. (If you want a natural look, simply varnish the frame. If you want something less rustic, sand the frame more and then prime, paint and varnish it.)
- Secure the mirror to the frame using caulking or putty.
- Attach picture-hanging hardware to the back of the mirror. Be sure to select the appropriate hardware for the size and weight of your new mirror [source: Ruffman].
If this project leaves you ready for more hands-on work, read on.
Hand-Drawn Wall Art Displays
Though some people prefer a more traditional look, you may feel the need to release
the creativity that's hibernating within you. If so, stenciling may be just your craft. Yes, stenciling. Yeah, we know it's received some bad publicity with the rash of gardens and farm animals painted on walls amid suburb and city homes alike, but stenciling doesn't have to be agricultural. With a little elbow grease and imagination, even the dullest of walls can become a bright, inspired canvas.
Before you begin the stenciling process, be sure to choose a smooth, clean surface. Uneven walls will not hold paint, and a marred texture can ruin your image [source: Sherry]. Next, gather your supplies: a stenciling pattern (you can make your own or purchase one), stencil brushes (one brush per color), small jars of crème paint, paper towels, masking tape and a small plate to use as a palette.
With these tools at hand, it's time to start stenciling. Here are the basic steps:
- Tape the stencil pattern to the wall with the masking tape. Be sure to start in a corner area of the wall (maybe something that could be hidden behind a door) that can go unnoticed if something goes wrong.
- Pour a small drop of stencil paint on your plate, and dip the tips of the brush's bristles into the paint.
- Remove excess paint from the brush by moving it in a circular motion on a paper towel.
- Using quick, short strokes, work from the outside of the stencil to the middle. This technique will ensure a crisp pattern.
- If you want to use more than one color for the same shape, be sure to allow the first color to dry before applying the second.
- Once the paint has dried, remove the tape and stencils from the wall and enjoy your hand-drawn creation [source: Sherry].
Repeat the process above until you've completed your stencil project.
Keep reading for a wall art option that can show off your great musical taste.
Album Wall Art Displays
So creating metal art, windowpane mirrors and stencil patterns aren't your things. But don't fret if you're beginning to worry that there's no hope of you making your own unique wall art display; this project should have you humming a different tune.
If you (or your parents) have retired a vinyl collection in favor of an iPod packed with digital tunes, don't ditch those albums. The design potential they possess can bring any room to life in no time. And if you're not lucky enough to possess any old album covers, you should be able to find some at a number of places, including thrift stores, local music stores and yard sales.
Hanging record albums on the walls is not a new trend, and it's not just for college dorm rooms or co-ed apartments. A clever display of old Clash albums or Johnny Cash covers would look equally fitting in most any home.
By following these basic steps, old album covers can provide a modern, edgy look or a stylish verve to your walls in minutes:
- Draw out a plan for how you want the albums to hang. You can have a simple, side-by-side, grid-like arrangement for a clean look, or you can opt for something less organized and more organic; don't be afraid to get creative.
- Set aside two L-shaped screws for each album cover. These screws will hold the album covers in place.
- Measure the area of the wall you're decorating and the album covers. Then, following your plan, mark spots on the wall where you will put the screws. The screws need to be set in from the edges of the album -- 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) should work fine -- just make sure the measurement is the same for each screw.
- Insert the screws into the wall using a drill or by hand. Depending on how long your L-shaped screws are, you might not want to screw them into the wall completely. Just make sure you have plenty of room for the album cover to sit comfortably atop the screws without falling forward.
- Hang your album covers on the screws [source: Pash].
Still have more walls in need of creative wall art displays? Read on for a project with possibilities as big as all outdoors.
Natural Wall Art Displays
Album wall art may be inexpensive, but maybe it's not your style. Instead of looking to music for your muse, just take a walk outside.
Using nature to decorate your home can be something fun to do solo, or enlist the entire family in the project. Whether you live at the coast, near the mountains or in between, nature holds a wide variety of items just waiting to be incorporated in a unique wall art display.
Two of the most obvious items are sticks and leaves. The next time you notice a bright, colorful leaf, pick it up and put it in a safe place until you have collected enough leaves to create a piece of wall art. Pressing leaves will help maintain the shape of the leaves and remove moisture. On a table or countertop, place the leaves between two paper towels or paper napkins and set a heavy cookbook or encyclopedia on top.
If you want to preserve your leaves beforehand, you can take your pressed leaves and coat them in wax using wax paper and an iron. Lay wax paper on an ironing board, wax side up. Then scatter your leaves on the paper, leaving room between each leaf. Place another sheet of wax paper, wax side down, on top of the leaves. Iron the leaf/paper combo for one to two minutes.
Depending on the size of décor you are aiming for, glue the leaves to a blank canvas or card stock in any desired pattern. For added flair, paint the canvas before gluing the leaves. To preserve your finished artwork, cover with a light spray of varnish.
Similarly, plain old sticks can turn a plain old wall into something worth admiring. Find a handful of sticks, big or small, and glue them together in diagonal, random patterns. A typical design will resemble a sun, but you can use your imagination and create something outside the box [source: Jenkins].
If you're after something with a coastal flair, gather your shell collection, glue and a canvas or small piece of plywood. You can sketch out a pattern to follow or just glue the shells in free form on the canvas. Finish your piece with spray varnish and add a little sparkle with spray glitter, if you like.
Still looking for ideas? Keep reading. What you need may be hidden in plain sight.
Jewelry Wall Art Displays
Jewelry can be eye-catching, beautiful, outlandish or funky. Why relegate it to a drawer or jewelry box when you're not wearing it? We're not talking about valuable jewelry; of course you want to keep your expensive pieces and treasured heirlooms in safe places. Think costume jewelry -- the more striking the better.
There are several ways to display decorative jewelry to create unusual wall-art displays:
- Hang it. Use decorative hooks or antique nails to create a display of large necklaces and strings of beads. Hang several together, side by side across an empty wall space, ideally one with a plain, light-colored surface. If you want to add brooches, lockets or other pendants that don't have their own chains, try hanging them from narrow ribbons, mixing them among the strands of beads and chain necklaces. You could also add in a few chunky, large bracelets for contrast and added visual interest.
- Hang it on something decorative. There are all sorts of decorative earring hangers available. Often, you can find attractive, unusual ones at craft stores or fairs. Mount the hanger on the wall and hang up your biggest, flashiest earrings. Add a bracelet or two in a strategic place for more flair. You might even find a decorative metal item in thrift or antiques stores with wires or hooks suitable for hanging earrings and other small pieces of jewelry.
- Frame it. Decorative pins and brooches can be mounted on stretched canvases. Or buy thick frames with fabric backers, and attach your pins artfully inside. Or secure a pleasing variety of jewelry items to fabric-covered cardboard inside a frame. Use several matching frames of jewelry items together for a larger wall art display.
If you have jewelry items that you wear frequently or are so valuable or delicate that you don't want to use them as wall art, another option is to take their pictures and decorate with those. Place small items such as rings or pins individually on the same background –- say a piece of cloth in a color that will complement both the items and the wall where they will hang. Take photos. Have the photos enlarged, frame then, and hang the framed pictures together in a display.
Speaking of frames, what other framed items besides expensive works of art can make interesting wall art displays? Read on to find out.
Framed Wall Art Displays
An expertly framed print or painting makes great wall art. You may be fortunate to have one or more hanging in your home. But if your funds are more limited than your imagination, don't despair. Inexpensive frames with inexpensive contents can produce pleasing displays, especially when you group several together.
You can decide to use frames that are all alike, or you can choose to be eclectic, letting the variety of frames add to the interest. If you decide to keep the frames alike or similar, inexpensive, plain frames of black, brown or white, depending upon the color of the wall behind them, can do just fine.
This is a versatile option -- you can frame whatever you like. You may think family photos are too personal or too mundane to display as wall art, except perhaps in a den or bedroom. But try combining old photos of, say, your great-grandparents with more recent ones of other family members printed in black-and-white or sepia tones. Frame them all similarly in plain frames, or thin frames with white mats, or even frames you make yourself from old wood you find at a salvage yard.
Or find other images that are eye-catching and have meaning for you. Arty jackets from several old books can make a great display for someone with an interest in literature. If last year's wall calendar is just too beautiful to throw away, consider choosing three or four of the best shots. Mat and frame them, and you have inexpensive but quality prints. Try framing related but dissimilar objects such as a music score, a performance program and a collection of tickets and group them in a display. Dig out your old posters, or find vintage ones at a thrift store, and hang them in inexpensive poster frames.
Still need ideas? Keep reading for ideas about fabrics as wall art displays.
Fabric Wall Art Displays
The traditional fabric wall art display is, of course, a tapestry. If you're finances are limited, you're probably not going to go out and buy a historic, finely woven tapestry, or even one of the modern variety. But there are still several ways you can use the beauty and warm feeling of fabrics to decorate your walls.
If you're a quilter, can take a quilting class or know someone who's good at quilting, you have a natural source of unique wall art. One popular approach is to collect T-shirts for quilt squares. A quilt of T-shirts gleaned from years of childhood participation in school and sports activities can make a colorful and sentimental hanging for a young adult's wall. Or collect T-shirts from all the cool places you travel on vacations, or from all the races or triathlons you compete in, and combine them into a quilt. To prepare a quilt for hanging, simply sew a fabric sleeve onto the back at the quilt's top, and insert a wooden rod or dowel.
Not into quilting? Don't despair. Many other fabric items make attractive wall art displays. Browse thrift and antiques stores for vintage tablecloths or a set of decorative cloth napkins. Find old samplers or pieces of needlepoint. Larger fabric pieces can be mounted on dowels or wooden rods and hung, perhaps suspended by decorative ribbons. Iron or stitch a couple of pleats into a tablecloth to make it hang more attractively.
Smaller textile pieces can be mounted and framed in simple, inexpensive frames. Framing can also make a unique piece of wall art out of an old doily, placemat or hanky with a crocheted border. Search your grandmother's attic or browse thrift stores and flea markets for textile treasures.
About ready to hang up your quest for creative wall art? We'll help you figure out how to do it. Read on for suggestions for suspended wall art displays.
Suspended Wall Art Displays
There are several ways to suspend art to make a visual display along walls. You can spend a lot of money for elaborate hanging systems from art galleries and home-décor stores, but we're talking about ways to do things that give you unique art displays without breaking the bank.
One way to suspend art is to make the suspension part of the display rather than something that's hidden out of sight. You can secure various materials as a cable from hooks, nails or screws along a wall, or even from one wall to another across a corner. Find cable materials at hardware, home improvement, craft or even fabric stores: Clothesline, metal cable, knotted fabric strips – anything that hangs and can hold some weight works. Then suspend whatever you want to display by clips or clothespins. You can do this to make changing wall art out of children's handiwork, greeting cards, flowers or autumn leaves pressed between waxed paper, or anything that's decorative and relatively lightweight.
Decorative ribbons also work well. Attach several small, framed pictures to a wide ribbon, one above the other, and hang the ribbon. You could try hanging one picture per ribbon, using a ribbon that complements the picture inside the frame. Small framed photos of wildflowers, for example, could be hung on ribbons that pick up the flowers' main color.
If the object you want to suspend is the main focus of your display, you may want to direct attention away from the hanging apparatus. Monofilament, a single strand of some untwisted fiber such as nylon, often used for fishing line, becomes nearly invisible when hanging. It can be great for suspending "found" objects you want to use as wall art displays. You can use anything that catches your eye in a thrift store, junkyard or attic. Try an old window, a birdcage, a tobacco basket, a sign from a country store, a crosscut saw or other old tool. Florist's wire, available at floral shops and craft stores, also work well for this purpose.
You can even suspend an entire shelf and use that to display your art, but shelves are a topic in themselves. Keep reading.
Shelved Wall Art Displays
You may not notice them much, but don't dismiss your shelves as a great option for a wall art display. If you have shelves, make the most of them. If you don't have them, consider adding them. Have you ever wished you had a fireplace so you'd have a mantel for displaying objects? Mount a shelf in a strategic spot.
Try mounting several shelves, perhaps of varying widths, on a large, empty wall. If you want something a little funkier, corner shelves can turn an unused corner into an attractive art display space. You can also place wall shelves all the way around a room near the ceiling to display a variety of favorite decorative objects.
Don't want to hang or mount shelves on your walls? Buy free-standing shelf units. Metal or wire shelving doesn't have to be just for the kitchen or pantry: Because you can see through such shelves, your decorative objects placed artfully on them against a wall become a display visible from much of the room.
Once you have shelves in place, make the most of them. Don't just store books or other objects in dull, orderly rows; turn your shelves into real wall art displays.
One good way is to mix framed photos and prints of various sizes among books, decorative plates, pottery, baskets and other decorative collectibles. Using shelves as art display spaces can make it easy to change the art you want to feature without having to make holes in the walls.
Want more ideas? Keep reading for lots more information on decorating and design.
Are you looking for some fun recycled craft ideas? Check out these 10 recycled craft ideas in this article.
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