inexpensive art

Happy Friday!

Last week, I worked on two projects that have been on my to-do list for a while.   I’ve struggled with what to put in the empty space on the shelf above our television, and have searched for the right piece since the entertainment center was installed.  I wanted one large ‘something’ to serve as a focal point, and was coming up empty at my usual haunts (Homegoods, Target, consignment shops…)  My friend Brooke and I went to Luckett’s annual outdoor market a few Sundays ago, and I came home with a few other treasures, but nothing for the shelf.  SO, I finally decided to take matters into my own hands, paint a piece of art, and frame it.

I’ve been loving (and pinning) lots of pastel, fairly muted, “happy” abstract oil paintings and watercolors, and so I tried my hand at creating my own, pulling colors from our living room.  Some of my favorites are by artists Britt Bass Turner and Elise Pescheret, both of whom I discovered on Pinterest (of course).

Here is just a tiny sample of their work, which served as my inspiration:


(Above painting is “Collete” by Elise Pescheret)

 Pinkycopy Summercopy


So off I went to Michaels. They were having a BOGO frame sale, and I came home with this for the project:


I needed a long, rectangular frame for the space and could only find collage frames.  So I just removed the mat and traced it on artist’s paper to get the proper dimensions.

Then with my trusty acrylic paints (all purchased inexpensively for various projects over the past several months), I took a deep breath, said a little prayer, and made my own version….


…then re-framed it. Here it is at home in our entertainment center:




I wanted it to complement the small pops of orange & coral we have throughout the room, as well as the aqua and grey overall color scheme.  I am very pleased with the result and ESPECIALLY thrilled that spot is now filled!  And hey, because it was so inexpensive, if we ever find something we like better, we can always replace it and move the art to somewhere else in the house.  I love when purchases can have a variety of uses and “homes” over the years under one roof. 🙂


What did I use the other frame for?  Had to take advantage of the Buy One, Get One Sale!  For years now I’ve wanted to make some sort of print using the free paint chips available in abundance at Lowe’s/Home Depot/hardware stores.  A few weeks ago, while waiting around for paint samples to be prepared for me at Lowe’s, my eyes landed on the wall of Pantone color samples.  They were the perfect size; larger and more rectangular than ‘classic’ paint chips (think the vertical strips).  With Emmeline’s big girl room in mind, I gathered up all chips from the coral & pink family. Now that I’m typing this out, is there a better term than “paint chip”? Help? None comes to mind…have I been calling them the wrong thing all my life?!

Anyway, I thought they would be cute to create a piece of “modern-looking” art to hang in her new room.

Here are the frame and chips ready to go:


I cut the bottom margin off each rectangle, then tried various arrangements of shades until I landed on this one:



Then using a leftover piece of artist’s paper from my abstract painting, I lined them up, making a grid.  When I got them evenly spaced, I taped them down and put the mat and frame back together!

IMG_7299 IMG_7307 IMG_7308


So easy-peasy.  The hardest part was lining the rectangles up evenly.  And talk about cheap art! I’ve been dreaming about all the cute color “grids” you could make…blue…green…purple…

I will post pictures of the print hanging on her wall next, along with other aspects of her room that we’ve been working on for the past few months!  With three weeks to go til D-Day, it’s coming along!

Hopefully I could give a couple ideas to those of you in need of  inexpensive art solutions for the home.  Have a great weekend 🙂


New House

With the purchase of our first home, I’ve been so excited to decorate and make it our own.  Our home was built in the 50’s and is an end-of-unit townhouse with 3 bedrooms, 2 full baths (thank goodness!), and great hardwood floors.  I fell in love with it the second we walked in with the realtor, and my love for it only continues to grow!  Thankfully, its previous owners had put a lot of TLC into it, and it was move-in ready for us.  We moved from a one-bedroom apartment in Annapolis, and it’s been great fun placing our belongings and decorative items in new places, as well as adding a few new pieces.  Here are a couple things I’ve done so far:

Entertainment Center:

Our entertainment center was purchased at Ikea when we first moved in to our apt. My husband Jason really liked it as a resting place for his big honking TV, but I have been on the fence about it for a while.  Maybe it’s the many odd-shaped open compartments that have proven frustrating, and I h-a-t-e the look of exposed wires.  On a Richmond homes tour with my mom, I fell in love with a look in one room.  They had taken a ceiling-to-floor built-in bookcase and filled it with black and white framed photos, and a zillion books covered in monochromatic kraft paper, something similar to this:

I of course wanted to cover my books in something less neutral, but I loved the impact it had.  That was my plan…but difficulty finding the right shade of paper in bulk, budget, and impatience has tabled that idea for the time being.  Instead I used what I had, spent $4.99 at Michaels (love those 40 and 50% off coupons you can get on their website!), and this is what I came up with:


This frame was made using a glass and particle board frame with metal clips (hand-me-down from my mom I’ve had for years) and a piece of scrapbook paper I had on hand.  Since the frame is meant to be hung, I propped it up against another frame so that it stood.  The adorable elephant teapot is from World Market (I so wish they had one in Baltimore!).

I love silver frames, but wanted to keep things inexpensive…I had some wooden and black metal frames (think “1 Spot” at Target) that I spray painted with a can of Krylon Original Chrome spray paint.  This instantly gave them a faux silver makeover.  Not all the frames have been filled with personal pictures yet, including one with the picture of the family I’ve apparently adopted (that was my one $4.99 purchase at Michaels).  Jason and I are feeling very narcissistic lately, as all the pics in our home seem to be of the two of us from our wedding.  We were anxious to get some developed, and are now reeling it back in and waiting til we find some good portrait-layout ones of at us with at least some friends/props in the background :).

Apart from that, I used items I’ve collected over the years…cool Chinoiserie-style bookends I purchased for $9.99 at Homegoods, paperback books and albums in colors that matched our living room, gifts from friends, and small blue and white pieces from when my family lived in Okinawa (I was in 2nd grade at the time but still managed to buy a few keepsakes!)

The end result is something I can enjoy looking at in the meantime–while I try to ignore those few wires that still peek out until we can hit up Radio Shack and buy longer ones!


This pair of chairs was purchased from a roadside flea market by my parents years ago, and then given to me when I moved into my first apartment out of college.  They still had their original *icky* tweed-like seat covers, and were in desperate need of an update, so that we could actually feel comfortable sitting on them!  So I finally got around to doing this once we moved in.  I purchased a yard of this cute orange and cream floral print on sale for just $9.99 at Jo-Ann Fabrics, and a yard of 2 in. high density foam which with a coupon came to just $18.00.  Here are the steps  I took to giving the chairs a new look:

1. Remove the old fabric (which in my case was covering up an equally lovely green pleather seat cover) and nails from the wooden seat form. You might need a heavy duty screw driver and pliers to help pry & remove the staples and nails.

2. Trace the wooden seat form on the foam to get the exact measurement needed, then cut the foam to size.

3. Place the foam on top of the seat cover.  Wrap the foam in thin batting (if you want to give it extra cushioning), and then wrap the fabric tautly on top of the foam and batting.

4. Staple gun the fabric to the underside of the seat cover.

5. Replace the new seat and attach to chair with screws (you might need long screws depending on the thickness of batting and fabric used.

I love this pair, and currently have one in our living room and one in the dining room…they will be great for extra seating in both. I might decide to paint/refinish the wood eventually, but for right now I really like the dark brown wood with a bit of distressing.


This was purchased at a yard sale for $20…I really like the detail and drawer pulls (shown below).  Eventually our plan is to paint it black, but it needed to be functional in our basement asap, so for now it will be this funky blue color–not too bad! If you look closely I think it’s been a few colors in its past life–pink, white….

I wiped out the drawers and lined them with Contact paper.  I know Contact paper is nothing new under the sun, but I love its forgiving nature…it always takes me a few tries to get it lined up just right and smooth all the bubbles out.

Here is the (semi) finished product:


This past Saturday, my husband and I got wind of a “barn sale” taking place in nearby Ruxton.  We met a very nice couple trying to clear out their barn and home of some no longer needed items.  Among them was a Crate and Barrel sofabed (stone colored with cream piping), and the wife took a liking to us newlyweds and sold it to us for $20!  We got several other items for quite a steal, which I will share later, but right now, the sofabed.

I was anxious to bring the sofabed home to our basement in an effort to replace Jason’s sofa which he insisted on bringing from his bachelor days, living with 3 other guys for 5 years, and the sofa was older than that to begin with. Don’t even get me started.  At this point I would’ve brought home a taxidermied animal as a replacement for his sofa. But when we brought the couch out of the barn and into the light of day, and then subsequently struggled yanking it down the stairs into the basement, we began to wonder if we had made a colossal $20 mistake.  The sofa was f-i-l-t-h-y.  It had been residing in a barn for goodness’ sake! I won’t go into the details, but just be thankful that I didn’t snap a “before” picture.  Hoping against hope, we pulled all the cushion covers and frame slipcover off and I used OxyClean to spot treat every surface area within an inch of its life.  Thank goodness for the “sanitize” cycle on our new front-loading washer (we had to buy both a washer & dryer when we moved in). Four loads later, after letting each cover dry in the sun, then ironing, lint rolling, and steaming the fabric, we stuffed each cushion back into its cover.  More steaming (I am loving our portable steamer) and a last overall spritz of Febreze, and voila:

(like) new! Trust me, it was an unbelievable transformation.  So our worries turned to a deep pride in ourselves for not shying away from a little hard work….not bad for $20, huh?