Even though decorating has always been a hobby of mine (and part of my business during the past several years), there are still certain things about it that cause me to struggle. (This is probably obvious since it can take me over a year to “complete” a room.) One of the things that’s sometimes challenging is wall decor. While I’ve had several “instant” successes throughout my spaces, there are areas that have taken time and multiple attempts.
Since I suspect I’m not the only one who struggles with this (Raise your hand if you have an empty wall in your house.), I thought some ideas for decorating walls might be helpful. As I was pulling together this list, I quickly realized how long it was (and how much I had to say), so I’m splitting my ideas into a three-part series. Stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3 in the coming weeks.
Before we dive in, I want to share two things that excite me about this list. First, the ideas suit a variety of budgets. Whether you prefer to buy something, hang it up, and be done with it, or you like to save a few bucks and DIY, there’s something for you. Secondly, and most importantly, all of these ideas are things I’ve actually done in my home or spaces I’ve decorated. I’m not just pulling pretty pictures from online sources. These are things that have worked well for me, and I’m confident they will work for you, too.
Oh, and one more thing, these are just ideas to get you started. You don’t need to do them exactly as I did. Take these tips and tricks and make them work for you, your home, and your style. Sounds good?
Let’s get into it.
Naturally, I had to start with a gallery wall as I have three of them in my house. Gallery walls have been around forever, but have recently become somewhat trendy. I’m not going to explain how to create one, but if you do a quick search on Pinterest or Google, you’ll find plenty of brilliant tutorials to guide you through the process.
Gallery walls can be implemented in a variety of ways: Some just use frames, while others use frames and objects. Some are very organized, while others are more organic. Some gallery walls use a consistent frame style or color, and others mix it all up. Before you get started on your gallery wall, I suggest looking at magazines or on Pinterest for inspiration. First figure out what you want. Putting together a gallery wall can be a bit daunting, but having a vision will help.
As you can see in the images here, I created a gallery wall in my hallway using all white frames with a mix of colorful prints and photos. The color of the frames gives the collection order, but the way the frames are hung is a bit organic.
In the closet area of my bedroom, I used a variety of frames and objects to create a more playful gallery wall. To keep things from getting too busy, I kept all of the items in one area of the wall.
The final gallery wall in my home leads me to my next idea.
Photographs are a wonderful way to add art to your wall. The best part about this option is that anyone can do this, and it’s usually inexpensive.
My approach to creating the gallery wall in my living room was very methodical. I used the same frames and evenly spaced them out on one wall. All of the frames hold photographs that I took on my travels. I call it my Wanderlust Wall.
As I said above, anyone can do this, and I mean that. While I do have great camera equipment to photograph images for the blog, several of the photos on my gallery wall were taken with my iPhone camera. I just use a phone application (more on that later) to tweak the photos to make them look a bit more professional, and then I have the photos printed for a couple bucks. It’s really that simple.
And if you don’t travel, don’t worry. Take pictures of your family, your local park, or even your own backyard. Inspiration can be found anywhere. You can do it!
My frames were from Target, so the total cost of covering this entire wall was less than $100. Love that.
I should also mention that if you like this look, but doubt your photography skills, check out Etsy (or similar online sources). Many photographers sell prints and some are very reasonably priced.
Okay, one more gallery wall, and then we’ll move on. (I told you I love gallery walls!) I saved this wall until now because I needed it to help explain my next source for wall decor.
This is a wall I created for a living room I decorated this past fall. The homeowner wanted a gallery wall, but didn’t have a lot of art to fill the frames. So what do you do when you have a plan, have the frames, haven’t taken any photos, and need some art to fill them? The answer: free printables.
I hate to direct you to Pinterest again, but if you need free art, head to Pinterest. Do a search for “free art printables” and you’ll have enough beautiful prints to decorate every room in your home. Simply download the image and print it out.
One word of caution: Make sure that the art you want to print was intended to be free. Being a self-employed creator, I’m bummed when people take advantage of others’ work and don’t pay for things that should be paid for. So just be conscious of that. Please and thank you.
For the purposes of this application, the homeowner wanted to create a gallery wall with some of her own images, but due to our tight schedule, was unable to get photos in time. So I found some free printables in the color scheme / style of the room that will look chic until she has a chance to replace them.
BONUS IDEA: I also used metallic scrapbook paper to fill several of the frames to create unique geometric / modern art.
Other than the scrapbook paper, all of the art for this gallery wall was free, including the adorable fish her son colored for me.
Functional Wall Decor
Okay, let’s switch gears and talk about functional wall decor. My home office is the perfect example. In that space, I’ve created three wall decor ideas that work for me. ( And by “work for me”, I mean they serve a real purpose.)
First, I have a collection of clipboards that hold important documents as well as notepads for list making. This is awesome for an office space and serves me very well. Alternatively this could be a great option in a family room to hold children’s artwork as it can easily be switched out when something new comes in. It also could be fun in a child’s room to display art, magazine clippings, awards, etc.
Second, I have a huge calendar. While this is highly functional, it also makes a graphic statement in my space.
Finally, my DIY bulletin board. This is something I made several years ago. Not only is it a handy place for tacking up inspiration and mementos, but it’s a fun space to decorate for the seasons. Plus, it doubles as decor.
Now, don’t think that all wall decor needs to be flat artwork, canvases, or mirrors. To be honest if you can figure out how to hang something on your wall, it’s officially wall decor. I’m not saying you should do that, so let me give you a few more specific ideas.
First, woven wall hangings have become extremely popular lately. Whether you’re in Target or shopping your favorite home decor store, you’re going to come across some style of wall hanging. What’s funny is that when I got my first one, my Mom chuckled and said she remembered making them when she was younger. (Everything comes back around, people.)
While they are not for everyone or every space, I think they can add texture, organic softness, and a touch of quirkiness to a room. A woven wall hanging can break up the standard hardness of traditional frames and square artwork that tend to populate our walls.
If wall hangings aren’t your thing, don’t worry, I have a couple more options. Much like gallery walls, three-dimensional wall art has become a popular home accessory in recent years. Available in a variety of styles, examples are the gold starbursts I have in my dining room and the basket tray I have hanging upstairs. Again, places like Target and West Elm are good sources for these types of objects, but I’m guessing your favorite home decor retailer carries something similar.
And finally, this list would not be complete without mentioning Kevin. Kevin is the faux ceramic moose head that lives on my living room wall.
Again, this type of thing falls in the three-dimensional object category, but this is a more specific example. Animal busts come in a variety of styles, animals, and finishes, so if you like this look, there’s something that should suit your home. Plus, no animals were harmed in the making of them. That’s a huge bonus.
(I think this would be an appropriate time to also mention I have a gold paper maché unicorn above my bed.)
That’s a wrap for Part 1!
While I do have more ideas to share (Part 2 and Part 3 coming soon), I think this is where I’ll leave things for today. I certainly hope these tips were helpful and that you picked up an idea or two to take your walls from boring to bold.