Art on the Cheap: The Best Budget Décor for Your Home or Office
I once had a boyfriend tell me he’d know he’d done well in life when he could afford to buy art. Kind of silly, I thought—but also kind of true. Until you’ve made your millions (or at least hundreds of thousands), it can be hard to justify shelling out thousands of dollars just for something to put on your walls. And even though original art is an excellent investment in the long run, some of us just don’t have that kind of cash to give up.
Luckily for the rest of us, my ex-boyfriend wasn’t really thinking out of the box (or the frame, as it were). There are plenty of ways to create art-filled spaces, and you can do it on any budget. Find yours below, and start brightening up your white walls today.
A Couple Hundred Dollars: Rent the Art
Renting art is a great option: You get to have beautiful, original art on your walls, and you’re not married to it the way you would be if you’d purchased an expensive piece. Instead, you give yourself the option of switching it out when you get tired of looking at it or just want to try something new. Plus, you also have the option of returning to your white walls if your financial situation suddenly takes a turn for the worse.
No, unfortunately, you can’t just walk into any gallery and ask them to rent their art. But, you can head over to Artsicle, an online service that offers just that. When you get started with Artsicle, you’ll take a quiz to help identify your tastes, allowing them to give you personalized recommendations for art. You can then begin browsing their curated collection and choose pieces to rent from anywhere between $25 and $65 a month. You can keep the piece for as long as you want, and there’s even the option of purchasing it if you end up deciding you can’t live without it.
Check out some of my favorites below, then start renting today on Artsicle.
A Hundred Dollars or Less: Buy Prints, Not Originals
Another way to cut costs on art is to buy prints rather than the original. No, you won’t get to enjoy the texture of the canvas or the nuances of the paint, but you can go to museums for that. You'll get to enjoy the work of an artist you like, and if you splurge to get them mounted and framed, prints can still look very nice.
Many local artists will sell prints of their work at fairs or tradeshows (sometimes even in the galleries where they show). You can also try 20x200, a website that offers an always-growing collection of affordable and unique prints. All 11 x 14” prints are $60 ($185 if you buy them framed), and many of the works are offered in both larger and smaller sizes. The pieces that 20x200 offers are a bit on the less traditional side, but they’ll certainly add color and a great talking piece to any room.
Check out some of my favorites below, then buy something new for your walls at 20x200.
The Shoestring Budget: You Be the Artist
While I’m all for supporting the “real” artists of the world, sometimes you’ve got to get down and dirty and do it yourself. Even if you don’t think you’re artistically inclined, I promise—you can create art for your walls with little to no money or experience. Check out some of the ideas below for inspiration.
I believe that anyone can be an artist, so just give it a try. Pick one of your favorite works of art and try to re-create it in your own style, or find a tutorial on Pinterest or Apartment Therapy and give it a go. What’s the worst that could happen? At the very least, it will give you a fun weekend project and a great story to tell your friends when they ask you about what’s hanging on your wall.
Frame Unexpected Things
Framing things has an interesting way of putting them in a more artistic light. So go buy some inexpensive frames at Target and then get creative with things to fill them with. How about a piece of beautiful wrapping paper? (Papersource has some great ones.) Or a swatch of fabric that you love? Or even paint chips? As long as it fits and you love it—frame it!
Make an (Actual) Pinboard
Remember the days before virtual pinboards, when all everyone had was cork? Well, they’re still a great way to brighten up stark walls. Go out and buy a couple (I love these from the Container Store) then go wild filling them up. Hang up postcards from your travels. Hang clippings from beautiful magazines. Heck, print out pictures of the things you love on Pinterest and put those on. It may not be as clean as a big painting on the wall, but it’ll be just as beautiful and inspiring to you.
Tell us! What are your favorite ways to decorate your walls?
Erin believes in the power of content to spread ideas, build communities, and engage and delight people—which is why she spends her days helping employers and brands do just that. During her time at The Muse, Erin has also worn the hats of personal website expert, video producer, Shutterstock wrangler, master lunch-packer, and company librarian. Erin is always looking for new places to explore on the weekends, and she almost never says no to tea and a croissant. Invite Erin to tea at eringreenawald.com or on Twitter @erinaceously.More from this Author