With a little ingenuity, you can create chic artwork to cover nearly any bare wall space. And not just any slapped-together art, mind you, but pieces that guests will coo over.
It can be done in hours with little money. Home design experts are brimming with do-it-yourself ideas to help all of us, even the artistically challenged.
Designer David Bromstad, who creates wall-art magic as host of HGTV's Color Splash: Miami, shares a few basic pointers: Keep it simple. Have reasonable expectations. And copy, copy, copy.
"I cannot stress it enough: Be inspired by other artists and designers," Bromstad says. "Copy it. It's okay to do. That's what they're there for."
After all, beginning artists learn from copying the masters.
"That's how I learned how to paint (and draw). Van Gogh, Rembrandt — I copied them," Bromstad says.
French artist and textile designer Lola Gavarry takes the fear out of painting with her book DIY Art at Home (Watson-Guptill, 2010). Templates are included for some of the 28 projects, each of which offers a simple, contemporary design element. Gavarry walks DIYers through each project, and the steps are amply photographed.
From her home in Paris, Gavarry recommends finding a quiet place and taking a few practice runs.
"Make an initial test on paper to get comfortable," she says. "Don't worry about small imperfections. They are your marks."
Here are more artsy DIY ideas. They are "not a lot of money, not a lot of time, and they're temporary," says Rachael Liska, a senior editor at Fresh Home magazine. "You can switch them out if your mood changes, or your lifestyle changes."
Just have fun
Buy several inexpensive canvases and acrylic paint. Consider using a high-quality, latex house paint. Artists often do. Choose a simple design, such as stripes or geometric shapes, or paint each canvas a different color. Hang the canvases like an installation — randomly, or in rows. The idea is especially good for kids — allow a child to paint her own canvas, then hang the results like a headboard — and for apartment dwellers wanting to cover drab walls. "Bring in tons of canvases and hang them almost like wallpaper." Designer David Bromstad
Blow it up
Take a black-and-white photograph to a copier store that has rolls of oversize blueprint paper and have it blown up several feet wide and as long as desired. As it enlarges, the photo will pixilate, adding interest. "It looks incredible." David Bromstad
No ordinary canvas
Paint directly onto a wooden pallet, alternating colors on the wooden slats or going with a simple design, such as a flag, and hang it. Display collected dishes among the slats. "It gives you that funky, urban vibe." Rachael Liska, a senior editor at Fresh Home magazine
In a kitchen or dining area, hang color-coordinating tea towels on a cord or wire, or frame vintage cookbook pages. Restaurant menus often are graphically appealing, so frame your favorites. Rachael Liska
Poof — art!
Frame a square of high-quality wallpaper and set it on an easel so it resembles a work of art. Stretch fabric across a canvas frame and staple it on the backside. Rachael Liska
Decorate with colorful decals. "Use it artfully. It can be dramatic." Decals, or "wall tattoos" as they're sometimes called, may not be appropriate for every room of the house. If you want a sophisticated-looking living room, don't decal it. But they're always a hit in children's bedrooms. Check out these online sites: Blik, Surface Collective, Etsy and Dezign With a Z. Danielle Claro, home editor for Real Simple magazine
Hang a collection of mirrors or flea market finds that are unified in some way — by style, frame color or size. Examine what you already collect: Can you group it and hang it? Plates or silver trays can make artful installations, as can multiple pages from a single, artful book, framed and hung in a grid or a straight line. "It can look very purposeful and upscale." Danielle Claro