Unusual Ideas for Using Art in your Home (and most of them are free)

January 9, 2020

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With things looking sparser thanks to the removal of festive decorations, I had a little a re-arrange of objects around the house. I do this every year, and often at seasons change too. Bringing items from one space to another keeps design in the home interesting and fresh. One area that I knew I wanted to tackle in a restyle was the wall behind the rocker in the living room which was decorated with a few natural history pieces, which I loved, but, which felt too bitty. Though the tree felt imposing for all of December (those that follow me on Instagram will know the many attempts to cull that tree – which did result in some lovely foliage for garlands), it was contrastingly empty when I put my Scandinavian-style rocker in its place. I knew I didn’t want a print here, too flat for this nook, and it got me thinking about the many ways that you can, and we do, adorn the walls in our home.

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Dried flowers from the garden (or foraged in the wild)

You know me and dried flowers, we are pretty inseparable, you will commonly find them in various arrangements in vases in our home. So I wondered about a dried flower corner, I started by placing the winter wreath I made a few months ago in the space and I really liked the effect. However, it needed something else to balance it. I’ve been walking past summers hydrangea in a pot by the front door for months, and recently been pausing on the skeletal beauty of the dried blooms. I had a Moebe frame lying around unused, so I decided to grab a couple of these blooms and press them between the glass to see what the effect was. I was expecting it to look a bit naff to be honest, and more than a little dead. But to my surprise, I thought the effect was quite beautiful and a brilliant counterbalance to the flounce and greenery of the wreath it hangs next to. Having created something out of some dried flowers from the front of the house for nothing, it got me thinking about the ways I use art to style the home, and just how many pieces I use that are either unusual or free, and often both. Here, below, are some of my favourites.

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Something Handmade

One thing that really works in the home is to create something yourself. We are not all blessed with an artists precision, I am certainly not, but how about trying your hand at abstract things you are drawn to? I like mark making, or simply splatting some ink around (oh the skills!). I have been drawn to modern abstract art more and more over the last few years, especially in an interiors setting where they add interest but can also recede and be calm. I have seen lots of original works that I really love, but I just don’t have the budget for yet (and I think there’s probably a part of me that expects these things to be in grander homes owned by actual adults – I see the irony in saying this before I turn 39 next week!). So, last year I decided to have a little play with some colour block painting (pictured above). I took a piece of old linen that was an offcut from a previous diy project and marked off areas for colour with decorators tape. Then I chose a scheme of colours I was drawn to from old tester pots and painted the linen. It may not be a Monet, but it’s pretty perfect against the Pigeon Green wall and cost nothing to make as I used items already owned.

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Looking in unexpected places for stylish freebies

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I go to galleries and exhibitions regularly, living in London there is such a wealth of creative inspiration on our doorsteps and I am lucky that a few of my good friends have memberships to the main galleries in London. I am always drawn to posters created for exhibitions, they feel less pretentious and phoney than buying reprints to me. But I am also often scouting for things that are free and so I pick up postcards or brochures advertising an exhibition which I often use for styling or inspiration. I really lucked out last year when attending the Modern Couples exhibition at the Barbican. Downstairs in the cafe they were advertising the exhibition on disposable paper place mats so instead of placing my coffee and cake on it, I rolled it up to bring home. I love this piece (seen above), both as a reminder of a really inspiring exhibition, and also within its own right.

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Tote bags, cushion covers and tea towels

And now we come to the pieces that aren’t free but certainly cost less than both art prints and originals. Alongside the free stuff that I’m on the hunt for at exhibitions, fabric is a really effective way to purchase a reproduction that has more depth than those printed on paper, as fabric carries its own unique markings and texture. In our bedroom we have a tote bag hanging, it’s Picssso’s Nadia du Menton and downstairs in the kitchen I’ve framed a Henry Moore sketch on a tote bag that The Wallace Collection stock. I’ve done this in the past with tea towels and even cushion designs, in fact we also have a piece of cushion embroidery framed in our downstairs loo at the moment. Each of these pieces were already homewares we owned, but looking for inexpensive vintage fabric on eBay can also throw up some real gems.

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A collection of Treasured Plates

Lastly, something which feels a bit retro, akin to flying ducks on the wall and Wedgwood pottery in display cabinets! I love framing plates. It’s an ongoing curiosity for me, we have a number of plates that don’t match any set which I have picked up because I’m drawn to them, sometimes for styling, if they are beautiful and they give you joy, why not display them on your walls? In the living room I have done Scandinavian monochrome plates to add interest, you can just see one in shot above (they are never in shots properly as the TV always spoils the line!), above our bed you will find a Royal Doulton plate and a Lizzie for Smug tray. I tend to bunch things in odd numbers but think these look perfect here as a duo offset by a framed print.

I love the idea of slightly more unexpected items on walls, providing greater depth and interest, and often at a fraction of the cost. If you have ideas of things you like to put on your walls for inspiration, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

 

 

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