I long for the stature that original art oozes. Don’t you?
For a long time, I dreamed of owning an oil painting, but I didn’t have the eye to pick through dejected works at garage sales and thrift shops.
A friend’s reassurances that all the prices at the “cheap” local art fair were below $1,000 did not, well, reassure me. My art budget was $100 – and I wanted more than one piece of artwork for that kind of money.
Here’s how I did it:
I turned my great-grandmother’s sackcloth quilt into an eye-catching display with a simple curtain rod purchased at a home improvement store for $24. (You can improvise your own curtain rod with a few brackets, screws, and a sturdy piece of wood or a retired shower rod.)
I measured the quilt’s width and length, and then decided to hang the quilt crosswise. I measured the wall so that the quilt would be centered behind the bed frame, and then I grabbed the screwdriver. Four holes later, and the curtain rod was installed! The hung quilt is now a beautiful focal point of the room.
Cost: $24 or less.
Pro tip: Using a curtain rod to display art can be done with almost all tapestries and cloth hangings.
Zigzag photo art
I have so many photos sitting around, but I haven’t had time to organize them into an album or scrapbook. Besides, I want to see them, not store them away in a book.
Using twine and clothespins, I strung multiple photos in a zigzag pattern across a kitchen wall that sorely needed a splash.
I grabbed a few thumbtacks, staggered them on either side of the wall, and then hung string from one tack to another, creating downward slopes.
With a clothespin, I attached each photo by one corner (this makes the photos hang much more nicely than pinning them in the middle), spacing the photos evenly.
I’ve gotten so many compliments on this photo display that I have lost count.
Cost: Free to $10.
Framed t-shirt art
When my Dad emailed the family about his will, I immediately knew which possessions I wanted most — his tattered cycling jerseys.
We’ve spent a lot of time together riding bikes, and cycling clothes represent my father at his best: Dedicated. Strong. Free.
Once he learned of my attachment to his old cycling gear, he mailed me one of his Grizzly Peak Cyclist jerseys. I found a shadow box at Michael’s, flashed my mobile coupon from the store’s app, and snagged 40 percent off.
Cost: $10 or less.
Pro Tip: Make this project free by pinning a T-shirt directly to a wall with thumbtacks.
We have art all around us. Magazines and newspapers employ scores of designers and photographers to beautify their product, which usually ends up in the recycling.
Next time a page catches your eye, why not snip it from the fold and frame it? I did this with a short profile in the New York Times Magazine of a UPS worker who plays his trumpet every day on his lunch break.
His interview bleeds dedication, wisdom, and passion for living life to the fullest, one hour at a time.
Cost: $10 or less.
Pro Tip: You can often find empty picture frames at a garage sale for $1 or less.
Dirt, a shallow pot, glass vase or fishbowl, and three to five succulents are all you need to make a living piece of art for your home or office. Mix the soil with sand and pebbles to increase drainage, which succulents appreciate.
Artfully arrange the plants so that the biggest plant is in back and smaller ones come to the front. Water and slide into a sunny spot.
Pro Tip: Plants purchased at some stores, like Ace Hardware, can be returned for a full refund if they die within a year. Keep that receipt handy by taping it to the back of the pot.
Still looking for a frugal way to beautify your space? Create a mosaic pot, for indoor and outdoor plants!
Julia Scott founded BargainBabe.com, which shares the best curated freebies daily!