Art is an essential ingredient in making your house your home. It’s a styling layer which turns a space into something amazing. And it’s an easy way to change a look or colour scheme, making it an ideal ingredient for anyone like me whose hobby is faffing*.
*This is an actual, legitimate hobby. It has to be the amount of time I spend doing it…
But it can be expensive – especially if you have a thing for gallery walls like me. All those frames and the art to fill them add up! But I’ve got some suggestions for you to get amazing art in your home which is affordable – and in some cases, free.
Let’s great straight to it! Of course you all want to know where to get the free stuff. There are a couple of sources for amazing free art that I use often in my home.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Yes, one of the world’s biggest and most famous museums is one of your places to go for free art. A few years ago they launched their ‘open access’ policy, which means that all pieces in the public domain can be used for free. What this means for us is that we can download art that we love, get it printed at whatever size we want by the local print shop and voila – amazing art fit for a world famous museum in your home. I heard about this from Karen Knox of Making Spaces. There are currently over 400,000 pieces classified as open access, but I’ve whittled it down to a few favourites. And you can choose your own by ticking the ‘open access’ filter on the search function.
Design Love Fest have a long running series called ‘dress your tech’ – images you can use for your desktop or phone wallpaper. Whilst I’ve used it for the intended purpose, I’ve also used it to create some stand out art in my home. Again, all you need is a friendly local printer and a frame. Because the dress your tech series has been running for years, there are literally thousands of images to choose from. Here are some of my favourites.
Do It – or ‘borrow’ it – Yourself
It doesn’t have to be ‘art’ in the traditional sense. My husband has an extensive collection of vinyl, some of which have amazing covers. The flowers art in the header image above is actually by Power, Corruption, Lies by New Order. Great songs, even better art!
Use your own photos. We take some brilliant pics which usually only see the light of day on Instagram, but using our own photos is a very affordable way of getting art. And of course, it’s completely unique! These are a few of mine which will hopefully give you a bit of inspo.
I love a mooch around a museum or gallery (especially in the evening when you get them pretty much all to yourself) and no visit is ever complete without a trip to the shop to check out the postcards and greetings cards.
I’ve built up quite a stockpile from my travels and they make great low cost additions to your art collection. And they are also a great reminder of your adventures. The postcards framed above our bed are from a gallery in Palma, which we visited as part of our family holiday to Mallorca last year.
Might be a controversial one this but there are a lot of great books which you can use just for the art inside them. I always check what’s on offer at the charity shops; if a book isn’t coffee-table worthy from it’s outside, there might be something for your walls on it’s inside. I picked up a Rothko book from a charity shop for £2 and framed nine of the pages to create this gallery wall in my office. I think it’s really effective and it cost less than £50
What? I know, bit odd but bear with me. There’s some brilliant designs on tea towels these days – far too nice to use for their intended purpose. Pop them in a frame and hey presto, very affordable and pretty unique art. Here’s a few to show you what I mean…!
Print Your Own
Etsy has been doing this for years – buying prints to download and print yourself is another really affordable way of getting great art. One of my favourite places for print your own is Juniper Print Shop from Jenny Komenda of Little Green Notebook fame. Here are a few of my faves.
Finally, framing. Whilst you don’t need to frame everything – a gallery wall looks great with a mix of framed and not, you need to know where to get great frames. Ikea is obviously a go to, although I’ve found Wilko sell the same sort of thing, in terms of sizes and colours (it also means I don’t have to trek out to Ikea if I want a couple of new frames). Habitat, Desenio, B & Q and The Range are also great sources.
I also always check out the charity shops and car boot sales for frames. Whilst the art inside them is usually pretty naff, the frames will be different to the plain versions on offer from the retailers, which means you get a bit of interest and variation. And remember you can paint the frames (I find spray paint easiest) if you want to change the colour.
Nothing, especially art, stays the same for long around here, so tell me – what are your sources for affordable art? I have a faffing addition to feed!