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Ideas for Inexpensive Wall Decor

Updated on April 8, 2012

We just bought a house. Well, not only bought it but renovated it as well, and as you can imagine, once that was done we didn't have much room left over for a decorating budget. But I'm not letting that stop me. I know that with some clever crafting, a little bit - okay, a lot, of elbow grease, and a few good ideas I can have our place go from boring and basic to beautiful.

Its a fairly big house and there are a lot of walls to decorate. But even without much of a budget, I've got a few ideas.

This living room design by Jill Sorrenson of Marmalade Design is actually pretty neutral.
This living room design by Jill Sorrenson of Marmalade Design is actually pretty neutral.
This is a mural I did for our teenage son's room.
This is a mural I did for our teenage son's room. | Source

Easy Color

One of the easiest and quickest ways to transform a room is with paint. Keep in mind that you should choose an overall color scheme for your house. That doesn't mean that each room needs to be the same color but the colors should flow from one room to the next with intention. I always like to start with a fairly neutral palette then add in pops of color. For example, if you want to use purple, blue and green as your main accent colors, you might paint one wall purple, have a blue couch and a green glass bowl in the living room. In the dining room you could pull out one of those colors, say the blue for example, and paint the ceiling pale blue. Place a big pot of purple orchids in the middle of the table and you've got your other two colors.

In the example on the right, Jill Sorrenson has pepped up a neutral pallet by painting the wall pumpkin. Her accent color is plum and she uses a lot of black and white to keep things interesting. If you were to carry this theme into the next room, you could try reversing the accent colors so that purple was on the walls and orange was used on a piece of furniture or on an accessory.

If you're a little bolder, you could divide the room horizontally at about the point where a chair rail would go and paint the bottom one color and the top another. Personally, I think this works best when the colors are similar like red and fuchsia. With walls that hot, you don't need to do anything else.

And if you're really bold, you might try turning your walls into full sized murals.

While We're on the Subject of Paint...

Who says the focal point of the room has to be on the walls? You could just as easily paint a piece of furniture so that it really pops. Your guests would be so distracted by the unexpected pop of color they'd never even remember your walls were bare.

eBay and Other Second Hand Resources

I have to admit something... I am an eBay addict. There is no end to the fabulous things you can find on eBay and that includes stuff to put on your wall. Of course they have second hand pictures, mirrors and sculptures but they also have tons of other things like kimonos, vintage clothes and materials, baskets... I could go on and on but you get the idea. Really, anything can go up onto your walls. What about an installation of antique typewriters, or a few floating shelves with a collection of vintage brass owls? The trick here, is to stop thinking of wall appropriate art as having to consist out of a paper and frame.

Make sure you try lots of different searches, starting with the easiest, for example, "wall mirror". The good thing about eBay is that not everyone realizes that they have a treasure. So, instead of listing Grandma's gorgeous vintage venetian glass mirror with beveled edges as such, they might just say, "old mirror." This is especially important to remember if you're looking for bargains. Of course, searching only within driving distance of your home will also save you money on shipping charges as well. Ebay is an absolutely fantastic resource with finds that change on a daily basis and you never even have to leave your house to see them. However, you can also find great stuff at estate sales, consignment shops, second hand stores and even the Good Will. When you're shopping these stores, its easy to get distracted. Go with a firm idea of what you want and how much you're will to spend and don't deviate from the plan!

Children's Art

Children have a wonderful freedom when they paint that sadly, is often lost by the time they are 7 or 8. If you have kids, nephews, nieces or neighbors, buy some decent paper (it frames much better than cheap stuff), set out pots of paint and have a painting party. We're heading into Spring and the warm weather makes for an inviting atmosphere for painting outdoors. You could set up specific items for them to paint like a bowl of flowers or some fruit or just let them go at it with what ever their little minds come up with. You'll be amazed at how vibrant and colorful the art turns out. Here too, you need to think outside of what's traditional. If you like certain parts of the picture, cut them out and paste them to a colored sheet of construction paper, then frame them. Some of my favorite art is from when my son was in preschool.

More Traditional Art with a Twist

If the idea of all that color scares you, don't worry. I have some more tame options as well. Why not take a piece of fabric and stretch it over a canvas or a piece of MDF. All you need is a staple gun to secure it to the back of the frame. Or take several pieces of fabric with coordinating colors and hang them in a grid pattern on your wall. This would also work with wallpaper or pretty wrapping paper.

I made silhouettes of my favorite people (four legged included) and hung them on our first floor landing. For this idea you need to take a profile picture of your subject against a white wall. Use some sort of editing software to intensify the contrast then print it out. You might want to enlarge it... it'll depend on what size you want your final picture to be. Use tracing paper to trace over the outlines of the face then use transfer paper to transfer your silhouette onto a canvas or whatever you plan on using for the finished picture. Once you have the outline on the canvas, all you need to do is color it in with some watercolor or tempura paints.

Repetition is the Key to All Good Design

Of course you don't have to hang "art" on your wall at all. Go to the dollar store and see if they have any interesting placemats, potholders or plates. If you hang up 10 placemats you've got an interesting art installation. If you hang up 30 you've got a design statement! Try and fit the object to the room. Recently I was at IKEA and saw some great looking trivets made out of cork. Each one was a perfect circle and they were selling 3 for one euro (about a $1.30). I bought a bunch to use as an interesting pin board in my son's room. Don't forget Goodwill and other thrift stores are also great places to shop. You can pick up interesting frames, lamps (which you can always paint) and lots of other things for a song.

Paint Chip Art

Paint Chips are absolutely free and come in a plethora of fabulous colors. All you need is a little imagination to come up with some wonderful collage projects. They could be as simple as gluing down the paint samples as is in any order that's pleasing to you. Or they could be elaborate geometric designs that involve higher math and all that jazz. The choice is yours! If you mess up, no problem. Just go back to the hardware store and stock up on supplies all over again.

I made these paint chip "paintings" in a morning and couldn't be happier with the results.
I made these paint chip "paintings" in a morning and couldn't be happier with the results.

Wall Decals

And don't forget stickers! They're cheap, come in a huge variety of sizes and, in most cases are also removable.

If you still don't see anything that inspires you here, you should check out my articles on decorating with one roll of wallpaper and using and art projector in interior design. Both are packed with fun DIY ideas for beautifying and personalizing your home.


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    • edelhaus profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Munich, Germany

      @ladeda and mkbee, thank you both for stopping by and taking the time to read the article. I actually made four "paint chip paintings" this morning and I love how they turned out. I'll have to post them.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      So many great ideas here. I especially love the paint chip art. Great hub!

    • ladeda profile image


      6 years ago

      What a wonderful collection of ideas! Thanks for your detailed response to my question! :D

    • edelhaus profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Munich, Germany


    • edelhaus profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Munich, Germany

      If you start with a neutral backdrop its a lot easier to add color without overwhelming the space.

    • cloverleaffarm profile image

      Healing Herbalist 

      6 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

      Great hub! So much color. People tend to fear a lot of color, and this gives some great idea. Voted Up!

    • ziyena profile image

      Ziyena Brazos 

      6 years ago from Somewhere in Time ...

      Awesome hub ... I love the eclectic detail and I like the fact that your research is extensive. Kudos voted up :)


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