Cheap chic: How to brighten a drab hallway in 30 minutes
What is your home to you?
Is your home more a sanctuary? Or more a place to hang your hat?
30 minutes and a stunning piece of red and gold handmade paper helped to change our mood every time we open the door
Our home is our sanctuary. When my sweetheart and I step across the threshold into our home, we hope to leave behind any stresses and cares.
Home is where we share, love, relax, rejuvenate. For a long time, though, our bleak entry way did nothing to lift our spirits.
From the first day we moved into this apartment, we intended to hang a beautiful piece of original art above the entry hall table. Seven years later, we still haven't found that just-right piece.
One day, while exploring a favorite art supply store, I found a stunning sheet of handmade paper, rich in the golds and reds we love. But what to do with it? Light bulb moment: Display the paper and brighten that dull hallway.
Pretty as this paper is, it's a temporary decorating fix--cheap chic--so it requires no special handling. In twenty minutes I had trimmed and hung it in a plain store-bought frame. That gave me a few more minutes to add a few little touches to make the entry all the more inviting.
By the time I was finished, the clock hadn't hit thirty minutes, and I had completed a mini makeover of our hallway that says "Welcome home!" every time we walk through the door.
Before the makeover: Entering the apartment was not as welcoming as we would like
In this "before" picture, you see how drab and unwelcoming our entryway was before I stumbled across that piece of handmade paper that inspired me to give it a mini facelift.
On this page, I'll show you just how easy it was to frame the paper and make a few quick changes that made all the difference.
See that large vase on the floor? That played a part in this makeover too. But what to do with the unopened mail that accumulates during the week, and that ugly plastic receipt binder that is most useful if it stays on the table, where we can easily file the receipts as we take them from our pockets each day?
The answers, coming up.
Entry table before I found that lovely bit of paper
Pretty boring, yes? Cluttered too. While we're waiting for that perfect piece of art to come along--some day--I've hung that beautiful hand-crafted paper. I made a couple of other changes, too. Small ones. Simple ones.
First, though, I had to frame the paper. Here's how.
How to frame art paper in 30 minutes or less
To do the job quickly, plan ahead and make sure you have all the supplies on hand. The complete list follows, so you can print it off and take it with you.
Since I had no suitable work table, I used the floor, protecting it with a quilt and an artboard from my college days. If you don't have an art board, a piece of Masonite or a sturdy piece of cardboard will help to protect your table or floor.
Beneath my art board, I placed a quilt, which you will see in subsequent pictures, to protect the wood flooring in case my arthritic hands slipped while I was cutting the paper.
Materials and costs
- One sheet gold and red art paper: $5
- Frame: $32.
- Archival tape: On hand and partially used, but the roll cost about $2.50 when I bought it a few years back.
Total cost: $39.50
- Soft-leaded pencil
- Scissors or Exacto knife
- Hard surface on which to measure and cut, such as an art board, a piece of Masonite, or sturdy cardboard slab
- Padded surface on which to work
Instructions, step-by-stepClick thumbnail to view full-size
After mini makeover, our hallway is more welcoming and peaceful
Now I realize my iPhone camera decided to turn the color of the wall from soft sage to this mustardy yellow, so please know I did not repaint the wall. It's just the quirks of the lighting and the camera.
What I did do, besides hang the framed paper, is give that lovely handmade Peruvian vase, with its trees and birds, a showcase spot on the table.
A gift from an old friend, the vase reminds me of her whenever I see it. Now that it's on the table, I enjoy its well-wrought design every time I come in the door. Quite often, I reach out and touch its cool exterior, imagining the artisan who made it, the hands that formed the clay and painted the design. For that moment, I am connected to my friend and to her relatives in a faraway land, who made this vase.
Another item that pleases the eye, adds warmth and texture, and didn't cost me a cent when I did this makeover: The basket, which I found in the back of a closet. It keeps our receipt minder and mail tucked away out of sight but handy.
To open up the other end of the hall, I found a more out-of-the-way home for the basket of blocks. Just that small move makes walking into our bedroom a pleasure once more.
Tara's cushion and the vase both echo the golds and reds of the paper
To deepen the sense that our home is our sanctuary, I placed a small, hand-carved Green Tara, which I've had for many years, on the end of the table nearest the door, along with a Tibetan bell.
Ringing that bell when we enter reminds us to honor ourselves, each other, and the joyful space we create for ourselves here.
With the mail and receipt binder tucked away in the pretty basket, and the bell and Tara to remind us to take a deep breath and relax, coming home is a pleasure. We pause, take a deep breath, and enter sacred space.
Devices such as a Tibetan bell help to train our bodies and minds to relax the moment we open the door
If your home is your retreat, as ours is, consider adopting a few small rituals to mark your exit from the world of strife and your entrance to a peaceful respite.
The mellow sound of a Tibetan bell calms me instantly. You might find this true for you as well.
Take off your shoes when you step inside your home and ring the bell that signals a shift in your thinking and being. Such a simple ritual can ease a troubled spirit and help to heal a wounded heart.
Small changes make a big difference
I learned to make simple, small changes--the kind that make a big difference in comfort and ease--from author Karen Kingston, in her book Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui.
From her I learned to look at my living space with new eyes, and to think creatively about solutions like this one with the handmade paper.
Not only does Kingston guide us gently through clearing our clutter room by room, she also shows us how to make our living spaces more beautiful, pleasing and conducive to the lifestyle we crave and cherish, whatever that may be for each of us.
It's a small book and an easy read. Yet its guidelines can be truly transforming for someone living with mounds of unsightly clutter, or anyone just trying to clear their space a little more.