Tuesday, February 26, 2013

wall art for cheap : photo shelves

Art doesn't have to be fancy or expensive to have an impact. It took me 6 months to realize this.

I had been waiting months to hang up an art print I bought shortly after moving into this apartment last August. We don't have a Target up here in Halifax and Wal-Mart has the worst selection of modern frames. I wanted a thin, white wood frame with a mat. I couldn't find one, so I tacked it to the wall, still in it's plastic sleeve. It looked a bit sad.

Sometime last fall I was browsing the dollar store and spotted these shallow white ledges. I think they're called postcard ledges or photo shelves or something like that. Anyway, a few years ago I lusted over similar DIY shelves on YoungHouseLove and thought the art print might look nice perched on one. As I stood in the aisle, trying to think of a reason to buy a few more, I remembered some treasured travel photos I had fished out of my parents' old photo boxes. The shelves were only $2 each so I got three and practically skipped home to show D my finds.

After months of stalling contemplating the perfect spot, I finally decided on the space above my craft table - which you finally get to see! I was originally going to hang all three of them in evenly spaced parallel lines, but then I saw Rachel Howe's home tour on DesignSponge.

Photo by Chris Fantauzzi for DesignSponge

And just like that, I was sold on an asymmetrical arrangement. I leveled the shelves and hung them using the provided tacks. No nails needed! I lined these two shelves with a few photos, one tiny art print and a postcard that says Be, which was a sweet gift from a close friend (hi, Lo!).

Here is a closeup of the hand-lettered piece you see tacked up with washi tape. I made it a little while ago. Sometimes I can spend all day planning or dreaming up creative projects. This reminds me to actually make stuff, to create something. The photo on the right was taken by my parents. My wanderlust always comes bubbling to the surface when I look at it. Here's hoping I will be able to travel soon.

The stuff you see hanging on the left a few photos above is a mish mash of family photos, an ink & acrylic piece that says "create freely", a dotted wave greeting card and a sketch I did of D one night. Here's a better look.

The last shelf found a home on my side of the bed with two coastal inspired pieces. The print is by Sarah Burwash and was found at the ever-inspiring local boutique, Inkwell. The photo is of Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia with it's iconic lighthouse playing "Where's Waldo" in the background.

That pic shows how shallow the shelves actually are. A really thin frame might fit.

These are usually the first things I see in the morning, which makes me so happy. I dream of waking up in a lakehouse someday, but until then I'll enjoy my makeshift water view, however small it is.

So there's my little weekend apartment beautification project. $6 shelves + homemade art, photos & prints = wall art for people with student loans. Can I get an amen? If you're in Canada and want to find the shelves, hit up the Dollorama. I'm sure you can find them in other stores too or you can make your own if you have a few basic tools like YHL did in the link above.

Okay, so I'm sure I can't be the only one who takes forever to slap some art on my walls. When you move to a new place, do you hang everything right away or stall until you can find the perfect art, frame or arrangement?

xx Janelle 


  1. Ah! Brilliant! G and I have been trying to redecorate the bedroom. Value village has been proving to be very worthwhile when it comes to DIY stuff.. however, painting in the winter is challenging.
    You place looks awesome, Nell!

    1. Thanks so much! I love thrift stores for knick knacks, frames and baskets and stuff. The cheaper, the better :)

  2. Such a cute idea!! And so simple. I have quite a few post cards that I wanted to display but didn't know how. Cute idea!!

    Also check out my updated blog www.makingitsparkle.blogspot.ca and yes I did say updated, as in I am blogging again! Thanks for the continued inspiration to start this back up :)

    1. Thanks for your sweet comment, Val. Hit up the dollorama! Seriously.

  3. Woah! What a great find! I always struggle with how to display prints/art, too. I think I overthink it... : ] This is a great, non-committal way to enjoy art.

  4. Such a cute idea! I love how simple it was to put together!!


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