Wall Decor: Framing

Unique, highly personalized wall décor ideas for the folk artist, sentimentalist, or shabby chic individual on a budget.

It might cost a few cents more than just keeping the unframed unique, highly personalized wall décor ideas posters you bought in college (or ugly "artwork" you've accumulated over the years), but it won't cost as much as gallery-approved "art," while looking every bit as impressive: start framing your life!

Almost everybody has a few collections of things that are cherished but unused: old school prize ribbons, favorite record albums, sets of postcards bought on a trip abroad. The idea here is simple: take them out of the drawers, and give them new life as framed, autobiographical wall décor.

Inspiration should come fairly quickly from your cedar chest or even the bottom of a filing cabinet. Great ideas we've seen include groupings of foreign items to commemorate a trip abroad - even a few candy bar wrappers can look good if they're foreign (or vintage), especially if they're highlighted with other items: postcards or currency from the same country, for example. This idea lends itself nicely to thoughtful decoration for children's rooms: a collage of clippings of the best parts of drawings and "A+" papers will be an inspiring display, while freeing up your fridge door space. More sophisticated "prints" can be obtained from a fancy stationery store; these days, there are lots of greeting cards and single-sheet gift wrap that really look as though they were intended to be framed in the first place. Deeper, "shadow box" frames can be used to store and show off your most cherished childhood book, or a collection of contemporary miniature books. Grouping miniature items together will give off a bit of a museum display effect, making for truly interesting décor.

Once you've got some ideas for things to frame, start shopping. Mass-market stores such as Target and IKEA are good sources for cheap frames. Keep an eye out for sales, and inexpensive unfinished wood frames that you can paint to highlight the objects you're going to frame. Consider a certain theme for any grouping you plan on making for various areas of your home: your 1950s albums, for example, would probably be well highlighted by frames from the same era, dug up at tag sales and flea markets.

If you're framing greeting cards or other items with value more decorative than sentimental, the framing can be done quite cheaply and simply. The only caution here is that you may want to take special care with more valuable items: if you have a paper matting in your frame, acid-free is best for archival purposes. (Try seeking out frames designed for diplomas and other permanent displays.) Scrutinize your lighting: the main enemy of your artwork is likely to be the sun. Almost anything will fade if it's left out in the sun for long enough, so don't put the cherished Elvis albums in your sunny breakfast nook.

Haven't found anything to frame? Go outside, or go back to kindergarten: those early "art" projects lend themselves very well to this: paint a frame the same color as a pressed flower, or go nuts with stamps cut from potatoes. Let either folk art or sentimentality or both be a guide if you're stuck for inspiration. Happy framing!

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