Five Ideas For Large Scale DIY Art {That Don't Look DIY'd}

If you caught my last post about my thrifted china cabinet makeover, you might have read that I'm in the market for some large scale art to flank either side of it. In an effort to keep costs down, I'm strongly considering DIY'ing a couple of pieces. I find that if you're purchasing art, most large scale stuff is either a) expensive if it's original work or b) cheesy if it's inexpensive. (Those two are the extremes of course - I know there's some great, reasonably priced large scale art out there.)

DIY art, on the other hand, can be more wallet-friendly, but I find that the problem with DIY'ing art is that it often looks DIY'd - do you know what I mean? (Hint: not the good kind of DIY.) It can be challenging to make it look really good - at least, that's my opinion.

There IS hope though! 

I found some really great examples of large scale DIY art that I think most anybody can recreate and can be confident that it will look awesome. I've split them up into five categories and have an example or two of each to give you (and myself) some inspiration. Let's get to it!


Oh abstracts - how tricky you can be! I painted one that's currently hanging in our living room and am pretty happy with the way it turned out. I'm no artist - I just experimented until it looked the way I wanted it. I'd like to try my hand again soon! There are many, many kinds of abstract art that range from very simple (like the brushstroke art below) to more complex (like the series of three below). Try your hand at both!

Simple Example | Francois et Moi 
{Francois et Moi}
Complex Example | Dans Le Townhouse
{Dans Le Townhouse}


Engineering prints are simply large scale copies printed economically on lower quality paper (think blueprints). Black and white ones are super inexpensive, but color ones are also available and are pretty affordable considering the size (the example below was $23). You can have these printed at office supply stores like Staples and then frame them (or don't - your choice!). If you're in the market for a simple, large frame, try the RIBBA from IKEA.

Black and White Example | House By Hoff

{House By Hoff}
Color Example | Mountain Modern Life

{Mountain Modern Life}


There are so many beautiful wallpapers and gift wraps out there these days. Wallpapers can get pricey, but you can search Etsy for remnants that are much more affordable. Wrapping paper on the other hand is more budget-friendly, and its easy to find in small sheets from places like Paper Source and Rifle Paper Co.

Example | Nalle's House

{Nalle's House}
Example | Mint Design Blog
{Mint Design Blog}


The Nester has a fantastic step-by-step tutorial showing you how to make one of these, which starts as - you'll never guess - a mop as its base!

{The Nester}


If you have Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, or just good handwriting you can do this! Choose your favorite phrase, type it out and have it printed at your local copy place, or write it straight onto a canvas. My best advice? Keep it simple for the biggest impact.

Example | The Hunted Interior

Kristen purchased this print with the iconic phrase from Gone With The Wind from Letters on Love (a shop that doesn't seem to exist anymore, unfortunately!), but you could certainly recreate something like this yourself.

{The Hunted Interior}
Example | Katalina Mayorga via Refinery29


Well! My creative wheels are definitely spinning now with all this research I've done, and I'm thinking it might be time to create something for my dining room. How about you? Are you ready to make some art? Do you have other DIY ideas you think I should try?

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Thrifted China Cabinet Update

Remember that vintage mid-century modern-ish china cabinet I picked up a few weeks ago for a song at my favorite second-hand furniture store? 

Well, she received a simple makeover last week and I'm excited to share this super simple project with you today! Can you see what changed? 

Yep, it's the inside of the glass cabinet area!

It went from wood to white by using one simple material: contact paper. No mess, no fuss, hardly any cleanup, and I was done in an hour. Told you it was simple!

I had some Whitewood Matte Wood Grain contact paper left over from this project in our rental house and it was perfect for this application.

All I did was:
  • Measured and cut lengths of contact paper to fit the area I wanted to cover
  • Removed a small section of the backing to expose the sticky side
  • Lined up the contact paper so it would lay straight on the wood (leaving a little extra sticking up along the edges to trim off later)
  • Smoothed down the contact paper with a plastic smoother tool while being careful to avoid bubbles (I pulled the paper backing off as I went along - I found that worked best for a smooth application)
  • Used a utility knife/razor blade to trim off the overhang so that the edges were sharp and clean
That's it! Unfortunately I did this project by myself, so I couldn't take any process photos, but I think applying contact paper to a smooth surface is pretty self explanatory! :)

I love how the white background makes all the glassware, serving pieces, china, barware etc. pop rather than recede into the background.

I can't believe how much storage space this hutch gives us - I still have space in the bottom cabinets that I haven't filled!  One thing I'm particularly excited about is that I finally have a place to display the "fancy china" I inherited from my grandparents.

The next step for this dining room is to add some art on either side of the hutch. I'm not sure what that will be yet, but I want to it be large, but inexpensive. I'm open to ideas!

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Small Bathroom Inspiration: Wallpaper

We have one little bathroom in our new house, which has already seen a nice transformation thanks to the power of paint, but I have big dreams for that small space. Though the size won't change, I'm hoping to find ways to make it a little more functional and add some pretty along the way. Thankfully, the previous owner chose some pretty classic fixtures and finishes that we can definitely live with, but  I'm hoping to change a few things over time to make it more "us."

One thing I'm considering is adding wallpaper on the top half of the walls. The bottom half is classic headboard, which I like a lot, so I'm thinking that'll stay. I've been scouring the internet (ahem, Pinterest) for bathroom wallpaper inspiration, and I've been pinning quite a few good ones that I'd love to share with y'all today. Wallpaper sure adds some style!



{Jenna Burger}
{Amber Interiors}
{Hi Sugarplum}
{Ashley Whittaker Design}
I could certainly go on and on about these pretty spaces, but let's recap why I like the above images for a sec. One common theme I'm seeing is that for the most part, I gravitate toward modern graphic/geometric paper in a single color (plus white). Navy and neutrals have my heart, but how fun are some of these other ones like the last one? I think there's an opportunity to have some fun in this bathroom of ours.

What do you think? Would you go with wallpaper in a small bathroom? I'd love to hear why or why not!

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February 2016 Desktop & iPhone Wallpapers

Welcome to the first installment of my 2016 iPhone and desktop wallpapers! Yep, I missed January (oops). It was fun to get back in the swing of graphic designing with these guys. I didn't realize how much I had missed it!

This month, I've got three renditions of the design - they've got the same background, but there's a calendar option, a quote option and a blank option. So many options!

For these wallpapers, my inspiration came from a little escape I went on with my husband to a tiny island in the Bahamas for a few days. Our last night there, we witnessed the most beautiful sunset as we sat out on a pier sipping our final fruity cocktails for the week. I couldn't get over the "golden hour" light that spread out all over the calm waters. I wanted to freeze time and have it stay like that forever. Of course, I couldn't do that, so I snapped a photo instead.

Peaceful, isn't it?

For the wallpapers, I snagged a little corner of that photo and turned it into the wallpapers you'll see below.

The calendar and blank ones are pretty self-explanatory, but the one with the quote from C.S. Lewis might be my favorite of the bunch.
"There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind." - C.S. Lewis
To download the one (or ones) you'd like for your phone or desktop, click the link below the image. It will take you to a Dropbox file where you can download it directly. As always, these are free - no strings attached. Enjoy!

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China Hutch for the Dining Room

*Missed last week's #phillyreno update on the downstairs? Check it out here! And follow me on Instagram for all in-betweens and sneak peeks.

I hope you all had awesome weekends! We had a big blizzard sweep through our area this weekend that dumped 20 inches of snow in our hood and it. was. awesome. I'm always gunning for one giant snow storm every winter (that's my inner child coming out) and boy did we get one this year. We're still digging out! Once it's gone though, I'm ready for spring. Bring on the warmer weather!

Anyway, onto today's post!

Since we moved into this house, I've been itching to find a great piece of storage furniture for the dining room, and after I got a little money for Christmas from my parents I was ready to begin the search.

I was looking for a piece to fit the space on the wall to the left of the dining room table:

That big ole wall was just begging for something to fill it!

Knowing I wanted to make those Christmas dollars stretch as far as possible, I started by taking a peek at my favorite second-hand furniture store and wouldn't you know it, I found the perfect piece! When does that ever happen when you're thrifting?! I was totally prepared to have to hunt for awhile, but lucked out this time and - bonus - I got it for a steal since they were having a sale. (For you local Philadelphians, the store is called Uhuru. It's all furniture and home decor, and their prices are fantastic.)

So what did I find? Let's take a peek!

The minute I spotted that china cabinet, I knew it was the perfect size and style for the room. It's going to give us so much storage for our barware, china and serving dishes. I like that it's tall and on the narrower size (good for our petite home), and I love that cool detailing on the lower doors.

And now that this piece is in, I can't wait to flank either side of it with some sort of large, framed art to finish off this wall in the dining room.

It has mid-century vibes, which I love, but I can't quite peg it as a true mid-century piece. What would you guys call this style?

Here's a wider shot of how it looks in the dining room as a whole:

In that photo, you can also catch a glimpse of the new ceiling fixture that recently went up in the living room. It's the Traditional Urban Drum semi flush ceiling light from Shades of Light. I actually got it at the outlet in Richmond when we were traveling over Christmas, but even at full price, it's a good deal. Richmond friends, run, don't walk to their outlet! It's amazing.

But back to the china hutch. The one thing I wasn't crazy about was how dark it was inside the glass door section. Our glassware just kind of got lost in there.

I came up with a solution to make things pop that turned out to be a very simple fix (hint: it didn't involve a paint brush), but you're going to have to wait to see it until I have a chance to put everything back on the shelves! That'll probably be next week. Since this is a showpiece in our dining room, I want to have some fun with the styling. If anyone has any tips on that, I'm all ears! There's a lot of surface area in there.

So that's my latest thrifty find! Have you had any thrifty scores recently?

Want to catch up on other #phillyreno updates? Find all the posts under the label "renovation."

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