Easy Blank Wall Solutions | Midwest Living

Easy Blank Wall Solutions

Brighten your walls with these affordable, one-of-a-kind DIY art pieces and other ideas to decorate blank spaces.

Simple vintage art

Old photos—on a clipboard or hung with clothespins—are easy wall decor.

Butterfly beauties

Real specimens cost hundreds, but you can replicate this trendy, nature-inspired look on a budget. Cut butterflies that coordinate with your room color from old butterfly photography books, garden magazines or calendars. If necessary, use a color copier to adjust size or to make multiples. Pin faux "specimens" to foam-core board cut to fit in inexpensive shadowbox frames. Gently fold the wings forward for a realistic look.

Torn-paper abstracts

Layer art and/or scrapbooking papers with torn edges for the modern look of horizons depicting sea, land and sky. Tear uneven widths, and vary the color order. For impact, tightly group four ready-made crafts store frames with mats.

Wallpaper chalkboard paint stencil

Use chalkboard paint to create change-your-mind wallpaper by repeating stencil shapes. We chose a regimented pattern of tropical leaves, but the only limit on the look is your imagination. Keeping the chalk above a chair rail reduces the chance of smudges. Buy stencils at crafts stores. The background color in our photo is Benjamin Moore 2147-30 Jalapeño Pepper.

Show-off boxes

Display trip souvenirs with these shadow boxes. Cut out maps of your vacation spot and mount to the back of the box. Fill with souvenir buttons, wine corks, concert tickets and other vacation keepsakes.

Repeating symmetry

Create modern art by grouping similar items. We chose balls of twine for their neutral color, texture and 3-D effect. Each ball hangs on a long nail driven into the wall (or into a sheet of painted plywood if you want fewer holes in the wall).

Office silhouettes

Create art from everyday objects. We used clothespins for this quirky art project, but other small, heavy objects, like keys or tools, will work. Choose a series of frames and a background color. Artfully arrange your objects on paperboard and lightly spray paint to create silhouettes of the items.

Punches of pattern

Get splashes of color and pattern with framed wallpaper. Choose four wallpaper patterns with similar colors or themes. Cut out 12 squares and frame. Hang in a rectangle for eye-catching art.

Simple vintage art

Old photos—on a clipboard or hung with clothespins—are easy wall decor.

Modern plates

Create a modern twist on the traditional dining room plate display. Line shadow boxes with fun fabrics or colorful papers. Mount simple plates in the boxes with strong adhesive.

Botanical prints

Make your own botanical prints by scanning leaves, printing, and placing in inexpensive frames. Ferns make lovely wall art—and autumn leaves are a great accent in the fall!

Musical touch

Sheet music papers a wall in this Illinois home.

Rescued antiques

Transform an old quilt or a vintage cross-stitch into a unique hanging display. Hanging tip: Trace the frames onto crafts paper and cut out. Tape the pieces to the wall and try different groupings until you find the best arrangement.

Animal outlines

Pay tribute to pets with a classic silhouette. Print silhouettes off the Internet or freehand your favorite animal, then trace onto thick black paper and cut out. Choose a fun pattern as the background to add visual contrast.

Framed souvenirs with chalkboard paint

For art that acts as a memory keeper, remove the glass of readymade frames and paint the backboard with blue chalkboard paint (this color is Benjamin Moore 2057-40 Ash Blue). Hot-glue on found vacation treasures. Label them with state names or personal notes written in chalk to identify where or how you found each item.

Winged beauties

Refurbish old dishes with fresh paint and a striking silhouette. Print and cut out an animal or image. Secure outline using tape or a small heavy object. Spray paint over silhouette items. We chose a bright matte pink to coordinate with the furniture.

Overlapping fabrics

Create a fabric mosaic of colors and patterns. Use tensions rods, string or other fixtures to hang the fabric. We used warm colors on top and cooler colors on the second row.

Window wall art

An old barn window becomes intriguing wall art. The reproduction chair upholstered in feed sacks adds to the vintage appeal.

Cottage kitchen art

Kitchen lacking an artistic touch? Use a collection of items, such as plates or cutting boards, to decorate a wall.

Window frame

An old window makes an unusual photo display. First sand, prime and paint the window; then cut photos and a mat for the background. Add a finishing touch such as our petite glass knob.

Button up

Old buttons become works of art when hung on wall displays. Consider grouping by color, shape or material.

Color a collection

What a little spray paint can do! Choose a single standout hue to turn a jumbled collection of garage sale finds into a unified display for a wall, mantel or shelf.

Start with a group of related (but not necessarily matching) items. You could use a pile of old brass candlesticks, a menagerie of kitschy animal figures or a stack of tarnished trays. Our pick: a variety of dinged-up kitchen gear from antiques and thrift stores. Remove dirt and dust with a damp cloth. Spray on primer, then apply the final color with a light back and forth motion for even coverage. You may need a couple coats for rich, uniform color. (We used Krylon indoor/outdoor Cherry Red paint in gloss, krylon.com).

Shutter display

Hang shutters horizontally to display photos, postcards or letters. Use double-stick tape to hold items in place if needed.

Fill your days with art

Wall calendars can double as art when framed. Remove frame glass, line the back with scrapbook paper, and adhere the calendar to the paper. (Use a calendar with pages that tear off.)

Get your shine on

These high-impact pieces are simply canvases with metal repair tape applied in geometric patterns. Silver accessories continue the theme.

Paint a focal point

For an easy focal point, paint an accent color on a section of wall directly above a mantel. Here, the sky blue above the mantel complements the pear green and natural neutral tan elsewhere in the room for a tranquil palette.

Tea cozy

Teacups and saucers invoke warmth in a kitchen, dining nook, even bedroom. Ribbons add connection between items hung on simple cup hooks and plate hangers.

Magnetic appeal

We painted a wall with four coats of magnetic primer and a top coat of bright paint.  Fun magnets hold artwork, notes, photos and anything else someone wants to hang.

Map-tastic decor

For bargain wallpaper, cover an accent wall with pages pulled from atlases. Starting in the middle of the wall, apply one page using decoupage adhesive. Repeat, overlapping edges, until the wall is covered. 

For a similar yet temporary effect, decoupage pages to large plywood or foam-core boards, and hang or lean them against a wall. 

Painted plants

Spray paint in bold hues over silk or plastic greenery for a colorful silhouette. If you want the uneven edges pictured, cover the paper with frisket (available at crafts stores) or torn masking tape.

Initial art

Use your initials to create a very personal wall display. Combine letters in different shapes, sizes and colors. Frame a few and hang some 3-D versions.

Some of a kind

Repeating one item in rows makes for original art. Here, candleholders in a grid form geometric art. Choose something with a hole in the bottom to ease hanging.

Shadow box

A small collage of family pictures fills this charming hanging shadow box.

Shutter decor

Salvaged shutters add interest and texture to walls. Simply prop behind furniture, or secure to walls.

Fun and games

Old board games make colorful wall art—and who cares if some of the pieces are missing?

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