Learn how to add art to your space on a budget.
Art is always in style, no matter the season. Here are 10 simple ways to add art to your home on a budget.
Individuality is in, cookie-cutter is out. Need a surefire way to add personality and verve to your home? Original art is the easy and enjoyable way to do it. But if the recession’s given you the blues -- or put you into the red -- here are 10 simple ways to add art on a budget.
1 Get 'em while they're young
The most affordable artwork comes from emerging artists, often for three figures or less. If you want your collection to include "name”"artists, expect to pay more -- a lot more -- due to supply and demand, and because costs must recoup expenses like a dealer’s cut, studio maintenance, assistant salaries etc.
If you're keen to buy art you love, which is the approach you should take because your chances of making a future killing on "investment" pieces aren’t great, truth be told, browse the local gallery circuit to see what’s on display at the independent galleries.
Check the websites of galleries in your city and subscribe to their e-newsletters so you’ll know whenever a group show is coming up. Bring your cash or checkbook and strike if you see something you love: it may go fast.
2 Buy art books
Art books are another option. If you love browsing, keep your books in an accessible spot on the coffee table. Or if you're not averse to a bit of slicing, cut out a page and frame it so you can enjoy it all the time. Carte Blanche, V.2: Painting came out in 2008 and features a juried selection of work from Canada’s top emerging, mid-career and established painters. (Volume 1 focuses on photographers.)
3 Turn your vacation shots into wall art
Print your digital vacation snapshots onto photo transfer paper and transfer them onto a canvas. Mount the canvases onto the wall, unframed.
4 Enlist the kids
Frame your kids' paintings. Or give them a canvas or board and glue gun (if they're old enough), and let them go nuts on a mixed media project. Who knows, maybe Jr.'s the next Marla Olmstead, a child prodigy artist featured in the doc My Kid Could Paint That. Olmstead's abstract canvases, compared by The New York Times and BBC to Jackson Pollock and Wassily Kandinsky, have sold for thousands of dollars!
5 Skip the canvas and button up
Toronto's Gallery TPW offers a set of 10 buttons featuring the photo-, text- or found-art based designs of 10 up-and-coming artists in Button Glutton 2006. Mount them inside a shadow box, or take a more creative approach by pinning them onto cushions or upholstery. The cost? A mere $50 plus $5 shipping.
6 Make like Andy Warhol
The Pop Art provocateur was right: commercial packaging design can be beautiful. The next time you find yourself admiring some packaging, mount it. Or take a cool can (Chinese water chestnuts, Italian pasta sauce, artisanal coffee) and use it as a cool, recycled flower pot.
7 Buy student work
Many art and design colleges and universities have end-of-the-year studio sales. They're a great way to pick up paintings, prints, mixed-media and textile pieces from the next generation of emerging artists at cut-rate prices. Search your local institution’s website for details.
8 Frame your old LPs
CDs and digital music files are convenient. But the golden age of album-cover art definitely was during vinyl’s heyday. (This may be one of the reasons why vinyl's currently undergoing a resurgence among music fans these days.) Got some great album covers kicking around? Display them in custom frames.
9 Rent before you buy
Ultimately, the best way to support living artists is to buy their work. But if you're not sure you can live with an expenditure in the up-to thousands of dollars, consider "testing" the goods by renting them first. The Art Gallery of Ontario, for instance, rents pieces for as little as $20/month. A portion of rent can usually be applied towards the purchase of a piece if you realize you can't live without it. And if you're commitment-phobic, renting lets you enjoy art while supporting your local gallery.
10 Give some, get some
And now for something a bit different: If you're thinking now's the time to bust some taboos or confront your body-image issues, consider signing up to be a nude figure model. (Journalist Emily Yoffe of Slate.com did it to humourous effect here). For safety's sake, only work in a studio setting at an established art college or school. See a sketch of yourself that you like? Speak up: chances are you can either buy it cheap or get it for free from the student artist. Bonus: getting paid to hold those poses!
A condo design featuring traditional details and sculptural furnishings
When Kim Calabrigo moved from a large family home to a condo, she quickly learned that bigger isn't always better.
A peaceful sanctuary in the heart of a downtown core: That doesn’t sound like too tall an order, does it? That’s what Kim Calabrigo sought when she sold her traditional Craftsman-style home in suburbia and moved to a condo in metropolitan Vancouver. Bringing no furniture with her, she was truly starting anew.
Kim’s first-ever solo home purchase offered her the opportunity to decorate exactly as she pleased. “I wanted a tone-on-tone look, mixing classic and modern elements with an edge,” she says.
Coming from a big traditional 4,200-square-foot home and moving to a smaller builder-basic 1,100-square-foot two-bedroom condo, Kim found space planning challenging. She wanted to maintain the most floor space possible while maximizing seating so she could entertain friends and family as easily as she used to.
Homeowner Kim Calabrigo's decorating wish list included sculptural furnishings, soft pink accents and traditional details.
To maximize seating in her new condo, Kim had a nine-foot-long sofa designed to run the length of the living room wall.
Opting to put a chaise against the living room's floor-to-ceiling windows keeps sightlines open and offers Kim a comfy place to take in the picturesque view with her morning cup of tea.
Though the space is open, the dining area is easily delineated by its standard banquette and oversized pendant light featuring white and peach beads and a rope-wrapped frame. "At night, the diamond motif casts beautiful shadows on the walls and ceiling," says Kim.
"I've embraced the less-is-more aesthetic and added interest by mixing old and new, shiny and matte, smooth and textured, organic and clean lined," says Kim. "I don't depend on bold colours and patterns."
Femininity reigns in the master bedroom, from the tall tufted headboard and layered wrinkled linens to the mirrored nightstands and petite vase of flouncy pink peonies. Massive windows mean that Kim can watch the sun set from the comfort of bed. Does it get any better than that?
In the master bedroom's built-in office nook, sparkly silver wallpaper subtly offsets the layers of cream, white and gold on the shelves. The palette is echoed in the frameless print of an 18th-century Venetian palazzo ballroom, resulting in a vignette that's the perfect mix of new world and old.
How to: Paint wood floors
You'll love this vintage airstreams retro look.
A vintage airstream trailer gets a luxurious makeover complete with wallpaper, linen drapes and a champagne gold faucet.
I’ve loved Airstream trailers for a long time,” says blogger Lynne Knowlton of Design the Life You Want to Live. “A few years ago, my husband, Michael, and I toured the Airstream factory in Ohio, and it fueled our dreams of owning one.” So last spring, when a friend spotted an Airstream for sale on a roadside not far from the couple’s Durham, Ont., home, their vision became a reality – albeit a less than glamorous one.
Parked beside a spring-fed pond on owners Lynne and Michael Knowlton’s 100-acre property, the trailer is positioned to capitalize on the view. “It’s a beautiful place to take in sunrises and sunsets and to gaze at the incredible night skies,” says Lynne.
“The interior was original 1976 vintage,” says Lynne. “The flooring was carpet and laminate tile and the kitchen cabinetry was an icky wood-look veneer.” In her mind, she was already restyling the 240-square-foot space as a retreat she could park on their 100-acre property to rent out (through lynneknowlton.com and Airbnb) when she and Michael weren’t enjoying it. “I wanted a bright and airy feel while still maintaining the trailer’s retro vibe,” says Lynne.
The compact kitchenette features the original four-burner gas range and an eat-in area with a built-in collapsible table. the dining chair, a yard sale find, brings a country element to the space, while artwork from a street market in Bali adds a whimsical accent.
Lynne determined which of the original design features were keepers: the blue chenille sofas, panelling, gas range and layout of the bedroom. Everything else was cleared out to let the decor reboot begin. White paint and wood-look flooring made from partially recycled vinyl spruce up the compact quarters and provide a neutral backdrop for the sofas to pop against. New custom lower kitchen cabinets were coated in the same white as the walls and then gussied up with brass hardware.
“The original chenille upholstery is still in beautiful shape – how cool is that?” asks Lynne. The blue sofa, which opens into a double bed, is reflected on the range, making its white door appear a watery hue.
She carried the warm metallic through to the faucet, wallpaper and even the gas range. “It was trimmed in stainless steel, which I covered with gold using a permanent marker,” says Lynne. A finishing touch of soft linen drapery makes the space unexpectedly luxurious and serene. And the serenity seems to be catching on. “Our guests love the comfort here. Most don’t want to leave, but when they do, they’re well rested.” Happy campers indeed.
“I considered a queen bed, but the two twins with a nightstand in between them maintain the vintage feel,” says Lynne. She accessorized the pale bedroom with cheery yellow toss cushions and a patterned rug. A rope of twinkling LED lights casts a warm glow at night.
Learn to get this retro glam look in your own space.
Cole & Son Banbury Stone Trellis wallpaper in 3012, through designers, Lee Jofa, $226 per double roll.
Linen Niels wingback chair in Regal Blue, West Elm, $979.
Anne of Green Gables book by L.M. Montgomery with cover illustration by Anna Bond, Indigo, $18.
Smeg 2-slice toaster in cream, Hudson’s Bay, $230.
Zia Birch toss cushion cover in Soft Butter, Tonic Living, $34.