We have a lot of DIY and semi-DIY art in our house, not because I’m an amazing artist but because we’re quite cheap and didn’t want to invest any money in art while we were still in an apartment. I’m glad, because now that we’re in our house our art needs are so different and I have all these pieces sitting in a pile in the craft room waiting for me to figure out how/if to use them. But since I made most of them very inexpensively, I don’t mind.
I’m definitely more open now to the idea of buying some nicer pieces that fit our longer term space. But I’m still a fan of inexpensive/DIY wall decorations for a lot of the house, at least for the foreseeable future. Last week I posted about our living room makeover and the gallery wall in there with a lot of inexpensive and DIY pieces, and today I’m sharing a quick art project in our bathroom.
First, let me just catch you up on the bathroom makeover to-date. This is what the bathroom looked like when we toured it during the Open House:
Shortly after we moved in, I painted it a dark blue/gray, including the ceiling because I thought it would make it look more cohesive and less busy. I love the dark walls, and they make the brown tile look so much lighter and more modern. (It’s so hard to photograph because the window behind the tub causes overexposure on the shower curtain even while the rest of the room looks darker than it really is.)
I also tackled the towel situation on the back of the door:
I hated the towel bar, because our towels always looked so messy. I knew that hooks were the solution — we had them in our apartment, and the towels always looked just fine without me having to lecture anyone about folding their towel. Really, anything to avoid a lecture.
It was a bit of a pain to remove the bar because it required a tiny allen wrench that we didn’t have (since the seller had installed it), but I Macgyvered it but using a tiny flathead screwdriver positioned diagonally across the hex wrench opening. The screwdriver was just a little too big, but I used a hammer to gently tap the end to force it into the opening. Love it when I find a solution like that, I feel so handy.
Then I installed three hooks that I found at Home Depot (and patched and painted the screw holes from the bar), and presto, towels corralled:
But enough about towels, on to the art! After painting, I knew I wanted to add some colorful prints, both above the sink and on the open wall across from the sink and toilet. But I wasn’t sure what, so I procrastinated/contemplated for awhile. I didn’t want to spend much — or any — money, so I spent way too much time searching for free printables online to see if there was anything I liked. I just couldn’t find the right thing, until one day I remembered that when I was wedding planning I kept coming across all these “digital scrapbook papers” on Etsy. Essentially, they’re colorful digital designs that usually come in coordinated sets of 10-12 for $5 or so that you can use electronically or print out to use in hard copy form. So I scoured Etsy, and after weeding through a lot that weren’t quite right, I came across this pack from creativequbedesign for $2 (affiliate link – read about our policies):
Once I’d downloaded them, it was simple enough to pick four that I liked the most and print them on 8.5×11″ paper in color (free because I have a color printer, but they’d still be very affordable at $1 each if you needed to print at Kinkos). Then I picked up four simple black 11×14″ frames at Michael’s.
I liked the minimalist look of the frames, but wanted to have a substantial white mat with a square opening for the prints because I felt like it would give it a more polished look. Since I’m still not quite ready to take the grown up step of having a custom mat cut for a print (especially a $2 download from the internet…), I instead decided to invest in a mat cutting kit of my own — we’ll have a lot more framing to do as we decorate the house, and I’d love to be able to do most of it myself. I read good reviews about the Logan Do It Yourself Mat Cutting Kit (affiliate link – read our policies), so I ordered it hoping it wouldn’t be one of those things that promises to be really easy but then is disastrous for anyone who isn’t as naturally gifted as Martha Stewart.
When I finally worked up the courage to give it a try, I was so pleasantly surprised. I bought two large pieces of white mat board (24×36″ each) from Michaels for $10. I measured and traced 11×14″ rectangles onto the back side the mat board, and then it was incredibly easy to cut out each piece using the mat cutting knife and straight edge, both part of the kit. (I’ve done this using a regular ruler and exacto knife before, and it was so much harder.) Then it was just as easy to measure and cut the mat openings (6×6″, centered) with a 45 degree beveled edge using the straight edge and slider tool. And seriously, I am the person who always seems to find the “easy” craft things impossible, I promise. I did all this on top of my self-healing cutting mat to avoid marking up my floor, but a cutting board or piece of cardboard would work fine too.
Then I just positioned the prints in a way that I liked behind each mat opening, and voila: I had four lovely new pieces of art with custom mats. I hung three on the empty wall across from the sink and toilet, and one over the toilet.
Here’s the view from the hall now, with the edge of our new colorful open shelving (I know the print is hard to see with the light reflecting from the window behind the shower curtain):
A close-up of the print behind the toilet:
Here’s a close-up on one of the mat openings that I cut:
It’s a nice beveled edge with pretty clean corners, so I’m very pleased. Now I can cut mats of whatever size I want, which I think will allow me to stretch my love affair with inexpensive/DIY art and framing for a bit longer.
All told the project cost me about $27 — $15 for frames, $10 for the mat board, and $2 for the printables (this doesn’t count the cost of the mat cutting kit, which I’ll use for many future projects). Not bad for four new pieces of nicely framed art! And throw in the cost of paint and the towel hooks, and this bathroom makeover cost around $50. Not too shabby, given what we started with! At some point I might paint the bathroom vanity and I’d love to swap out the vanity light, but I think with the addition of this art I can call it finished for the present and move on to the long list of other rooms that need attention!
(Sharing at I Heart Naptime, Sunday Showcase, A Bowl Full of Lemons, Thrifty Decor Chick, DIY Showoff, Tip Junkie, Whimsy Wednesday, All Things with Purpose, Remodelaholic, and AKA Design — and FEATURED at The 36th Avenue!)