If I had my way, we’d hit up every art festival within a 100 miles (of your place or mine), and we’d buy every piece that catches our eye. For now, though, the budget allows for just the occasional art purchase. I solved this problem with a strategy for scrappy types like you: Make a wall collage that mixes purchased art with DIY pieces. While you’re at it, make sure to own the fact that your work counts as art, too.
Make A Wall Art Collage for Less Than $150
Step 1: Gather Your Existing Pieces (Or Go Pick Up a Few)
At this step, you don’t need a plan. Just gather any art already have and bring it into the room. Do not skip this step. I stared at a blank wall for three years before summoning the energy to get this far. Beloved art sat lonely on the basement floor, and I robbed myself of the joy that came from finally hanging it.
If you don’t already have art, let’s get cracking. Depending on the size of your wall, you’ll need at least two pieces to start. Scour Etsy, check out that art fest, or visit a local thrift shop. Ask yourself just one thing: Does this piece make me happy? As Recycled Interiors points out, personal style matters because you deserve to feel good when you step into your home.
Step 2: Experiment With Arrangements on the Floor
Look at diagrams of collage configurations and consider your style. Do you like everything lined up perfectly? Or is an eclectic mash-up more your thing? Decide how much wall you want to cover, keeping your furniture in mind. In my case, I wanted the collage to stretch as wide as the couch and fill the vertical space above it. I browsed Pinterest for wall art collage and found examples that spurred me into action.
Now, start experimenting–on the floor. Measure the space you want to fill and mark it with painter’s tape. Get a sense for the additional frames you’ll want, using your favorite Pinterest pic as a guide. Play around! I didn’t have enough pieces yet, but I had to start somewhere. My temporary floor gallery gave me a feel for the number and sizes of DIY pieces I’d be making.
Remember, you get to choose how easy or hard your these’ll be. Spoiler alert: I completed two pieces in just one afternoon! Check out these shots of involving a frame I decorated. It features metal letters purchased during a fun tour of some fave Minneapolis thrift shops with a new friend.
Step 3: Make a Plan for Your Frames
Frames are not an afterthought. They drive the overall look and can class up your space on a budget. (BTW, this happens at the same time as Step 2.) You’re about to a few buy frames for DIY projects, so decide what color suits your room and mood. Silver? Black? Wood? If you’re the matchy type, pick one color. You’ll be buying multiples of it, if not the exact same frame. Even if you’re like me and prefer an artsy mix, you still need a color plan for your DIY pieces.
Decide whether you’ll buy a bunch of small frames, a few large ones, or a combination. When in doubt, go with what makes you smile. Then: Head to your local home goods store. I bought more options than I needed, knowing I’d return some later. For my DIY projects, I chose a wood theme and targeted a warm honey palette.
Step 4: Shop for Frames and Arrange Your Layout
When shopping, stick with your color plan. I was going for an artsy but cohesive look, so I gathered five or six honey wood frames. Each had different thicknesses and wood types, but none looked bad next to the others. One frame had a metallic board with magnetic clips. Another was mostly wood, with two small spaces for pictures. Yet another had a thick border with lots of space to display something. I bought a variety of others as well, not yet knowing which I’d use.
When you’ve bought multiple frames, lay them on the floor again. Rearrange as needed. As you experiment, follow two rules: 1) Line up the outside edges of your pieces so they form a square or rectangle and 2) fill in the shape as best you can. Gaps between pieces don’t have to match exactly. Once the frames are hung, your eye notices the impact of the collection, rather than focusing on gaps between the pictures. Create an arrangement you like, commit to those frames, and take a photo for reference when you hang.
Step 5: Make your DIY projects.
As soon as possible, return your rejected frames. (Whatever you do, do not drive around for two weeks with a full Target bag in your backseat. People who do this have big problems. Wink, wink.) Now: You get to personalize your pieces! To complete my collage, I ended up making three. Each frame lent itself to a different kind of project. Hit Pinterest for ideas that suit the frames you bought, or let my projects inspire you.
DIY Project #1: Magnet Board
One frame I found was a metal magnet board with three iron clips. This DIY is super easy, as all it takes is attaching something pretty to each clip. You may even have those things lying around your house already; it’s a great way to display photos! For me, this was a chance to use some of my handmade cards. Covering postcards with fabric, Mod Podge, and inspirational quotes is a heartwarming afternoon project.
DIY Project #2: Fabric Display with Dry Erase Marker
Another frame I found was almost a work of art in itself. Its thick, knobby wood made me want to reach out and touch it immediately. I just liked it, in that way that you don’t have to explain. Sometimes you just know you like something, am I right? For this project, I dug through my fabric stash and selected a few of my favorite remnants. I sampled them inside the frame, and a sagey beauty quickly emerged as the right fit.
It brought warmth to the space and was simple enough not to compete with the other artwork. I cut the fabric, leaving enough to wrap around the frame backing, and set it in place. It’s amazing how striking a piece of fabric looks inside a frame! I pulled out a dry-erase marker and put into words why this project mattered. Rather than staring at a blank wall, I would now be surrounded by art. B0nus: I can change the message anytime I want.
DIY Project #3: Custom Metal Message
One frame had two spaces for photos, along with a wide expanse of wood. It became the chance to finally use the metal letters I’d bought months earlier. I grabbed a tube of Gorilla glue, set up a table outside, arranged the letters, the glued them down.
I learned a lesson. When the instructions say a little glue goes a long way, they mean it! I applied way too much, which I later had to scrape off with a metal tool. (This took forever.) Once the letters were dry, I warmed up the frame with fabric pieces. The colorful textures seemed more artistic to me than snapshots. That’s the beauty of DIY; you get to make it however YOU want it.
Step 6: Hang Your Collage and Bask in Its Glory
Warning, this part is the most painful. But once you finish, you’ll be rewarded with a completely transformed space. I hung my collage months ago and it still boosts my mood every time I look at it. For this step, I measured and marked my outer square with painter’s tape. Then I made an outline of each individual frame with tape on the wall, too. (Many apologies that I forgot to take photos. Der!) I marked the distance between each frame’s hanging device and its intended height, so I’d know where to place the nails.
Finally, I hung the pictures, one by one. Whew, this was putzy! But even I did it in one afternoon, working on my own. Yes, I intentionally did this when my man was out of town. He’s way handier than I am, but he also has a self-proclaimed OCD about putting holes in the wall.
I have my own perfectionist tendencies, too, but I’ve worked hard to overcome them because you have to get out and live your life. I’d rather live surrounded by art, than worried about wall holes, wrinkly fabric, and excess glue. Now, go out there and make your own wall collage! Get your DIY on. You got this!