Wall Art and Accessories For Cheap

Sorry I left y’all hanging the other day with my decorating on a budget post where I explain how to do a living room for only 10k. It actually took me a while, because I didn’t want to just slap something together and I had a stringent budget. I remember in design school, we never had to work with a budget which of course is ridiculous. We had lots of insanely wealthy “pretend clients.”

Now, please understand, some of my real clients ARE insanely wealthy, but some of them really are not. Of course, it’s easy to just throw money at a room and have it look good. [although, I’ve certainly seen the opposite happen. right?] However, how do you do wall art and accessories for an entire living room with three big empty walls and only 600 bucks?

I went to Dee and Dave.[my pretend clients] And I had a pretend convo with them about the budget. The answer was a resounding NO. “You only have $600 left!”

Fine. I’ll do it. Or rather you’ll do it because we are going to get into the REALLY cheap crap now. I can’t believe I’m doing this. I once paid 800 bucks to have a piece that’s hanging in my bathroom custom framed. hold on. Wait. I’ll take a pic of it.


 Here’s a closeup of the frame detail


I had this done circa 2000 by Gail at the The Paint Box in Bedford Hills, NY. Those were the days before someone would ask me if they could do art and accessories in their living room for $600. But, isn’t it a beaut? It’s like an old Dutch frame with a thin inner antique green frame with hints of other colors and even a teensy touch of gold.  Everyone in my family thinks the painting is depressing, but for me… my eye goes to the light down yonder. That is where the hope lives. Or maybe I just liked the colors.

However, even if Dee and Dave loved this, they only have $600 to spend. Sorry to go a bit off-topic. I just have to say that some 27 years ago, I was working in an art gallery in SoHo and we sold total shit paintings. [yes, shit] for 5k. Uh huh, FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR ONE SHIT PAINTING. But, hey, that was the 80’s!

Okay, you have no money to spend but you don’t want bare walls and you don’t want to do your own paintings. But… that IS a viable alternative ya know. There are tutorials on youtube for painting. However, let’s just say that you don’t want to paint or draw. That’s fine.

Here’s what you can do.

You go to places like Target, Walmart, Home Goods, TJ Maxx and oye vey, The Christmas Tree Shop. [I know, but their stuff is insanely cheap and some of it isn’t half-bad.] In places like this, you will find lots of ready-made frames in various sizes and colors. You can also try artist supply stores. If you happen to live in NY City there are several that sell ready-made frames. Some of them even have matting. Sam Flax is a good place and they also sell online.


This one above is from Target and the 11×14 is only 30 bucks.


Here is a beautiful wall using white frames from a post on wall art ideas by Jennifer Johner.

So, what do you put IN the frames? Well, that is very individual. You could do a wall of black and white photos. You could even use your own photos and print them in black and white. That’s pretty cheap. Or you can take it to a place that will do it for you. They can even blow them up for you if the res is high enough. But you could also use art post cards, or old postcards, prints out of an old book from a second-hand book store. for ideas, you can look on Pinterest and not just my board, but there are thousands of boards with fantastic ideas.

Well, what if you want one BIG piece of art? Here’s my idea. Find a really talented high school or college student and commission something. OR have them copy something or paint “in the manner of…”

For cheap accessories, you’re down to flea markets and the cheapie stores I mentioned above. Let’s add Pier I Imports in there. The trick is to look for the stuff that doesn’t look cheap. And some of it doesn’t.

In Dee’s and Dave’s case, they just happened to have a stunning piece that they wanted to use over the sofa. They had bought it early on in their marriage but never had the right place for but now they do. There is a TV going over the fireplace, but flanking it, I suggested, two prints, one directly over the other and about 2 or 3 inches apart. OR, they could do a series of 3 or 4 smaller more horizontal pieces.


Kate Singer

I smiled and told them that either they needed to cough up at least another 1,500.00 or so, or go without. But, they could get a lot of this look at a place like art.com. And then, there’s Serena and Lily. They have some cool original art.


Above from The Serena and Lily Website

And don’t forget Etsy! There are lots of artisans on Etsy who do beautiful work and the prices are very reasonable. Some will even do commissioned pieces.

For dozens of other ideas, please see my post that gives lots of great ideas on creating beautiful art walls.

For accessories, you really don’t have to have a lot. Books are always a sure thing. A fresh or silk orchid is great. A beautiful box or two. Blue and white Chinoiserie vases would be wonderful in Dee’s and Dave’s room. A bit of Mercury glass is also pretty for a touch of sparkle. If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, they have fresh flowers and plants that are beautiful and very cheap! I just got a cute little miniature rose plant. And guess what? Peaches [my kitty] has mangled it to death already.

Oh well… It was only $6.00 and he’s a happy boy now.


 I guess this is another reason to do fake flowers. Although, I so love the fresh ones!



ps: I took the photo of the little rose bush yesterday and now it’s even more bedraggled. oh well…

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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