Framed calendar prints of birds

Even if you’ve chosen the perfect paint colors, furniture styles, and accessories, a redesigned room can feel dull and incomplete. Like it lacks a certain pop. The right artwork adds those dramatic bursts of color and character that bring your room to life.

But you’re on a budget, and art gallery price tags make you want to throw up your hands in despair.

Fortunately, there are creative and resourceful ways to find the perfect artistic accents to spice up your room without breaking the bank.

1. Frame a calendar print

Calendars cover just about every subject imaginable. Whether you’re looking for photographs and paintings of scenery, travel destinations, pets, nature, abstract designs, if you name it you can probably find a calendar that portrays it. And often, the art is very good.

Framed calendar prints of birdsA few years ago, I had a stunning calendar of wild bird photographs. I couldn’t bear to let them go to waste, so I saved them until the right project came along. When I got ready to redesign my catchall room into my hobby studio, I knew that photographs from that calendar could make the perfect inexpensive art to brighten the space.

I found frames at Target that used a system of two pieces of glass to sandwich the print. Rather than using a mat, as a traditional frame would, it leaves a clear space around the picture, letting the wall color show through. TCalendar prints shown in roomhis clever visual trick creates the illusion of a mat in a color that exactly matches the room. It creates depth and dimension, too, because there is a space between the picture you see in the front and the wall that shows from behind. These frames are so easy to use that you can swap the pictures for different ones any time you want.

For my newly redesigned studio, the empty wall above the loveseat was the perfect size for a grouping of four pictures. I used four identical frames, hanging them close together to function as a single visual block. I spaced them about two inches apart and about eight inches above the loveseat. The vivid colors of the birds in the prints complement the studio’s updated paint color and repeat the colors in the new curtains, tying the room together.

2. Cover an artist’s canvas with fabric

When you need a large piece of art, an easy and inexpensive solution starts in a surprising place: the fabric store. Triptych of fabric on canvas

Decorator fabrics come in an endless array of prints, textures, and patterns. Let your imagination run free, by picking one or a combination of several different fabrics that tie in the pallette of your room or create a contrasting pop of color.

Next, visit a hobby supply store to buy artist’s canvases in the size or sizes you want your finished artwork to be. For my project, I created a triptych with three 15 x 30 inch canvases. The fabric has a repeating pattern, but I wanted each picture to be unique, so I cut the pieces in such a way that the print lines up in different spots on each of the three pictures.

To create your pictures, stretch the fabric over the frame then use a staple gun to attach it to the back. Fabric triptych in room setting

Start by stapling in the center of each side, then work your way to the corners. At the corner, make a fold, just like when you wrap a present. Staple the corners in place, and Voila! Instant Art!



3. Order prints online Framed print from

One of my favorite websites for inexpensive art is They have more art prints than you can even imagine and they have a user-friendly search engine to help you narrow your options. You can order prints already framed or order just the print and frame it yourself.

A Google search brings up a myriad of independent artists with their own websites where you can view and purchase prints and art. For example, NaturEscapesPhotography has photographs of birds, flowers and more that you can purchase directly from the photographer.


4. Buy art from local and emerging artists

If you want original artwork at a reasonable price, make a habit of visiting arts and craft festivals near you. There, local and emerging artists display their works, usually at very affordable prices. Sometimes, if you find an artist whose work you like, you can even commission a piece that uses exactly the colors and subject matter you want, just by describing to the artist what you have in mind.

Another source for original art at reasonable prices is This site is a showcase of art, handcrafted decorative items, hand-made furniture and much more. The listings are directly from the creative source so you can often get a good price and support up and coming artists and craftsmen at the same time.

 The icing on the cake

A room without art is like a cake without icing. With just a little creativity, though, you can achieve a designer look at a small price. Whether you use things you already have on hand, like calendar prints, make your own art with fabric, discover an emerging artist, or buy online you can fill your home with a fresh, exciting new look and without breaking the bank.

Do you have a great idea for creating art? What is your favorite place to find art to buy? Share your ideas with us in the comments.

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