Art Tour

Living in Chicago will give you a fresh, new appreciation for the arts. Art is everywhere in this city! Living here makes me feel I MUST have it in my home. Even though I have always loved art, I’ve never done a whole lot with it because I thought I couldn’t afford to have art that I love. Well, I’m done thinking that way. I decided I HAD to find a way to have art in my home that inspires me and my family and I’m not going to wait until I have disposable means in which to do so. I mean, who has disposable means these days?! I’ve got to work with what I’ve got!

I wanted to show you all my new art gallery wall I finished recently. I’m really proud of it because it did not cost a lot of money and I love it!  I thought I’d also take you on a little tour of the rest of the art around my home. I’ve made an effort in the last couple of years to art-ify our home. I hope you’ll find something that inspires you to add some art to your place. There is just something about having artwork in the home stirs us.

Do you remember artwork in your home as a child? What do you remember? I remember one painting in particular in our family home. I remember drifting away in my thoughts to that place- a sandy shore and a little girl waiting with her mommy for her daddy to come in from the fishing boat. I remember vividly, this painting. The little girl held the hem of her dress and danced and sang as she awaited her father’s arrival. This piece enchanted me and I never once shared that with anyone until I became an adult. But off in my mind I would go, dreaming and playing in my mind.

If you’re a mom, it is important to remember that your kids might never tell you, but they go places in their heads. They do, especially if there is kindling for inspiration. And even if you don’t have kids, I think it’s important to create an engaging environment for yourself! To me, this is why you can’t wait until you ‘have money’ in order to own art. If it’s important to you, you’ve got to make it happen in some capacity for whatever budget you have now. For me, right now, that is not a whole lot. But take a look at what I was able to create for our small space in the city. . . and I’ll show you all my tricks to doing it on the cheap!

Here’s my brand new art gallery wall in our living room. I love the eclectic nature of art gallery walls. There aren’t any rules, just mix and match different kinds of frames and arrange in a slightly “imperfect” way.  Just wait til you read the grand total of what I spent on this project!

Do you love it!? Almost everything, frames and artwork, came from the Salvation Army. I’ve been collecting for about 6 months.

Here’s the scoop:

1- I’m a huge fan of Degas. I used to want to be a ballerina when I was a child. I’m enamored with his ballet works. I cut this one from an old record album cover found at the Salvation Army that I picked up for 99 cents. You wouldn’t believe how many great pieces of artwork you can find looking through old stacks of record albums! Four of my pieces are from 99 cent records! Who would have thought?

2- Gorgeous piece of fabric from a dress from S.A. The dress itself was too small but I loved the print and bought it anyway! Glad I figured out a way to use it! I love the pop of color it adds. Don’t forget that textiles can make fantastic art as well. (Use sparingly for best results, I think.)

3- “P” for our last name, printed myself. I love the modern vibe.

4- Vintage postcard of Waikiki Beach, where Bill and I went on a special trip. Thanks S.A.! Lucky find.

5- Van Gogh is one of my favorite artists. I ordered Starry Night new from an online art store because I had to have it. Small prints are inexpensive even if you have to purchase them new.

6- My FAVORITE find! Cut from an old record album cover again! Yay that S.A.! You can’t tell from far away, but it is actually a pointillist image. I love it! I just cut it to fit a matted frame I got half-off at Michaels. So cool.

7- I love this inexpensive print of Van Goghs’ from S.A. 🙂 The frame was a cheap gold hue and it made the print look cheap as well. So I repainted it with a deeper gold and it came out much classier looking.

8- I designed this piece myself and had it enlarged. It’s an up-close image of our front door with our address number and a texture overlay added to it in Photoshop. I’m not sure how I came up with the idea, but I wanted something personal and loved how it turned out. That door knob has so much character! It’s over 100 years old.

9- Old record album again. Loved the color burst! Framed it without a matte to show off the whole piece. This has got to be another one of my favorite unexpected finds. *LOVE*

10- Who knows?! But I saw it at S.A. and decided I liked the quirkiness and drama of it! Very theatrical, which I think fits this city quite well actually.

11- Another Van Gogh found at S.A.

12- One seriously cool record album cover. . . story of Elijah being taken up to heaven in the fiery chariot with Elisha standing by. To me, this one was all about the simple statement of the two colors. Bonus that it’s a sweet drawing.

13- S.A. find. Little red bird in a forest of bare trees- reminds me to look for the small beauties that exist even in the stark Chicago winters.

And there you have it! So the grand total for my art gallery wall? You ready? . . . drumroll please . . .



And spread out over 6 months, it was a breeze! Art IS affordable! You just have to have a vision, shop right, and be patient.

Now, a little peek at some of the other art in my home . . . In our livingroom I also have a canvas gallery wrap on our mantle, a new addition I received in the mail last week. So happy to finally have a good family photo to display. It was time!

Photo by the uber-talented Blue Lily Photography, taken this past summer.

Dining room:

Target has these great art frames for $15. They are hinged on the right so you can open them like a medicine cabinet to replace artwork as your kids make new pieces and not have to take the frame off the wall. Genius! I’ve also purchased these frames along with pastels and art paper as birthday gifts. Mamas love this!

I’ve had these particular pieces up in our dining room since we made them as a family project a year and a half ago. I just love them so much, I haven’t wanted to change. I get artwork ideas from a really great blog simply called Art Project For Kids. I think it’s important for kids to feel like they are artists in their own right. If you have a kid, you too can have inexpensive art! If you don’t have a kid, have some fun and make some artwork yourself! Check out this blog for sure- it’s full of lots of great ideas. 


I saw these prints on Etsy and they made me laugh. There’s a ton of different animals available with quirky little features and they are printed on old, recycled dictionary pages. I loved the idea so much, I had to find some prints to give away as a birthday gift to my best friend. The Etsy vendor is Collage-O-Rama. Check them out! You’ll be laughing too.

Since we only have one bathroom and the kids have always been bugging me for a kid-styled bathroom, I thought this was the perfect compromise. The kids and I have named all of our silly little bathroom animals and they make us smile every morning. I mean, who wouldn’t want to wake up to a bear holding a radio over his head “Say Anything” style with “Grrrr” written in as the radio channel. Love it! (And yes, the bear’s name is Lloyd, named after the John Cusack’s character in Say Anything)

And lastly, I don’t know that it really qualifies for art, but I had to share this little before and after of another Salvation Army find of mine this month. I saw this stool at S.A. for $5 and almost had a panic attack right then and there. These kinds of treasures only come along every once in a while and that was my day! I sanded it down and repainted it a beautiful raspberry.

I’d say it has a sculptural aspect to it even though it is clearly a functional piece. Great find, right!? $5? You betcha! (Don’t be surprised if you see it in an upcoming family or child shoot. It’s perfect!)

What about you? Do you have a piece of art in your home that inspires you? Leave a comment below and tell me about it. I’d love to hear about it.


Sarah - March 20, 2012 - 3:40 pm

When we moved here Bug was Kindergarten. She painted a picture of our house with Bob, me, pete and herself dancing in rain puddles. It hung next to her bed. Every night when I put her to bed I would lay with her as she fell asleep and stare at her beautiful painting. I did wonder where the twins were. They were only a couple months old then. She said they were in the house napping. I got it framed last year for Christmas. It always reminds me of that sweet time with her every night that whole first year we lived here.

christinekay - March 20, 2012 - 4:30 pm

That is beautiful! Love it! Thanks for sharing, Sarah. Makes me smile to think about.

rianne - March 20, 2012 - 5:11 pm

I bought 8 prints from collage o rama also! Wanted to know what size frames did you use? I am still searching for the right frames for the prints 🙂

Jocelyn - March 20, 2012 - 5:48 pm

Hey, I bought those prints from CollageOrama too! I love how you framed them! What size frame and matting?


christinekay - March 20, 2012 - 5:53 pm

I just purchased inexpensive ones from Target with an 8×10 opening. A little off the side and bottom were cropped off this way, but it didn’t matter much. Have fun with your prints!

Gillian Marchenko - March 20, 2012 - 9:56 pm

Love it all! You are so creative :). My favorite is the bird piece. Well done you! I’m inspired now!!

Krista Muscat - March 20, 2012 - 10:08 pm

I saw that you had a “?” next to #10. So I found the name of the work for you,
Divan Japonais (Japanese Settee)
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1864-1901)

Here is a good link about the painting and artist.

Love your art wall! You are right art is very necessary.

christinekay - March 20, 2012 - 10:13 pm

Thanks Krista! Glad to know it!