9 Frugal Things to Hang and Frame

The Rest / Thursday, October 13th, 2011

One of the items on my bucket list is to own some original pieces of art. I’m kind of over the mass produced artwork I have in my house.

But even artwork by lesser-known artists can be pricey. And since we’re paying off debt and putting kids through college, that’s going to have to wait.

In the meantime, I look for cheap – or even free – ways to decorate the walls of our house with things that reflect our family’s values and interests. And it’s actually kind of fun.

At one time I was an avid scrapbooker, and to me this kind of decorating feels like scrapbooking for your walls.

Here are some of the things I have used:


Maps are fun to work with because you can choose special places you’ve visited, places you would like to visit, or even where you were born or married. Any place that speaks to you is fair game.


Words are hot in home decor right now, and there are lots of affordable choices. But you can make your own word art for practically nothing. Just pick a cool font or fonts, type it up in a word processing program, print, and frame. If you’re stuck for ideas, try a definition or a favorite quote.

Children’s Artwork

Decorating with your children’s artwork is about as unique as it gets. If your kids are small, they’ll love to see you prominently displaying their creations. If your kids are older, like mine, you’ll appreciate the sweet reminders of when they were young.


Posters are cheap and are sometimes even free. And I don’t mean the kind of posters in those metal frames you flip through at Target.

I got this poster for free outside the Library of Congress gift shop on a trip to Washington DC. I love it so much I had it professionally framed and it’s a daily reminder of another thing that’s on my bucket list: going to the National Book Festival. We’ve also picked up free posters at our favorite team’s sporting events (go Jayhawks!). And the $5 Billy Joel concert poster that hangs in our basement was a lot cheaper than the t-shirts and glossy programs they were selling.

Sheet Music

I framed the pieces of music my kids played at their first piano recitals. They even have the teacher’s markings and the cheesy stickers she rewarded them with on them. And you don’t have to be musical to use this one. Almost everyone has a favorite song or artist. And lots of couples have a special song as well.

Magazine and Book Pages

Magazines and books aren’t just for coffee tables. If a magazine cover reflects something you love or an important event in your life, frame it. And I’ve seen some adorable kids’ rooms decorated with pages from a favorite book. If my kids would still let me decorate their rooms, I would totally do that.

Family Photos

Our families are a truly unique to us. Celebrate the family(ies) you came from and the one you’ve created with lots of family pictures. If you have a large space, creating a portrait wall is fun and easy to do.

See also: Steps and Tips for Creating a Family Photo Wall Display


Even if you’re not obsessed with dishes the way I am, plates can make interesting and inexpensive decorations. And you don’t have to limit them to kitchens or dining rooms. I’ve seen plates displayed on the walls of living rooms, hallways, and even bedrooms.

These plate hangers are cheap, easy to use, and sold at most hobby and craft stores.


Do you have a recipe you’re known for or one that’s been in the family for years? Frame it! My mom gave my sister and me framed copies of this cookie recipe that we made a lot when we were growing up. I love it! And a hand-written recipe from someone you love can be very special too.

Sources for Inexpensive Frames

Often framing is the most expensive part of artwork, but it doesn’t have to be. Some good sources of inexpensive frames include:

  • Frames purchased with the weekly 50% off coupons at Michael’s and other home and hobby stores.
  • Frames you currently own. They’re easy to spray paint if you need a different color. (Many of the frames on my photo wall were spray painted black.)
  • Garage sale frames.

How about you? Do you enjoy decorating and personalizing your space? How do you save money when doing it?

This post is part of Frugal Fridays at Life As Mom and Works For Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family.

25 Replies to “9 Frugal Things to Hang and Frame”

  1. Great post Julie. I have a friend that runs marathons and has the poster framed after each race. They look amazing and are a great way to remember the event. I like the map idea too.

    1. Good addition, Niki. Frames are usually plentiful at Goodwill and other thrift stores. I love the frugal decor stuff on your blog too!

  2. I just spray painted two old wood frames. They are very ornate, and that’s not my style. so I painted both stark white and matted a black and white pic in each. They look great!

  3. Sometimes the simplest things can make great art. I framed a newspaper because it included my name in the masthead, old photos can creata vintage look and sometimes momentos are good too.

  4. I like the post! Good reminder of how art can be more accessible than we might otherwise think. Also, some of these things can be quite personal and have more meaning.

    Nothing is better than your kids’ art projects. Even something like their baby footprints or something like that is more meaningful than some piece of art that’s purchases!

  5. I’m fortunate to have a family that is very artistic and have several walls full of excellent paintings

    Honestly, I’d add trying your own. even just mixing up a mesh of pretty colors that compliment a room can be a great piece for your walls. No realism needed.

  6. This is a fantastic post – very original. My wife just started painting and doing artwork and she is having me put up all her work around the house. Can’t beat nice painting for the cost of the supplies. :)

    1. That’s the best kind of original artwork of all, 20s. My aunt is a gifted artist and I have one of her paintings in my office. It’s very special to me. Good for your wife for indulging her artistic side.

  7. Great ideas!

    I sometimes use pictures from old wall calendars. They just need to be framed such that the hanging hole doesn’t show.

    We have a bookcase in use as a room divider, but the back of that bookcase is not intended to be seen; it’s just plain cheap-looking plywood. So I bought two 24″x36″ sheets of paper at an art store in a color that coordinates with the room, and I arranged on them dozens of my favorite comics clipped from Funny Times and attached them smoothly with rubber cement. It’s a casual look but fun, and it makes a great spot to spend 10 minutes cheering up!

    1. I came back to see if there were more ideas in the comments, and I realized my explanation makes it sound like I rubber-cemented the paper onto the bookcase! I didn’t, because I want to be able to change the comics someday when I clip enough more to fill the area and I’m tired of looking at this set. I used rubber cement to attach the comics to the paper. Then I attached the paper to the bookcase backing with THUMBTACKS, tapping them lightly with a hammer to get them into that cheap board stuff.

  8. […] I adore maps. Adore them. And so I love to decorate with them. In fact, maps are #1 on my list of frugal things to hang and frame. So I was beyond pleased to run across this slideshow of 10 Ideas for Decorating with Maps on the […]

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