Home & Garden

Those bare walls can be enlivened with elegant DIY art

Our walls beg for art, but we don't have to.

With a little ingenuity, do-it-yourselfers can have chic artwork covering nearly any bare wall space. And not just any slapped-together art, mind you, but pieces that guests will coo over.

It can be done in hours with very little money. Home-design experts are brimming with DIY ideas to help anyone strike out artfully on their own.

Designer David Bromstad, who creates wall-art magic as host of HGTV’s “Color Splash: Miami,” shares a few, basic pointers: Keep it simple. Have reasonable expectations. And copy, copy, copy.

“I cannot stress it enough: Be inspired by other artists and designers,” says Bromstad. “Copy it. It’s OK to do. That’s what they’re there for.”

After all, beginning artists learn from copying the masters.

“That’s how I learned how to paint (and draw). Van Gogh, Rembrandt – I copied them,” says Bromstad.

French artist and textile designer Lola Gavarry takes the fear out of painting with her book “DIY Art at Home” (Watson-Guptill, 2010). Templates are included for some of the 28 projects, each of which offers a simple, contemporary design element. Gavarry walks DIYers through each project, and the steps are amply photographed.

From her home in Paris, Gavarry recommends finding a quiet place and taking a few practice runs.

“Make an initial test on paper to get comfortable,” she says.

“Don’t worry about small imperfections. They are your marks.”

Onward for more artsy DIY ideas:

FROM BROMSTAD:

 • Buy several inexpensive canvases and acrylic paint. Consider using a high-quality, latex house paint. Artists often do, he says. Choose a simple design, such as stripes or geometric shapes, or paint each canvas a different color. Hang the canvases like an installation – randomly, or in rows. The idea is especially good for kids – allow a child to paint her own canvases, then hang the results like a headboard – and for apartment dwellers wanting to cover drab walls, Bromstad says. “Bring in tons of canvases and hang them almost like wallpaper,” he advises.

FROM RACHAEL LISKA, A SENIOR EDITOR AT FRESH HOME MAGAZINE:

Paint directly onto a wooden pallet, alternating colors on the wooden slats or going with a simple design, such as a flag, and hang it. Display collected dishes among the slats. “It gives you that funky, urban vibe,” says Liska.

 • In a kitchen or dining area, hang color-coordinating tea towels on a cord or wire, or frame vintage cookbook pages. Restaurant menus often areappealing, so frame your favorites.

FROM DANIELLE CLARO, HOME EDITOR FOR REAL SIMPLE MAGAZINE:

Decorate with colorful decals. “Use it artfully,” Claro advises. “It can be dramatic.” She warns that decals, or “wall tattoos” as they’re sometimes called, may not be appropriate for every room of the house. If you want a sophisticated-looking living room, don’t decal it. But they’re always a hit in children’s bedrooms. Claro recommends shopping at these online sites: Blik, Surface Collective and Dezign With a Z.

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