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My New Walls – Naked and Embarassed

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The two things that stick out the most when you move from an apartment to an entire house are the empty rooms and the empty walls. In the last week or so the empty room syndrome is being fixed as my girlfriend rescues furniture seeking refuge from her parent’s basement but our walls remain decidedly bare. The previous owners had a lot of frame images hanging from the walls (luckily after cleaning there aren’t any telltale dust particles framing where they once hung) so I never noticed it, but there is a lot of space on the walls. In college, posters were crappy unframed posters with frayed edges that looked at home on a dorm wall but looked like garbage on a real wall, so I set out to find a place to get some framed shots cheaply.

When I stayed in my friend’s house, he told me about a great picture place down in Annapolis, MD that had great framed pictures at reasonable prices. It turns out that the pictures are really cheap (you can get a nice panorama of anywhere for less then $30, sometimes less than $20), but that it’s the frames, which aren’t necessarily all that nice, and the matting that jack up the price.

In my other life, I’d been an affiliate of (and, which was swallowed up by and usually looked at their sales whenever they had them, like a 15% off sale (they sometimes get as high as 25%, I’d wait for one of those if you’re shopping); but the prices always struck me as a little high. The print was cheap (a NYC subway map is only $17.99) but the matting, framing and “acrylic” coating made it horribly expensive (price jumped up to $105!!!). And a downside is that there are about a million people with the same picture on their wall with the same overpriced frame.

What were my alternatives? My first thought is to buy the prints and then check out a store like Michael’s or JoAnn Fabrics for frames, but my friend says they’re just as expensive there and you’d have to do it (and subsequently screw it up) yourself. Or… skip the prints all together and come up with something a little original. I’ve seen framed poker chips and deck of cards from a casino in sports memorabilia stores so I might try that (no poker chips though). But I do have some Walt Disney Amusement Park maps in good enough condition that I could consider framing those. Does anyone have any good idea for nice looking and relatively inexpensive ways to cover my walls?

{ 5 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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5 Responses to “My New Walls – Naked and Embarassed”

  1. Jose says:

    Go easy on decorations.
    A new home is full of excitement.
    But it is also full of trips to home depot to buy things that you never knew you needed.
    You may also need time adjusting to the new mortgage payments.

    Let a few months go before buying new furniture and decorations.
    Spend time enjoying the space and all that is yours.

    Spend time planning future purchases well. Good planning will reduce mistakes and unnecessary purchases.

    Take time.

  2. Ari says:

    While I think Jose has a good point, if you are looking for well priced artwork, usually has some very reasonable framed art. As you said, framing is by far the most expensive part of new artwork, and if you can buy it framed you will save yourself a lot of money. Also, if you can find them (my wife and I have purchased a couple at New York city street fairs) canvas prints which are mounted on wood frames don’t even need to be framed. Alternatively, your walls don’t have to be covered in art. There are many things you can do to de-bare your walls such as painting them different colors, or even creating your own wall hangings. I’ve seen many different ideas on some home design shows such as ‘design on a dime’ on the HGTV network, and ‘trading spaces’ on TLC.

    Hope that helps.

  3. Madame X says:

    Try wrapping paper. Yes, wrapping paper! Not the christmassy kind that comes in rolls. Some stationery stores have racks of single sheets of really nice paper that cost $3-4 each. Sometimes the patterns are large enough and interesting enough that they actually look really good as art!

  4. Janet says:

    Being a budget conscious twenty-something myself, I find going into the state/city/county archives for photos—and getting reprints, is a sure-fire way to save money AND give an interesting (not to mention historical) twist to your walls. Consider this as an example:

    Hollywood, Florida Archives

    An 8 X 10 in B&W for $15 each. 11X14 for $30. You can’t beat these prices. As for frames, I end up trolling the nearest Ross and/or Rose’s for cheap frames at very decent prices. Hope this helps!

  5. Phillip says:

    My wife and I frequent art sales that are held at hotels in different areas of the country, sometimes referred to “Starving Artists” sales.

    You can pick up original oil paintings for as cheap as $29 and the frames usually just run from $39 to $69. They will put them in the frame for you.

    We actually have more picutres than we have space for and my wife was trying to decide between two prints – one was a summer picture, the other a winter. They were 24 x 36 original oil painting marked down to $29 each. I told her to buy them both and it only takes a couple of minutes to switch them out. She uses one in the summer and the other in the winter.

    The last place we bought at was a show in Nashville (they do them all over the country) from a place called Collectors Art ( There are other places I am sure…

    You cannot beat the selection and prices for original artwork!

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