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My New Walls – Naked and Embarassed

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 [3], I’d been an affiliate of Art.com (and AllPosters.com, which was swallowed up by Art.com) and usually looked at their sales whenever they had them, like a 15% off sale [4] (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?