July 9, 2018

DIY Art "Makeunder" for Our Front Sitting Room

Sources: Leather chairs | Curtains | Bookcases —> diy template | PhotographyAli Williamson

Let's talk about the art in our front sitting room. It's the first time in too many years to count that I pulled out my set of art school paint brushes and channeled my inner creative side in this way. The best part? These paintings were simple to make thanks to a helpful tip I tried that not only saved us a ton of money but changed the way I think about making art...

Sources: Leather chairs | Loveseat | Rug | Curtains | Marble nesting tables | Media console | Speakers | Bookcases —> diy template  PhotographyAli Williamson

Since shortening the bookcases in our front sitting room, we knew we wanted two pieces of art to flank either side of the mantle. See below how those big spaces above were just begging for a little je ne sais pas?

Sources: Loveseat | Rug | Marble nesting tables | Vase | Bookcases —> diy template | PhotographyAli Williamson

I debated the idea of purchasing art vs. attempting to paint something myself and in the end, I'm so glad I just went for it, because I was able to tap into a creative side of myself I wasn't even sure was still there and we both love having something a bit more personal as one of the focal points in this space.

Sources: Ceiling fixture | Leather chairs | Loveseat | Rug | Marble nesting tables | Vase | Bookcases —> diy template | PhotographyAli Williamson

In terms of style, I wanted something light and minimal to pop off of the moodier walls but nothing too busy that would compete with everything else going on in the room. I'm drawn to modern designs like the abstract art Chris Loves Julia chose for their bedroom, and this grape leaves print by Ellsworth Kelly (especially in this NYC Townhouse).

With these and a few other things on my mind as loose inspiration, I let my creativity run freely which resulted in two abstract pieces that are uniquely their own, yet play off of one another at the same time. After the fact, I realized how they loosely mimic the shapes of our light fixture which was a fun bonus.

Sources: Ceiling fixture Leather chairs | Loveseat | Rug | Curtains | Marble nesting tables | Bookcases —> diy template  PhotographyAli Williamson

In the midst of planning the front sitting room, in such a timely way (as these things tend to happen), I'd run across a new tutorial from one of my favorite blogs, Room for Tuesday, where Sarah shared a DIY hack for making large scale art. Her secret boiled down to painting directly overtop of mass-reproductions on good quality pre-framed canvases from Homegoods! This idea is brilliant because it saves on both the time and money it takes to have a large scale piece of art professionally framed. And in the case of 36x36 canvases, we're talking savings to the tune of $1000+

Thanks to Sarah's tip, I found two large framed canvases that fit the size I was looking for at Homegoods for $59 each. It's a stretch to come by quality wrapped canvases this size at the same price, much less think about having them framed. You may also have luck at places like Target, World Market, Marshalls or your local thrift shop — the key is looking for pieces with a good frame and smooth heavyweight canvas.

The subject matter on mine was mass produced beach scenes and one even had a small mark down the front of it, so we got it discounted. I think I'd dub this project an "art makeunder," ha! Looking past the original "art," I fell hard for the minimal floating style frame on these canvases.

I'd had my heart set on a brass finished frame for the room to play off the coffee table bases, which I couldn't find in the size I needed. I knew I could create the look of the same finish with a touch of spray paint back home, so wasn't too worried. Call me over-protective since I was going to paint right over the canvas, but I used painter's tape and butcher paper to protect the surface prior to spraying a nice golden finish all over these frames.

The finish came out pretty well and gives them that extra oomph I was originally looking for...

Check out Room for Tuesday for the entire process and supply list if you're interested in making a set of your own — I followed her tutorial with my own inspiration and used a combination of white gesso to block out the original image on the framed canvas with heavyweight acrylic paints and cut out paper shapes to build up textures and layers.

It's hard to capture from far away in photographs, but the paintings have a wonderfully thick buildup of texture that helps break up the larger white space you see in each. In person, the texture stands out right away and appears less washed out.

This was such a fun project and way to ease into creating personal art for our home without feeling overwhelmed or like we'd need to break the bank on professional framing. I love how the new paintings balance out the empty space above each bookcase; eventually, we plan to hang them properly on the wall.

Photography, Ali Williamson

Would you try making art like this? It's a great pin to save for later — we hope you'll let us (and Room for Tuesday!) know if you give it a go so we can see how your "art makeunders" turn out.

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  1. Would you mind sharing your wall color? It's such a great warm gray!

  2. Hi Audrey,

    Thanks so much for asking — we used the "slate" hue from RH's slate collection: https://www.restorationhardware.com/catalog/product/product.jsp?productId=prod1361022


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