"You can hang the dreams you want as pictures on the wall." from the 1951 movie, Here Comes the Groom
The next installment of our Susie Home Maker series (inspired by my cousin Susie who is moving into her first apartment this year!!!) is "Walls." I mentioned in Susie Home Maker: Windows that our apartment had cracks on the walls (not to mention a lot of other blemishes). While some places will let you paint the walls, stencil, put up a boarder, etc., not all of them will. My advice: Get something up on the walls ASAP!!! It is amazing how such a simple thing can make your apartment feel so much more like home (especially when every single wall is the same, bland, neutral color)!! Getting something up on the walls does not have to be an expensive or time-consuming venture. The only wall hangings I have purposefully gone out and bought were posters for the kids' room. All of the rest were either gifts or created relatively quickly from something I already had. Below are just a few of the different ideas I have used over the years.
1) A nice poster, that is well hung, can add a splash of color with little cost or effort! I usually laminate my posters before hanging them to keep them looking nice and protect them from being damaged.
A set of creation posters I bought for the kids' room. I added the white numbers from a package of mailbox numbers as well as the ribbon to tie it all together!
A poster my mom gave me that I have always kept by the washer and dryer. It doesn't go with a lot of the decor in the rest of the house, but I have always liked it! It was looking pretty rough from years of use until we laminated it!
A poster I made to hang in my office (when I was working with junior high students) using a FarSide comic I had saved from a tear off calendar. I actually made several, and I have to say I like how it ended up looking with large black and white comics hanging around the room! It also had some sentimental value because I worked for my dad for several years, and he always taped FarSide comics from tear off calendars to the cabinets in his lab.
2) Shelves can add both a splash of color and solve some of those space issues so prevalent in apartments!
I got these shelves from a craft store, finished them, and hung them in our living room to hold my Noah's Ark collection until they came to their final resting place in the kids' room!
This mirror with hooks and a small shelf was a wedding present, and I have to say it has been a real lifesaver! I cannot remember where I put my phone, keys, jacket, purse, etc. to save my life, but since we hung this by the door, I haven't had to make extra sets of keys!!!
3) I grew up loving to play games and work puzzles. My husband does not really like playing games (I am hoping at least one of the kids will), but he does enjoy working puzzles with me from time to time! These are two puzzles that we worked together that went particularly nice with the decor of the house. My mother had them framed as a gift. Don't they look beautiful??? Using puzzles you could have the beauty of Thomas Kincaid (or someone similar) in your home without paying an outrageous amount or ending up with a cheap looking copy!
A puzzle we did before Jessica was born that hangs in our dining area (with all of the other French pictures).
You can hang/frame all kinds of items that mean something to you: t-shirts, artwork, awards, clothes from childhood, pressed flowers, doilies collected from antique stores perhaps on a dark background (I hear this is an up and coming trend....not that I usually know much about such things), etc.
4) You all know that I love homemade items! However, I have had to make very few items to hang on our walls because we already had several nice pictures, posters, etc. that we really liked! Here are a few of the homemade wall items we have in our home.
A scripture my kindergarten teacher cross-stitched for me when I was a senior in high school. She also cross-stitched us another framed item when we got married.
A painting a family friend did for us when we got married. She was truly gifted and has since lost her fight with cancer.
Name plaques I made for the kids' room using some nice looking paper, the computer, and some classy looking frames from Wal-mart.
A cute name plate my sister-in-law made when Jessica was born! Isn't it adorable? (I hear she is making one for John too!)
I am also working on another framed item at the moment, using the poem "Children Learn What They Live." Some day I would like to embroider it and frame it, but I think I will have to settle for a nice computer-printed version at the moment!
4) Something I have been doing since I was in junior high is picking out souvenirs when I travel that I would keep in my home when I grew up for a long time!
I bought these prints at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower when I was in high school. My mom later framed them as a gift!
I bought this print in Gatlinburg, Tennessee on a vacation in Junior High. Once again my mom had it framed as a gift!
Prints can be relatively cheap. What makes them look like something special is how they are framed!
5) There are all sorts of other types of wall hangings such as wreaths, quilts, shadow boxes, etc. Especially if you have a large space to fill and not a lot of money, I would try to find a quilt to hang! It will also help absorb sound!
This is a wall hanging a friend's mother (who is Ukrainian) made and gave to my mother, who gave it to me when I got married. Isn't it absolutely gorgeous?
My dad once studied English with a college student from Taiwan. This is a wall hanging he gave my parents while he was living in the United States. It says something about a happy marriage. My parents gave it to me when I got married. (If I am correct, I am not only the one who remembers him the best, but I am also the only one who remembers how to use chopsticks.)
6) Once people know that you have a collection of something, you will probably get lots of gifts to add to that collection! The decor in the kids' room came from my Noah's Ark collection, which started when I was teaching the infant Noah's Ark class at church for several years in a row, and people just started giving me Noah's Ark stuff. (And yes, I learned that story very, very well. My grandparents' favorite Bible trivia question to give me is "What are the dimensions of the ark?")
Another popular time to give wall hangings as gifts is when you have a baby. These are some wall hangings my sister gave us for Jessica's room, but they ended up in her bathroom because they looked perfect there! The ribbon again was a nice touch!
7) Then there is always the old standby of hanging up photos. I do love to hang photos. In our apartment we had a staircase going upstairs that was very bare and echoed. I took large photo frames and filled them with pictures to look at as you went up the stairs. It really helped make the space less bare! I have set out frames in our house, but I have not hung very many photos yet mostly because I am going through and redoing each room one by one. I typically like to hang photos in hallways, but we don't really have any hallways at this house so I will probably hang several photos in the den, once I get around to finishing that room (The bedrooms needed the most work, so we started there.)
The real trick to wall hangings is not so much what you are hanging but how you choose to hang it!
1) Build/Buy (or ask for as a gift) a nice frame. The cheap frames will make whatever you are hanging look cheap, but if you use a nice frame, it can make something cheap look really nice!
2) Use the correct hardware. First, you do not want your wall hangings falling off the wall! Second, it looks a lot less temporary when you use the correct hardware as opposed to just tacking everything to the walls! This especially applies to quilts. See this website for more information on how to hang a quilt.
3) I also try to be careful where I choose to hang different items. For example, all of the Noah's Ark stuff goes in the kids' room. All of the pictures from France go in the dining area. FarSide and airplane posters usually go in the office. Most of the photos usually go in a hallway (if we have one). Start out by figuring out what you do have and how you could use those items. Then figure out how you will fill in the gaps.
Feel free to leave any suggestions of ways you might fill wall space in a classy way without spending an arm or a leg!
Bathrooms tend to be a more difficult space to work with in apartments. Their walls are usually much taller than they are wide! We'll look at what you can do in there from a frugal and self-sufficient perspective next!