Friday, July 3, 2009

Ask Me Anything: Artsy Fartsy

In case you are new, Ask Me Anything is a feature on the site where I field reader questions to the best of my ability. The questioners get moderately useful information, and I get out of thinking up my own topic for one day, and get to act like a total know-it-all. So everybody wins. Email your own burning questions to, or leave a comment on the site, and I will do my best to relieve the burning. For today's installment, we hear from my friend, Irene.

Dear Lily,
I just moved to a one-bedroom after years of living in dorm rooms/studios. My wall space has basically tripled, and I only have three measly paintings with which to decorate. What can I do to cheaply and quickly decorate my walls? Should I go for a theme? I'm much too lazy to paint or put up wallpaper...


First of all, congrats on movin' on up to your new deluxe apartment- I'm always happy when friends finally get their piece of the pie. Secondly, I like this question a lot. I realize that people have different passions and taste, and that not everyone has my fervor for home decor, but at this stage in life, as we slide helplessly toward thirty, it pains me to walk into a friend's apartment and see them sleeping on an old futon with that Pink Floyd poster with the girls' backs tacked up on the wall (corners inevitably ripped from all the times it has been moved since freshman year of college). I'm not saying that I expect you to have started attending art auctions and building your Impressionist collection, but there are a lot of steps in between band posters and Monets (and it's high time we all take one of them).
Since you're too lazy to paint (your words, not mine), I am going to stay away from anything too artsy-crafty, since I assume your indolence extends to spray paint and glitter-glue, as well.

Instead, I suggest gussying-up your walls with ready-made pretty pictures in store-bought frames, which are available at Bed, Bath and Beyond, Pottery Barn, WalMart and pretty much any craft or home store. I suggest looking on eBay or Etsy for pretty botanical prints, book illustrations, or vintage magazine covers, which will fit in 8"x10" frames, or vintage postcards and note cards, which will pop right into 4"x6" or 5"x7" frames. They can be arranged together on a wall in a messy cluster or in a linear arrangement. Or you can just mount empty frames in complimentary colors on the wall (like those at right), for a more graphic look.

Another option is to look at thrift shops or flea markets (New Yorkers, try the Hell's Kitchen Flea) for cool old paintings that strike your fancy- a serene landscape or pop-y abstract that you like looking at. I also think there is something really moody and cool about orphaned portraits of strangers.

Whenever you are hanging art, I suggest using the wall hooks seen at right- they work way better than nails, don't require you to find a stud, and leave a smaller hole in your wall.

If you are looking for something more 'outside the frame', you should check out the new trendy wall decals that are popping up everywhere. No, I'm not suggesting that you go out and get a life-size Tom Brady sticker- there are tons of surprisingly grown-up and beautiful styles out there. They are inexpensive, super easy to apply and come right off whenever you move or get sick of them. They come in a range of styles, from feminine and wallpaper-y (like these big flowers at left) to graphic, like this awesome bicycle (right).
Check out Blik, Ferm Living, and the Surface Store for great options.

When it comes to decorating your apartment, just remember, where there's a wall, there's a way.

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