My decorating dilemma: The search for the perfect artwork

photo by pmo

I love decorating, but it can be such a struggle for me. It’s often a struggle because of the fact that I like to view decorating as a reflection of my tastes and personality. When you look at decorating this way, not just anything will do. Rather, I want to surround myself with those things that I love to look at, those things that make me smile when I walk past them, those things that meld function and fashion at once.

Michael and I moved into our apartment about 5 months ago. During that time, I’ve slowly taken on different projects at a time, figuring out what will work best and scouting out items in our budget. Still, there are a couple projects that still loom on my decorating to-do list: Artwork for our kitchen and our living room walls.

I even have the picture frames ready: An ornate poster-sized frame for the wall over the kitchen, a series of six identical walnut-finished 11x14 frames for the empty wall in our living room. I also have two extra frames on-hand in case an “extra” idea comes to mind for another empty spot in the kitchen.

These projects have eluded me month after month, as I’ve sketched and brainstormed artwork ideas to no avail. I can’t simply walk into Target and be happy with one of the pre-made framed images they offer. In anyone else's house they look fine, but in my own they feel lifeless, acting as something to cover up a blank spot on the wall rather than convey a message.

What this ends up meaning is that I’m left to scour more unique outlets like Etsy or thrift stores or create something truly one-of-a-kind by hand (or, more accurately, computer and camera). And that’s why it’s five months, and still blank spots waiting to be filled. (I am nothing if not patient, right?)

Right now I’m contemplating a few ideas:
  • For our living room, I’d like to frame a series of similar prints; either vintage botanical sketches or prints (ferns, flowers, fruits) or find some old sheet music with meaningful lyrics.

  • Over our kitchen sink is a large swath of blank wall. This has been the hardest spot to come up with ideas for because it fits a poster-sized image, but I want something that will pull together all the different colors of our kitchen (teal, leafy green, mustard yellow) with some sort of fitting kitchen-appropriate image. I’ve considered a teapot, collage of kitschy kitchen utensils, beautiful array of colorful fruits. I’ve also thought about trying to do a silhouette of some such image against a colorful pattern. A final idea is to scour old cookbooks and blow up a detailed image.

  • There’s an additional, smaller blank spot on the opposite wall in our kitchen. I’m thinking of framing the verse, “Taste and see that the LORD is good. -Psalm 34:8”
 What do you think? Any creative ideas to share? I could use all the inspiration I can get!


  1. Carmen- I hope this link works. I saw this and thought of you. I am hoping to use my "free time" during my break and re-create it using an old picture frame and some rubber stamps. Feel free to "copy." It kinda looks like something you'd like, only your version would be less modern with earth tones probably! :) (If the link doesn't work, go to and look up wall decor. Maybe the third page? It is a framed picture that says, "Our love is here to stay." You'll know it when you see it. The link's below! Happy decorating!!!!!!,+product.marketingPriority,-product.startDate&navCount=525&navAction=poppushpush&color=&pushId=A_FURN_WALL&popId=APARTMENT_FURNISH&prepushId=

  2. Cavalini calendars have the best vintage prints. The wrapping papers would be pretty on the wall too, and for cheap!

    I also just found this artist on Etsy I really like:

    It might not be your taste, but you could probably find really reasonable art you like somewhere on Etsy

  3. Oh great ideas! Thank you both; it's helpful to add some other perspectives to the pot to help me think outside the box. I love the wrapping papers on Cavalini; I'd never seen that site before so that's definitely one I'll bookmark!


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