Money Month

This $16 IKEA Item Totally Revamped My Home Office Decor

published Mar 22, 2022
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When I moved apartments during the pandemic, I knew I would have to figure out creative ways to decorate on a budget because the economic downturn caused me to lose some of my clients. And while work-from-home life has its benefits, it also meant I’d be staring at the same drab four walls all day. I figured I might as well decorate the wall above my desk with something creative to inspire me while I banged away at my laptop.

I quickly fell in love with the idea of a decorative photography wall, loaded with some of the most mesmerizing and sublime photographs from my personal collection. But who wants to hammer a million nails into the wall? And who wants to source a million picture frames? And what if I didn’t like the way it looked? I decided I wanted a design where I could switch up the photographs easily, without doing major damage to the wall — and without the added cost of expensive picture frames.

Luckily, inspiration came floating down from the Swedish IKEA goddesses, because I figured out an off-label use for one of their products. Walking through the IKEA corridors, I came across an item called Dignitet, touted as an inexpensive curtain rod. But instead of a rod, it included a cable wire no thicker than 2 millimeters. The package also included two flexible wall brackets. Sold separately was a package of riktig: very small wire clips that hang perfectly from the wire. Hmmmm, I thought, instead of hanging curtains from the wires, couldn’t I hang my photographs?

Credit: IKEA

I dropped three of the curtain rods into my shopping cart and hurried home. Using a power drill, a measuring tape, and an Allen key, I installed all three on the wall behind my work desk, each about 16 inches above one another. I only struggled a bit when trying to make the wires level off, and admittedly, when cutting the wires to length. (Pro tip: borrow a wire cutter!)

Credit: Christine Estima

Then came my favorite part: sourcing the photographs. To me, monochrome photography is gorgeous, and every time I visit a museum or gallery, I will buy a few gift shop postcards featuring interesting or impressive shots. I also inherited a trove of black-and-white photography from my family after they passed on, and I figured they’d be appreciated much more on my wall than in some dusty album.

Credit: Christine Estima

These items weren’t enough to fill three wires, though, so I visited my local flea markets and bought entire stacks of old black-and-white photos for a couple bucks. I made sure to choose photographs that I would personally enjoy — couples laughing and kissing, panoramas of far-away cities I long to visit, and people wearing striking period dress. I also put my own photography skills to the test and printed off some of my favorite snaps from my travels with my boyfriend. 

Credit: Christine Estima

Up they all went, and the end result was better than I could have imagined. Now when I stare off into space between Zoom calls, I have some gorgeous eye candy to feast on. And if I ever get bored of it, swapping out one photograph for another is a cinch. 

Credit: Christine Estima

This piece is part of Money Month, where we’re covering everything from side hustles to down payments to a beginner’s guide to investing. Head over here to read more!