8 Clever Ideas for Expensive-Looking Art You Can DIY for Under $20

published Jan 21, 2023
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The easiest way to make a home really feel like home, whether you rent or own, is to fill it with art that resonates with you. Maybe that art is a print of a favorite vacation destination, or a great photo of a loved one. Or maybe it’s just something that you like looking at because the colors or the subject matter speaks to you on some level. No matter the reason for your selection, the art you choose helps bring your personality to the forefront of your space.

That said, art can be expensive, especially if you’re looking for a lot of it at once (gallery wall, anyone?). Thankfully, there are plenty of clever and resourceful DIYers who prove that you don’t need to spend a ton to adorn your walls with something beautiful. Here, take a look at eight smart ideas for DIY art that range from high-quality prints of classics to totally custom three-dimensional textured pieces. All come in at under $20 a pop, so you can outfit multiple rooms without breaking the bank.

Printable Art with a Luxe Upgrade

You may already know that the National Gallery of Art has free, downloadable images of its permanent collection that you can browse by art type, nation of origin, timeframe, style, or even subject to find the perfect piece for your home. But here’s a DIY that will make a free printable look like a priceless piece. Instead of printing the piece on paper, Erin of Francois et Moi used printable canvas; from there, she attached it to a repurposed frame. The effect looks downright luxurious, all for easily under $20 per piece.

Upcycled Sculptural Art

This upcycled sculptural art is perfect if you’re craving tonal texture, and the main material is certainly something you have on hand. Here, Geneva of Collective Gen layered abstract shapes cut from leftover packaging to create her design. Then, she unified the look with a generous layer of joint compound overtop.

Credit: Casa Refined

DIY Foam Panel Art

Jorge of Casa Refined has a knack for transforming unconventional materials into inspiring art. For this project, he carved a geometric design into a piece of craft foam from the hardware store, before painting it in a classic cream and black palette. The finishing touch: a pine frame around the edges, which pulls the whole piece together. You can use his methods to create your own pattern and customize the palette to your liking.

Found Items

When it comes to decor, nothing is easier or cheaper than looking around your home to see what could be framed as art among the things you already own. Brittni of Paper & Stitch created the two pieces shown here by simply framing a tea towel and wallpaper sample she had laying around. Some other ideas to consider: pictures cut from an old calendar, an interesting illustration from a greeting card, or a collage of old tickets to museums or shows.

Credit: Studio DIY

Pressed Flowers

For a more natural vibe, preserve a sensory memory by pressing and displaying flowers, as Studio DIY did here. Choose something that’s tied to a special memory — like the types of flowers that were in the garden of your childhood home, or varieties that were in a favorite bouquet — or just visit the floral aisle of a local grocery store and see what calls to you.

Credit: Casa Refined

LED Lighting-Turned-Art

For this simple but impactful piece, Jorge of Casa Refined was inspired by artist James Turrell’s “Light and Space” work. He got the same vibes in his home by using an upcycled tabletop — which he texturized with drywall compound — and an LED light. This DIY looks like it belongs in a museum, but Jorge pulled it off in less than a day.

Hand-Lettered Custom Poster

Pick a phrase, pick a paper, and pick a paint, and you’ve got a display-worthy piece in the making. You can find high-quality, poster-sized paper in almost any color for under $10 at your local art store. For her handmade art, Brittni of Paper & Stitch practiced hand lettering her phrase a few times on scrap paper before committing paint to the final sheet.

Credit: Casa Refined

DIY Drop Cloth Art

Jorge of Casa Refined put his DIY leftovers to work by displaying a splattered drop cloth. Mounting it to a pegboard — another hardware store staple — helps give it a little extra interest and texture. This art definitely makes the case for mining your local hardware store for supplies and inspo!