3 Easy Ways to Make Cheap Art Look More Expensive, Even if You’re Not Crafty—I Promise!

updated Oct 20, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Cat Meshcia

If there’s one easy place to save on home decor, it’s on artwork. It’s not hard to find good-looking prints in any size or palette for less than you’d spend on, say, a serving bowl. It’s also perfectly fine to hang that art as is, but it also doesn’t take much time, effort, or money to turn those inexpensive prints into pricey-looking pieces. Need a little inspiration? Here are three super simple art styling ideas that even non-crafty types can pull off—I promise!

Credit: Cat Meshcia

Go bold with a backdrop

Why not put your wall to work? Paint a colorful shape on it, like the aqua rectangle shown here, and hang your art on top of that to turn one simple piece into an elegant installation.

For a gallery-like look, choose a rich, saturated paint shade that’s different but complementary to the tones in the artwork. Aqua paint works well here because it’s close to being a complementary color of the orange and mustard swirls and lines featured in the print. Similarly, a clean-lined black or white frame works best when you’re implementing this idea because it doesn’t compete with the rest of the colors at work in the wall and the art. Set off your sophisticated setup with a few sculptural accents in front of it.

Credit: Cat Meshcia

Give it a good wrap

Covering a frame in temporary wallpaper is like shining an instant spotlight on your art. The patterned paper draws your eye right into the framed piece, making it feel grander and more luxe. Even better, you don’t have to worry about messy glue—all you have to do is peel off the adhesive backing and stick the wallpaper to the frame.

Not sure which wallpaper to pick? Pinpoint one color in your art and choose a wallpaper design that includes that same hue; here Chasing Paper’s Two Step, a collaboration with the Nashville-based design duo New Hat, was used in the chartreuse colorway to emphasize the shade of the dancer’s dress.

To wrap the frame, cut wallpaper strips wide enough to cover the front and side of the frame, trimming the interior corners at a crisp 45-degree angle. Line up the paper and adhere it, pressing down and smoothing out any air bubbles as you go and keeping it taut by stretching it over the outside edges. Finish by trimming any excess paper with an X-Acto knife or sharp blade.

Credit: Cat Meshcia

Shake things up (with spray paint)

Variety is key in a gallery wall. A mix of frames in a few colors generally looks higher-end than a uniform, monochromatic set. If you don’t already have different styles, it’s easy to personalize your existing frames with spray paint. In fact, you don’t even have to paint the whole frame—a colorful exterior or interior edge on a wood-grain frame looks fresher and more custom than a standard single-tone frame. How unexpected is that sunny little pop of gold paint in the anchor piece above!

To get this look at home, first remove the glass, mat, and backing of your frame, and tape off any parts of the piece that you don’t want painted. Then use a spray paint with primer to coat the frame.