A few weeks ago I posted pics of the amazing revamp over at the restaurant 7 Central in Manchester, MA. I promised to break down some of the projects in there more specifically, and today I’m talking inexpensive artwork! I firmly believe that adding artwork to any wall instantly makes it feel like a cozy, inviting and finished space. For the restaurant, we had lots of walls, but not so much left in the budget. The goal for the space was to create an updated, cool, but nautical feeling environment…. obviously the artwork needed to reflect this. The original space had lots of old wooden 3D pieces but they ultimately felt somewhat cluttered and haphazard.
We started with photography. In keeping with the nautical feel, we went around to any local harbor we could find and snapped clean and clear photographs with a nautical vibe. I also grabbed some images from free image databases… if you’re not using the images for monetary gain, then this is a great solution. Most of these photographs were set to black and white with my iPhoto editing software. (I try to up the contrast and warmth when I manipulate a color image to black and white.) Because we could only print so large, there were a few spaces where I blew up the image and printed 1/2 on one poster and the other 1/2 on the other poster for a diptych of sorts.
Here’s where the bargain hunting comes into play. Printing photographs in large sizes can be pricey. Obviously the better the paper quality and the better the printer, the fancier the artwork will look, but… we didn’t need gallery worthy images. We just wanted something fun and clean and simple for the walls. So… guess who prints a poster size? Walgreens. (Places like Shutterfly and Staples do as well, but… I happened to have a 50% off coupon at Walgreens meaning each POSTER was around $14.
OK, so we’ve printed the images but… what about frames? Ikea has some great inexpensive options like this and this. But we ended up getting ours at JoAnn where I had another coupon for 40% off and then an additional 20% the entire purchase. The poster sized frames were less than $15.
We wanted a little more variety than black and white photographs, so I made these graphic images for less than $5 each. See the full tutorial here!
The bathroom was one of the spaces we REALLY wanted to clean up… it was dark and dreary. I bought this file from etsy of nautical flags and simply printed out the flags that spelled 7 Central. Sneaky. These white frames were on deep discount at Michaels for a few dollars a piece. Done and done.
To continue with the nautical flag vein, my cohort Amy found these fun nautical flags at a local store for next to nothing, and we displayed them in both this transparent frame (also on sale from JoAnn) and simply tacked some to the wall in the pub room. Don’t they look great next to the killer barn lights we installed courtesy of Build.com?
There was some existing art work that we wanted to keep, but needed to fix up. Specifically these three oversized maps in the simple black frames from the long side room. The only thing out of whack was the faded and stained mats so… a coat of flat white spray paint and some new mounting tape cleaned those right up. (Also… those are NOT my ripped arms… I roped my friend Josh into some DIY labor.)
And last but not least, don’t forget my little pallet project! I love how this rustic weathered piece sits right in the foyer to greet everyone as they enter! Cost? Maybe $12 in rope and rope clips!
All in, I’d say we decked out the entire restaurant for somewhere between $500 and $800 dollars… but we had to provide more than 25 pieces of art! Considering one piece of custom art can cost upwards of $200, I’d say we done good! It’s obvious when you see the before/ after that a little bit of cohesive art can go a long way in pulling together a space!
Do you have any tips or tricks for discount artwork for your own space? Leave a comment and let me know!
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