Art That Matters

When I started the One Room Challenge, I didn’t have a concrete plan for the art in the boys room. My only requirement was that all the art have personal significance, which is usually my criteria for hanging art. That leaves the options pretty wide open! I could do art related to their hobbies, our family, books they love, favorite animals, landscapes, or anything else I could think of that meant something to at least one of the boys.


My initial idea was to make the large statement art piece a map. Specifically, a vintage map that included the Bar Harbor, Maine waterways on it, since our favorite vacation spot is just off the coast on Swans Island. I looked EVERYWHERE for a vintage map. They were all too large, too small, didn’t include Swans Island, weren’t a great color combo, or were EXPENSIVE. So I moved on to other ideas.


One idea was to print a photo we had taken on vacation, but I wanted to explore all my other possibilities first. I was very close to pulling the trigger on a sailboat watercolor from an etsy seller (giving a nod to our favorite oceanside vacation spot). But then was torn between the sailboat and a cool image of the Red Sox Stadium (both boys LOVE baseball), so didn’t purchase either.

In the end, I decided a slightly moody landscape from our vacation on Swans Island was the right choice. The sailboat would have felt too immature in a couple years, while this landscape will work in a toddler or teenagers room, and can even be moved into the main living spaces if the boys get tired of it.


Tip: I had the photo printed as an indoor banner, instead of a poster, and it cost less than half what it would have for a 20x26 poster, coming in at only $12.

I considered buying a new frame, but decided to use one I had. The frame itself has significance, as it used to hold a charcoal sketch my great-grandmother drew. The charcoal sketch is a prized piece of artwork to me, but the mat and sketch had warped over the years, and need re-framing. So I rolled up the sketch until I have $ to reframe it, and used the vintage frame for the boys landscape. As it was an odd sized frame, I had a custom mat cut. I also had the poster dry-mounted to foam board, so the poster won’t warp.


This landscape is one of my very favorite things in the room… but so are a lot of other things. I have a long list of “favorites!”

Not all the art in the room is high impact, but is just as special.

These paint by number birds were a thrift store purchase several years ago that my son fell in love with. They got freshened up with new matted frames for $8 from Walmart. The boys love to look out our sunroom windows and watch the birds in the spring, so now it’s spring in their room year round!


The timeframe for the One Room Challenge corresponded to my artist niece participating in “Ink-tober,” and she graciously agreed to dedicate the “Chop” and “Stretch” themed days to the boys. “Chop” became a Ninja for my 7 year old, and “Stretch” a cat for my now 4 year old, after they requested those two images for their bedside art. Framed in clear glass and brass frames, these pieces will eventually go with the boys when they grow up and move out (sniff, sniff).


My older son asked for a way to display art that they create, so I initially planned to hang a couple pictures over each door in quick frames. As I neared the end of the Challenge, though, I started to think it would be too much to have art over the exit door with the bookshelf, kitchen, and landscape already on that wall. At the same time, I wanted to provide more space than just a couple frames for the boys to use. The waterfall of frames was born out of those two design challenges, and makes me smile every time I’m in their room. I purchased a variety of quick frames from Walmart, and cut out paper the size of each frame that I could tape up to figure out the arrangement I wanted on the wall. I ended up using exactly the frames I had bought, so that was one project that actually didn’t require return trips to the store!


Outside of the boys room, my very favorite art pieces in our home are paintings by my grandmother, a drawing by my niece, and an I-phone photo snapped at a baseball game. Not only are they timeless, but each has a significance that couldn’t be replaced for any amount of money.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with liking a piece of art in a store or gallery, and buying it to hang on your wall. Something off the shelf can absolutely have meaning! But personally, I like to try to think a little outside the box for artwork. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to have meaning, and guarantees that your art is one of a kind.