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Cheap art: 9 tips on how to decorate without breaking the bank

Everyone wants to have pretty things on their walls but most people don’t have the money to buy expensive works of art. This lack of funds does not have to mean that you can’t own nice, original art to display in your house.

Here are 9 tips that I live by in order to decorate without breaking the bank.

1. Buy drawings instead of paintings

Drawings are much cheaper to produce then paintings, so the price tag goes accordingly. Some artists specialize in drawing, while others will sell sketches and preparation studies that were done for future artworks.

Where to find some on the Internet: numerous Etsy shops like Old Passion, Amelia Herbertson and Teva Gallery. The Untapped Cities Shop on Society 6.

Where to find some in person: Decorating stores, Art Galleries (In Montreal: Galleries at the Belgo Building)

Etsy drawing poster

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The big reveal: my blue and white kitchen

After having lived here for over a year, we’re finally able to say that our kitchen is pretty much complete and looks like a real, functional kitchen. That feels nice.

I’d already shared glimpses of the kitchen’s white and blue decor in this previous article. Here’s the full reveal (Please excuse the bad grain in the photos, I’m having trouble with the indoor lighting of photos these days):

Kitchen blue and white

white and blue kitchen

blue and white kitchen greece

The room’s white and blue color scheme was inspired by the Cyclades, a group of Greek islands situated in the Aegean Sea.  There, the local architecture mostly consists of cubic, whitewashed houses with colorful roofs (often in deep blue shades that mimic the color of the surrounding waters).

kitchen island bar stools

magnets and refrigerator photos

Zen bedroom

As mentioned in the previous post, we’ve hired a painter to redo a few of our rooms.

Here is what the bedroom used to look like:

Here is what it now looks like:

As you can see, I kept the white and green color scheme, but decided to ad some dark brown wood to make the contrasts in color more striking.

I love how nice, breathy and zen it is. Having to move most of the stuff out of the room made me realize that I prefer a bedroom that is less crowded, more zen. I ended up reorganizing our clothes and random objects so I could move out the big white shelf that was on the left side of the bed, blocking easy access to it. I also removed some of the boxes that were on the top shelves.

Much better 🙂

Easy crafts for lazy people: Abstract bleach wall art and bandana

My second craft tutorial for lazy people will show you how to make a simple, abstract piece of bleach art and a matching bandana.

The story

I spent one bleach crazy day after being inspired by this tutorial by Stars For Streetlights. Bleach is a commonly used product that usually works wonders, but it can be quite a pain when you accidentally use too much of it or drop some onto your new black dress. The lightening effect is almost immediate and it is irreversible.

Basically, this means that you should only use it on fabric that you don’t mind possibly ruining.

I had an old dark blue skirt that I was just about to send to our local thrift store. Instead, I cut it up and made 2 bandanas and 1 piece of abstract art.

What you need:

– Scissors

– Fabric (dark blues and blacks work best for contrasting effects)

– Empty and clean spray bottle

– A canvas that is white or that you are looking to cover up

– A sturdy stapler and some staples

– A mask and some protective glasses (if you are doing this indoors and are sensitive to the smell of bleach, protect yourself)

– If you have cuts on your hands or sensitive skin, plastic gloves

Preparing the fabric: For the bandanas, if you already have some, take these as models for size by placing them on top of the new fabric and cutting around them. If not, find some measuring tape to measure the crown of your head, where the bandana will be resting. Then, creating a square form, measure a middle diagonal that is at least 5 inches longer than what you measured around your head, so you’ll have some fabric left to tie the bandana.

For the canvas, simply put the fabric against the canvas, leaving enough fabric on each side so you’ll be able  to fold it back and staple it into the sides of the canvas. Cut the extra fabric.

Bleaching it: This is best done either outdoors or in the bathroom (provided your bathroom has a window or some sort of ventilation system). In your spray bottle, mix 2/3 bleach with 1/3 water.

If you are doing this outdoors, place a piece of cardboard or something alike to protect both the fabric and the surface on which you are working.

In the bathroom, you can use clothes hangers and hang them over the bathtub so the bleach drops into it.

Once the setup is good, start the spraying. Go lightly first, so you can see the result. It takes a few minutes for the bleach to react completely.

Tip: Keep the fabric creased to create different lines and designs.

Wait for a few minutes to make sure the bleach has fully developed before throwing the pieces into the wash. Make sure to put it on ‘delicate’ because the bleach may have weakened the fabric by making it thinner.

After that, let them air dry.

The bandanas, are done, now you can set up your frame.

The following process seems a bit complex but is easy: simply put the fabric on top of the canvas and then turn it so it faces down (keeping the fabric straight). Fold some fabric from the top edge onto the back of the frame. Proceed to stapling. Do the whole top part, until you reach the corners. Fold over the fabric from the right side, covering the top corner that is already stapled. Thoroughly staple the full side, making sure that it is good and straight and that you don’t staple all the way down to the corner (fold the lower fabric over before stapling it).

The last side you staple is really important because this is where you have to make sure your garment is installed tightly enough that it won’t create folds on the canvas (though lazy me actually likes those folds provided they aren’t too obvious). Staple the final side and voila! It”s ready to hang!


The apple crate shelf

This apple crate shelf is in the hallway leading to the living room, standing just outside the door to the bedroom. It is, simply, three apple crates pilled one on top of the other. No further installation is required!

The top one holds my collection of CDs that I’ve built up over the years.

Apple crate bookshelf

I love music. Most people love music. I loooooove music. Can’t live without it. One of my great shames in life is that I don’t play an instrument. I intend to fix that shortly.

I haven’t bought a CD in a long time, and rarely do I pop them into my CD player now that I have speakers for my Iphone, but I wouldn’t give up my collection quite yet. Going out to buy a CD was an experience in itself. First, going to the store, finding the disc, buying it, bringing it home, then unwrapping it and placing it in the player for the first time. Buying music just isn’t as special now as it was then.

Looking through this CD collection brings back memories.

Apple crate shelf

Isn’t it kind of ironic that I’m holding my old CD collection in an apple crate, while all of my music now holds in an Apple machine?

Oldest CD in my collection: (CLICK ON THE LINKS TO HEAR SONGS FROM THESE CDS)

Backstreet Boys- Backstreet boys (1996) They taught me about love and heartbreak.

Newest CD in my collection:

Amadou & Mariam- Folila (2012) Soulful couple that hasn’t let their handicap (both are blind) define their life. I’ve seen them twice in concert.

Best guilty pleasures:

Hanson- Middle of Nowhere A boy band that wrote their own sweet pop songs, played their own instruments and are still together 15 years later? Yes please!

Luis Mariano- Les plus grandes chansons Many a dish was cleaned with this CD playing along as a soundtrack. Because of this, the dreaded nightly chore would take twice as much time to complete but turned into  memorable moments for my family. All the men would stand in the staircase crooning along to Mr Mariano while waving their dishcloths in the air to emphasize their already dramatic interpretations of such old time classics.

Everclear- Slow motion daydream This CD, though released in 2003, reminds me of the 90s, angsty and fun as I found them to be.

Top 10 favorite CDs in my collection (so, not counting any albums that I only own in Digital format)

Rufus Wainwright- Want two Most early Rufus fans cite Poses as being their favorite of his albums. Not me. Perhaps it is because I discovered him through this album and brought it with me when I traveled to France. I love the poppy music that plays under those beautiful but often tough lyrics.

Noir Désir- Des visages, des figures Yes, Noir Désir is my favorite band. It isn’t always easy to endorse this because of what happened with the singer. However, this band had such an impact on my teenage years that I can’t let go, so I try to separate the man from his art.

Neutral Milk Hotel- In the aeroplane over the sea  I listen to all sorts of music (from Balkan beats to Gangster rap). I like it all from the most formatted of tunes to deconstructed psychedelic song experiments. I think that last description is close to where Neutral Milk Hotel’s music would best fit. It is epic, at times dissonant but oh so beautiful to me.

Sufjan Stevens- Illinois Simply wonderful music. There are no words that I can think of right now that can do it justice.

Tinariwen- Amman Iman Desert touaregs from Mali that exchanged their fighting guns for electric guitars. Listen to this loudly, with the lights out. The ambiance it creates is so incredibly powerful, it’s breathtaking.

Ella Fitzgerald- Une anthologie 1948-1955 My favorite jazz singer of all  time. I vividly remember when my father bought a compilation CD with her greatest hits, because she died the next day! Her warm, smooth voice has served as soundtrack to many a wonderful family dinner.

Radiohead- Best of See previous article for description.

Nick Drake: Way to blue- an introduction to Nick Drake This compilation of songs by troubled troubadour Nick Drake is the perfect soundtrack for calm moments: rainy days; lonely transportation rides; hours spent watching the sun rise or set….

Vulgaires Machins- Compter les corps A band that hails from my hometown. I’ve loved them for years now and never get tired of them, even listening to their earlier, more juvenile songs. They’re very politicized and I still like the punk sound they have, even though it is getting softer with every album.

Karkwa- Le volume du vent See previous article for description.