DIY Over-Sized Art from a Free Printable…and the picture frame that made me cry

You can now download my full-size, high-resolution edited heron artwork as a FREE printable here.

Before I get into how an inanimate object brought me to tears, let’s talk about this artwork.

Free Printable Large-Scale Bird Art | The Painted Hive

If you’ve been following along with the living-dining room makeover at my parent’s house, you might recall I was initially planning to incorporate an art piece featuring birds of prey…

Birds of Prey

I felt the masculine vibe would give the space a bit of edge and depth.

Though as things progressed in the room, it became apparent that a softer touch was actually called for. A hint of femininity to subdue all the browns and greys and reconcile the overall scheme.

So, despite days (yes, days!) already spent scouring the internet for the perfect free large-scale image of predatory birds, I tasked myself with a new hunt for something a little more elegant – and was immediately drawn to tall water birds. There’s something sculptural about their lanky yet graceful form which walks that perfect line between powerful and pretty.

If you follow me socially (via Instagram or Facebook) you may already have seen, and possibly even weighed-in on, the four choices I eventually narrowed my selection down to…

Free Printable Large-Scale Water Birds

Clockwise from top left:
Great Blue Heron (Audubon), Australian Heron (Gould), American White Pelican (Audubon), Australian Crane (Gould)

The contrast in opinions between Facebook and Instagram was really interesting! The Audubon Pelican was the clear favourite on Instagram, whereas Gould’s Herons were by far the preferred choice on Facebook. There was also lots of love for the other two illustrations as well. And, naturally, a bit of downright “noooo” for some of my choices!

Thanks so much to everyone for the feedback. It wasn’t an easy decision! I weighed-up lots of pros and cons and in the end Gould’s Herons won out.

DIY Large-Scale Art from a Free Printable | The Painted Hive

The main deciding factors were; the fact the subject is Australian (which gives context to the artwork), the dominant use of soft blue-grey with hints of golden yellow (which perfectly references the overall scheme of the room), the form of the birds (which expresses a gentle fluidity and lovely balance I find personally appealing), and finally, the fact it’s a relatively unknown work (which makes it more unique – I love the Audubon illustrations though they are much more prolific).

As touched on above, I needed my digital image to be large enough to allow for over-size printing (as my artwork is around 100cm x 70cm/40″ x 27″) so not just any image would do. Luckily, nowadays there are heaps of large-scale online images freely available for download!

Audubon Birds

The Audubon illustrations can be found on the Audubon Society website (you’ve probably seen my gushing posts about the awesomeness of the Audubon Society before, though if not you can read more here – where I offer search and download instructions).

Gould Birds

I found the Gould illustrations on Internet Archive, a site which is new-ish to me. Are you familiar with it?

Internet Archive is an extensive online library featuring free large-scale scans of millions of books. Yes, millions!



1 Visit the Internet Archive website and search by title or author (or use the ‘Advanced Search’ option).

I’d already come across – and fallen a bit in love with – a small-scale image of Gould’s Herons via a Google search. After some investigation I discovered the artist and book. So, I jumped on Internet Archive and searched for “Birds of Australia, Gould” to see if it was part of their collection…and it was!

2 Click a book title from the returned results.

3 Once open, click the “Fullscreen View” icon (top right – four arrows) then the “Thumbnail View” icon (bottom right – four squares) for easy viewing.

4 Scroll through the book pages until you find an image you like (if you like my Herons, you can find them here) then click it.

5 Click the “Zoom In” icon (bottom right – plus magnifying glass) until you are at full zoom then right click the image and save it to your computer.

6 Once saved, you can use an editing program to check the size of the image (my Herons were 202cm x 128cm/80″ x 50″ at 72 PPI) and make any changes.

I used Photoshop to custom size the image and adjust the brightness, contrast, saturation and sharpness. I also gave the image a general tidy-up, added a subtle canvas texture and flipped (mirrored) it so the orientation better suited my room. You can learn more about setting-up, customising and editing large-scale images for print in part three of my extensive Free Printables series here.

7 Say “Yay”!



DIY Free Printable Large Scale Art | The Painted Hive

Originally, I was going to DIY the frame using simple timber trim (similar to this one I previously made). However, I happened to come across this large gilt frame for just $15 at a charity store one day…

Gilt Picture Frame

It was the perfect size, and mum really loved it, so we decided to use it instead.

DIY Free Printable Art in Gilt Frame | The Painted Hive

Free Printable Art in Gilded Frame | The Painted Hive

So, as touched-on above, I custom sized my image to fit perfectly and had it printed through Officeworks via their online print service for just $30 – bargain! I then used a jigsaw to cut a thin sheet of MDF to form the new backing for the frame and went about attaching my print to it using a diluted mixture of water and PVA – as I’ve done several times in the past.

And, here’s where things start to go downhill…

I completely stuffed up my first attempt. I’m not sure what it was (kids were yelling, dogs were barking, I was rushing) though there was no saving the crinkled mess I had created!

I’m a rational person though. “Oh well, these things happen. I’ll cut my losses and have another go tomorrow”.

And it had to be tomorrow. Swift redemption was called for to soothe the sting of my failure.

So, early the next morning, USB in pocket, I took the twenty minute drive to my local Officeworks store to have a new image printed in person.

Only my USB wasn’t “in pocket”. What the? Where the heck was the dang thing?

A fleeting image of a USB atop my kitchen counter crossed my vision. Oh man!

I’m a rational person though. “Oh well, these things happen. I’ll just drive home, with my screaming toddler and over-it four year old, grab the effing thing then drive all the way back again”.

So, I did. And I had my new image printed super promptly while my kids happily tested all the pens in the “Try Me” section.

Onto round two.

Given my confidence had been a little crushed by my first failed attempt, this time around I decided to go with trusty spray adhesive. It’s almost fool proof. And extra handy when you actually have some! I swear, there was a full can in the shed last week.

“Okay kids, back in the car”.

I’m a rational person though. “Oh well”.

Back home, spray adhesive in hand. Right, let’s do this thing already.

So, I did. Very meticulously. I was just so conscious of stuffing it up again I really needed every ounce of my concentration.

The kids grew understandably bored by my inattention and curious new center of focus, so started playing around. Running, jumping, rolling. Just regular kiddy things which normally wouldn’t bother me but today, oh today, I could feel the heat rising from my collar.

Then, it happened.

I was around half way through adhering my new print to the backboard when I heard it.

“Riley, noooo”. It was my daughter Charlotte chastising her little brother for what was about to ensue.

I turned just in time to see it.

The beautiful gold frame I had so carefully propped up on the lawnmover arms (what, isn’t that a perfectly safe place to leave an object which to children doubles as a personal picture show?) was falling fast toward the concrete garage floor.


A gazillion little gold pieces flew up into the air (okay, it was more like fifteen though you feelin’ me?).

I didn’t yell, I didn’t pick the frame up, I didn’t scurry to collect the fragments.

I just stood there…and cried.

It started slowly. Soon, however, great big heaving sobs – that seemed to scare the heck out of my kids – were escaping my body.

It was bad. I am, by no means, a graceful crier.

My reign of rational had ended!

Of course, after a short while I giggled at my silliness, hugged my kids, miraculously found all the little gold pieces and fixed the frame.

I then finished adhering my print to the backboard, mounted it in the frame and hung it on the wall.

Free Printable Large-Scale Art | The Painted Hive

This simple project might have taken me all day and cost $30 more than it needed to, though in the end all was good in the world once more.




I should probably attempt to claw-back some dignity and separate myself from the title of “basketcase” by mentioning this was a rare moment for me. I’m aware that the whole scenario qualifies as little more than a “first world problem” and if it’s the worst series of events I encounter all year I’m a very lucky girl indeed!

 Free Printable Over-Size Bird Art DIY | The Painted Hive

 Catch up on all posts related to this room makeover here.

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An Old Stool Meets a New Bread Board

Do you remember this charming antique piano stool?

Antique Swivel Stool Before

I picked it up a month or so back to use as a cute little side table in my parent’s living room.

And, for obvious reasons, it was pretty affordable.

Stool Top Before

I bought it for around $30 from eBay.

A major flaw, like this annihilated seat, can seem like a furniture deal breaker…though don’t be deterred! There are heaps of ways around this little problem.

The easiest of which being to use an affordable off-the-shelf “disk” as a completely new top.

I contemplated several options – including a pizza stone, a round paver and a marble tray – before simply stumbling across this perfectly sized timber bread board on clearance for $8 from Target one day.

Bread Board

Yes, I could have just replaced the seat insert with a circle of plywood or cut my own new top from a piece of wood, though I wanted to make this project a really basic “marriage” of elements – who doesn’t love basic? Plus, I needed a nice, flat, sturdy top as the stool is going to be repurposed as a side table.

But before I joined the two components in holy matrimony, I wanted to give the stool a mini makeover.

Its warm honey-toned wood was really lovely though it blended with my parent’s floorboards and felt a little insipid in the room. So, to introduce some contrast, I stained the stool a rich brown (Feast Watson Prooftint in Walnut).

I totally cheated here by doing no prep and applying the stain right over the existing varnish. Generally, this is a no-no as varnish will repel stain, resulting in uneven penetration and potential streaks and patchiness. I wasn’t too fussed in this case as I didn’t want the stool to look perfect and new anyway, plus the varnish was super old and dry and had already worn-off in most places.

I simply applied the stain with a rag, wiping it on and off again until I was happy with the depth of colour. Despite the varnish, it worked brilliantly and produced the perfectly imperfect result I was after! I was actually reasonably impressed by the success of my laziness.

Antique Swivel Stool with Bread Board Top | The Painted Hive

To provide consistency, I stained the bread board the same colour and finished it off with some linseed oil to add a bit of sheen (as it was pretty dry).

To attach the board to the stool, I simply used a few dobs of clear silicone. This holds it firmly in place though also allows for easy removal if mum ever wants to change the top.

Although the text on the bread board is sweet, it’s not really in-keeping with the feel we’re going for in this room so for now I have it plain side up.

Bread Board Stool Top | The Painted Hive

I absolutely LOVE the old cast iron swivel mechanism in this stool.

Antique Swivel Stool Adjuster

A beautiful testament to its utilitarian function and so full of charm. Plus it’s just plain handy that the height can be easily adjusted.

Here it is completely lowered…

Antique Stool with Bread Board Top | The Painted Hive

And at around three quarter height…

Antique Stool/Table with Bread Board Top | The Painted Hive

Oh, and do you like my new concrete vessel?

DIY Concrete Vessel Planter | The Painted Hive

I made a few of these sweet little planters on a whim a week or so back. Such an easy, affordable and rewarding project.

DIY Concrete Planter | The Painted Hive

Actually, there’s a bit of a funny story behind them…I was recently asked to participate in and style a video tutorial for one of my favourite brands (it was very exciting and I’ll be sure to share more deets about it when I can!). As part of the process, I was required to submit a visual style sheet of the decorative pieces I was planning to use. To represent a large grey pot I already had, I used an image of some cute little concrete planters – and received feedback from the creative agency stating just how much they LOVED them! Okay, eeeeek! I didn’t actually own any said cute little concrete planters! So, after some frantic and fruitless Googling, I came to the sobering conclusion that unless I wanted to spend a day or two (I didn’t even have) visiting numerous garden and homewares stores, two young children – who like to climb on and touch everything – in tow, looking for something I might not even find, I was going to have to make these things! So, I did.

There are a few tutorials out there for similar pots though let me know if you’d like me to do one too (I just kinda made it up as I went along).

Antique Swivel Stool Makeover | The Painted Hive

Seems this little guy couldn’t resist crashing my photo shoot again.

I know I say this every time I post an update of my parent’s room makeover, though we are really, really close now. Can not wait to share the finished space!

Antique Stool Makeover using a Bread Board to Cover the Damaged Top | The Painted Hive


Catch up on earlier posts about the room redo here…

Part 1: The Plan
Part 2: Progress and Pieces
Part 3: New Decisions and More Finds

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Living-Dining Room Makeover | A New Lighting Scheme

This post is sponsored by Beacon Lighting.

When it comes to room makeovers, I generally like to work with what I have.

This means leaving well enough alone – using cosmetic enhancements and avoiding the possible mess, expense and hassle of disturbing anything “fixed”. There’s lots to love about this simple form of room transformation. It’s usually very achievable and super rewarding. And from my perspective as a blogger, I think it’s relatable for my readers. Unfortunately though, it’s not always possible.

Sometimes things simply aren’t “well enough”.

Such was the case with the weird lighting configuration in my parent’s open plan living-dining room. I knew straight away it had to go.

I’m not sure what the architect was thinking back in 1969, though the asymmetrical triangle arrangement was doing nothing to compliment this long-ish, narrow-ish room…

Lighting Configuration Before

To help define the two zones we were introducing, a fresh configuration was needed. So, we decided to position one feature pendant over the dining table and simple downlights in the living area.

Lighting Configuration Rendering

Concept rendering (taken from the opposite end of the room as the before shot above). 

Downlights are perfect for when you already have a statement fixture nearby. They are incredibly discreet and “clean” so won’t fight for attention and are so subtle they can fit into a myriad of interior schemes…

White Downlights

Brass Downlights

We went with LED downlights from Beacon Lighting which are available in seemingly endless options, from fixture style to wattage, to brightness (lumens) to colour temperature and even beam angle. Because there are so many choices, selecting the right LED downlights can seem daunting. Fortunately, Beacon provides really great information about all the specification variants to make choosing easy.

Of course, variety is not the only thing going for LED lighting. I’m sure I don’t need to stress the energy efficiency and longevity of LED ceiling lights. They use up to 85% less energy than halogens or incandescents and can last as much as 44,000 hours longer! Yes, 44,000! That’s around 20 years!

We switched out our kitchen downlights for LED’s from Beacon Lighting quite a few years back after we got sick of blown bulbs and ascending power bills. We have not had to change one of our LED light bulbs since and, teamed with our solar panels, our power bills have never looked better!

For my parent’s living room we went with dimmable LED lights (the previous lights were on a dimmer which mum and dad used daily so it only made sense to retain this function).

They work amazingly well and have a much broader brightness range than the previous lights did. We also went with a plain white casing to co-ordinate with the ceiling and a “Warm White” colour temperature to produce a toasty and inviting glow.


Gallery wall sneak peek!

Getting rid of that strange triangle configuration and installing these simple LED downlights really helps makes the room feel like a nice blank canvas.

LED Downlights On

Fresh, clean and versatile.

I’ll be sure to share some wider angle shots when the whole room is complete.

Soooo, on with the “paint” next (oh, I should probably explain that by “paint” I mean “furniture and decor” as we are not changing the colour scheme. Please excuse my poor attempt at a clever metaphor and this ensuing explanation which has pretty much rendered it pointless anyways :)


View Beacon’s entire range of energy efficient LED lighting here.

PS Sorry I’ve been a little absent lately. I’ve been busy working hard on an exciting new project I’ll share further details about soon!

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Linen Dresser Makeover

Grey Dresser

It feels like ages since I’ve put paintbrush to furniture.

In fact, I’d even forgotten just how therapeutic it can be!

If you’ve been following along with the makeover of my parent’s living-dining room then you’ll probably know the back-story to this dresser.

Dresser Before

Sorry, not the greatest pic (taken from the eBay listing).

For anyone new here, and just to re-cap, I bought this baby from eBay for $80. I love old wood and generally shy away from painting anything with lots of natural character so it took me a while to find something antique in style which I was also willing to paint. Although far from new, I actually believe this dresser is a reproduction of sorts, possibly crafted by a home handyman.

I do like the warm pine of this piece, however knew I needed to re-finish it in a light neutral to help break-up all the wood already in the space. For a while I struggled with which sort of neutral exactly though…white, cream, grey, beige? Eventually, I decided to take my cue from the armchairs in the living room. Drawing the colour of their linen back into the dining space should not only help to keep the overall scheme consistent though should also create a gentle link between the two zones.

Dresser with Armchair

This was one of those no-fuss kinda makeovers.

Dresser Makeover | The Painted Hive

Check out my new massive green demijohn – always wanted one!

I used some left over acrylic wall paint we already had to mix up a warm grey-green (Dulux ‘Alpine Summer’ and ‘Amazon Vine’ are similar to my custom colour). I then simply removed the handles (and patched their holes), lightly sanded the dresser and slapped on two coats of paint.

No primer. No sealer.

Scientific Flask | The Painted Hive

The original metal drop handles were fine though for a more primitive look we replaced them with inexpensive wooden knobs (hence my need to patch the holes). We also polished-up the brass keyholes so they contrast nicely.

Brass Keyhole

If you follow me socially, you may already have heard this little story, though as I was shopping my parent’s house, gathering pretty jars and bottles to style the finished dresser, I remarked to mum that she had a heap of glassware.

She looked at me strangely.

“What?” she replied. “Only one of those is actually mine”.

I looked over the collection more carefully and, sure enough, all but one belonged to me!

I have a habit of buying inexpensive pretty things (mostly glassware it would appear!), then finding I have nowhere to display them in my little house – at least, not all at once – so tend to rotate my decor through my parent’s larger home.

Seems I had forgotten just how much stuff I actually have!

Bottles and Ferns | The Painted Hive

Like I already mentioned, this piece was fine as is. I just needed to change it up to better fit with our overall scheme for the room.

Dresser Before and After

We’re getting so close to finishing this space now. I’m a tad excited!

Dresser Redo Dog




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Living-Dining Room Makeover | New Decisions and More Finds

This space is really getting there now!

Over the last few weeks we’ve been chipping away at the diminishing ‘to do’ list. There are still a few projects to cross off though we have acquired pretty much everything we need!

So here’s where we’re at…

If you need to catch up you can check out my last progress post here.

I found an old dresser for the dining room on eBay for $80…

Antique Style Dresser Before

Photo from the eBay listing.

Although it’s fine as is, we’re going to switch out the Queen Anne hardware for inexpensive chunky wooden knobs and paint the whole thing in a warm greenish grey to bring the colour of the linen armchairs back into the dining area and help break up all the wood.

I love beautiful aged timber so struggled to find an old piece I wasn’t opposed to painting. This dresser, although very well built and antique in style, appears to be a reproduction of sorts so the wood actually looks quite new.


We finally made a decision on the pendant light for above the dining table.

You might remember from my last post that the chandelier I originally bought was advertised with inaccurate dimensions. Unfortunately, it was quite a bit larger than we really wanted and although I think it still could have worked, I knew mum and dad weren’t that keen on it.

So I started browsing for an alternative, not really knowing what I wanted, when I happened to come across this pendant on eBay…

Modern Industrial Box Pendant

I’ve loved this style of light for ages now. They are generally priced between $300 – $800 though this brand new one was just $170 with free shipping – SOLD! I bought it from this eBay store. Unfortunately these particular pendants appear to be sold out at the moment though this seller does have some other cool and affordable lights to check out.

We’ll hang onto the original chandelier for a future room makeover.


We bought some curtains. The LENDA (in beige) from Ikea…

Ikea Lenda Curtains

This pic makes them look a little dated though we’ll be replacing the tabs with rings and won’t be using any tie-backs. We’re also going to stencil on a subtle geometric pattern in off-white. This will just add a dash of interest and provide some relief from the solid beige.


We also bought a rug. The LOHALS from Ikea as originally intended…


LOVE it!


Some decisions about the artwork have also been made.

Remember how I was contemplating using one large statement piece above the couch…

Concept Rendering

We came to the conclusion that a gallery would work better there. We’re going to use a collection of thrifted frames (in golds and blacks) which we already own and, as per my blog post here, a series of simple botanical illustrations…

Free Printable Wall Art Plant Illustrations | The Painted Hive

Check out my blog post to download these high resolution images for yourself!

The hint of green should add some freshness and tie-in with any plants we use in the room.

Although I was happy about our decision to go with a gallery, I wasn’t completely happy about losing the over-sized art. I just really wanted that punch! So I am still going to try incorporating something big. This time on the expanse of blank wall between the fireplace and the sliding door…

3D Interior Design Concept Rendering

As this space is more conducive to a portrait oriented artwork I searched around (again) for a new image to use. Eventually I decided on this gorgeous natural history illustration by ornithologist John Gould…

Sheehan Falcons John Gould

It features a pair of beautiful Shaheen Falcons and has the unexpected, masculine edge I’m after. I found it as a free large-scale download here on the Biodiversity Heritage Libray website. I’m planning to edit it a little (mainly to soften the colouring), have it professionally printed (this shouldn’t cost much more than $40) and then frame it myself. I’ll be sure to post a full tutorial when I get the project complete.


I bought a table to sit beside the couch.

You might recall that I was having difficulty finding something appropriate due to wanting a piece with odd proportions (something tallish yet not too deep or wide).

Well, a few weeks ago I stumbled across this antique beverage trolley on eBay for just $50 and thought it could work…

Tea Trolley

Photo from the eBay listing.

It’s a bit of a mix between art deco and jacobean. I love the slight quirk of it with its large original castors and reeded feet. The shelf is handy too as it allows for storage (something mum really wanted). It’s perhaps a little larger than I wanted though its dual drop leaves provide flexibility in terms of size and shape.

My original idea was to paint it a light colour to, once again, help contrast with the browns in the room and brighten-up the space. Though mum and dad both really like the wood so we are going to try stripping back the dark varnish and possibly white waxing it. We’ll see.


Finally, I found a cute little antique stool to sit between the armchairs…

Antique Piano Stool

I was looking for something quite primitive and rustic, like an antique elm stool (love!), though I couldn’t find a second-hand one and all the brand new ones were soooo pricey.

I figured this adjustable height piano stool was equally cute. As you can see it is absolutely charming though the top is completely destroyed. No matter. I plan to simply cover it with an inexpensive round bread board – easy! I found it on eBay for around $30. I think I might stain it walnut to contrast with the linen armchairs and all the other honey-toned timber in the room.


So, that’s it for now. Like I said, we are almost there!

What do you guys think. As always, I’m super open to hearing any ideas :)


If you missed my first few posts about the living-dining room makeover you can find them here…
Part 1: The Plan
Part 2: Progress and Pieces


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