Free Printable Vintage Coastal Illustrations

If you’re a Facebook friend, you might have seen a post of mine from last week featuring a collection of nautical images I created for a new gallery wall at my parent’s beach house.

I found the original images on The Graphics Fairy then modified them slightly to suit my needs. Now, with permission from Karen (The Graphics Fairy) I am offering them as free printables.

This collection includes twelve high resolution images on standard letter-sized paper (for easy at-home or in-store printing) to fit regular 8″ x 10″ photo frames or standard certificate/document frames (of course, you can always use larger frames with mattes or smaller frames if you reduce the image size).

Free Printables - 12 Nautical Illustrations | The Painted Hive


These lovely vintage illustrations are just so versatile. Although the images themselves are all similar in scale and would have real impact in a uniform grid, there’s no reason you couldn’t use randomly sized frames for a more collected look (any larger frames could simply be matted). I think it’s a bit of a misconception that frames and art need to be perfectly scaled and proportioned. There really are no rules, it just depends on the look and feel you’re after.

Here are a few ideas…

Gallery Wall Configurations | The Painted Hive

I like all these options though really love the simplicity of the single feature idea – using a large frame to give a relatively small print real presence.

And, on top of choosing a hanging configuration, there are also tonnes of framing options (especially if you also use mattes). How about blue frames to co-ordinate with the images, simple white or black frames with blue mattes, gold frames for a more refined look, textured mattes in a natural tone to add some warmth or double mattes to create a border, and on and on.

Of course, if you’re going for an eclectic look, you can simply use a mish-mash of frames which I think always looks great.


To Print
For convenience, I simply printed these at home using my best quality print settings onto good matte photo paper. You could also have them printed professionally (in-store or online). If so, look into using a colour document printing service (if available) over actual photo printing. It is usually heaps cheaper and for simple images like these quality is comparable. I just had a quick look at the Officeworks website and saw that 8″ x 10″ photo prints start at $2.50 whereas colour documents begin at just 88 cents (for twelve prints that’s a saving of around $20).


Editing Digital Images
I get lots of questions about working with free printables so I know it’s not straight-forward for everyone. I also remember just how challenging I personally found it at first. If you’d like to learn more about customising digital graphics refer to my free printables series.

For these images (which were originally found on the Graphics Fairy – as mentioned above) I simply changed the colour (they were initially black) and marginally increased the size. I did this in Photoshop (which is my preferred editing program) though simple modifications like this can be made using lots of programs (such as publishing programs, like Word, or free online editors, like Pixlr).

Of course, you can make further edits to my images if you’d like. You could change the colour, invert the background, introduce a border, add some text or play with overlays for a distressed or grungy look, and so on.

Note: If using a publishing program or free online editor, just be mindful of image quality. One of the reasons I prefer using a purpose editing programs is the control and clarity it offers in terms of resolution. Some editors are not designed to produce print quality images (they merely edit for digital purposes). If you’re confused, you can read more about quality and resolution in my series about free printables. I recommend downloading GIMP if you’re not willing or able to purchase an editing program.

Have fun!



PS I know lots of my regular readers are sick to death of hearing me apologise for my sporadic absences, though I just wanted to let you know that at the mo’ I’m helping my sister finalise deets for her at-home wedding (taking place in two weeks time – eeek!) and hope to be back more frequently once it’s all done and dusted.

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A Desk Lamp Becomes a Wall Light

I’ve coveted adjustable arm wall lights from the first moment I saw one.

Adjustable Swing Arm Wall Lights

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 56

To me there’s just something so desirable about their sculptural form and subtle industrial edge. That said, I never really envisioned actually using one in my own home.

You see, despite the oft crazy price tag (and down-right unavailability – especially here in Australia, anyways) I’m just a bit too fickle to commit to the permanence of hard-wired wall lights – I simply like the flexibility of everything in a space being easily repositioned (I guess that’s the reason I’m also a fan of free-standing ‘built-ins’, like the one in our home office). I know, I know, it’s not too difficult to reposition sconce lights if required, though with the cost and work involved with installation, I’d simply rather not go to the trouble. Yep, I’m stingy and lazy like that.

So, when it came time to implement my lighting plan for Charlotte’s room I needed to think a bit outside the box.

Remember my inspiration rendering from ages ago…

Charlotte's Room Virtual Plan

Given the tininess of Charlotte’s room and the position of her bed, I really liked the idea of using sconces in place of a table lamp. My initial plan was to use two. I do still like the symmetry of this though for now have decided to opt for one over the bed head only. As already mentioned however I didn’t want to have to hard-wire it in.

So, I decided there were three main options…

1 Use a plug-in wall lamp.
Simple, right? Well, not exactly. I discovered that aside from the IKEA options there are almost NO plug-in wall lamps available here in Australia and certainly none of the adjustable arm variety. Trust me. I looked, and looked and looked, and annoyed people with seemingly perplexing emails and phone calls, and looked and looked, and looked some more. There was the option of having one shipped from overseas though with the cost of postage plonked on top of the cost of the actual lamp it wasn’t gonna be cheap, not to mention the hassle of incompatible electrics.

2 Convert a hard-wired wall light into a plug-in option.
Definitely do-able (or so my husband tells me) though I was kinda set on using an adjustable arm wall light and the minimum cost for one of those is around $250!

3 Get my décor crazy on and stick a desk lamp to the wall.
Sure, why not, hey?

If you follow me on Facebook you might remember a post (from about  a year ago now) where I shared some adjustable arm desk lamps which, at the time, were on sale from Wayfair for just $35 each (it seems they are no longer available through Wayfair though you can buy them from other retailers – here, here, here. You can, of course, also find similar ones).

I know desk lamps like this aren’t anything new though for some reason I immediately associated these particular ones with the swing arm wall lights I’d been crushing on. Sure enough, my head was soon tilted at a right angle (looking at the lamp pic on my screen) and my noggin cogs were turning! Before committing to buy however, rather than trust my imagination alone, I had a bit of a play around with the product pic in Photoshop, manipulating the lamp into something that might actually work on a wall.

Converting a Desk Lamp to a Wall Sconce

You see, although I was planning on simply sticking a desk lamp to the wall, I didn’t really want it to look like I’d just stuck a desk lamp to the wall. I wanted it to look as legit as possible. Luckily, my rough Photoshop renderings convinced me it could work (in fact, I thought it looked just like the real ones!) so I went ahead and made the purchase.

Once the lamp arrived, I played around with the arms in person. I noticed that the beehive style “hinges” restricted the amount of angle I could achieve because they hit each other. Fortunately, this didn’t effect my desired configuration. I also felt the leading arm was a little too long though figured this was just me being overly fussy.

Anyhoo, here’s how the whole (easy and affordable) project went down…

Step 1- Wall Mounting a Desk Lamp | The Painted Hive

STEP 1 Remove base plate.

Adjustable arm desk lamps come with pretty hefty bases to balance the weight of the angled arms though for my purpose it was just making the whole lamp way too heavy. To remove the base plate, it was simply a matter of pulling off the glued-on cover, undoing a few bolts and nuts then releasing the heavy resin disk.

Desk Lamp to Wall Light (Step 2) | The Painted Hive

STEP 2 Drill mounting hole.

With the base plate gone the lamp was surprisingly light (like, lighter than a picture frame light) though I still needed to come up with an effective means of attaching it to the wall. After brain-storming a few different ideas I concluded that one long central screw was the simplest and safest method. Sure, this meant there would be a visible screw head though with the slight industrial style of the lamp I decided this wouldn’t bother me. To accommodate the screw I drilled a neat hole in the top of the base opposite the cord. For obvious reasons I did this prior to painting.

Desk Lamp to Wall Sconce Light (Step 3) | The Painted hvie

STEP 3 Mask and spray paint.

Ideally, I would have loved an antique brass lamp though they just weren’t available in my stingy price-frame. I contemplated creating a brass finish myself, though decided instead to go with something very neutral and chose Rust-Oleum Oil Rubbed Bronze. I simply taped-off the bulb socket and cord (in hind-sight I didn’t need to tape the cord though) then gave the lamp around three light coats, adjusting the arms as needed to achieve all-over coverage. I thought about doing the whole ‘colour pop’ thing on the inside of the shade (which I do love) though decided to keep things simple. Maybe I’ll hand paint it a sunny yellow or something in the future, maybe.

Of course, the original brushed chrome finish was totally fine, just not in-keeping with the scheme for Charlotte’s room.

Wall Mounted Desk Lamp (Step 4) | The Painted Hive

STEP 4 Cover exposed base.

Just to keep things neat and conceal the wires I cut a disk from the front of an old display folder (you know, those flexible plastic ones) and inserted it behind the rim. I also made sure to cut a slot for the impending screw.

Mounting a Desk Lamp to a Wall (Step 5) | The Painted Hive

STEP 5 Attach to wall.

As mentioned in Step 2, I decided that once long central screw was the best way to mount the lamp. I was lucky to have an appropriately located wall stud so my lamp is actually anchored in solid timber though given the lightness of the lamp I think a heavy duty plaster plug would also do the trick. To ensure my screw head nestled neatly into the lamp groove, I drilled into the wall on a slight downward angle and used a dome-head screw. My screw was originally black so already matched my lamp though of course you can paint the head any colour to co-ordinate.

Hiding Wall Lamp Cords and Switches | The Painted Hive

STEP 6 Conceal cord and switch.

I knew from the beginning that the visible cord and switch were going to bug me. That said, I think that in the right space the casual nature of the exposed cord can work. I just wanted something a little more ‘finished’. If it doesn’t bother you then you just saved yourself an extra process!

I decided to hide the cord in a narrow concealer made to appear like part of the light itself. I actually quite like this look. I found an adhesive cord cover (D-Line Micro – $10 from Bunnings), cut it into two portions (one for above the switch, and one for below) then spray painted it to match the lamp. Of course, you could instead choose to paint the cord cover to blend in with the wall, though I think this is a look better suited to dark coloured walls. I wanted the cord cover to abut the light so it looked like part of it. This created a slight lean away from the wall where it meets the lamp due to the cord needing some clearance space. Thankfully this is only discernible upon super close inspection and the dark colour of the lamp, cord and cover really does help disguise everything.

Wall Lamp Cord Concealer

To deal with the exposed switch I decided to hang a pretty picture over it.

Wall Mounting a Desk Lamp | The Painted Hive

I know, I know, you’re probably thinking how ridiculously impractical that sounds – “A picture over the switch, how the heck do you actually use the dang thing then? Duh”. I thought this too which is why I installed a remote power switch (click the link if you’re not sure what a remote power switch is – sorry, I couldn’t find a link to my actual brand). I love this thing. Essentially, the lamp is always ‘on’ though power to it is controlled via remote. The remote is simply attached to the side of Charlotte’s chest of drawers with a 3M Picture Hanging Strip so it’s nicely hidden, completely removable and super accessible.

Remote Controlled Power Switch for Lamp

The remote is capable of operating multiple power points which is why it has so many buttons. Of course, we only need to press the top (“1″) button to operate our lamp and Charlotte has this down to a fine art.

I thought about using some kind of hinge system to hang the picture though decided that was overly complicated (and extra difficult given the fact the switch means the picture can’t sit flush on the wall). Instead I simply opted for basic picture string and two long nails hammered in on a steep downward angle. It’s easy to lever the picture without the string slipping off the nails so the switch can be accessed (if needed).

How To Lever a Picture

The length of the nails, which sit just proud of the switch plate, also mean that although the picture doesn’t sit flush against the wall it does rest neatly parallel to it. An unintended bonus is how having a piece of art below the sconce gives it the impression of being a picture light, which I like.

Adjustable Arm Wall Light from a Desk Lamp | The Painted Hive

I went with a 15 watt pilot bulb which, although very soft, throws ample reading light. I was initially concerned that the position of the light might be somewhat blinding though have laid beside Charlotte on numerous occasions to read bedtime stories and have never once found it to be a problem – on the contrary, it’s actually quite nice to have a warm back light for a change (and, of course, the tilt of the shade can always be altered to redirect the cast, if need be).

Desk Lamp to Wall Light - Budget Friendly| The Painted Hive

Although I wasn’t ever attempting a specific “knock-off”, before publishing this post I did a quick Google search and found these similar lamps…

Swing Arm Wall Light Knock Off | The Painted Hive

Bellacor | Hudson Valley

The $50 for mine includes the lamp, cable cover and paint. I know those proper wall lights are pretty gorgeous, though I do prefer my price tag!

This whole project was a total experiment and I’m really happy with how it turned out though the fact the concept is kinda weird hasn’t escaped me. So, tell me…successful or stupid?

A Desk Lamp Becomes a Wall Light | The Painted Hive



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Distressed Coffee Table (a revisit & rework)

Every now and again I receive questions about past projects.

It’s always a lovely surprise though also a tad embarrassing to be reminded that people still read my older stuff. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am proud of my humble beginnings and grateful for the path my callow bloggy pavers have laid, though am still bashfully aware of just how far I’ve come (and yes, I’m also aware that in a few years time I’ll probably look back at my current posts and think they’re crappy too).

Anyhoo, one of the most asked about projects from the past is my distressed coffee table makeover (from way back in 2011).

Cottage Country Living Room with Brown Leather Sofas | The Painted Hive

Photo from my living room mini makeover 2012.

After a slew of recent questions (I guess the old post must have been freshly featured somewhere?), I re-visited the article myself and was, let’s just say, a little underwhelmed.

No wonder I kept getting so many questions. Where were the step by step instructions, detailed explanations and accompanying images I love including today? Nowhere, that’s where! :-(

So, given the apparent ambiguity of the original post I thought I owed everyone (and myself) a more complete tutorial.

Just in case you’re new here and are wondering, I originally picked this table up from eBay for around $25. It was in great condition and certainly nice enough as is though I personally felt it lacked a bit of character.

Distressed Coffee Table Tutorial (Step 1) | The Painted Hive

1 Lightly sand the base using medium grit paper.

Because I planned to paint and distress the base I wasn’t too fussed about the preparatory sanding being thorough. In fact, I didn’t want it to be too thorough because it was important the paint could be distressed easily for a more authentic look. I simply wanted to create a bit of scuff to lightly grip some of the paint.

Maybe at this stage I should also apologise for the crap before shot. Another oversight from my early blogging days. It’s taken straight from the eBay listing and, no, the pen and phone were not included – false advertising or what?


DIY Distressed Coffee Table

2 Apply two coats of white paint to the base.

After cleaning away any sanding residue, I applied two coats (with drying time between, of course) of standard acrylic wall paint using a brush. You could use pretty much any paint though where distressing is concerned some do produce better results than others. In my experience low sheen, water based paints are great (of course there are also “speciality paints” – such as chalk and milk paint). I find glossy or oil based paints can be a bit ‘tacky’ which makes distressing trickier. Another reason I tend to use standard acrylic wall paint is because I often get it for super cheap (mis-tints) or even free (from hazardous waste depots). I didn’t apply any primer because, again, I wasn’t too fussed about the paint adhering perfectly.


Rustic Distressed Coffee Table

3 Distress the paint.

Once the paint was thoroughly dry I distressed it heavily by hand using a sanding block and a combination of sandpapers with varying grits (basically, I used rough paper for heavy distressing and fine paper for more subtle distressing). You could use a palm sander (I generally do) though for whatever reason I just distressed this one by hand (palm sanders can leave small scrolly squiggles – which may or may not bother you – due to the vibrations). I completed the sanding with an all-over rub of steel wool for a smooth and silky finish.

This process takes a bit of time and elbow grease and, although practise and technique can help, it’s pretty much just an ‘anything goes’ task. Play with sanding directions and depths, inspecting your progress from time to time, until you have achieved the look you’re after. From memory I also used a belt sander on the table shelf to make distressing the large, flat area quicker and easier.

Because my table was a naturally light coloured timber which had already been coated with a dark brown stain, my distressing revealed two tones of wood. This multi-tonal look makes for a really beautiful layered effect. If you’re starting with a piece that is light in colour and want the “layered” look, if at all possible, I do recommend staining it first.


Rustic Farmhouse Coffee Table

4 Apply a finishing glaze.

I’m not really of the opinion that top coats are always needed and am not sure if this is something I would bother with any more. At the time I think I was experimenting more than anything. I simply combined some brown craft paint with some clear acrylic sealer (around 1 part paint to 9 parts sealer) then applied it liberally with a rag before wiping it away again with another slightly damp rag. This created a subtle all-over sepia effect and a very soft sheen along with protecting and ‘finishing’ the finish (make sense?).

Just keep in mind that most clear sealers will yellow to some extent over time (some more so than others). If, like me, you’ don’t mind a bit of warmth in your whites, then this probably won’t bother you though if you’d prefer to keep them crisp ask for a non-yellowing sealer.


How To Distress Furniture

5 Sand, stain and seal the top.

It’s hard to tell from the before photo though the table top was simply stained veneer and for my personal taste was just a little too perfect – bordering on fake looking – and had a slight pink tone.

I sanded it back to raw, being careful not to go too far and reveal the composite board beneath the veneer, using a belt sander then distressed it slightly using a combination of hard, heavy and pointy implements (a hammer, steel chain, and prick punch). I then stained it a deep walnut colour and sealed it with one coat of danish oil. Sorry if you’re a regular visitor here and are sick to death of hearing about my love for danish oil, though for any new readers it’s my absolute fave timber sealer and totally awesome!

How To: Distressed Coffee Table | The Painted Hive

What was originally a rather plain table is now perfectly at home in my cottagey style living room. But more than that I feel its sense of personality actual injects further “life” into the space.

I’m planning to re-visit a few of my other more popular posts from the past in the hope of making my project processes a little more clear, detailed, and ultimately, achievable. I’ve also been working on getting Charlotte’s bedroom finished along with helping my parents with another room makeover at their place so, although I know at the mo’ I could probably be out-blgged by a glacier, I promise there are fresh projects in the works.



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How to Upholster a Chair (attached seat pad method)

I actually completed this chair months ago (some of you may even remember I posted a sneak peek on Facebook) and have just been waiting for some spare time to sit down and write the tutorial and share it already.

How To Upholster a Chair (and a cable knit cover) | The Painted Hive

It’s a sweet little chair for Charlotte’s room (yes, I will get that space completed – one day). I picked it up from eBay for around $25 after a reasonably long search. You see, I have this problem where I tend to envisage things I want – usually things that don’t exist – which means finding them generally takes a really, really long time. Throw my aversion for forking out big bikkies into the mix and it’s near impossible. Anyhoo, when I finally spotted this chair I knew it was just right. The shape, scale and patina, not to mention the price, were all perfect.

It’s the same chair I featured (in its ‘before’ state) in my distressed table post

Antique Chair and Distressed Kid's Table | The Painted Hive

Lift Lid Kid's Table | The Painted Hive

I must admit, after seeing these pics I fell a bit in love with the raw unpretentious look of the incomplete upholstery and did consider leaving it as is, though the exposed hessian and remnants of gimp were just way too itchy and scratchy so a new seat cover it had to be.

This is the first time I’ve ever upholstered a chair without a removable drop-in seat. I guess I must have felt kinda intimidated by the task, because this poor little chair sat neglected for over a year. Turns out my trepidation was unwarranted. The project was actually pretty simple and the result is surprisingly proper.

If, like me, you feel a little uncertain about the process of upholstering a chair with an attached seat pad, hopefully this tutorial will help shed some confidence inducing light.

How to Upholster a Chair: Step by Step | The Painted Hive

1 Chair
Duh! As mentioned, I’m using an antique child’s chair I picked up from eBay for $25.

2 Webbing
I’m using traditional jute webbing. Nowadays, you can get it in nylon and other materials too.

3 Upholstery Tacks
I used 1cm (3/8″) long tacks. You could use a staple gun instead though given the thickness of the webbing I just prefer the secure hold tacks provide.

4 Hessian/Burlap
To act as a base for the foam. Hessian is traditionally used though any strong woven fabric should suffice.

5 Foam
I’m using mid-density 25mm (1″) foam.

6 Wadding/Batting
To soften the curve of the foam and help conceal any inconsistencies.

7 Fabric
I usually go all practical when it comes to upholstery fabrics, especially where kids are involved, though in this case I kinda forgot about that. I wanted to use a cable knit jumper – a cream one at that – so I just did. Of course I’ve treated it with a fabric protector and have tried to persuade Charlotte to be somewhat careful though let’s face it, she’s a kid and it’s her chair so she can use it as she likes (within reason of course). I figure if it does get particularly dirty, worn or stained I always know how to recover it – that’s the power of learning to do stuff yourself I guess :-) I picked up my pre-loved cable knit jumper for just $3.99 from Savers.

8 Trim/Braid/Gimp
For concealing the staples. I’m using some really lovely braided cotton which goes perfectly with the cable knit fabric. I found it at Spotlight for around $3 a meter.


How To Upholster a Chair | The Painted Hive

STEP 1 Remove any existing upholstery as required.
In the case of my chair that meant the old webbing, hessian and glued-on gimp along with a hundred million staples. Seriously. In many cases removing the existing upholstery can be the most difficult and time-consuming aspect of the whole project. If possible, avoid it if you can. My webbing and hessian was just a bit far gone to be saved.


Upholstery: How To Web a Seat : The Painted Hive

STEP 2 Attach the webbing.
You can do this in a few different ways. This is how I went about it (you can read my previous tutorial for upholstering a drop-in seat for a detailed explanation of a slightly different method).

A Cut a strip of webbing around 20cm (8″) longer than the width of the chair frame and tack it onto the seat. Take care to ensure you tack it as close as possible to the inside edge. Remember, you need frame space to attach the coming layers which also need to conceal the webbing.

B Fold the loose end over itself and tack again for extra strength.

C Pull the strip taut across the cavity (preferably using a web strainer – again, refer to my previous tutorial for more info) and tack again in the parallel position on the opposite side of the frame.

D Fold the loose end over itself and tack again then trim off any excess.

Repeat this process, weaving the strips, until you have something resembling this…

Cavity Chair Upholstery | The Painted Hive

Of course, depending on the size of your seat, more or less strips may be required.


How to Upholster a Cavity Seat | The Painted Hive

STEP 3 Attach the hessian.
Trim a piece of hessian around 5cm (2″) larger than the seat base. Position it on top then fold in the excess before stapling it in place. This just acts to fill the webbing gaps, making the base more comfy and strong.


How to Upholster a Chair Seat | The Painted Hive

STEP 4 Attach the foam.
Trim your foam so it just covers the hessian. An electric knife is by far the easiest tool for this task though if you don’t have one sharp scissors will do. You may also find it easier to make a template of the seat shape from card or paper first. Lay the foam in place and staple it on. I like to push down the top edge of the foam, tucking the side underneath, to create a nicely rounded finish. Ensure you grab enough foam with the staples to avoid it pulling through (tearing) and lifting in the future.

It will probably look a little ‘bobbly’ (yes, that’s a word) though provided the ‘bobbles’ aren’t too inconsistent the wadding and fabric should even everything out nicely.


Cable Knit Chair Upholstery | The Painted Hive

STEP 5 Attach the fabric.
Trim a piece of wadding around the same size as the foam and lay it on top. Trim your fabric so it comfortably covers the seat (having excess makes things a little easier) and lay it on top of the wadding. Make sure it is straight and smooth. Neatly staple around the entire perimeter of the foam, pulling taut as required, then closely trim away any excess fabric.

TIP: Using a thick and slightly stretchy fabric, especially a soft woven one, usually makes for a more smooth and consistent finish. Thin and rigid fabrics show up imperfections much more obviously.


How to Upholster a Chair (Attaching Trim) | The Painted Hive

STEP 6 Attach the trim.
Choose an inconspicuous area or central position to start in (I began center back). Fold a small portion of trim under itself (to conceal the exposed end and create a neat loop) then attach it to the seat using hot glue. Press down hard to compress it slightly. Continue gluing and sticking until the entire edge of the fabric is concealed by the trim. When you reach the starting point, cut the trim leaving a little excess to fold under again, then glue it down abutting the beginning…

Upholstery Trim | The Painted Hive

TIP: If, like me, you’re using a braided trim that easily unravels, keep the ends neat by tightly wrapping a strip of clear sticky tape around the area you need to cut. When you do have to cut the braid, cut through the center of the tape. This will leave only a small portion of tape which will neatly hold the loose ends together though be barely visible once folded under.


Step by Step Easy Chair Upholstery | The Painted Hive

Like I said, hopefully this tutorial helps spark some motivation in those of you who have a chair like this languishing in a dark corner somewhere. Or, even better, maybe it might inspire a few of you to purposefully seek one out! In many cases chairs requiring some simple re-upholstering can be picked up for super cheap.

Now, onto the next project for Charlotte’s room…




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Simple and Effective Wall Art (with free printables)

If you follow me on Pinterest, you might have noticed that a few months back I created a new “Masculine Rooms” board.

Masculine Rooms

I was hunting down some style inspiration for my brother’s new house, and whilst I’m pretty certain its rooms will never grace the pages of a design magazine, the house is looking much more like a home now.

One of the additions was a really simple, and super affordable, series of ‘artworks’ for the entry. I created them on a whim in a spare five minutes and never really intended to blog about them, though everyone keeps commenting on just how effective they look so, whilst I’m under no illusion that they are spectacular or anything, I thought perhaps I should share.

I’ve always been a fan of basic black and white wall art though haven’t really had a chance to use it in my own home. It’s easy to think of it as being quite contemporary and maybe even a little stark, though when used right it can impart a gentle sophistication which I think compliments a myriad of interior schemes, including country and coastal styles.

Here are a few examples of some quite different yet equally lovely rooms all sporting their own versions of predominantly black and white wall décor.

Decorating with Black & White Art

Decorating with Black & White Art

Decorating with Black & White Art

Decorating with Black & White Art

Decorating with Black & White Art

Decorating with Black & White Art

Decorating with Black & White Art

Decorating with Black & White Art

Decorating with Black & White Art

1 | 23 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

My brother’s blank canvas of an entry seemed like the perfect candidate.

For me, the secret to DIY wall décor like this is to use large thin frames with generous mattes (or basic backing) and very simple art, preferably bordered. It creates real impact.

Of course there are a heap of ways to go about creating art like this and endless design possibilities (I’m actually really excited about playing with some different ideas). For this project I used Photoshop and some free high resolution hatching brushes. They have a raw, graphic, abstract nature which, whilst neutral enough, imparts a subtle masculine edge. It would be easy enough to hand-draw something similar though I like the instantaneousness of using digital images – especially when pressed for time. To set them off I added a black border which I think is a really crucial element.

Although they’re black and white you could always colourise them in an editing program if you’d prefer a bright punch.

Free Printable Modern Black & White Art | The Painted Hive

SET OF 3 18cm x 18cm/7″ x 7″ IMAGES

I printed the images onto nice quality paper then carefully cut around them. I also added a little signature in the bottom corner of each print to help with the illusion of ‘proper’ art.

I housed them in basic black frames (40cm x 50cm – $5 each from The Reject Shop) and instead of going to the trouble and expense of mattes, I simply flipped the card which came in the frames around to use as a background. I originally wanted white backing though the reverse side of the card was a natural cardboard colour. I was worried it might look a little crude and make-do, though it actually ended up being just perfect (I think I even prefer it to white). I simply attached the little artworks to the card using double sided tape.

The scale of my brother’s wall lent itself to a column of three landscape oriented prints.

Black and White Wall Art Free Printables | The Painted Hive

I think this is one of those “you had to be there” kinda projects. The photos just don’t convey the full effect.
Oh, and please pardon the reflections!

There is so much you can do with basic art like this. Hang it individually, in a small group, rest it on a shelf or use it as part of a larger gallery. Here are just a few configuration examples…

Different Wall Art Configurations | The Painted Hive

As I already mentioned, I know this isn’t anything spectacular. Whilst I hope it’s helpful to some of you (perhaps particularly those dealing with decorating ‘manly’ rooms) what I wanted to do more than anything through this post was inspire and encourage – ignite a little “brain flame”, if you will. I know that for most of us budget conscious decorators original art is prohibitively pricey, and whilst there are lots of affordable alternatives nowadays, there’s just something so satiating about using some ingenuity to create something personally.

I’m contemplating creating more free printables in this same kinda vein (horses, pears, birds, sea fans, tree silhouettes, geometric shapes, feathers, and on and on!) using and sharing different techniques and resources. Is this something you guys would be interested in?

Just to reiterate, I used Photoshop and some free brushes in this instance. If you don’t have Photoshop you can use GIMP – a free alternative (Photoshop brushes can be imported into GIMP). If you don’t know what the heck ‘brushes’ are, they are basic drawing tools which range from simple shapes to complex illustrations. Photoshop comes with a range of standard brushes though additional ones can be easily imported. If you’re interested, try Googling “Photoshop Brushes” to see some of the options – there are some really amazing ones!



Printables free for personal non-commercial use only.


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