March 6, 2009

Framed Wallpaper – Substitute for Fine Art

Filed under: Wall Decoration — Tags: , , , , , , — Leona Gaita @ 12:58 PM


This may not be the right time to invest in fine art, but hey, life goes on! Until wall art is hung, even the most beautifully decorated and carefully thought out room is not complete. A splendid alternative to expensive art is framed wallpaper. Currently, many of the wallpaper manufacturers are making beautiful, graphic, large prints that are eminently frameable, and make great wall art.


There are several approaches to such a project. If you need a single large piece that you would use over a sofa, or fire place mantel, choose an oversized abstract design and have it custom framed. Or you can use two 24″x36″ ready made poster frames and hang them side by side. The key is to choose a different area of the print design to center in each of the two frames, so that you don’t end up with two identical pieces.

Ready-made, store-bought frame, and attractive wallpaper

Ready-made, store-bought frame, and attractive wallpaper

For something medium sized, you can choose an 18″ x 24″ or 24″ x36″ ready made poster frame. Remember most wallpaper runs about 27″ wide. Many representational patterns will have central figure that you can focus in on. For example, a Chinoiserie pattern may have a perched bird. Center this figure, and then crop the wallpaper according to the size of the frame. I have a framed Chinoiserie wallpaper. One of my friends is a connoisseur of Asian art, and she was quite surprised when I pointed it out to her! She assumed that it was framed art. In any case, it’s very pretty, and it makes me feel happy when I look at it!


Vintage wallpapers from the Groninger Museum, The Netherlands

You can create a grouping of three or four small pieces by choosing a thematic novelty pattern. This one has four distinctly different black chair silhouettes on a white background. Each can be cropped, and framed with a ready made photo size frame and mat to make a charming grouping.

Thibaut- Cantonese color metallic gold

Detail of Thibaut- Cantonese color metallic gold

Some tips:

  • Check on the width of the wallpaper before buying large ready made frames. Some can be as narrow as 20″, though most American papers are about 27″ wide.
  • Choose a frame that picks up some of the coloring from the print, but retains contrast to the background
  • For a very large (custom framed) piece, select a pattern that will look good running sideways, such as an abstract or certain florals.
  • Remember, you don’t need A LOT of wall art, just a few choice pieces, to create few focal points.

    Thibaut- Cantonese, custom framed

    Thibaut- Cantonese, custom framed


Gorgeous effect, using bits of pretty wallpaper.

Gorgeous effect, using bits of pretty wallpaper.

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  1. This is such a great idea, Leona! Another variation on this theme would be Marimekko (which CB2 sells already stretched). I’d love to hear more about art placement on walls too. Maybe some rules of thumb? Does art always have to go over something like a table or another piece of furniture. What’s the right white space:artwork ratio? ie how much of the wall space should the art take up? Any examples…suggestions…What the Pros Know tips!

    Comment by Caitlin in Carolina — March 28, 2009 @ 10:47 AM

  2. I did a similar post, and I’m really considering doing a patterned wallpaper in a frame for my home office (in our future new home) instead of purchasing pictures. This way I’ll be able to incorporate the two colors I want to use in a calm and simple way. Love the Thibaut papers too, by the way!

    Comment by Kathy Creative Home Expressions — June 3, 2009 @ 4:45 PM

  3. Leona, I love this idea and agree with Kathy that Thibaut paper is gorgeous. Also adore the colorful patterns of the vintage papers from the Groniger Museum. Yummy!

    Comment by Kathy @HomeWorkshop — June 4, 2009 @ 1:08 AM

  4. Hi, very nice post. I have been wonder’n bout this issue,so thanks for posting

    Comment by JaneRadriges — June 13, 2009 @ 12:07 PM

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