How to Buy Art for a Gallery Wall

We created a black and white artwork gallery wall in our dining room (see the makeover  and inspiration here.) I’ve had a bunch of questions on how to source and frame art so I wanted to put together a little guide on how to do it without spending a million dollars. (FYI-I did a whole post here on how to hang it all without nails!) For this project I wanted to buy affordable-yet authentic smaller pieces. About a third of it I already owned but most of it I purchased during a 4 month period. I knew I wanted black and white art and I wanted it to feel grown up, not cutesy, and not take itself too seriously. See all the details below:

Gallery Wall | Oh Happy Day Gallery Wall | Oh Happy DayiGallery Wall | Oh Happy Day

Here are my primary sources with direct links below:

1. Flea Market. This is my favorite place to find affordable artwork. Every time I go I buy at least one new piece for my collection. The art is usually between $15-$35 (occasionally I’ll pay more if I really love it) and the best part is it is usually already framed. Not just some boring frame either, usually they are beautiful old frames with character. I have this theory that even cheap prints look way better when they’ve aged 50 years. One time I saw this funny Einstein on a Bike print at the flea market. It was big and thought it would look cool in an office. It’s a common print you can buy off Amazon but when it was in an old frame from the 60’s it looked faded and had an authentic looking patina, and it was $10!

2. Thrift Stores. I don’t like Thrift Stores as much because to really score you have to spend a lot of time looking (like popping in a few times a week.) Spending a lot of time=Major Scores. I still get lucky every once in a while but it isn’t as efficient. When I’m searching the art section I keep an eye out for cool frames too. Sometimes the art is a terrible print but the frame looks great. (It’s easy to get new glass cut and a new mat cut for around $20 at a budget framing store.)

3. Directly from the Artist. If I’m a fan of an artist I usually contact them directly and ask what prints they have available. By cutting out the middle man we get a mutually beneficial deal. I’m obsessed with these photographs from Paris photographer Valerie Dray.

4. Etsy. I have a love hate relationship with Etsy. You have to comb through lots of things you don’t want before you find the gems. They are usually reasonable priced and usually shipped unframed.

5. Edited Online Artist Marketplaces like: Minted, 20×200. These are great because they edit down most of the art for you. They tend to be a little higher priced but there are some really great deals to be found.

6. Make Your Own: When I was looking for Art for this particular project I found an abstract sketch in my son’s room that I really loved and thought it would be nice on the wall. (it’s the oval blob shaped thing on the wall in the white frame.)  He loves that I framed his art and I love that on a wall of  fancy art there is a 4-year-old’s drawing.

Framing |This deserves its own post but I’ll focus on this gallery wall here. For a project like this framing gets expensive quick. Here is what I did:

-I used frames I already owned. A few of them were from college, I switched out the artwork and they worked perfectly.

-Cheap Frames. Most of the frames I bought from Target, Ikea and Aaron Brothers. I like the Target frames, I think Ikea ones have been hit or miss lately. Avoid the Ribba line as all of mine have fallen apart but the other lines are still fine. Aaron Brothers has a few sales throughout the year, I bought several during one of those sales. When I want the frame to be a step up from the budget options I usually use West Elm. The quality is really nice. (If I’m doing really fancy I have them custom framed.)

-Mat Cutter. I would not recommend this option if you aren’t framing a lot of things at once. It requires patience and a bit of perfectionism. It’s a $50 investment and takes FOREVER but we cut all our mats ourselves with this handy little system. Most framing stores will cut a mat for about $10 so it really doesn’t make sense unless you’ve got a lot of art to hang. I bought this 5 years ago and it has more than paid for itself. We buy large pieces of mat board at the art store for $4 and can usually get 3-4 mats out of each one.

-Other ways to frame. Here are a few other posts I’ve done on how to create art and frame it: How to Make Abstract Art, Potato Print Artwork, Painted Words As Art, Make Your Own Picture Frame, & Floating Art Frame.

Gallery Wall | Oh Happy Day


Gallery Wall | Oh Happy Day

Desert Diptyck

Gallery Wall | Oh Happy Day

I Wanted to Describe You to Someone

Gallery Wall | Oh Happy Day

You Blow My Mind Away

Gallery Wall | Oh Happy Day

Orange Hour, Ile St. Louis

Gallery Wall | Oh Happy Day

Dance Room

Gallery Wall | Oh Happy Day

Heads Collage

Gallery Wall | Oh Happy Day

Abstract Watercolor Print

Gallery Wall | Oh Happy Day

Beach Umbrella Print

Inspiration No. 24

For the past few weeks, I’ve been brainstorming simple updates I can make to my house to keep it feeling fresh. One of my favorite websites to visit for inspiration is Fab. I love that everything feels so modern and colorful, and I can easily get lost in their Furniture, Home, and Art pages. Some of my favorite items right now are below. Which one do you like best?

A. Plastic Color Map B. Barbosa Dining Chair C. Birdcage Lamp D. Vintage Kantha Quilt E. Eames Elephant F. iPhone 4 Alarm Clock Dock G. Striped Hamper

This post is sponsored by Fab: a design-curated shop, which features unique, quality design products.

Big Art

This post is sponsored by 20×200. Art for Everyone. 20×200 has three quality framing options (Made-to-Measure Mat, Quick Kit w/ Basic Frame, and Custom Frame) so you can have your art delivered to your door and ready to hang.

I love 20×200 because they make art accessible. Not only for the people buying art but they really put an emphasis on promoting emerging artists. I’ve just been putting finishing touches on our apartment like choosing throw pillows and  art. For the living room, it is really small so I want a really large piece that is subtle and lots of white. I usually lean towards color with the furniture so I feel like I need to tone it down and make the room feel a little moody. Here are some of my favorite picks from 20×200.

Offerings by Taca Zhijie Sui

Waiting by Ian Baguskas

North of the Tennis House by Joseph O. Holmes

Lake of Tears by Taca Zhijie Sui

Food Sign by Bryan Schutmaat

Art for Everyone

This post is brought to you by 20 x 200. Sign up for their newsletters to find out about their latest prints right here.

I’m a longtime fan of  20 x 200 for art. We are still waiting to hear if we got our apartment in San Francisco but I’ve already started decorating it in my head. Here are some of my favorite pieces on 20 x 200 right now.

First, this awesome print of Kite Hill.

These elephants for the entry way or maybe the boys’ room.

I am obsessed with this foggy print, it is so gorgeous.

This galloping print of a racehorse.

I love Christian Chaize’s beach series.

Lisa Congdon’s work is awesome. I want this print of vintage airline tags.

I love this poplar print for a living room.

This foggy “Food” sign can come in my apartment anytime.

I really love Sharon Montrose’s work. These three ducklings would be so sweet in a nursery.

Even thought the apartment is small I sometimes like the look when art takes up the whole wall. This picture above from Elle Decor is really inspiring.  On a side note I love really really what 20 x 200 has done for the art world. For so long good art seemed inaccessible for most people. 20 x 200 offers great art by amazing artists and a range of price points so everyone can find something for them. Save $15 on orders of $50+. Code HAPPY Expires 4/30.

Which ones are your favorites? Also, do you think big art will make my small apartment look bigger or smaller?


We got back from Copenhagen yesterday and I’m feeling so inspired by all the beautiful Danish design we got to see. One of my favorite shops was HAY. I think I loved it so much because it is rare you go to a store that feels so original and fresh. I haven’t seen everything in there at lots of other stores. The store was so beautiful I would have moved in if they let me. I picked up some pretty office supplies including some gold scissors and feather pens to bring home with me.

A. Box Set | B. Gold Scissors | C. Ball of Rubberbands | D. Tower Notepads | E. Feather Pens