The ($2) Children’s Art Wall

Kids' Art Display Wall crop webParents are constantly faced with many challenges; one of the less serious—but still maddening—is how to display all the art their kids create.

Our children come home from school with a seemingly endless stream of art. Of course, sometimes this “art” is just a huge smear of so-mixed-that-it’s-now-brown paint, but sometimes the stuff is wonderful—vibrant and fun and full of personality and life.

Mommy side note: Now that my oldest is 10, I can appreciate the art of the younger ones more. Even though when they’re young, it seems they’ll be producing this stuff forever, there is an end date! One day the art will change and become serious. In some ways this is exciting to see for your child, but it’s also a little sad. I miss all those colorful smear-fests!

So, what do we do with all this art? We imagine a gallery wall in the hallway with white IKEA frames, perhaps. Or we think we’ll turn it into awesomely quirky Christmas ornaments, or coasters, or placemats. So we save it in an ever-growing pile in the pantry that occasionally spills over without warning. But IKEA is so far away, and we don’t even like placemats. So there the art sits, collecting dust.

This was me, for quite a few years. Seven, actually. But then I made a kids’ art wall that was so easy and low-prep that even I could get it done. And even better, it only cost something like $2. Maybe $3, tops.

I got the idea from a photo in The Ultimate House Book, by Terence Conran, that showed string and clothespins hung above a desk in lieu of a more traditional cork board. I knew I could use this simple concept to make an informal display space for my kids’ art.

I picked a wall that was 1) not very wide, so the art filled the horizontal space, rather than just floating awkwardly in the middle of a huge expanse, and 2) somewhat out of the way, so that although the art is in a public part of the house, it’s not the first thing you see when you walk in the door or anything.

Jute String and Clothespins webBecause I use a lot of natural elements in my home (wood, jute, cotton, rattan), I figured the rough, thick jute string we already owned would work great, same with the $2ish wooden clothespins (regular old school) I found at Target. If this isn’t the case in your home, you could easily switch out different materials (ribbon, wire, metal clips, etc.) to get the look you want.

How to Create a Children’s Art Wall

  1. Decide how many rows of art you want. (Might I suggest three?)
  2. Decide how wide and how spaced out you want them to be. (Mine were 60 inches wide because the space dictated it, and they were about 17 inches apart vertically because we have some large-scale art I wanted to display. If you have smaller pieces, you might want to shorten the vertical distance.)
  3. Decide where you want the rows of art placed on your wall, and mark where your nails will go with a pencil. (Because we have 9 foot ceilings, I placed my nails at 51 inches, 68 inches, and 85 inches, measured from the floor.)
  4. Figure out how much string to cut. (Start with the width, obviously, but then add some additional inches so you can tie the knots at both ends, and for the droop of the string. In my case, I added an additional 12 inches to the width, so I cut 72 inches of string for each of my three rows.)
  5. Cut, hammer, tie, clip, et voila!

Note: When you’re placing the art, vary the sizes and shapes along each row to keep it interesting, and group colors that look good next to each other.

Kids' Art Display Wall web

I add to our art wall every so often when something special comes home from school. I also use the wall to pin up party invitations, birth announcements, and school photos. We’ve had our wall for a few years now, and it’s been completely transformed several times. That pile in the pantry hasn’t gone away completely, but I love that we have a special place to celebrate the creativity of our kids. There has been an unexpected bonus, too: by the time I take the art off the wall, I have that added bit of perspective that helps me evaluate whether that particular piece is truly one for the memory chest, or if its future instead lies (shhh!) in the recycle bin.

© Amy Daniewicz

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