I went round to a friend’s house for the first time recently. Her boyfriend is a barrister, so I wasn’t surprised to see how beautiful it was – like the pages of an interior magazine come to my life before my very eyes. There was a granite worktop in the kitchen, a designer-looking table made from upcycled bits of wood, feature walls covered in Farrow & Ball-esque colours, and Osborne and Little-style prints. Cursing myself once again for being the sort of person who writes about beautiful houses, rather than be able to afford to live in one, I couldn’t stop myself from remarking – embarrassingly crassly – just how expensive everything looked.
‘Oh, we’ve barely spent anything, I pick it all up really cheaply online or in random one-off shops,’ my friend replied airily. ‘Nothing – apart from the worktop – cost anything at all.’ It seemed that her secret was to buy old picture frames from charity shops or reclamation websites, fill them with anything from a little square of wrapping paper to a fashion print pulled from a magazine, and hang them all up in groups on the wall. And the result is as impressive as the cunning plan itself.
The trick is not to be worried about the frames being too matchy-matchy. Changing the size and shape adds interest, making the pictures inside them look like they are part of a curated art display. You want the eye to be drawn to the wall, for guests to stop and stare as they walk past. Mix gold frames in a collage with wood, and go for some baroque stylings with some that are more plain-edged. Hang them up the side of the stairs or behind the bed, like in this picture, if you want a large impact, or in tiny groups of three or four smaller frames to make a focus in a room.
Fill them with a mix of images too – some vintage postcards, some family photographs, even shots of models ripped from glossy pages. Think of it as the adult version of the way you decorated your bedroom as a teen – a moodboard for whatever you’re into right now, that can be changed the second you fall in love with something else. It may not cost the earth, but yes, it is art.
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Pip McCormac, Guest Editor
View all posts by Pip McCormac, Guest Editor