Updated date:

Art Options: What to Hang on the Wall Instead of Framed Art

Linda is a seasoned writer and home-decorating authority. She loves sharing design trends, decor ideas, and useful tips with her readers.

How to Decorate Artistically Without Framed Art

Isn’t it time to consider redecorating your walls? If you're looking for something new and unique, the walls definitely deserve more than plain framed art. It’s time to have some fun with alternative wall decor ideas. Switch out your old, tired artwork with whimsical and unexpected items that add color, shape, and texture to your walls.

There's an easy and creative way to fill your walls without completely emptying your pocketbook. Distinctive items can include everyday things you might have around the house. Although the list of objects is virtually limitless we've narrowed it down to the best nine ideas to get your imagination flowing.

1. Install Wall Planters

Wall planters are a great way to brighten up the space and purify the air. Plant holders in the kitchen are ideal for growing fresh herbs for the home chef. Creative wall-mounted planters take up less space so you don’t have to buy a variety of pots in different sizes. This way you can enjoy greenery and living color year-round.

If you’re a handy DIYer you can build your own wall plant holders instead of buying ready-made versions from garden centers or home decor retailers. Choose plants such as succulents that are low maintenance and require little water. These wall gardens are a fabulous design statement and eco-friendly.

Many variations feature a wooden or metal frame consisting of multiple rows of containers of terracotta pots, plastic-lined canvas pockets or zinc cubes. You can also find individual wall pots and vases made from sealed clay, colorful glazed geoform stoneware, shiny metallic half rounds that hang directly on the wall.

These chalkboard planter holders are stylish and perfect in the kitchen for cooking herbs.

These chalkboard planter holders are stylish and perfect in the kitchen for cooking herbs.

2. Hang Fun Banners and Garlands

Fanciful garlands and banners are perfect for a child’s nursery or kid’s rooms. Colorful strings of ribbons or paper shapes brighten up a space and coordinate with the room’s furnishings and accessories. Tassel garlands can be made from textural materials such as raffia, yarn, embroidery thread, tissue paper and fabric in pastels or vivid colors.

Other types of decorative garlands consist of pom poms, faux berries, wooden beads and silk flowers. Trendy pennant banners are suspended from cording and can easily dress up bland walls. Look for them in party supply stores or the children’s department. You can even use any of these banners and garlands to decorate your teen’s room.

Pennant banners are an easy and cheap way to decorate the walls in your child's room

Pennant banners are an easy and cheap way to decorate the walls in your child's room

3. Install Vintage Doors and Windows

If your home is lacking architectural interest attach repurposed pieces to the wall to create instant style to any room in the house. Vintage doors and windows work well in a casual, modern or traditional home. You can display them in their original worn state or refinished. Either way they offer numerous design possibilities.

Whether with or without glass panes, antique doors and window frames are quite versatile. Buy some from architectural yards, antique shops and estate sales. You can also find them for free at the curb on trash days or look in your basement, attic or garage. Even if they're slightly damaged you can fix your newly found wall decor by using nails or construction glue. Once you’ve mastered hanging these salvaged objects you’ll want even more.

Antique doors fill a wall with texture and warmth.

Antique doors fill a wall with texture and warmth.

4. Hang Paper Maché Animal Heads

Taxidermy trophy heads may not be your cup of tea but paper maché animal versions are much more stylish and funky for urban lofts, bohemian bungalows or contemporary condos. Choose from foxes, zebras, rhinos, raccoons, deer, giraffes and even unicorns. Some are sold completely white and others are painted to resemble the animal.

You can choose solid bright hues, painted florals, blue skies and clouds, stripes, polka dots, rainbows, chevrons, paisleys or whichever design you prefer. These fanciful trophy heads are best mounted in game rooms or foyers where they’re visible to family and friends.

Paper maché animal heads also look precious in the little one's nursery.

Paper maché animal heads also look precious in the little one's nursery.

5. Hang Macrame Wall Hangings

Retro macrame wall hangings are back in vogue especially in boho and mid-century modern settings. Each are handcrafted and designed to add texture, interest and personal expression to any space. These artisan creations take the place of traditional artwork and are sometimes used as part of a gallery wall.

Macrame wall hangings are either looped onto a sturdy wooden dowel or a piece of sculptural driftwood. Lightweight macrame can be hung with a single nail. Others that are oversize might require the use of multiple picture hangers.

If you love 1970s macrame but dislike the high price tag that goes along with it, why not try your hand at creating a budget-friendly wall hanging. Go online to find basic macrame patterns, practice the different kinds of knots and make your very own design. It might seem daunting at first but you’ll eventually get the hang of it.

Macrame wall hangings can be very simple or extremely complicated.

Macrame wall hangings can be very simple or extremely complicated.

6. Install a Gallery of Mirrors

A gallery of mirrors is an interesting option that gives a room added dimension, reflective light and visual expanse. They’re also great for checking your hair and makeup before you head out the door. A grouping looks extremely impressive and creates a special touch in a small powder room or large foyer.

It's fun to accumulate mirrors over time from garage sales, antique stores and thrift shops for a fraction of the price of a big piece of artwork. Select plenty of different styles, sizes and shapes to fill an entire wall. Antique mirrors add a sense of elegance and a vintage look to your home. You can either use a mix of old and new to create an eclectic vibe in traditional or contemporary spaces.

Hanging a gallery of mirrors can be a bit intimidating. Although the mirror grouping should look random, each one should be deliberately positioned. Here’s an easy way to do it: Make paper cutouts of each mirror and tape them to the wall until you determine the perfect arrangement.

A mirror gallery brightens up the staircase and contrasts against the emerald wall.

A mirror gallery brightens up the staircase and contrasts against the emerald wall.

7. Put Collections on Display

Snoop around in the house and bring out similar objects and display them on the walls. If you can’t find anything that works go thrifting to create a unusual wall exhibit. Look for items such as vintage signs, hats, clocks, African masks or old records. Display them on hallway walls, the media room or family lounging areas.

Consider something industrial like rusted gears on the wall in your partner’s man cave. If you prefer odd curiosities and love to go to antique shops gather up a number of old decorative plates to adorn wall of the dining room. Display a group of exotic flat baskets on the wall featuring a variety of different patterns and colors. The collection forms a textural focal point in the room.

An assortment of antique rolling pins will make an adorable display in the kitchen. Place them on dowels, metal towel racks or hang them vertically from the handles using twine on nails or cup hooks.

Rwanda baskets on the wall add color, texture and an exotic flair.

Rwanda baskets on the wall add color, texture and an exotic flair.

8. Display Colorful Books on Unique Shelves

For the love of books here’s a practical and decorative idea for displaying them on the wall. Instead of piles of books on tables and on the floor, wall shelves will keep them tidy and give your room studious look. A variety of wall mounted shelves or bookcases covering a wall creates a colorful and interesting presentation of books.

To give your room an artistic appearance make solid color dust jackets in white or brown craft paper as a neutral backdrop against a contrasting wall color. If you don’t have many books on hand visit the used book seller and pick up a batch in all the same color or blocks of different colors.

A fantasy book tree is fun way to organize books on the wall in your child’s room. The bookshelf tree design is a simple and ideal way to fill an empty wall. The tree branches and trunk are literally shelves to store books. Connect the pieces with wood glue and nails then attach the tree to the wall with screws. You can paint the tree or leave the wood natural.

Another bookshelf idea has an industrial flare. Combine salvaged lumber and galvanized plumbing pipes to create a rustic bookshelf to add texture and warmth. Do an online search for the shelving design you like best. Websites usually include photos, detailed instructions, materials and supplies. If you’re a good at building things it’s a relatively easy project.

Books in blocks of color create an impressive display.

Books in blocks of color create an impressive display.

9. Use Mid-Century Wall Decor

Mid-century geometric shapes such as sunbursts, constellations, Sputniks and waves were fashionable from the late 1940s well into the 1960s. The revival is seen everywhere and these retro wall decorations have become extremely desired. Among various mid-century styles are metal Brutalist sculptures featuring jagged edges, rough surfaces and a coppery patina. On the kitschy side, chalkware fish, ceramic pink flamingos and long-necked cats are just as popular as the other designs.

The great thing about mid-century wall decor is that you can frequently find original pieces at estate sales, yard sales and online sites. You might not get a bargain price if ones are created by well-known artists. However, there are still quite a few mass-produced and newly minted reproductions.

Mid century Brutalist wall sculptures are often large enough to cover a wall.

Mid century Brutalist wall sculptures are often large enough to cover a wall.

© 2019 Linda Chechar

Start a Conversation!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on January 10, 2019:

Liz, I love to use unusual items rather than traditional framed or canvas artwork. I think it's more fun to look for unique things. It really gives the room an eclectic vibe.

Liz Westwood from UK on January 09, 2019:

I have been looking for something to go on the wall in our lounge for a long time. Your article gives inspiration for me to widen my search.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on January 05, 2019:

Emmy Ali, I too like the chalk board planter pots and the paper mache animal heads. Although I'd like to try them all. Thanks for stopping by!

Eman Abdallah Kamel from Egypt on January 05, 2019:

Very interesting ideas. I liked the idea of chalkboard planter holders in the kitchen and the idea of the baskets on the wall so much.