25 June 2013

DIY: botanical printables (or, breaking up a wall of cabinetry)

One of my favorite features of this apartment when we looked at it to rent was the large wall of antique cabinetry in the foyer. It’s gorgeous and adds ton of character to the place, not to mention the storage!

And yet... this favorite feature has, over time, become a decorating dilemma. Why? Not sure if you noticed, but IT IS A GIANT WALL OF CABINETRY. It’s a lot of wood, beautiful wood yes, but a hulking wall of wood that “owned” the room. It sat bare for several months after we moved in, before I finally threw the spraypainted floral monogram on there just to break up all the wood.

That spur-of-the-moment design choice reminded me of a decorating theme I’ve seen around blogs and magazines for a while now: hanging frames on the outer edges of bookshelves, in front of the books within. I’ve gone back and forth between thinking it was smart (a wall of books is so often very boring) and silly (it’s not particularly functional, and it can look cluttered in some cases). But I thought for these cabinets, hanging frames in front of the doors might be a good way to style up the room and break up the wood.

I’d just need some art, right? Well! Not long ago, I saw these free downloadable botanical prints (hat tip to Jen at Rambling Renovators for the link) thought they might be perfect for this space. Free downloads? Neutral and classic? Project I could quickly complete in an afternoon? A reason to finally use some of the gazillion black photo frames I have sitting in a storage cabinet? Perfect indeed!

I only needed four, so I printed out the four that I thought complemented each other best:

Unfortunately, they don’t print out in a nice aspect ratio for 8x10 framing. So, I decided to improvise and cut off the white edges with my cheap paper cutter.

Pro tip! When you’re using a little paper cutter like that, you should slip a piece of scrap paper under whatever you’re cutting. Whatever paper is on the bottom will have a fuzzy, less-crisp edge, whereas the paper on top will have a nice, clean cut. You can see the fuzzy edge where it’s cut on the paper cutter above, but that’s just the bottom piece of scrap paper. My botanical print, on the other hand, had an edge like this:

Excellent, right? Always use the scrap paper!

And why was it so important to have a crisp edge? Because of the contrast against the black cardstock I was slipping behind the print:

I chose that because it seemed like the easiest solution with the oddly-proportioned print and the black frame, but I found that I truly liked it that way! The fact that it was way quicker than trying to resize the downloaded print into an 8x10 ended up being a bonus.

Once I had all the prints framed, I had to figure out how to hang the frames on the cabinet. Obviously I couldn’t put holes in the antique wood, and I didn’t want to hang things in some precarious way that would make the cabinets difficult to open and close. I decided that the easiest way would be to just hang them on the cabinet latch:

Sure, I’d have to take the print down to open the cabinet, but I go in these cabinets very infrequently, and this would be more straightforward than the other options I considered (a ribbon down the front of the cabinet, a somewhat unreliable Command hook, and so on). Still, I wanted to make it super easy to take the print down and hang it back up. I considered attaching a loop of ribbon at the top, but I didn’t want the prints to hang down too far down – I thought centering them closer to the latches would look best.

So, I ultimately decided that a long wire across the back would be my best bet. To do this, I screwed in eyelet hooks into the sides on the back of each frame and wrapped a wire in between them:

Then simply hung them on the cabinet latches. Ta-da!

The wire across the back isn’t perfect; the frames do lean forward a bit, and it’s most obvious from the angle when you first enter the apartment.

But, I figure it’s not any worse than the half-spraypainted foam board on the back of the floral P, so hey, whatevs!

The best part is that I unintentionally ended up playing off the other neutral tones in the room! The black frames tie in wonderfully with the old dining table that’s being repurposed as a foyer table, the green in the leaves work with the green glass bottle, and the ivory spraypainted silk flowers on the monogram match the ivory paper flowers in the vase!

The second best part is the cost of this project, which is FREE, and the amount of time it took to complete, which is ONE HOUR. With all the traveling I’m doing this summer, a cheap, quick project is right up my alley!

Anyone else trying the frames-over-bookcases/cabinets design idea? I’m surprised by how much I like it in my own house! And how about those botanical prints, hmm? Hope they can fill a bare space in your home, too!