5 Tips for Displaying Kids’ Art, According to an Interior Designer
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As a mom with a whole closet dedicated to fabric, paper, and 14 hot glue guns, few things bring me more joy than watching my boys harnessing their own creative genius. I beam whenever they excitedly hand me their newest “masterpiece.” As an interior designer, however, few things bring me more dread than the actual thought of displaying some of their projects.
As nearly every parent knows, it takes approximately one month of home crafts or three days of preschool to realize you just can’t keep everything. While it kills me not to store every single finger painting and traced hand-turkey that comes through the door, most creations get filed away in the stainless steel cabinet under the kitchen island. The runner-ups go in a huge Rubbermaid container in our hall closet after their weeklong refrigerator exhibition.
A few really special creations make the cut and get displayed permanently in our home. By treating what my boys create the way I would “real” art, they feel like true artists. Plus, it makes me smile every time I see their creations out of the corner of my eye. These handmade pieces always provide good stories, too, when friends and family are over.
Here are five easy tips for displaying kids’ art:
1. Highlight a small piece of the whole.
I cut a small portion of a much larger piece of my toddler’s finger paint drawings to emphasize an interesting scribble or color pattern. A simple, modern frame with an oversized mat creates a sophisticated look that suits nearly every room in my home. When I place the art within a vignette of other objects, the construction paper is less noticeable. In fact, it looks like custom art.
2. Pick up a sheet of $1 patterned paper and a statement frame.
My heart skipped a beat when I pulled this self-portrait out of my son’s backpack. All hail his creative art teacher! She asked the kids to cut out their portraits, then glued them onto patterned paper. The result was a perfect mix of quirky and sweet. Placed in an ornate gold frame, this art sings to my eclectic, bohemian soul. My house may be filled with these in the near future! Choose a patterned paper that suits your own color palette.
3. Use a small sculpture to add color in unexpected places.
Bright, primary-colored art will stand out in a sea of neutrals, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. While my home is filled with color, that may not suit every parent. Start small. My son’s handmade blue lion sculpture is a tiny spot of joy in our living room. Choose one room or area of your home where your own blue lions blend right in. Small, handmade sculptures can add some visual interest without overwhelming the space. And this is where those fun stories come in; who wouldn’t ask about a quirky figurine sitting on an end table?
4. Create a catch-all space.
My oldest son is 7. He notices if anything is thrown out — and I do mean anything. So I decided to make a mini-gallery in his room. Magnetic paint to the rescue! I used three coats on a simple board, then framed it with some scrap wood stained to match my son’s dresser. We encourage him to hang anything that he really cares about, and he does it proudly. He loves that the display is in his room, and I love that it’s not in the kitchen.
5. Embrace the weirdness together.
My office is the room where I hang everything I have no other place for, which makes it a pretty fun, if sometimes random, space. I found this consignment store shoehorn while thrifting, and snapped it up (it’s an ode to our last name, which is ripe for many puns). My son, thinking it was a lobster claw, couldn’t stop laughing at it. I drew little lobster outlines in pencil on the shoehorn and he painted them red. Why not? Then we hung it right back up where it was before. He proudly tells everyone he painted it and I have a funny little memory to look at while I work.
Kids are full of joy and excitement about creating, and I never want my sons to lose that passion. So it’s a balance between allowing them to showcase their art, while keeping our home (relatively) uncluttered and visually appealing to us. Be creative, don’t take it too seriously, and relish all the surprises they’ll bring your way! After all, a home is more special when all the family members are able to contribute to its beauty.