Some say I’m a minimalist, and for good reason. I grew up in a cluttered household where every nook and cranny was stuffed with collectible items, from old dolls, to plates, to unopened “collectible” Barbie dolls that my mom was hoping to sell one day. Then the market for these junky items that had once been worth something went away and suddenly the items that had made putting a towel away or simply closing a closet door difficult for years, were worth nothing, nada. Heck, we couldn’t even give them away.

When my husband and I sold our home in Colorado, our friend came by to help us stage our home. She was thinking she was going to have to make us purge, but it was the other way around, she made us add stuff. Over the past several years we’ve been slowly adding more stuff and we haven’t purged like we should. But my kids are at that in-between stage where they still want to hold onto their young childhood toys and they’re moving onto older kid stuff too. So it will come in good time, I don’t want to rush their childhood.

My point is, I’m comfortable with blank walls and minimalist decor, or even no real decor sometimes. But lately, I’ve been wanting to make my home a bit more cozy, but at a reasonable price. I’ve decided to start with the walls. I found these great free printables on Pinterest, there are botanicals, quotes and even full premade gallery walls if that appeals to you. I’ve also found that pages of books can be framed for inexpensive art. A great place to look for books that might inspire home decor would be the Friends of the Library bookstore in Juneau’s Airport Shopping Center where you can grab books to be used as art for a steal.

The next step is to find frames to make them work. Fred Meyer and Joann’s have some inexpensive options and you can usually get them at half price if you time it right. I also check resale shops and garage sales for frames and even if they’re not the color I want, I have plenty of paint samples on hand to make them work for my home. This week I added a piece to the blank walls in my dining area. I was looking for 3 or 6 frames that were close enough to the same that if I paint them they appear to be a set. I know it sounds like a tall order but I was determined to make it work.

The decor piece in my dining room cost me a few dollars per frame, 30 minutes locating the free printables I wanted. Then a hour or so to get them printed at a print shop so the details showed. I paid a few dollars for printing. I also had an old mint green paint sample in the garage which I used to make the frames feel the same. Now I’ve made the space feel a bit warmer. The bonus is of this “art” investment is that if I grow tired this set of pieces, I can print something new and replace them anytime I want for little cost and effort.

Susan Stopher currently serves as office manager for Stopher Construction, LLC. She’s an avid traveler, adventurer and lover of art and design. She enjoys running and outdoor activities with her husband and two kids in Southeast Alaska and beyond. She enjoys cooking, canning and the great outdoors!