My Top 5 FREE or Inexpensive Art Sources

When it comes to designing interiors, I like to mix high and low - with the "high" usually budgeted for investment pieces (like furnishings), and the "low" spent on more budget-friendly decorative accessories.  When it comes to art, however, I think it can fall in both the high and low category.

I am definitely not an art "snob".  I am one of those people who would likely mix museum-quality art with candid photos taken by my amateur self.  That's because I think that whatever art you choose for YOUR home should be what personally speaks to YOU - irrespective of cost or origin.

CAD INTERIORS design tips art budget design

Today, I thought I'd share five free or inexpensive art sources that are geared specifically towards budget design:


One of my very favorite "tricks" for getting professionally photographed prints to use as "art" for very little money is to buy a pretty calendar.  Carefully remove the printed image from the calendar and stick it in a matted frame!  Book stores usually have a decent selection of pretty calendars.

design tips inexpensive art calendars photography

design tips inexpensive art photography calendars

Etsy is another great resource for unique calendars filled with beautiful photographic images.  Check out this shop! The images of various California "spots" (shown above) were especially inspiring to me since California is my home state.  Frame and mount several individual images to create a gallery wall with a cohesive theme!

CAD Design Tip:  Use wide-bordered mats to elevate the appearance of any framed art piece.

There are so many free printables out there.  Do an internet search using keywords that include the art "subject matter" (i.e. botanical/floral, beach/ocean, inspirational quotes, etc.).  Print them at home, or have them enlarged and printed at your local office supply store.

design tips free art budget design

Pinterest is another great resource for printable online art sources.  This blog, which I recently came across, offers free weekly inspirational printables.  Lots of free printables can regularly be found here too.  Finally, here's a great round-up of free online art.


Have any leftover fabric hanging around?!  Turn it into a work of art of any size, big or small!  Hang it as a backdrop to your bed or use it as a focal piece!

design tips fabric art inexpensive budget design

While I didn't use leftover fabric for this project, you could certainly create a similar look with a fabric remnant.

CAD Design Tip: For larger installations, or when working with "thinner" fabrics, it is best to mount it on a frame first if you plan to hang it on a wall.  This will help prevent the fabric from "moving" or "stretching lopsidedly" while you are hanging it on the wall.  We DIY'd a wood "frame" for the art installation above before attaching it to the wall.


I once hoarded "good quality" thick wrapping paper when my kids used to sell them as part of their school fundraisers.  It was the only thing I liked to buy from "those" catalogs.  Well, while some of the gift wrap did actually get used to wrap presents, others fell prey to home decor.  I've used "prettier" designs as frame fillers or to cover generic cork bulletin boards which can be "art" too.

design tips budget design decor art inexpensive

Textured papers can also be wonderful art sources.  I cut down some graphic silk paper (shown above) that was just sitting in my craft stash and used it to style our bookshelves.  It was just one of the "free" elements that I used to style our bookshelves completely cost-free.


There is nothing more customized than "personalized art" in the form of family photos or real-life shots of places that are special to you.  Get your camera out and snap some photos!  Capturing the "subject" or "moment in time" is incomparable to anything else.

...and last but not least, whip out some craft materials and MAKE YOUR OWN art!

Sharing with: Home Stories A to Z, Inspire Me Tuesday


  1. Great tips!!! I love purchasing the expired calendars on clearance and using them for art. :) lol

    1. Thanks Stephanie! What a fabulous "additional" tip about purchasing expired calendars! :)

  2. This is great info.......and I use a lot of the same ideas myself, but good to share
    cause not everyone would think of it.
    I wish there was a way to make many of these larger or poster size.....cause I have
    some large frames that could use some new art work, but I am

    Blessings and Happy Valentines day,

    1. Thanks Nellie! Sometimes I use a couple of these ideas together (like gift wrap + photo) to create a "bigger" image to accommodate larger frames (along with a mat). Happy Valentine's Day to you as well. Thank you for taking the time to comment! :)


Thank you so much for visiting CAD Interiors! I appreciate you stopping by to read the post and leaving a comment. I will respond so check back. Have a great day!