I am not sure where the idea of displaying art on the front of the fridge came from, but there is simply not enough space to display all of my children’s treasures (plus a few important reminders of my own) on the front of a fridge!
For years I turned this puzzle over and over in my mind. I hunted online for all kinds of ideas for displaying my children’s art in places that would showcase their work for all to see… family, friends, guests. I tried various short term solutions such as taping up new pieces on windows in rooms where we spent lots of time. I attempted a miniature clothes line fastened to a wall in their rooms and used tiny clothes pins to hold pieces of art along the line. These art displays would eventually overflow, look crowded and crammed… and then back to the fridge we would go with more art.
As I hunted online, in magazines, and in DIY home organizing books, I knew that I really wanted to showcase the beautiful work that all 3 of my children make, and I wanted to find the perfect location in our home to do so. I had considered every wall in our kitchen, family room, and front entry way when it finally occurred to me… the empty hallway between the kitchen and dining room would be perfect. This wall (which seemingly served no purpose but to take space away from our usually crammed family room!) had been a topic of possible renovation between my husband and I since we moved in. Should we knock down the wall to enlarge the family room? What about sealing it off on both ends to create a huge pantry off the kitchen? Extra cabinets along one wall would still allow for the pass through to the dining room and offer additional storage space. But no. In the end, a MAGNIFICENT ART WALL turned out to be the perfect use of this always visible but lightly used space in our home…. And what an effect this wall of treasures has had! Not only do guests marvel at the cheerfulness it adds to the home and the flexibility of its function, but my children have such a sense of pride about their prominently displayed creations. Their desire to add new additions to our gallery wall (and even school work of which they are especially proud!) has really made this project so worth while.
How I did it:
My kids love to paint on canvas, so I needed shelving upon which to rest those pieces. I also felt that I needed the flexibility offered by magnets for displaying and rearranging the many paper based art pieces they produce in all shapes and sizes. I did not want to get boxed in to a certain size that would limit their creativity and what could go on display. THE SOLUTION…
- I divided my 8 foot long hallway wall into 3 vertical sections – one for each child. At the very top of each section, I painted one child’s name right on the wall … oh yes I did!
- Right below each name, we mounted 2 narrow shelves for each child using modified crown moulding. This offered a safe spot for displaying delicate models and canvas paintings where visitors with little hands could not reach but could still see the wonderful works on display. A handy friend of ours built and installed these shelves for us, but any floating shelf unit will work just as well.
- Finally the lower 2/3 of the entire wall from end to end was magnetized. This was a multi-step process that took about a week to complete, but has paid off incredible dividends. This section of the wall is continually arranged and re-arranged by the kids themselves to display their art in whatever fashion they like. Its flexibility and spaciousness makes it ideal. I purchased magnetic paint from Michael’s Craft Store and applied 3 coats inside an area I had taped off defining the magnetic board space. This magnetic paint is applied right over the existing wall paint after a quick sanding and wipe down. Then, once it cures, you just paint over it with your original wall paint and presto!! A magnetic wall that blends in perfectly with the wall around it!!
- Finally I purchased some rare earth magnets from Etsy which are super strong and hold even Bristol board on the wall with ease. (Warning: I noticed that rare earth magnets are not recommended near people with pacemakers, so just wanted to pass that on.)
It may seem like an ambitions project or an over-the-top commitment to create a children’s art display of this size and scope, but it turned out to be one of the most well loved home decorating projects we have ever done…. And one we will treasure for evermore.
It is a joy for guests to peruse, for our children to create, and for me to admire each and every day.