In this post: Check out some great ways for displaying children's art!
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As an art major in college, one of the things that for some reason stuck with me was a professor who used to say “children’s art can be very beautiful…but we are not children.” It always made me laugh (on the inside, of course) because that was her way of criticizing a less-than-skillful execution. But it also stuck with me because children’s art is so beautiful. There’s something about the freedom that children have that we lose as we get older and start comparing ourselves to everyone else in the class. This lack of inhibition produces unexpected color combinations and surprising compositions that I love.
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
Lucky me, I have an artist in residence who brings me new creations almost daily! It’s a pretty sustainable source of wall decor, in every meaning of the word. At some point a few years back I realized our refrigerator was getting pretty darn overcrowded and it was time for a new solution for displaying children's art.
After a little bit of thinking, I had the idea to turn a blank wall near our mudroom into a children’s art wall for my daughter’s masterpieces. What I envisioned was what I might describe as an ongoing installation that we could continuously update throughout the year. The final design included a combination of picture ledges , a cable for hanging, and eventually some additional 3M clips. There are quite a variety of shelf options on Etsy and I found the picture wire and clips, where else, on Amazon.
Because this wall is in our mudroom, which isn’t visible from the rest of the house, I wasn’t as concerned with making sure it matched other rooms and went with a vibrant green. If you need to keep it more neutral or work within an existing color palette, I think that would work well, too.
My daughter was super pleased with how the final display wall turned out and we have fun switching things out as she brings new masterworks home. If this particular solution isn’t quite right for your space, check out some others we considered below.
Other ideas for displaying children's artwork
1. Fun cords and clips for hanging kids' artwork
If I had it to do again, I might consider a more fun hanging method – this is a display spot for kids, after all. JSKids Gallery on Etsy has a lot of fun options, from the cloud theme below to rainbows, dinosaurs, stars, and butterflies.
I also love this beaded version that turns the cord itself into something visually interesting. If you really want to go above and beyond, you could turn decorating the beads into an additional art project that would bring a lot of color to a children’s art wall.
2. Board and clips: making it easy to hang children’s art
Using a board with mounted clips is something that you use for kids of all ages (teenagers make beautiful artwork, too!) or even for important paperwork if your art supply slows down. Although they are cute, I specifically didn’t select any with a child’s name or “look what I made” types of phrases to keep this purchase as versatile and reusable as possible.
3. Create a real (and fun) children’s art gallery with frame wall decals
I love the idea of mounting fun, frame-shaped decals on a children’s art wall and then switching the artwork out over time. Bonus – one less wall to patch in the future since this method doesn’t require any screws or nails!
I'm completely in love with these hand-drawn frame stickers from chocoveny. Not only are they so stinkin' cute, but they are made from PVC-free fabric (not vinyl), water based adhesive and Greenguard certified inks so you can feel better about having them in your house – particularly important if these are going in your child's bedroom. And, the shop owner says they can be reused over 100 times!
4. Paper that wall
This adorable wallpaper with a frame motif sets up the perfect canvas for an art display wall that could change and evolve over time. It could work well as an accent wall or even one or multiple panels framed with molding to create a picture within a picture concept.
Beyond being really cute, this is another option that you can feel a lot better about putting in your home since it is listed as Ecologo(R) certified meaning it's verified to have a reduced environmental impact. In addition, it's listed as UV ray resistant, cleanable, and removable. (More information on environmental certifications is in the glossary)
One thing to be cautious about is testing out the best way to affix artwork to the wallpaper. Tape made to be removable may be your best bet (painters tape or a 3M Command product, perhaps?) or you could also make this more of a permanent installation and select artwork and/or photographs that you’d be happy to leave up for a long period of time.
5. Vintage frames: a fun and easy way to create a children’s art wall
If you shy away from the complexity of a gallery wall concept this could be a great, one-stop-shop solution. Solutions like this one give you the look of a frame in a fun, glassless option that makes it easy to switch artwork out whenever you need to.
The color options are amazing and bonus: they are upcycled! If you’re feeling really crafty, perhaps you could DIY your own frames like this. (If you do, send me some pictures!)
6. Board it up: a designated spot for all of your kid’s artwork
This might be one of the easiest and most versatile options – all you have to do is hang it and you’ve got a designated, contained space for any artwork that comes home. While it’s not as polished a look as some of the others, over time it could take on a fun, collaged feel that could be really fun.
I also love these super creative ones that are so fun they almost seem like they were made for the explicit purpose of displaying children’s art.
Because we have a dog who puts everything in her mouth, however, I get nervous having tacks around. If you have a similar problem with anyone in your home, this magnetic option might work better. I love that this one is covered in sustainable, biodegradable burlap and comes in 19 colors.
7. The minimalist solution for a children’s art wall
These floating art holders use minimal materials to create a great display option for artwork and don’t require glass, or backing materials. They could be a great option for a lot of different spaces and would look particularly awesome in a more modern design scheme.
Beyond great looks, there are a lot of great things to be said about the green attributes of this option. In the seller’s words:
“The Caliper frame is designed and engineered to be harmless. It's fabricated in the USA and is designed to eliminate environmental negligence. Made by a small 100% solar-powered fabricator from minimum 75% recycled steel. Plastic-free, 95%+ post-consumer recycled packaging that is also backyard-biodegradable. (Tip: Cardboard takes approximately two to four months to biodegrade in a compost bin. Wet and shred it to speed up the process.)”
8. Leave it hanging: great reusable options for larger creations
There are a lot of great hanger options that don’t require heavy frames and glass.
These magnetized hanger frames come in a variety of sizes and finishes and, like a lot of items in this post, could easily evolve to be used in other ways in your home over time. As a frame designer in a former life, I know how expensive custom framing can be. Options like this are a win-win, resulting in lower overall costs and waste.
9. A more versatile clip option for displaying children’s art
Clip boards are another way to easily display artwork. I love these ones that can each be either mounted on the wall or displayed on a countertop or table. These also feel like potentially great gift options for grandparents or others who might enjoy some of your child’s artwork…
10. Put it on a shelf
Since we know not all artwork is 2-dimensional, it helps to have some versatile spots for displaying children’s art. While picture ledges can be a good solution for smaller pieces, a dedicated shelf is also a great option and accommodates artwork of all sizes.
These floating shelves would really put the spotlight on your child’s creations. One, or multiple rows of three would be an awesome way to dress up a blank wall. I love that these are handmade to order and – especially since they’ll be around kids – free of chemicals, dyes, and stains.
This is another fun option for a smaller space since it features both hanging and shelving options in a small package. It also comes in two widths and three different finishes and, like the floating shelves, is made by hand.
11. Old school: the tape method for displaying children’s art
There’s also just the good old-fashioned taping method! If you have an available space in your house you can just make it happen. Something to note, I was bummed to learn recently that many types of tape are not great for the environment. The good news, however, is there are a ton of options that minimize the negative impact.
While many types of commonly used tapes are plastic-based, regular, paper washi tape is a more sustainable option because it is naturally compostable. Just be careful not to inadvertently buy tape with glitter or other plastic-based decoration or you’ll negate the compostable benefits.
If you still find yourself in need of traditional transparent tape, you may be interested to know that there is a more eco-friendly option. Scotch now makes “greener tape” that is made from 65% recycled or plant-based materials.
Consider just buying the refills to lower the amount of plastic used per roll. (Also, note that the refills have more tape per roll when comparing prices.)
What to do when the exhibit is over?
As beautiful as children's artwork is, if you have your own artist in residence, you know that you can quickly get overwhelmed by how much art one child can produce. Luckily: technology.
An idea for culling down the volume is to separate all artwork into three piles:
- Immediate recycle bin papers. This is the pile for worksheets, coloring pages, and things that are more busy work than creative endeavor.
- Batch digitally photograph. It can be hard to know what to do with things that are cute but don’t make the keepsake cut. An idea to consider is photographing and saving them in the cloud. This way you have can check them out in the future without having to find physical storage.
- Physically save. This should be the smallest pile with the goal of keeping a few special items each year.
You may feel bad not cherishing each of your child's creations. (Or maybe you don't – more power to you!) Remind yourself that you're doing a favor for their grown-up selves who won’t have to sort through quite as much stuff at some point in the future.
More digital options
There are also many great services that can help you digitally capture your child’s artwork so that you don’t have to keep a physical copy forever. Check out this great article that seems like a good start to finding a solution for making a child's art collection more manageable.
Have you created a children’s art wall in your home? Or do you have another great solution for displaying children’s art? Share it with us in the comments below!