Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Long Of It

There is a long narrow wall space in my kitchen that is crying out for some art work. It is a boxed in chimney for a walled in fireplace. The dimensions are 23 inches wide and 80 some odd inches tall.

Visual Vamp kitchen - then
The narrow wall in the the "then" kitchen
I want to hang some subway art
on this wall
The shelving has been removed, revealing a tall clean expanse

I am in no mood to open up the wall to expose old crumbling brick, especially when the counter sits in front of this column like structure.

What would work is something that is predictable: A subway sign. There are many sites that have these graphic images, and I like them very much. I loved my typography classes in art school, and I love typography and poster art.

Nate Berkus living room with subway style typography art

Of course now that Nate Berkus and Pottery Barn (and the Jane Fonda movie "Monster On Law") have perhaps over saturated the decor world with subway art, it starts to slide in the realm of the "Oh that's so 2008", or "That's so over".

Jane Fonda and her subway art in the movie "Monster In Law"

Pottery Barn subway art circa 2008
And it was on sale then for $79.!

What is it about us that one minute we all love something that is truly good looking (zebra or cow hide rugs, Lucite, Ikat, Imperial Trellis, Sea Grass, white slipcovers, etc.), and then we collectively bash any long term enjoyment out of having it?

This can never be over
Jenna Lyons Townhouse

New York subway signs

Being a New Yorker has endeared subway signage to me. So what's stopping me from getting a piece of subway art that is being offered in droves. Price mainly. A single sign to fit my space is around $275. HERE

It really isn't a high price for a piece of "art", when considered in context, but for me it is a little expensive.

So off I go on the hunt for a budget friendly piece of long and narrow in scale art, subway or otherwise.

I found subway art at Wal Mart! Well priced of course, but the dimensions are not quite right, being on the smaller side. I want the art work to fill up the long space as much as possible. But still these are great looking pieces for a girl (or boy) on a budget.

Cute subway style art for $31.88 from Wal Mart HERE
26 inches long - 14 inches wide - not the right size for me

More cute subway stile art from Wal Mart HERE
Stacking three of them might work to give the long look I need
Each piece is 22 inches x 18 inches

From Wal Mart for $31.88 HERE

I also found a site that sells recycled museum banners, the kind used to hang around town or in the art museum for a particular show. These banners are huge.

A museum banner in a room looks grand

72 inches long - 31 inches wide
Too wide for my space
$325. HERE

They look so regular in size when you see them hanging on a lamp post, but for home use they are grand and large. Unfortunately all that are offered are too wide for my space, and the price range is $325. up to $800.

The subject matter at Better Wall is wide ranging

Groovy museum banner

These banners are refurbished and cleaned, and they are gorgeous. They also come in small limited editions, and I think are a worthwhile investment, because once they are gone, there aren't any more.

Marie Antoinette museum banner - there are only 25 of them

Marie-Antoinette and the Petit Trianon at Versailles
Museum - Legion of Honor, San Francisco
72 inches long - 35 inches wide $479. HERE

I found another source for long wall art, from a company that specializes in modern home furnishings. The even had some typography, though the wording is a little too "Eat, Laugh, Love" for me. But the slats, as the company calls them, are the perfect size, and at $119. not so out of the realm of my budget.

Wall Slats from Inhabit HERE

78 inches long - 24 inches wide $119.

But to eBay I must go, and of course there are many listings for subway art there. Some of it is very expensive, because subway signage is highly collectible.

I also checked out Etsy, and found some great ink jet prints HERE that are just beautiful, but the long size I need wasn't there. I could hang two or three of these pieces in a row, but then I would be back to $100. - $150. or so for settling on something that works, but isn't what I really want.

Etsy subway sign art
12 inches wide - 36 inches long
I would need two @$50. each

Back to eBay where I found a couple of interesting pieces, in the form of actual scrolls from the subway, the kind that sits in the long window of the train and identifies which train it is and what route it is on.

NY Subway signage in the window of the train
It's like the one I got

They are not as glam looking as the black and white subway art, but still they had some graphic charm, and the opening bid was low. So I put in my highest bid for around $25. and forgot about it. And of course because I wasn't salivating over this auction, I won the thing.

My eBay win for $25.99
54 inches long x 12 inches wide

I'm awaiting (as the say in eBay language) my purchase to arrive. I will try it out in the space, and who knows, it just might work. If not, I can always give it to someone as a gift.

from Apartment Therapy

I know many of us have spaces with unusual dimensions. And I know many of us are on tight decorating budget too. What are some of the tricks you use to fill an awkward space? And what kind of budget art are you finding out there? Lots of us create our art work for a space, and I'd love to hear about what you guys are making too. Send me photos, and I'll post them in Readers Projects.


AppleTree said...

I love those museum banners. Not in my budget either.

Dianne said...

Why not paint that column of wall with chalkboard paint and do your own thing on it, changing as your mood does. Could hold directions or menus or your own doodles. Could be very chic!

Kris said...

I think that typography makes great art! Very classy and interesting!

Irene said...

Yes budget is quite an issue, I think no one with any creatively should have to deal with that.

Linz said...

oooh thanks for taking us on your subway sign journey. i think you got a wonderful piece - it's definitely more unique than the others, and there's a more authentic look to it. plus, you got it for a steal!! can't wait to see what it looks like when ya put it up...!

pve design said...

What about painting that space with chalkboard paint?
Then you could write your own signs, or notes or doodles. See Isabella & Max, she has used it a lot!
I think it would look great, then when I come visit, I can draw on it too! Hope you made it home safe and sound.

Linda@ Lime in the Coconut said...

My first thought was chalkboard paint too!!...change it by whim...let your creative flag fly!...or make your own...cut a piece of plywood to size...paint it black add your fave saying...doodle...whatever.

My friends blackboard paint in her kitchen (it is on her soffit) scroll down:


and a recent one of mine:(scroll down to almost last pic)


You my dear, have more creativity in your baby pinky, than the majority of us....you can do it!

Linda in AZ * said...

*** Val~~~ Well, chalkboard ("custom-sized" for your space) was MY first thought, too (I have it on my pantry door...at FIRST I thought it would be "cool", THENNNN I soon realized I couldn't live withOUT it! It's sooooo handy for grocery lists n' mesages, sure... but ALSO great for menus for parties, special, personalized "welcomes" to houseguests guests, etc....

Thennn I remembered many years ago I "found" an old, TOO FAB frame (sans picture)... I just LOVED that frame~~~ it was an "awkward" size, but JUST STUNNING! So, I painted a square the size of the frame on the wall, then placed some really special dishes, a few antique spoons, an envelope w/a letter from the White House, etc., that I'd collected/saved, inside it... (NOWADAYS of course, it's NOT a "new idea", but it STILL "works" most of the time, IMHO... I enjoy seeing that type of thing, ESPECIALLY when a guest at someone's home, and ESPECIALLY if it's "personalized". Since it's in your kitchen, why not BB it & put old postcards, letters/envelopes w/ the ollld world writing, a few old photos that mean SOMETHING to you and/or your dearest & maybe some of your OWN, OLD photos from when you LIVED in NY???

Gotta run~~~ Keep us posted, kiddo!

Linda in AZ *

Renae said...

How about IKEA, I wonder if they have anything? Like what you have found so far though! You are such a good shopper.

Ragland Hill Social by Gwen Driscoll said...


Such a great post. I've been out of touch this summer and have missed the world of blog. So glad to be back. Hope you are well.

Amanda Stone Talley said...

good luck in there! it's gonna look great!

pretty pink tulips said...

One of my favorite "custom" things to do has been to frame old letters from my grandfather (back in the day when a mistake was whited out or let go) - I have a priceless one he wrote to Neiman Marcus circa 1956 about a dress he needed for his daughter (my mom). The response from Neiman Marcus came just days later saying they had the perfect dress and because time was of the essence had shipped it down. My mother did wear that dress ---- and I have a wonderful framed picture of her in it, being named All School Beauty at her college.

xo Elizabeth

Anonymous said...

now, miz v,

the piece you 'won' on ebay is a real piece of subway. all the other pictures are of made up stuff which make no sense to a new yorker--you can't get there from here baloney. i really hope that piece of home works for you.

if, by some strange chance it does not, you are clever and creative and resourceful, and could make your own site-specific piece. use the directions for making a 'floorcloth' with canvas, paint and varnish. for a topic-the world is all before you. a map or lists of stops on the st. charles cars, or some gadroon or other border from a book of hours, or just any stencil alphabet you pick out, spelling out your names and cholo's. for fancy you could mount the cloth on a shortened curtain rod with finials, or at top and bottom as a scroll.

or get one of the taggers from the streets in the city to make somehing for you. maybe you'll discover the next basquiat or keith haring......

or a guy who does flames on motorcycles or hotrods. gotta be some tat artist or other hard case around, if you want to go that route.

or the 'great wave' from japanese art, or a scroll painting.

but i hope real subway works for you.



Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

I think that you can always make a trend uniquely your own if it is custom.

By visiting a local art store one can easily build the frame size needed and cover it with artist canvas. Paint it black or white and then stencil name, events, number, etc in a complimentary color. This makes an original piece of artwork that is meaningful to you. Not to mention the cost saved.

Make sure you stop by my site today. :)

24 Corners said...

Oh, I love the Marie-Antoinette banner...it's beautiful. I loved the website...never heard of it before...it's going in the "one of these days" file.

Congrats on your findings...great post!

Anonymous said...

I saw this link today on Young House Love and thought of you. Sounds doable with Photoshop! I love that it can be personalized to feature cities that mean something to you.