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March 28, 2016

budget-friendly wall art

Wall art for under $15!
Little by little our teeny apartment is coming together. We moved in with basically no furniture, & definitely no large-scale wall art (which is kind of pathetic for a couple with two art majors between them). One of the things that I immediately loved about this apartment were the high ceilings - and then shortly after moving in the high ceilings began to mock me with their gigantic negative space. SO MUCH SPACE, nothing to fill it with. After doing research, the internet spoke to me & said: engineering prints.
Engineering Prints are a great way to fill your walls with art
The hanging part required a bit of scheming. When Heather & I were at the craft store trying to figure out what we needed, we had thrown nearly $40 worth of materials into our cart before Heather noticed these wooden scroll frames. Ding ding! With a coupon thrown into the mix, these prints ended up being $14 apiece.

You'll need:
  • 24x36" engineering print* (we ordered ours from Staples)
  • Wooden scroll frame (9x27")
  • Wood glue
  • Clamps
  • X-acto knife
  • Twine for hanging
  • A friend to help (this is not a one-person DIY!)
*Engineering prints are not recommended for printing photos. That being said, these photos turned out way better than I expected them to. Printing in black and white with some nice, crisp contrast will help avoid losing the shapes in the photo too much. You'll also want to use a photo file with a large resolution - ours was 300dpi, and was 7200 x 10800 pixels. I would not recommend going below 5000px wide. You will also need to start with a large photo file, rather than taking a small photo & resizing it. 
How to hang engineering prints cheaply & easily
The only parts of the scroll kit you'll need are the dowel rods that come with a split down the middle. If you have a jigsaw or some way to cut a dowel yourself - go for it! If you are like me & you don't have the convenience of power tools at your disposal, the scroll kit is a breeze. I feel a little bad about not using the other aspects of the kit, but stay tuned - I'll come up with a project to use them in.

Step 1 | First, insert the top of your print in between the two halves of a dowel, making sure your print is lined up evenly. Leave a small sliver of the print sticking out so you can ensure the print is even. 
Use a dowel rod to hang engineered prints
Step 2 | Clamp along the dowel to keep your print in place. With a friend, hold the dowel with the opening facing up (as seen above). Pour a thin line of wood glue along the seam, allowing gravity to pull the glue into the seam. Before the glue dries, clean the seam with a damp paper towel. Move the clamps around as needed as you glue. Glue along the entirety of the seam, including the ends of the dowel.

[Note: Once you have applied glue, DO NOT move the print. Moving the paper once it is damp from the glue will only stretch it, causing the paper to warp.]
How to display engineering prints using a dowel & twine
Step 3 | Leave the clamps on & let your print dry (an hour or two). Trim any excess paper on the seam with an x-acto knife. 

Step 4 | Repeat steps 1-3 for the bottom of your print. Tie twine on the top scroll to hang!
Cost-effective wall art - What are you waiting for?
I absolutely love these prints. Heather took both photographs, duh. They make the space feel so home-y.

If you've been thinking about decorating with engineering prints - do it. It's quick, the impact is big,  & it's totally affordable. What are you waiting for? Tell those big scary walls who's boss.


P.S. One of these days we'll get around to photographing our living room as a whole, but in the meantime, here are the curtains we made & hung in the windows.

Affiliate links are used in this post. Staples is not affiliated in any way - just wanted to let you know where I got these bomb prints done!


  1. I love this! These photographs look so beautiful blown up!!

    1. Thanks! I'm super surprised/pleased with how they turned out! :)

  2. I love that one of these is Downtown Minneapolis!!

    Question about the engineer print- where did you get it printed? I saw your link the purchase the blank prints but wouldn't know where to actually get a photo printed onto one. Thanks!

    1. Thanks! I ❤️ MPLS big time. I got these done at Staples, but I think you can go to most office supply stores that also offer printing.


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