I came across Sage & Naomi’s blog the other week and was completely enamoured with this project.  Their entire blog “Plaster & Disaster” is fantastic – but this one in particular caught my attention.  We’ve all done the garage sale frames with spray paint, or transferring art in and out – but did you know you could actually create your own mats for your pictures.  This takes you way beyond a typical DIY result into a professional-looking, custom piece.  Don’t believe me?  Well, I’ve coerced Sage from Plaster & Disaster into sharing this post here.  Read on to see why I was so impressed with both the DIY project and their blog.

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When Shelly asked me to guest post at 100things2do, I couldn’t have been more excited! I’m thrilled to be here today sharing a recent art project that added color and polish to our bathroom walls for less than $30. (For more about our bathroom makeover, check out the original post at Plaster & Disaster.)

We have a lot of DIY and semi-DIY art in our house, not because I’m an amazing artist but because we’re quite cheap and didn’t want to invest any money in art while we were still living in an apartment. I’m glad, because now that we’re in our house our art needs are so different and I have all these pieces sitting in a pile waiting for me to figure out how/if to use them. But since I made most of them very inexpensively, I don’t mind.

I’m definitely more open now to the idea of buying some nicer pieces that fit our longer term space. But I’m still a fan of inexpensive/DIY wall decorations for a lot of the house, at least for the foreseeable future. Recently I posted about our living room makeover and the gallery wall with a lot of inexpensive and DIY pieces, and today I’m sharing a quick art project in our bathroom.

I knew I wanted to add some colorful prints to contrast with the dark walls, both above the sink and on the open wall across from the sink and toilet. But I wasn’t sure what, so I procrastinated/contemplated for awhile. I didn’t want to spend much — or any — money, so I spent way too much time searching for free printables online to see if there was anything I liked. I just couldn’t find the right thing, until one day I remembered that when I was wedding planning last year I kept coming across all these “digital scrapbook papers” on Etsy. Essentially, they’re colorful digital designs that usually come in coordinated sets of 10-12 for ~$5 that you can use electronically or print out to use in hard copy form. So I scoured Etsy, and after weeding through a lot that weren’t quite right, I came across this pack from creativequbedesign (at the time, it was on sale for $2 — it looks like right now it’s still a very reasonable $6):

Digital scrapbook paper pack

click image to link directly to CreativeQubeDesign

Once I’d downloaded them, it was simple enough to pick four that I liked the most and print them on 8.5×11″ paper in color (free because I have a color printer, but they’d still be very affordable at $1 each if you needed to print at Kinkos). Then I picked up four simple black 11×14″ frames at Michael’s.


I liked the minimalist look of the frames, but wanted to have a substantial white mat with a square opening for the prints because I felt like it would give it a more polished look. Since I’m still not quite ready to take the grown up step of having a custom mat cut for a print (especially a $2 download from the internet…), I instead decided to invest in a mat cutting kit of my own — we’ll have a lot more framing to do as we decorate the house, and I’d love to be able to do most of it myself. I read good reviews about the Logan Do-It-Yourself Mat Cutting kit, so I ordered it hoping it wouldn’t be one of those things that promises to be really easy but then is disastrous for anyone who isn’t as naturally gifted as Martha Stewart.

When I finally worked up the courage to give it a try, I was so pleasantly surprised. I bought two large pieces of white mat board (24×36″ each) from Michaels for $10. I measured and traced 11×14″ rectangles onto the back side the mat board, and then it was incredibly easy to cut out each piece using the mat cutting knife and straight edge, both part of the kit. (I’ve done this using a regular ruler and x-acto knife before, and it was so much harder.)

Then it was just as easy to measure and cut the mat openings (6×6″, centered) with a 45 degree beveled edge using the straight edge and slider tool. And seriously, I am the person who always seems to find the “easy” craft things impossible, I promise. I did all this on top of my self-healing cutting mat to avoid marking up my floor, but a cutting board or piece of cardboard would work fine too.


Then I just positioned the prints in a way that I liked behind each mat opening, and voila: I had four lovely new pieces of art with custom mats. I hung three on the empty wall across from the sink and toilet, and one over the toilet.

Here’s the view from the hall (I know the print is hard to see with the light reflecting from the window behind the shower curtain):


A close-up of the print behind the toilet:


And the three on the opposite wall:

Gallery wall



Here’s a close-up on one of the mat openings that I cut:


It’s a nice beveled edge with pretty clean corners, so I’m very pleased. Now I can cut mats of whatever size I want, which I think will allow me to stretch my love affair with inexpensive/DIY art and framing for a bit longer.

All told the project cost me about $27 — $15 for frames, $10 for the mat board, and $2 for the printables (this doesn’t count the cost of the mat cutting kit, which I’ll use for many future projects). Not bad for four new pieces of nicely framed art! I couldn’t recommend this mat cutting kit more highly for creating custom picture mats and a high end look without the pricetag.

I’d say we’ve come a long way from where the bathroom started when we first closed on the house!



I’m not going to lie here – I’m buying that mat cutting kit!

Thank you so much Plaster & Disaster ladies – I’m so grateful that you would share this with my readers – and kudos on a gorgeous job!

To see more of Sage & Naomi’s DIY talents, head on over to Plaster & Disaster…  I know you’ll be impressed!  (check out the lamp shade makeovers too!)

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