Framed prints can add some major style to a room that needs some character. 

One of my favorite budget-friendly ways to score stage-worthy prints for framing is buying books -- picture books. 

You’ll find these books for a song at garage sales, estate sales, flea markets, and thrift stores.

Look for glossy coffee table books as well as quirky children’s literature, esoteric textbooks, travelogues, and anything with large, good-quality pictures.

Even small books, the right ones, will provide pages that can be framed with wide mats that make them bigger and artsy, or combined into collages.

So, when you’re rummaging through a pile of these discounted volumes, let your imagination wander. Need examples?

How about a gallery wall of framed pages from a book on the history of hot air balloons or the bicycle? Or line drawings from a college botany textbook? Sheet music? Quilting patterns? Maps? Or food porn from cookbooks?

Every autumn I look forward to my public library’s annual book sale. Most libraries sponsor some version of culling and selling their older, obsolete, or duplicate books and periodicals. Often these volumes can be high-quality coffee table books with page after page of beautiful prints.

These are some of the oversized books I've found
on second-hand shelves. 
At my
Salvation Army and ReStore outlets, all

hardbacks are $1.00, no matter what the size. Bingo!

If the edges of a page are worn, they can be trimmed off or hidden behind the mat. Black and white pictures are fine. If there's any text and it's a foreign language, it only adds to its quirkiness.

Last year I found a large-scale book of orchid prints at the library sale. Botanical prints are perfect for staging a home that’s traditional, country, cottagey, or even grand and formal. They have the same impact, to a lesser degree, that adding real plants to a room has.

I thought I would have to spray these mats
with Kilz, 
but a closer look told me it was  
the prints that were stained from age. 
The old frames I used to showcase two of the orchid book’s pages already contained prints of famous Native Americans. They were interesting pictures, but not ideal staging images -- a little too imposing and also mildewed. I was able to use the same glass, mats, and hanging hardware that were on these good-quality red frames. You can find reasonably priced frames with glass at secondhand stores, big box discount stores, and dollar stores.

A page from the book about Scotland 
yielded this handsome landscape. 
Having a mat that is correctly sized both on its perimeter and its opening is more challenging. I’ll be giving pointers on mats in another post in this series.      

I simply removed all the backing and cleaned both the frames and the glass well. It’s important when re-framing like this to work in a well-lighted, clean environment. Have a roomy work surface and cover it with a clean blanket or lint-free quilt.

Keep double-checking your work because the last thing you want is to tape your backing on only to discover fingerprints under the glass or a piece of dust on the mat.

I use white duct tape on the back to secure the original cardboard or foam core backing to the frame. A professional frame shop would choose an acid-free paper and water-based glue, but duct tape always works for me when I’m home staging.

Tips to success: Use a microfiber cloth to clean the glass. For a fussier approach (in case you are using valuable artwork) including tips on choosing a frame and mat, go to this article at Today's Home Owner about how to frame pictures like a pro

Framed, a delightful watercolor illustration from 
a Madeline book made some stage-worthy art. 
Remember those school teachers who told you that books are your friends? I’m sure they weren’t thinking of home staging, but they’re still right!

My eBook How to Arrange Furniture – A Guide to Arranging Furniture Using What You Have, gives more pointers on choosing and using wall art. You can download it now and start to make your home more beautiful today.