Design Mistakes – Kids’ Artwork


I started my “Rookie Mistakes” (now rebranded as “Design Mistakes“) series many years ago. It began as a way to showcase some of the mistakes I made around my own home, while helping others to learn the dos and don’ts when it comes to home design. Well, it quickly turned into my most popular series here on the blog!

Here are the top five posts from the series. Or you can peruse them all right here.

I haven’t tackled a design mistake in quite some time because I kinda figured I had already covered every topic! (By the way, if you have a specific idea you want me to cover, let me know in the comments.) Well, that was before I had kids. Now, I have a few more design mistakes up my sleeve to tackle here on the blog. The first? Kids’ artwork!

So Much Art!

rory coloring at her table
Rory’s coloring table

Now that Rory goes to “school” (daycare, but we call it “school” in our house!), she comes home with endless amounts of artwork each week. Every Friday, I pick her up and her cubby is filled to the brim with colored pages, hand prints, painted crafts, and more. It’s sweet, so very sweet, BUT, my first inclination is to chuck it all in the trash. Yes, she worked on it. But, in reality, her amazing teachers are the ones finishing up all of these crafts over nap time. They are angels.

Handprints of kids' artwork

If it were up to me, I’d be very selective about the artwork we keep. I do like to have the handprints, but the other stuff goes straight into the garbage. My husband, on the other hand, not only wants to keep every single piece of paper that comes home, but he also wants to display them all! Here’s a look at the basement where he works…

Finn's area in the basement

The entire wall over here is covered in Rory’s masterpieces. It’s sweet because she runs home on Fridays and hands him all of her artwork and they scurry to the basement to hang everything on his walls. I LOVE THAT PART. She is proud; he is proud; and it’s just a heartfelt moment.

Rory's artwork in the basement

But, let’s be real. Our entire basement is going to be covered in Rory’s artwork in no time. She is only two! And what about when Ellis starts going to school? How can we sustain this forever? Our walls will be covered!

Rory coloring

I figured I couldn’t be the only one with this problem, so I started researching some ideas to display kids’ artwork. Let’s dive into some options and the gameplan for our house.

Save It All…Digitally

How I use Trello to plan my week

Since I can’t physically keep every single piece of paper that comes into our house, I like the idea of saving artwork digitally. To keep things really easy, you can snap a picture of your child’s artwork and keep it in a folder on your phone. You might even want to share that folder with other family members so they can see all of your child’s creativity too! Snap a pic and then toss the original away. You can then use Shutterfly, or a similar service, to make an annual book with the best artwork.

artkive app
Screenshot from the Artkive Website

There are also apps out there that do this all for you. Artkive is one where you physically mail in your child’s art, they photograph each piece, and then they create a book or mosaic piece of art for your walls. You also get a digital copy of all of the pieces too.

Purge & Keep “The Best of the Best” in a Special Place

Having access to the important documents in your file cabinet

As I mentioned, Finn insists on keeping every single piece of paper that comes home from Rory’s school. In reality, we will need to start culling out some of the art and keeping our true favorites. I like the idea of creating a file folder or keepsake box with some of my favorites from each school year. You can read more about my file system and what I save digitally here.

If we go the file folder route, I could label each piece with the year and truly keep our (and our child’s) absolute favorites! Or maybe even get a large art box, like this one, for each of the kids to save the larger pieces.

Use a Large Bulletin Board

ideas to display kids' artwork
Photo via Young House Love

Growing up, we had a ginormous bulletin board in our “computer room” (ha, you can tell I was a 90s/00s kid!) that we called “The Wall of Shame.” We tacked up funny pictures, art we made, and any other silly things went up there. My friends and I loved creating pieces to add to the big board in the basement. While I think my kids are a bit young to have a bulletin board (not quite ready for pointy tacks around here!), I do like the idea of having a large bulletin board in our house someday. Or maybe we could do a large magnetic board instead, to keep it a tad safer.

Clip Fave Pieces of Artwork

my best tips to display kids' artwork
Photo via HGTV.com

There are a lot of great products and DIYs out there to clip up pieces of art. From hanging clipboards on your wall, to using string and clothespins, to this cable that you can simply buy and hang – there are lots of options. I like this because you can easily change out art as new pieces come in each day or week! No tape is required.

Create an Interchangeable Gallery Wall

DIY art frame
Image via A Beautiful Mess

I’ve seen these really cool frames where the front part opens up so you can easily change out the art without removing it from the wall. How fun would this be in a large symmetrical gallery wall? Maybe three across and three down to create an impact? Or you could do a large asymmetrical gallery wall and bring in other frames and three-dimensional pieces for a unique statement.

Rory at her coloring table

While you can buy these pre-made interchangeable frames, there are also DIY versions out there if you really wanted to customize the size, color, and style. Here’s a DIY tutorial from A Beautiful Mess that looks pretty easy! Or this pre-made one actually holds lots of art pieces behind the frame, so you can easily swap them out.

My best ideas to display kids' artwork

Blush Art Box // Striped Corkboard // Interchangeable Art Frame // Cable Rail // Art Frame with Storage // Naturalist Pinboard // Grid Wire Board // Art Storage Box

Our Artwork Gameplan

Rory coloring at her table

I don’t care if you chuck every piece of your kids’ artwork into the trash or wallpaper your entire house in their doodles. It’s your home; it’s your family; and you’ve gotta choose what works best for you! But, if you’re curious, here’s my game plan moving forward…

  • Purge the “not as special” pieces every Friday, as they come into our home.
  • Clip up favorites in the basement, near Finn’s desk, so he can enjoy them. Maybe with a grid board like this.
  • Once we create a designated playroom (this fall), I plan to add a gallery wall with interchangeable frames in the basement.
  • Finally, I’ll rotate in new art as it comes in, purge old pieces, and add the “best of the best” to a keepsake box.

Share Your Favorite Ways to Display Kids’ Artwork

Our plan for displaying kids' artwork

Do you have a good idea I didn’t suggest that works well in your house? Let me know in the comments below! This is a new realm for me, so I’m still navigating what will work best for our family as our kids grow up.

Casey


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.