If you have little ones at home, then it’s likely you’re very well-acquainted with the struggles of saving and displaying their works of art. It’s nearly impossible to come back from the moment your pre-schooler tells you that that piece of paper you were about to trash is actually their treasure.
There are plenty of reasons it’s impossible to keep every single piece of artwork our children create—let alone hang them proudly. Every closet would be full, every wall would be covered, and no one would be happy with that level of clutter. So, in an effort to save our sanity and their prized creations, we turned to the experts and asked: how can we show off our kids’ creativity without turning our home into the world's messiest art gallery?
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Let the Art Be the Main Focus
Rachel Faucett of Handmade Charlotte talked us off the ledge almost instantly. As a mother of five, she's no stranger to this age-old question. But luckily, she also has a deep appreciation for mini artists. “Nothing makes us happier than seeing kids' art proudly displayed around the house. No need for fancy frames or display systems. The key is to let the art be the main focus!”
Jean Van't Hul of The Artful Parent wholeheartedly agrees, because there are developmental benefits, too. "Displaying your children’s art around your home shows them that you value their creativity and adds to their self-confidence. It’s also a wonderful way to add whimsy to your walls!"
If you’re incorporating your child’s artwork into a pre-existing gallery wall, pop it into a simple frame that doesn’t detract or compete with the work itself. That way, it’ll help the piece blend in with the rest of your more grown-up prints and pieces.
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Let the Art Dictate the Display
If you’re starting from scratch or you don't necessarily want to style little kid art in with your grown-up gallery, then Handmade Charlotte suggests letting the artwork dictate how it's displayed.
“Do your kids love making perler bead shapes? Mount them on a board and hang them together!” Similarly, if you have a child who is more about collecting than creating, you can turn their trinkets and keepsakes into a special display. “This works well for things like stones and acorns,” said Handmade Charlotte. It’s also great for “painted beads, sculpted clay shapes, or even small drawings.”
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Switch Up the Displays
Unless it’s a true keepsake, having your child’s art professionally framed (or even just buying frames specifically for their art) might feel like a waste. Handmade Charlotte has a better idea. “Give colorful art a playful home in a DIY frame to match. Use washi tape to secure the art behind the frame so that you can easily swap in new drawings later."
If you want to ditch the frames entirely, The Artful Parent recommends using art display wires and rotating the work out as the wire fills.
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Saving Doesn’t Have to Mean Displaying
If you want to hang onto a piece of art but don’t need it long-term or don’t want it taking up wall space, then repurpose it. Handmade Charlotte suggested taking anything that features fun shapes and lines, “punching some holes into it, and creating a DIY stitch card.” The end result is perfect for practicing sewing skills and increasing the dexterity of little fingers.
Similarly, you can also give old artwork “another life as a jigsaw puzzle! Glue the paper onto cardboard and then cut into puzzle shapes. Store it with your board games for a fun handmade keepsake.”
The Artful Parent had similar suggestions. Depending on the medium, art that's not quite worth saving can easily be re-used as wrapping paper, seasonal decorations and ornaments, and DIY stationery.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Encourage In-the-Moment Art
The best thing about kids' art is that—like the kids themselves—it's always changing. That's why The Artful Parent team loves "chalkboard walls and wall decals. [These are] a great way to capture ephemeral art while encouraging drawing on a regular basis."
With a dedicated space where your littles can literally draw on their walls, they'll feel like they're in charge of what stays and what goes. Jean also covers this in her book, The Artful Parent: Simple Ways to Fill Your Family’s Life with Art and Creativity, and one thing she strongly recommends with temporary works of art is taking and saving photos so that even if the art is lost, the photo remains.
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Create Kid-Friendly Storage Solutions
Rachel Withers, Editorial Manager of The Artful Parent, pointed out another sanity-saving suggestion: storage systems. But not just any storage system--think things that are kid-friendly and kid accessible.
"We now have two containers mounted near our art cart that holds new paper and finished artwork," explained Rachel. "[There are] more to hold art supplies, as well. The magnetic board attaches easily to the wall with 3M tabs and the containers are removable. I find that having a holding place such as this drastically decreases our room clutter."
Every few weeks, the drawers get a clear-out, and the kids' know they can start their collection anew.
But the most important thing to remember is that the best part of kid art is the actual act of creating. So, remind yourselves, moms and dads: whatever you do with it after doesn't erase the memory of making their masterpieces.