Making Simple Burlap-ish Fabric Art Mats

Since lots of folks have asked for close up photos and more of an explanation about our little art switcheroo above the sofa, here it is. It’s such an easy project that anyone can do (probably for under $5 if you have the frames and some small photos or prints that you love (images from greeting cards or postcards could even work). So we figured we’d share the goods while we work on our backsplash (those goods will be up tomorrow am!).

Our frames above the sofa started out with colorful paper in them ($5 worth of craft paper from Michael’s to be exact). That added some fun oomph for a while, but the beauty of that $5 price tag was the freedom to switch things around and just sort of go with the flow. So they sat as plain blocks of color for a while…

… and then we added some fun local art prints (just taped in the middle of our colored paper)…

… but after our new rug arrived we were jonesing for something less colorful (since we had amassed a ton of colorful pillows and some bright accessories like the ceramic hurricanes on the desk). We also decided we could use some more texture, so that somehow triggered me to look in my fabric scrap bin and realize that I had enough burlap-ish textured linen-ish stuff to do the trick.

Sorry for that terrible description. It’s just a sand-colored fabric that sort of looks like linen or burlap (you know, it has those crosshatched lines running through it) that I got on super clearance from JoAnn fabrics a while back – so I don’t think it’s actually real linen and it’s a bit too soft to be burlap.

Here’s my completely not scientific framing method. I just:

  • unstuck my little art squares that had been taped to the colorful fabric with a loop of tape
  • used the same loop of tape to stick them to the center of the eight 12″ x 12″ fabric squares for each frame
  • taped the fabric to the back of the frame’s mat on all sides (to keep it from looking saggy and wiggly)
  • regular old scotch tape worked for that part, but if you have heavier fabric, something stronger like duct tape might be better

That’s it! Oh and these are Ikea’s ribba frames (with 12 x 12″ openings) if that helps. I love that my tiny polariod-ish prints make you look closer, and when you do, you see the texture in the fabric behind them. It’s really sweet, especially in person. I keep glancing over at them when I sit on the sofa.

Sometimes Burger takes John-sprawled-out-on-the-ottoman-taking-photos-of-the-art to mean that he’s supposed to sit on him. Naturally. So we took more photos and shared them over on Young House Life. Naturally.

Anyway, so the art thing was a free swap and I’ve been using the colored paper that I took out for other projects around the house – like John’s boyscout badge Christmas present.

Oh and since a few folks also requested an open-ottoman shot to see how it’s all organized in there, here ya go:

The big woven basket is my paint chip bin (yes I keep various paint decks in there and even save loose paint chips so I can later do weird things like make art or ornaments with them). The other three baskets are for various Clara toys. There’s also a giant blanket in there (it can actually stretch across the entire monster of a sectional that we have and cover me in one corner and John in the other corner, which makes me crazyhappy). It’s just a king sized blanket I found at HomeGoods a while back for 25 bucks.

So there you have it – two living room goings-on. What have you guys been framing lately? Any fabric “mats” or backgrounds? What about fabric as art? That’s always fun too! Any ottoman organization? We learned really fast that tossing things in without smaller bins and baskets = chaos. Like a small tornado hit ottoman-ville every time we cracked it open. So apparently it’s all about sub-containment inside of larger containment devices. Lesson learned.

Psst- A reader (thanks Caroline!) sent along the link to this article about why people seem to be “wired” with the desire to DIY things, and it’s so interesting! The “add one egg” thing is especially amazing to me.


  1. Kimberly says

    I’ve been so inspired by all your wall are that I’ve chosen to personalize all the art in my apartment.I’ve used old family photos, scrapbook paper, photos, cork, postcards – even writing a quote in sharpie on the glass. Last week I enlisted the help of my crafty bff & made a large piece (48″x28″) for above the sofa with fabric bought on clearance and canvas stretcher bars. The total project was $35 that included an investment in a staple gun. There’s also quite a bit of fabric left for another project. Win!
    Thanks for all your tips & continuing to share your lovely story.

  2. says

    We recently took down our “wedding shrine” ( to make way for a Hot Chocolate and Coffee Dessert table backdrop ( and then a Mad Men bar – we have yet to figure out what to do with this wall in our dining room since the removal of the wedding shrine…okay, really the whole room has been a thorn in my side! Gosh darn dining room!

    But, I digress…my real point was that I was recently framing vintage ads for a Mad Men party and several of those are still hanging around the house – I kind of love them and some might stick around more long term!

  3. says

    I’m loving the burlap behind the images. I so love texture.
    I’m also considering taking my husband’s badges off his Eagle Scout bage and framing them in a similar manner.

  4. Katie says

    Thanks for sharing! Such awesome timing for me as I recently received four 5×5 photos for Christmas (here they are from Etsy seller, EyePoetryPhotograpy – that I want to frame in our bathroom but didn’t know where I could get big, matted frames with 5×5 openings – now I realize maybe I don’t need to! I can just buy the Ikea ones and do something similar to what you did :)

  5. Martha says

    I haven’t read your blog for very long, so maybe you’ve talked about this before, but I love the idea of the long skinny table behind the couch! It is so functional and practical but also adds some nice depth to display beautiful objects. You are an inspiration, as always :)

    • says

      Gotta bring back budget blooms for sure! John and I were just saying that in the car! Haha, we fell off. We did share lots of details about how we decorated the house for the holidays last month and shared things like how I made blackout curtains for C’s room last week along with some DIYed holiday gift details (between bigger projects like painted cabinets and play-kitchen details!). I think as anyone in the middle of a kitchen reno can attest, sometimes things like flowers take a backseat! Haha. But we can’t wait to bring them back!


  6. Colleen says

    How do you mat all of your artwork, paper, etc. in the white frames? Any tips, or a link to where it’s been mentioned? Thanks!

  7. Megan says

    Hi! I’m a newer reader – so I’m sure this was talked about at one point. But I’m in love with your ottoman!! Where did you find it?!

  8. says

    I kind of sort of LOVE the new art! I even love your super-scientific method of tape loops. That makes it so that you can change it out on a whim easily, which is fantastic.

    You’ve also made me feel the need to run out and find a bunch of baskets/boxes at Goodwill and the like to better organize our ottomans. I smell a project coming on…

    xoxo Linda

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *