How to Get Inexpensive, Large-Scale Art

When it comes to our d├ęcor and style in The Surznick Ranch, we're really trying to do everything right. This is the first time we have the opportunity to make things exactly as we want them, and we want to be sure that it feels like our real, adult home - not like a post-college apartment, as our other apartments have felt.

The wall above our living room sofa needed art, but I didn't really know what to do at first. Our sofa floated in the middle of the living room in our last apartment, so we've never had to style above a couch before. Knowing that we wanted to do this right, I watched this video by Emily Henderson (my style guru girl crush spirit animal) about how you should style art a focal wall. In a nutshell, you want your art to take up about 2/3 the width of your sofa. You can do this through a gallery wall, a very large piece of art, or two large pieces of corresponding art hung side by side. This last option is what we chose.

But the hardest part? Where do we find two large pieces of art, and how on earth do we not make this a zillion dollars? Art ain't cheap, folks (and neither are frames.) I scoured sites like Society 6, Urban Outfitters, and Etsy, but couldn't find anything that was large enough, still our style, and not going to cost an arm and a leg. Enter: the colored engineering print.

Engineering prints, or blueprints, are large prints that you can get at stores like Staples. They are generally lower print quality and paper quality than a traditional photo print, which also means they're very inexpensive. One of my favorite blogs, A Beautiful Mess, has used them in several projects and since Staples has started offering them in color, I was eager to try them out.

I ordered my first colored engineering print through It's super simple - you just upload the photo you want to use, select the size, and order. I printed this fun "enjoy life eat cake" photo by Jeff Mindell that I already had a download of on my computer. An 18x24" colored engineering print was only $3.20. I picked up my print the following day at Staples and was IN LOVE with the results. You can see a photo from my Instagram below.

Super impressed with my new engineering print, I found a digital art print on Etsy that I wanted to use for our large living room art. When purchasing a digital print, you are just purchasing JPEG files that you download (not an actual piece of art in the mail) so the cost is pretty low - mine was $5.90. Since my design is abstract with a pop of green in one corner, my plan was to print two copies and hang them in opposite directions. Together they kind of appear as one large piece of art. I again visited, uploaded my file, and ordered two 24x36" prints for $6.30 apiece.

We picked up two white 24x36" frames from Michael's, originally priced at $49.99 but only $25 apiece with a 50% off coupon (which stores like Michael's and JoAnn's offer all the time.) We trimmed the white border off our prints, popped them in the frames, and hung them on our wall. We are so, so pleased with how they turned out. (These photos do not do them justice.)

So you want to know the total cost?
Digital Art File = $5.90
2-24x36" Colored Engineering Prints = $12.60
2-24x36" Frames = $53.48
GRAND TOTAL = $71.98

$72?! Giving myself a pat on the back right now because that is practically pennies considering the alternative.

Just a note if you're considering engineering prints for your home: do a little research to see what types of photos work best. The sites we read recommended photos with a lot of white space and minimal fine detail. Because engineering prints are lower quality, you're not going to get super crisp colors and details. You probably wouldn't use this option for family photos, or a super saturated and colorful piece of art. But for only a few dollars, you could really test anything and see if it works for you!

So what do you think? Do you see colored engineering prints in your future?

Sarah & Nick

P.S. This post is not at all sponsored. We're just super happy with our new living room art and want to share our knowledge with you! Thanks for reading!


  1. I also need a few big pieces of art, and this is a great idea! Dan love taking pictures and has some amazing ones, so I might have to surprise him and blow up a few of his favorite pieces :)

    1. That's such a great idea! I'm seriously going to use engineering prints for everything, haha. So cheap but so good!