Hot Wheels and Free(!) Art

Most of us have, at one point or another, attempted to decorate around something.  Sometimes it's an architectural feature like a window or a radiator or a set of stairs.  Sometimes it's an inspirational decorative piece like a boldly patterned pillow or a beautiful print or a unique lamp.  And sometimes it's a bad-ass children's car.  Anybody?  Perhaps some backstory is needed...

This past Christmas, my husband's parents bought our daughter her first car.  It's a truly phenomenal Rolls Royce (or, as it's written in Engrish, Rlaos-Lais.  Not making that up.) that is not only driveable for the munchkin when she gets a little older, but also remote controlled so that mom and dad can motor her around as well.  This thing has trunk space, a horn, a radio, an mp3 jack, color changing headlights and a rechargeable battery.  I wouldn't be surprised if somewhere down the road we discover it has airbags and a Lojack system. Add to that the fact that it's all creams and blacks and shiny chrome (with a "quilted" merlot interior), and you'll come to the same conclusion I did: this car is far too fabulous to keep out of sight (Plus the Scrunchkin loves to pull herself up on it and dance to the music.  How can I deny that?).

So suddenly, I found myself with a large toy (albeit an exceedingly cool one) to decorate around (please tell me I'm not the only one who's ever done this...!).

How cool is this car?! How cute is this kid?!!

The only place the car fits is at the bottom of the stairs, next to the narrow wall of the closet.  The car is obviously small and low (which is a shame 'cause I would TOTALLY ride this bad boy around if I wasn't terrified I'd get stuck in it) and leaves a lot of real estate on the wall above. After considering several options, I decided that it was the perfect spot for a small gallery wall.

I wanted to tie the car into the decor while keeping the look classy (after all, it is a Rlaos-Lais), so I set out to find some vintage car related decor.  Not an easy task.  There are plenty of things you can buy, however not at a price I was willing to pay (particularly considering I have no idea if I'll continue to have an auto zone in my living room if and when we move into a house).  The search was beginning to get frustrating.

But then I found it.  (I would have gone streaking down the street yelling Eureka if I wasn't afraid of frostbite.  And blinding the neighbors.)  As it turns out, the New York Public Library has a digital art collectionThousands of incredible images FREE for download! (They only request you use it for personal use only.)  The site is searchable, has popular categories, and even offers different size options depending on the picture.

I found the coolest automobile related art.  I wound up printing a few different options before settling on what I wanted.  I chose two pieces: the first is the cover from sheet music circa 1900.  The song is called "My Automobile Girl."  How perfect is that?!

The second is from an automobile manufacturers catalog and features an early 1900s car called The American Gadabout.  I like the image so much that I may have it blown up even further and reframed somewhere down the road.  (Quick tip: you can have pictures printed in poster sizes at Staples super cheaply and super quickly!).  It has such a fun and industrial look about it, it reminds me of something you'd find framed at Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware.  Love!

 After printing out the images, I found some unused frames and spray painted them black (far cheaper than buying new!).  I cut poster board to size and mounted the pictures directly on them before inserting them into the frames.  Once they're under glass, it's REALLY hard to tell that it's not an actual matte.  Perfect!

The wall needed some curves, so I added an over-sized cream and black clock, and finished the whole thing with a few framed post cards from our former home, Los Angeles.  Done!

I have been toying with the idea of mounting our old license plate or adding marquee letters or a cute vintage garage sign, but for now, I'm pleased with how it's shaping up.

 The only bad part in all this is that I'm now slightly addicted to the digital library.  I have downloaded a ridiculous amount of art that I'd like to have framed and hung.  Where?  No idea.  But it's too cool to pass up!

Alright, I'm off to finish up a few more things!  I'm working on another High/Low project that I'm really excited to show you and will hopefully have ready for next week.  Have an awesome week!  If you wind up printing and using any of the digital art, post a picture in the comments - I'd love to see it!

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