Newspaper is so cheap that it’s virtually free. If you don’t already have some lying around, you can obtain it easily, rendering it an ideal resource for creative decorations. Whether you’re really strapped for cash, hoping to impress friends with your kitsch style, or just feeling creative, you can decorate your apartment with old newspaper. From window shades to wallw art to makeshift tables, newspaper is utterly indispensable. Use these five creative decoration ideas, and leave your imprint with newsprint!
Newspaper Window Shades
To fashion a makeshift window shade out of old newspaper, tape the edge of a long piece of newspaper securely to a thin wooden dowel about as long as your window is wide. You may need to use more than one piece of newspaper depending on your window’s width. Be sure to leave an inch or two of exposed wood on each end of the dowel. Tape the other end of the newspaper to another lightweight wooden dowel, leaving a similar two-inch bare space at the ends. The result should resemble a wide scroll when fully unfurled. To hang this creation up like a shade, simply affix two cheap hooks (like the 3-M adhesive kind) to the window frame and use the bare spaces on each end of one dowel to hang the shade, with the other dowel serving as a free-hanging stabilizer for the bottom. In other words, your newspaper shade will look like a fully unfurled scroll hanging from the top of your window frame.
You can change the length of the shade throughout the day by doing one of two things: either lift up the bottom dowel and place it in the hooks to double the newspaper over itself, or pick up the top dowel and roll up the newspaper like a scroll until it reaches the desired length. One benefit to newspaper shades is that they’re opaque enough to give some privacy but still translucent enough to allow some natural light. Also, remember that newspaper can be a fire hazard, so be careful before constructing window decorations out of it. Don’t leave any candles nearby.
Looking for some extra table space? Saving some money to decorate with a “real” coffee table? You can make lightweight tables out of newspaper and sturdy boxes. Use strong boxes, the kind in which TVs, computers, small fridges, or other appliances are packed. Crumple lots of old newspaper and keep shoving it into the box under you reach the very top. You should just barely be able to close the top of the box. The bunched-up newspaper will add a little extra stability and some weight. Once you seal the newspaper-stuffed box, wrap it neatly in newspaper, and flip it over so that the box bottom (which is probably the flattest surface) is now the top of your table.
You’ll have a cube or a rectangular solid, depending on the box you select. This kind of table is obviously not designed for heavy objects, but it can function as a makeshift coffee table, nightstand, or random accent table to fill up space. You may even want to arrange a collection of newspaper-wrapped boxes in a corner as a cheap installation piece. Go crazy, since newspaper, boxes, and tape are inexpensive. If you happen to have a piece of glass or a flat piece of plywood that you can spraypaint, you can use it as a tabletop and turn the newspaper-wrapped box into a base.
Old Newspaper as Art?
Conventional posters, prints, photos, and paintings are not the only items worth framing. You can make an offbeat statement by framing random sections of newspaper as creative wall art. Start with some cheap frames from a dollar store. Simple black plastic frames or clip-glass frames will suffice, as the look should be understated and minimalist. After all, we’re decorating with newspaper! I’d avoid any poster-sized frames larger than 16″ x 20″. Often, simple 8″ x 10″ frames can be found for as little as $1 at discount stores. For under $10, you can arrange a square, three frames by three frames, with a small even spaces in between them. Or arrange the frames in a long straight line.
I’m not suggesting that you neatly frame clippings of your favourite articles; rather, I am declaring that framed newspaper bits are more interesting when they have a haphazard quality. Allow articles to be off-center, let pictures get cut cropped, and consider using odd angles to create original composition. Consider treating each frame as though someone randomly zoomed in on the page without discretion. The simplicity of the black-and-white and the repetition of the same frame over and over again will give a sense of unity to a collection of small frames, each housing an odd bit of old newspaper. Be sure to fill each frame completely with newspaper for a sharp, robust look – no blank spaces.
For something really funky, spend a few extra dollars and buy a newspaper in a different language. If you locate something in Russian or another language that uses the Cyrillic alphabet, you’ll have more curious clippings for your wall art.
Cut newspaper into rectangles, circle, ovals, or trapezoids. Using clear contact paper or large laminating sheets (11×17), cover both sides of the newspaper and trim up the edges to make it neat. You’ll have some fun, cheap placemats to decorate your funky kitchen table. One benefit of newspaper is that it’s almost always black and white, so anything colorful placed on top of it should provide a pleasing contrast. Imagine a gaily colored vase, even the thrift store type, sitting on the table in between two homemade placemats. How splendidly spartan!
Plate of Paper Footballs
Remember the paper triangles that kids (and some adults) flick into the “goalposts” created by thumbs and fingers? If you’re not familiar with how to make them, just take a piece of newspaper and fold it lengthwise a few times until it’s basically a strip about 1.5 inches wide and at least a foot long. Then fold the strip in the middle at an angle to create a perfect L-shape. Continue bringing one “arm” of the strip over the other arm until you end up with a square divided into two visible triangle shapes, one of which is like a pouch. Fold and tuck the non-pouch triangle down into the pouch triangle and you should end up with a tightly packed, triangular “football” for flicking. If my instructions don’t make sense, just ask someone knowledgeable in the art of paper football to demonstrate.
Take a funky bowl or plate (once again, try the dollar store or a thrift store), and simply toss a bunch of these paper footballs into it. Leave it out on a coffee table and your guests will have something to fiddle with. You’ll be surprised how folks (especially men) seem to revert to high-school antics when playing with paper footballs. And when they’re not in use, these folded geometric shapes just look cool sitting in a vessel, especially if you place said vessel on a box table already fashioned with newspaper wrapping. For extra kicks, why not use the sports section so that scores, stats, and action photos are all on the footballs themselves?
For my next post, please find out how I made a nice investment on these wooden dinnerware and check out why I totally dig them.