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Creating Kitchen Decor with Little Ones' Artwork

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Kids' artwork -- you can't keep it all, but you can try. One way to hold on to these treasured creations is to repurpose them as fine art displayed in your home. Not only will this boost your child's pride in his or her abilities, but children's art has a way of brightening any living space; the kitchen is a perfect venue for cheery colors and original designs. Here are some tips and techniques to create your own gallery in the galley.

First, you'll want to protect the artwork from splashes, splatters, and spills. Plastic, laminate, glass, and decoupage are all great ways to shield your little O'Keefe's priceless works. Second, don't limit yourself to existing paintings and sculptures from school. Try commissioning original food- or color-themed works, a project the kids will be sure to enjoy from planning to painting.

Use your scanner and camera to resize artwork to fit the frames or other creations you'll be displaying. This is also a great way to preserve bulkier items without having to store them. If you'll be photographing a painting or sculpture, try turning off the flash and using natural light (soft, diffused light rather than harsh, direct sunlight).

The handy guide, "Mom's Little Book of Displaying Children's Art" by Lisa Bearnson offers these tips for displaying artwork: use simple frames for elaborate pieces; display at least some works at a child's eye level; and aim for uniformity when choosing frames (all white/black/silver) and subject matter (the color red, fruits and veggies, animals) for a dramatic effect.

Try one of these five projects to transform your child's art to kitchen decor.

1. Clean and Simple
Look for Lucite box frames to display children's artwork with minimal fuss that lets the talent speak for itself. These inexpensive, clear plastic frames are easily found at crafts stores and big box retailers. Trim, scan, or photograph and print the artwork to fit the frames, and display in vertical or horizontal groupings for a clean, classic gallery look. Clear magnetic frames are also readily available and can be similarly arranged on a refrigerator or magnetic dry-erase board.

2. Picasso-Worthy Placemats
Many paintings kids bring home from school make perfectly sized place mats. Have a series of paintings laminated at your local copy shop for a tabletop display that showcases your kid's creativity.

3. Rotating Gallery
Tack a piece of clothesline or rustic twine on a kitchen wall and use either classic wood or brightly colored plastic clothespins to hang artwork. Update the display monthly or quarterly to keep the look fresh and seasonal.

4. Make Your Own Magnets
Use scanned or photographed images of your child's artwork to create custom refrigerator magnets of varying sizes. Printable magnetic sheets for inkjet printers are available at office supply stores. Print images onto the magnetic sheet and voila! You've got instant magnetic masterpieces.

5. Think Outside of the Frame
Photo-processing companies like Kodak Gallery andShutterfly offer reasonably priced ceramic coffee mugs featuring the photo or photos of your choice. Upload six to eight scanned or photographed creations to make a complete set of mugs -- including one featuring a photo of the artist -- and show 'em off on a brightly colored countertop mug tree.

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