Easy, Inexpensive, DIY Art for the Mess Hall

Happy Wednesday from Tybee Island!

I thought I’d share a quick, cheap, easy little DIY art project I put together over at the Mess Hall this week.

Since staying on budget is super important to our client, Pam, we’ve had a chance to really get creative (which I love!) as far as the furniture, lighting and decor go.
Lucky for us, she brought over a bunch of great lamps, furniture and plastic bins filled with tons of neat, little stuff she’s collected over the years, so pulling the place together has been really fun!

I found two of these white frames in a bin on the front porch, and my mission was to fill them with easy, inexpensive, DIY style art.

Pam had a few vintage LIFE magazines, and this page immediately stood out to us.

Inside this little, black “AND” box…

I found a bunch of old letters and greeting cards…,

I snagged an old painters drop cloth from the front porch, and used the glass in the frames as a template to cut out a “mat”…

(me, my mat and my newest age spot!)

A couple of the vintage letters made their way into one of the frames…

I chose the ones that coordinated with the bedding the best….

Not bad for freebie art, eh?

For the other frame, Pam had our favorite page of the LIFE magazine color copied, and I used the glass to trace out the shape we wanted put inside the frame…

Not only is the subject matter totally appropriate for the Mess Hall, the colors of that handsome military man go great with the bedding too!

We’ve got one more day to stage the place before we shoot it for the “Guest My Nest” and “Before & After” sections of our new site.

Then, Pam’s family can start using it as a vacation get-a-way, and they can continue having fun putting their personal stamp on the place for years to come!

On Friday, we’re…

…and I look forward to putting together a post that shows all the decorating we’ve done with Pam when we get back!


AND, since lots of inquiring minds seem to want to know, I’ll write a post about how and why we moved to WordPress, too!


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Guest My Nest: Mess Hall- Tybee Island, Georgia
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  1. says

    I love the idea of putting the old lettersin the frame! I have some from my Grandpa. He used to mail us letters weekly from the time we were born up until he passed away. They are so special to me and I have always wanted to do something with them! Great Idea and looks great too!
    Thanks Layla!

    • Layla & Kevin says

      That is so sweet that he mailed you letters every week!
      I’m glad you liked the idea of framing them!

      Layla :-)

  2. says

    Wonderful…love the use of a drop cloth for the back drop….I’ve always thought using old books etc…for art is a great way to add art to a home….
    Thanks for sharing

  3. says

    Hi Layla. I may have to steal this idea as I have lots of old Life magazines and even more old cards and letters. That’s what Madelines Memories is all about! Like the new site, just don’t like change. Keep up the great work.

  4. says

    Love the new blog design and layout! And of course….your ideas are always amazing and cheap – my two favorite decorating words :) cant wait to see the reveal of the “mess”! Haha

  5. says

    I love that look!! Perfect use of sweet things that usually stay tucked out of sight!
    Oh, and you made my day with the caption under your photo!! I guess I should just welcome my spots as new friends…they’re coming to stay anyway!

  6. says

    I love it!!! So creative! Makes me wanna do the same thing!

    Oh, where did the wicker/rattan headboard come from? I love that too!

    • Layla & Kevin says

      The headboard came from a friend on Tybee, but I think it originally came from Pottery Barn.

      Layla :-)

  7. says

    You’re art is beautiful and so isn’t your age spot. I’m getting them too, what the heck?! Anywhoo…My Dad has been collecting old magazines forever! He frames the art and he has given this love to me. I’m so glad you caught the vintage magazine bug! It’s soooo much fun! ;)Alyssa of Boston Bee

  8. says

    Hi Layla,
    I love the artwork that you have come up with. I have been following your work on this project and I am loving what I have seen so far. You are very creative, girl.
    Hugs, Cindy

  9. says


    Your DIY art coordinates beautifully with the bedding as well as the history of the Mess Hall. It all looks fabulous!

    Your Friend,

  10. says

    I love the ideas you shared for framing! Easy to do with frames from a thrift shop and special tokens!
    I like your new blog layout, curious to hear about the transformation!!

  11. Monique says

    Love your blog and the wonderful ideas! Your enthusiasm is contagious.


  12. says

    I always enjoy your DIY ideas…so cute, stylish & budget-friendly!! Thanks, Layla, for the inspiration:)

  13. says

    I just moved a crate of old Life magazines to our attic — now I’m going to dig ’em back out! Thanks for the idea!

  14. shannon says

    great freebie art! funny you mention you newest age spot, the big dipper seems to have apperared on my face recently…getting old sucks!

  15. says

    I can’t wait to hear why you switched. I’m in the middle of the switch myself. Still tweaking and haven’t gone live yet. For me WordPress has a better comment section??

  16. says

    Oh how I loe the “Going Home” page. How lucky that the frame and page worked so perfectly together! Can’t wait to see how it all turns out. :)


  17. Ashley says

    I just love the seagrass bed from PB. I am on the brink of purchasing one…I had my heart set on the darker one but after seeing this great room the TLCers pulled together, I might just like the light one. Any suggestions. The room will have board and batten painted white on the bottom 3/4 and Chimney Sweep grey (dark grey) on the top. All advice is appreciated!!

    • Amber says

      i reckon the lighter one would look warmer in the room?? think it would be more of a contrast against the dark grey on the upper walls and you could pull in the grey colour in small touches on the bedding? just my opinion!:)

    • Layla & Kevin says

      Hey Ashley!
      Light + White + Charcoal grey sounds so pretty!
      But don’t feel pressured to listen to me, listen to your heart and do whatever makes it sing! :-)


  18. Amber says

    Brilliant idea!! so personal and unique. looooove the drop cloth background,very rustic! such a creative idea as always x

  19. says

    I love this idea. In fact, I used it in my bedroom a few months ago. I have hundreds of antique postcards and letters from my family. I framed two of them and hung them over my vanity mirror. It’s so special to look up and see a postcard that was sent to my grandmother (and namesake) when she was a little girl.

    • Layla & Kevin says

      SO cool that you have all those letters and postcards!
      I wish I had saved more letters from my Grandma, but I might just have one that I can work with when I get back home.
      (Can’t believe we’ll be sleeping on our mattress tomorrow night!!) :-)


  20. says

    Oh my gosh you guys I LOVE this. My husband is a Marine (coming home from Afghanistan NEXT WEEK) and this actually brought a tear to my eye. It’s such a beautiful way to incorporate art and Americana without being too themey. Great job.

    • Layla & Kevin says

      Yay Amber!

      I’m so glad you liked the idea, and that your hubby will be home next week!
      Give our thanks to him when he gets back!

      K & L

  21. Angela says

    i LOVE the artwork, especially the “going home” one, that’s awesome! i framed an old ad with a family suprising their mother with a new washing machine (“you’re going to love this”) for my laundry room… i’d love to find that “going home” ad since my husband is military!!

  22. says

    Girl….you are way too young and pretty to have an age spot! lol! Love what you did with the letters and mag page! So very appropriate for the Mess Hall! You two just rock, you know that? LOVE your blog and always look forward your inspiring ideas! :)

    xoxo laurie

    • Layla & Kevin says

      My, what a sweetheart you are!
      Sending a squeeze and a smile your way tonight Laurie!


  23. says

    I love this idea! Great post :) In fact, I’m actually in the midts of collecting 1940’s – 1950’s housekeeping themed ads for our laundry room.

  24. says

    Layla….this room is turning out beautifully! LOL That is NOT an age spot…it’s a beauty mark! We are getting better and more beautiful!
    The letters were the perfect touch…love them framed!

  25. says

    I love your idea!! I have inherited a lot of old postcards and I didn’t how to expose! Thank you for the idea!

  26. Jane says

    Since you’ve moved, all your photos come up blocked on my Reader account :( Is there someway to fix this?

    • Layla & Kevin says

      Hey Jane!

      I’m not sure why they wouldn’t be showing up. (?) :-(
      You might need to re-subscribe to our blog…but that is a total guess. I am clueless when it comes to all the techie stuff! LOL!


  27. says

    Layla & Kevin,
    I LOVE your blog!! I haven’t written before, I have just enjoyed till now. I think the idea of using photos and leters, etc. as art is a wonderful way to make our hearts smile on a regular basis, but I have a bit of advice and hope it will be helpfull. I was the craft expert on a local t.v. show for several years and used these types of mementos for everything. It has been my experience that if the item is important to you, you should always use a color copy. It will look just like the real item, but you will not be risking ruination by sunlight. It is the best way I know to not only keep the original intact and enjoy it at the same time! (For photos, I always make a copy at the machines at WalMart,etc.) I still do custom artwork and faux finishes as well as paint furniture, so I am always excited to see what you two have been doing! The Tybee Island projects look great and I bet it was a blast!

    • Layla & Kevin says

      Hey Lynnette!

      So nice to meet you! :-)
      Thanks for the GREAT tips!
      You’ll be happy to hear that we used a color copy of the LIFE magazine page, and the vintage envelopes weren’t from anyone Pam (the homeowner) knew.


  28. says

    It looks SO GOOD Layla! I’m loving the creativity. Budgets definitely lend themselves to that don’t they?

  29. says

    Hello sweet friend! I don’t call them age spots, I call them sun kisses and I have one too! :-) You are very beautiful, so don’t worry about it a bit! :)
    LOVE the sweet art…so clever and works so well in the decor! I love it when art is cheap and turns out so cute to boot! I can’t wait to see your post on the mess hall…from the tidbits that you’ve shown on facebook and here, it looks like it’s adorable! 😀
    Love ya much!

  30. says

    Oh My Goodness you are at Tybee Island? I will be there next weekend. I want some old letters to use for art projects like you used in framing. I look every where I go for some old letters. I will just keep looking.


  31. says

    hi guys- am loving seeing the mess hall come together….and, what a great surprise to see the re-do on your blog.

    i think i’m really liking having everything so neatly organized in little boxes!!
    i crave structure…and less clutter….
    goodness, now you’ve got me thinking about how to rid my space from some of the clutter.

    you crazy kids- always inspiring us to do wonderful things- thank you!!!!!

  32. Gail says

    I love old magazines & sheet music for artwork. And the old postcards….awesome. I actually have a ton of them (bought a lot on Ebay) but haven’t used them much because I was only looking at the front. I like the idea of displaying the actual letters! Old notes can be so interesting and inspiring. ;0)

    Everything looks fabulous. Can’t wait to hear more!

  33. Julie in Holland says

    Will you guys be posting as much here as you do on facebook and twitter? Will we need to get those accounts to stay in the loop? Hope all went well with the re-do. Cant wait to see pics!

    • Layla & Kevin says

      Hey Julie!

      Sure will!
      We just got back from Tybee, and now our dog is in the hospital. :-(
      I look forward posting more once things have settled down a bit! :-)


      • Julie in Holland says

        sorry to hear about Max :( … hope he has a speedy recovery ! :) Get well Max

  34. says

    Oh noo! Maxi sick? Keep us posted on little dude and his satellites! I am sure I speak for everyone, we miss you and hope everything is well.

    • Layla & Kevin says

      Hey thanks!
      Max is really sleepy tonight, but I’m sure he’ll be back to normal within a couple of days.
      I look forward to writing a new blog post tomorrow!

      Layla :-)

  35. kelly says

    So glad Max is okay..poor fellow for all he had to go through! Love the art work in the post above. Love the chair on the facebook page – you wouldn’t happen to know who that wicker was made by would you? And the inspirational video on the facebook page was great too. I wish we could incorporate some of that AMAZING sidewalk from the video into sidewalks here. That would be so wonderful around schools!

    • Layla & Kevin says

      Hey Kelly!

      I don’t know who made that chair. Sorry! :-( Isn’t it a beauty though?! :-)
      I feel the same way about the sidewalk art….SUCH a great idea!

      Happy Tuesday, friend!

  36. says

    Looking for “junk/old stuff” shops near west side of Ohio, or east side of Indiana. Not looking to go to expensive antique shops, more like whole in the wall places that you can find great old stuff to make something out of or use for decor. Please email me at [email protected] if you know of somewhere to stop at. Girlfriend and I are road triping soon. Thanks

    • Layla & Kevin says

      Thanks Marianne!
      We’re having a blast “getting to know” the new blog. Still a long ways to go, but so far, so awesome. Can’t say enough good things about Shannon from EightCrazy Designs!

      Layla :-)