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IKEA Hack: $16 Curtain Rod for Hanging Pictures

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When I moved apartments during the pandemic, I knew I would have to figure out creative ways to decorate on a budget because the economic downturn caused me to lose some of my clients. And while work-from-home life has its benefits, it also meant I’d be staring at the same drab four walls all day. I figured I might as well decorate the wall above my desk with something creative to inspire me while I banged away at my laptop.

I quickly fell in love with the idea of a decorative photography wall, loaded with some of the most mesmerizing and sublime photographs from my personal collection. But who wants to hammer a million nails into the wall? And who wants to source a million picture frames? And what if I didn’t like the way it looked? I decided I wanted a design where I could switch up the photographs easily, without doing major damage to the wall — and without the added cost of expensive picture frames.

Luckily, inspiration came floating down from the Swedish IKEA goddesses, because I figured out an off-label use for one of their products. Walking through the IKEA corridors, I came across an item called Dignitet, touted as an inexpensive curtain rod. But instead of a rod, it included a cable wire no thicker than 2 millimeters. The package also included two flexible wall brackets. Sold separately was a package of riktig: very small wire clips that hang perfectly from the wire. Hmmmm, I thought, instead of hanging curtains from the wires, couldn’t I hang my photographs?

I dropped three of the curtain rods into my shopping cart and hurried home. Using a power drill, a measuring tape, and an Allen key, I installed all three on the wall behind my work desk, each about 16 inches above one another. I only struggled a bit when trying to make the wires level off, and admittedly, when cutting the wires to length. (Pro tip: borrow a wire cutter!)

Then came my favorite part: sourcing the photographs. To me, monochrome photography is gorgeous, and every time I visit a museum or gallery, I will buy a few gift shop postcards featuring interesting or impressive shots. I also inherited a trove of black-and-white photography from my family after they passed on, and I figured they’d be appreciated much more on my wall than in some dusty album.

These items weren’t enough to fill three wires, though, so I visited my local flea markets and bought entire stacks of old black-and-white photos for a couple bucks. I made sure to choose photographs that I would personally enjoy — couples laughing and kissing, panoramas of far-away cities I long to visit, and people wearing striking period dress. I also put my own photography skills to the test and printed off some of my favorite snaps from my travels with my boyfriend. 

Up they all went, and the end result was better than I could have imagined. Now when I stare off into space between Zoom calls, I have some gorgeous eye candy to feast on. And if I ever get bored of it, swapping out one photograph for another is a cinch. 

This piece is part of Money Month, where we’re covering everything from side hustles to down payments to a beginner’s guide to investing. Head over here to read more! 



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