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Keep calm and... slogans

How can you replace posters that say “Keep calm and…” and other cliches?

New York bridges, Marilyn Monroe portraits, and “Keep calm and…” slogans decorate thousands (if not tens of thousands) of interiors around the world. What can take the place of posters with stories that have long since become cliches? We posed this question to designers, architects, and interior designers. This article contains their advice and stories from personal experience.

The main antidote to platitudes is to avoid using “ready-made” phrases.

Irina Kovetskaya, designer: “When we hang a worn-out motif on the wall, whether it’s a reprinted reproduction or a mass-market poster, we cut off all perspectives of interior perception. The poster, as the focal point of the view, will kill all the forces invested in the interior with its simplicity. He’ll be remembered as “the guy with KEEP CALM written on the wall.” As a result, your interior is on par with a slew of other images from the same poster.”

In this article, we have gathered several stories from the practice of designers, architects, and decorators: how they transformed their clients’ hobbies, interests, and personal history into a theme for interior decor, and then into a finished product – a poster or textiles. This experience can be safely considered.

Idea 1: tell your life story on a poster.

With the help of a photograph, the designer and architect discuss the interior: “As an interior designer, I appeared on a television show. The heroes had an intriguing dating story involving the aviation institute. And the heroes were enamored with the near-flight theme. The sky is lovely… I needed a focal point for the kitchen wall. The deadlines are extremely tight, and it was impossible to find anything suitable on the Internet’s photo databases. And I made the decision to draw the plane myself. I drew it on A3 paper, quickly processed it, and enlarged it to the size I required. It was then printed on special paper and taped to the wall the next day. Voila! A single poster that meets all of the requirements of interior design and solves multiple tasks at once.”

Tip: If the interior is already finished, focus on the style and color scheme of the room when post-processing a photo or preparing a poster for printing.

Idea 2: Take your own travel photos.

Svetlana Tikhonova, architect, and designer, discusses the interior with a photo: “Nothing beats photos taken by clients on trips, images of places dear to them, and favorite writers. In one of our projects, the client’s photos from trips became the focal point of the interior design. Throughout the kitchen-living room, black-and-white photos printed on glass are streaked. It was thrown off on an apron in the kitchen, then there are doors behind which built-in lockers are hidden. The interior proved to be extremely personal.”

What else can I use: herbarium from a trip; photos of a city you haven’t visited yet but really want to; postcards sent to you.
Svetlana Ivanova, designer: “Postcards can be used in place of the already-boring posters. Of course, you shouldn’t just scribble them on the wall with a needle. To begin, spread them out and decide which ones are worth framing. You can put them in regular IKEA frames, but it’s best to use the same and dim ones, or your lovely postcards will be “lost.”

Travel postcards can be reshot and enlarged to fit your needs. Use not only the front image for the poster, but also the back one – with the sender’s text, signature, and stamp – to emphasize your personal story.

Idea 3: Make a topic out of your hobbies.

Alexandra Obolenskaya, architect and designer, discusses the interior with a photo: “In one of the projects, we spent a long time looking for what could be hung on the wall in the living room, because paintings and art instantly set the mood for the entire space. As a result, we decided on two cat portraits. The apartment’s owner is a big cat lover, so he loved the idea. Large-format reproductions were ordered directly from the author in the United States, received by mail, and made into a baguette. It came out ironic, cute, and unbroken. The main point is that it perfectly suited the owner’s mood.”

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What should I do if my passions are Marilyn Monroe, New York’s bridges, or British culture? The solution is to find something less tired on the subject. The study of photo bases will assist you in selecting a poster for the interior. Designers love Shutterstock, Google, Pinterest, and other similar sites. You can also experiment with how and what you reveal the topic.


Another popular pastime is traveling. Maps and images of architectural structures are also popular elements of interior design. Even if you choose this option, you can always modify a popular story to suit your needs: change the color scheme for the entire interior, as well as the size for a specific room.

Again, don’t go with the most tiring option. Roman Kupa, architect and designer: “The placement of the original sketches of this space when designing was the most successful variant of such a design in my practice. We framed a sketch behind glass and displayed it in the appropriate rooms. The sketch was scaled as needed to achieve the best composition.”

4th concept: unusual portraits of family members

Designer Yulia Tolkacheva discusses the interior design with a photo: “Concerning Monroe-themed pillows… As a gift for my mother, I made pillows with portraits of my beloved grandchildren. It’s very simple: I edited the photos in Photoshop (or any other editor) to look like they were hand-drawn with a pencil, and then gave them to the workshop to print on fabric. Mom and the kids were overjoyed! “..

unusual portraits of family members

In the tips we received on how to choose a poster for the wall, the family theme was one of the most popular. Here are some more examples of how to beat it in the interior.

Maria Yarovitsina, designer: “We decorated a living room in a country house for a very friendly family of several generations and came across children’s drawings of the younger generation, who had already grown up by that time while sorting through old boxes. The drawings showed the entire family. However, the children’s doodles were so graphic and amusing that we all agreed to put them around the fireplace. They’ve become the room’s semantic, emotional, and nostalgic focal point.”

Anastasia Borisova, designer: “One of my clients has a large family with three children. As a result, we simply asked everyone in the family to leave their palm prints on paper (prints were made with bright colors). They hung it on the living room wall, and everyone was pleased.”

Tip: The most important thing, in this case, is to not be lazy and to create a good design for the works you have chosen: competently choose the frames appropriate for the style, consider the size, make a Passepartout if necessary, and so on.

Idea 5: non-traditional interior souvenirs from travel

Anastasia Komarova, designer, on the interior, with a photo: “I used a poster I bought at the Fotografiska Museum of Photography in Stockholm for this project. This is a reproduction of a photograph by famous photographer Paolo Roversi of supermodel Natalia Vodianova. I framed the poster in a solid massive frame and hung it behind a glass partition opposite the guest house’s entrance. The dark background of the walls gives the impression of being in a museum. The house was designed specifically for large gatherings of friends, parties, and loud businesses, with a bar, a large TV, and a DJ console. This poster creates an atmosphere right from the start.”

Do you want to select a poster for the interior? Museum shops should not be overlooked (especially at museums of modern art and photography).

Marianna Dosadina, designer: “A poster from a favorite exhibition brought from a modern art museum is unquestionably superior to one purchased for no reason. It becomes a pleasant memory, and it warms the house.”

Elena Galanova, architect and interior designer: “This is the most exciting part of the interior design process when you can saturate and complement the space over time. For example, having seen something interesting while traveling, such as a contemporary art exhibition. After all, it’s so fascinating and pleasant, already living in the finished interior of a new house, to find exactly that picture, exactly that poster, exactly that vase, and not to hang the first IKEA print because there’s a space on the wall that needs to be filled.”

Henri Matisse The Dance print Lavelart

If you are having trouble deciding on a poster or an alternative, it is better not to hang anything until you have had time to think about it than to choose something in a hurry. After all, as you know, there is nothing more permanent than temporary solutions and the annoyance that comes with them — especially if they were “not very” from the start.

You can completely replace the poster with an abstract painting (as shown in the photo), an accent wall, or a three-dimensional piece (for example, an ethnic mask or hat).

Yulia Tolkacheva, designer: “If you don’t know what to hang on the wall, hang mirrors or empty beautiful frames that you can paint in different unusual colors to create a good composition. It’s always more impressive than posters and letters. And it goes with any style.”

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Muhammad Asad Raza