DIY: {(photo) wall of fame}

We have a lot of photographs. Tim often wonders if people see them as our trophies, if we should be embarrassed by them. I certainly hope not, because I don’t intend for that. To me they are our memories. I forget that people might view them as obnoxious or showy. For a long time they sat scattered on top of shelves, dressers, bookcases- anywhere there was a flat surface to support them. But one day, I can’t remember when, exactly, we started thinking about other ways to use our pictures to decorate . So, with inspiration from several places including our friends Meg and Rusty and some of the sites I’ve come across in my recent interest obsession with home improvement/decorating/DIY/before & after websites like  this one and some of the images here, we set out for an upgrade.
First came the purchasing of more frames. We probably had a dozen or so already on hand, but knew we needed a lot more than that. Rummaging through closets we found five or six more. A trip to Micheals during one of their frame sales landed us 10 new ones, and on my last trip to Target I picked up five more (for a mere $10!).

Since we had quite a variety of frames (sizes, shapes, and amount of detail), we knew we needed something that was consistent. Color was the obvious choice (especially since it was just about the only thing left within our control), and we decided to use with the same color as the wall (our original inspiration- M&R- had done this at their house). So back at home, the frames were lightly sanded in preparation for painting.

Our Tim’s first go at painting was with a smallish paint brush, but this proved to be a remarkably tedious task and he was never happy with the look of the final product- it was difficult to get nice even strokes on such small surfaces and the frames were often streaked in a way that made him less than happy. But it was (or it seemed at the time) too late to go back on our color choice, so what choice did we have? Then I remembered an advertisement I had seen while waiting for my dad outside a hardware store in Choteau, MT over July 4th…for customized spray paint. {Perfect.} But when I asked the guys at Sherwin Williams if they could do this they looked at me as if I had eight heads. “Huh?” the salesperson uttered. he mumbled something that sounded something like “no, crazy woman” and then turned to the wall of goodies behind him and pulled an item off the rack. “But we do have this which allows you to spray paint {he said this as if it was completely different from what I asked him about customized spray paint}. It works pretty well. I’ve used it to paint cars before.”  Well brilliant, egghead.

After a drilling few more questions from Tim about actually using this product, we were satisfied that it could suit our needs and we headed home with a quart of PAINT and our new Preval Spray Gun, which, let’s be clear, sprays any paint you want but does not make any paint you want into spray paint. Got it?

Back at home, Tim set up his work area (yes, those are the backs of our extra kitchen floor tiles not, as most other people would use drop clothes or newspaper). He watered down the paint (a little) according to the directions on the box, assembled the  spray can, and got to work.

A huge smile spread across his face. “OMG (no, don’t worry, he didn’t really say that). Do you have any idea how much easier this is?! And look at how evenly the paint goes on. I can’t believe we didn’t have this  before.” He was in home improvement heaven.

It’s probably hard to tell from the photo below, but the paint was applied much more evenly- no streaks, no drips- and getting into all the little nooks and crannies of some of our frames was a piece of cake. But the color wasn’t quite right. It was coming out a bit more of a pinkish hue than our wall color (and compared to the frames we had painted the first time around). “Well, yeah,” said the guy at Sherwin William’s (on our last stop in there to replace the CO2 cartridge in the Preval Spray Gun) “you’ll get a different color if you use a different kind of paint {duh!}. You have to use the same exact product.”

Since this project was already spanning weeks, and the color was not that different, and we planned to intermix old and new frames, we decided that it wasn’t worth dropping $50+ on an entire gallon of PAINT, and not worth our time to completely repaint all the frames we just finished painting. So it was time to choose photos. This proved to be just as time consuming as finding the right way to paint the frames- we wanted to balance black and white with color, old photos with new ones, horizontal with vertical, make sure that if Tim’s family was represented mine should be too…and on and on it went.

For now, the wall is complete. Starting in the corner (pictured below) it jumps across the doorway which leads into the kitchen and continues next to the dining room table and around the corner into the hallway. There are parts of the wall that Tim and I agree work better than others, but in general we’re really happy with it.

In the future, there are things that I would probably do differently. For example, I like the idea of mixing in things that are not photographs: Eleanor’s art, our wedding invitation, tickets from that Kiss concert that we went to last week (just kidding). I’m not sure that I’d choose to paint them all the wall color again either. I’ve been thinking a lot about the steely grey’s that are so “in” right now and I like the idea of white against that backdrop (plus, we could just get ourselves a can of regular old spray paint and save ourselves Tim a lot of time and energy). I would also be sure to identify which back belongs to which frame, because there was a bit of playing around with completed frames trying to get the appropriate back on each one. If you’re considering something like this (or not at all like this!) in your house, here are a couple of links that were really helpful including this one for choosing how to arrange and hang with ease, and this one with tips for arranging wall hangings (major props to Sheri and John over at YHL for these).


3 thoughts on “DIY: {(photo) wall of fame}

  1. I learn so much from you both! I can’t wait to find a place to use this idea. I can just imagine what the whole thing looks like. You had the start when we were there and it was such a great idea then. Mom


    1. You have the start already, mom. That photo wall of yours upstairs is the perfect beginning…now all you need is to decide on a color for the frames!


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