Friday, August 19, 2011


Do you have an empty wall that really needs something to dress it up with? A picture collage display is an easy way to spruce up a wall without a total redo involving paint or wallpaper. Your picture frame collage lets you mix and match photos of your pics with family and friends pics and special moments in an organized way. And it works well for a formal living room, a hallway, a bedroom or just about anywhere is the house.

There’s always some wall in the house that could use a brightener, and a photo frame collage has the design impact you’re looking for. A collage of framed photos can also be a wonderful gift to celebrate an anniversary, birthday or any other special occasion. When planning to do any photo collage, first decide on the general theme for the display. Whether it’s to capture a moment in time or to create a visual archive, a collage of your own photos and frames will be your original creation. It’s entirely affordable and you are guaranteed a unique item for your wall or for gift giving.

Consider doing a photo collage for a dear child or multiple ones for all your special children. As parents and grandparents, we want to create a highly positive environment for our children and show them all our love and emotional support. One way to do that is by creating a “Loving Wall Display” for your children. It can contain pictures of family members, close school friends, teachers, and others interacting with the children. The pics can show special occasions or just capture the warmth of being together in an every day moment. This kind of display lets a  child know how many people believe in them, thus promoting their self-esteem.

The inspiration for my photo wall display
Just recently, I noticed that my bedroom walls were a little bare. Of course, I am (or try to be) something of a minimalist. Nevertheless, I thought that a colorful wall display would look good over my plain wood headboard. And having one or two things on the wall isn’t such a far stretch for minimalism, at least as far as I know.  But I wanted my wall decoration to have impact. That meant bigger rather than smaller. As usual, one of my concerns was how much I could possibly spend in materials. Being budget-wise is a high priority of mine – and only a little behind being Earth-friendly. So, I decided to try to make a collage of picture frames and photos that would be a bright addition to one of my bedroom walls.

Now, of course, I wanted my wall display to be something creative and personal, a bit different than most of the commercial picture collage displays and certainly more colorful. My overall design, as you can see, was a montage of four wood frames painted white and super glued together, to create the look of one “piece of art”. (See update note below.)

I’ve rather arbitrarily decided that my efforts at home accessorizing can’t be more than $25 a project. So I went to the thrift store and bought three wood picture frames with glass fronts. (I already had one at home awaiting a new project. The materials and costs of my project were: $15 total for the 3 frames, white spray paint to make all the frames white - $3 at a big box store, four colorful mats on sale at the craft store –$ 8, and black and white prints of 4 special photos that I’d been saving back. The photos were all interesting landscapes from a recent vacation trip that my husband and I made to New Mexico. To get the “look” fast and do it on-the-cheap, I just resized and ink-jet printed the photos as black and whites on good grade office paper. Later on, with a bit more money in my pocket (I’m nothing if not optimistic), I’ll upgrade my landscapes with commercial photo prints.

How to get started with your photo/frame collage
Find a few picture frames in similar or different materials. It doesn’t matter. The frames might be simple black wood frames, white frames or even colors and/or polished metal frames or some combination if you like a bold look. Different frame sizes will create more visual interest. And if your pictures are matted, you can make the display more fun by using colored mats or by writing dates or comments on them.

To get started, gather all your cherished photos and select the ones you want to display. In a minimalist or modern setting, black and white photos have dramatic appeal. Keep in mind the scale of each photo, and try to keep things similar – very small photos tend to get lost next to large ones. Stick to a color pallet for frames – all colors in a coordinated scheme (soothing feeling) or contrasting colors (dramatic mood) or black and white or monochrome (artsy look). If your photo collage is all black and white or sepia photos, you can paint the frames or use mats in vivid or muted colors. But if your mats are in different colors, it's best to have all the frames the same color.  You want the collage to feel like one art piece, not a confused collection of things that you can’t focus on, even when you try.

Once you chosen a few of your favorite photos, you’re ready to convert them into a beautiful wall display. Continue by laying out your frames and photos on the floor. Measure out the wall area that you are planning to use for your project. Your collage will have more design pizzazz if you make a tiny, almost invisible, pencil line through the middle of the collage and work your way up and down from it. By playing around with different configurations, you’ll find some arrangement that pleases you. Try to keep the frames no more than 2 inches apart so that they all "speak to each other" (or do like I did and super glue the frames together). Remember to edit your work. Less is often more - of what you’re looking for. Ask for somebody else’s opinion of what you’ve done. Once you’re sure of your selection, take a digital photo of the layout. That way you'll be sure to transfer your “perfect” arrangement” to the wall. Hang your collage frames with two nails or screws instead of just one and use a level to make lines that guide your picture hangings. You’ll be pleased to put up your collage, knowing that your unique “art work’ will be enjoyed for many months or even years. Your framed picture collage will keep some sweet memories close to your heart and give you many moments of pleasure. Update your collage by frame moves (if they're not glued together) or photo changes whenever you choose And once you start making framed collages, you’ll find plenty of reasons to make more for your home and as gifts for family and friends.

Update notes (8-20-11)
My husband really liked the collage and ask me if we could put it up in the living room. I somewhat reluctantly agreed to the venue change. As it turned out, the collage as described above, turned out to be too very heavy.  My husband said that my project could only be hung up as four separate frames, and I followed his advice (since he's the official wall display hanger at our house). I kept to the same general design but left about two inches between the frames. So, if you want to try to super glue some frames together, they probably should be somewhat smaller than those shown in the illustration and have plastic in the front instead of glass. 

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Anonymous said...

I'm trying to fix a get-away for myself in my basement. This seems to be the best way to dress 'my room' and make it personal.
So far I have replaced all the sports posters (from kid days) and I am looking through all my old pictures to go with my genealogy theme.
I'll let you know how it turns out.
Thanks for the idea.

GrandmaS said...

Dear anonymous, I think you'll be happy with your framed collage on the geneology theme. Being surrounded by "art" that represents your on-going interest is a great inspiration. Good luck and do let us know how it turned out.