February 28, 2010

Weekend Project: Family Photo Walls

No nest is complete without the perfect place to display all those great old family photos... if for no other reason that to get a kick out of the old hairstyles of our ancestors.   And why not use the otherwise dead wall space along the staircase to showcase them?  When I was home with my parents one weekend, I came across a family album with the coolest old black and white photos of my grandfather's big family.  If you are like me, when you start looking at pictures, it's hard to stop... so I ended up gathering up a cross-generational array of both sides of my family spanning circa 1930 right up until today.  I asked my mother in law for the same sampling of their family and was amazed at what I got back.  How interesting are old photos??  Love the clothes, the cars, the facial expressions, the history.  And how great are pictures of your husband and his brother as toddlers wearing matching sweater vests?  Priceless. 

Since the collection was a combination of faded black and white and bright colors, I started by getting reprints made in sepia tone so they worked more as a family.  I also got an assortment of sizes to add interest.  I thought the brown tones in the sepia would work nicely on my neutral cream walls and give it a vintage feel, but black and white would look great on almost any color wall too. 
Before: Disjointed Tones
After: Harmony and Balance

Before purchasing frames, I used masking tape to loosely arrange the photos on the wall, to see how many I would need to complete the look.  The masking tape won't damage your walls, but painter's tape works too. In the end, I switched my layout, but it still helped to see the way it might look before committing to the hammer and nails.  I got a sense for how high and how low I wanted to go.

To compliment the sepia prints, I found a variety of frames in hues of brown and bronze in different textures like wood and metals to make it interesting.  I did some with and without mats.  Because I had a lot to buy, I mixed more expensive larger frames (Pottery Barn Wood Gallery Frames and Crate & Barrel Hawthorne Frames) with less expensive smaller frames (Target 10 Piece Wood Frames and Michael's Home Collection).

Once all the photos were framed, I remeasured the height and width of the stairwell wall to determine my "gallery space."  I rearranged the frames on the floor in columns until I had a pleasing layout. Then, it was time to let the hammering begin!

Before:  A Barren Wasteland                                                                     

After: A Step Up Memory Lane

The result is a fun, visual trip back in time that's artistically pleasing and personally significant.  Total cost of the 35 reprints was $60, frames were $240, total project = $300.  Done in a weekend.  Happy!  Even Winston thought so...

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