It's personal, it's easy and it's fun to create

Photo walls for your homeCredit: iri23

I moved into the suburbs from the city. I have more wall space than I had in the two apartments combined when I lived downtown for two years. As a brand new resident of a suburban townhouse, after the shock of not living smack down in the center of the city wore off, I started to get excited about designing our home space. This is also the first time I'm living with someone else so how do you create a piece, a display, an area in your home that expresses the both of you while looking classy and stylish and even better, being a center piece for conversations? Your answer is a photo wall. 

The elements of a photo wall are as follows: picture frames, photos/sketches/paintings, picture hangers, a hammer, your local Walgreens photo shop, and a level.

How do you start? Pick a wall space you will grace with your creative art work. I like the wall space above the living room couch or the kitchen dining table. I picked the kitchen dining table wall because it faces the living room and it's right by the dining table so the framed pieces can easily become the or part of a dinner conversation. 

Easy steps to your own photo wall:

Step 1: Think of a theme for your photo wall. Sure you could have a hodge-podge of photos and paintings that you like, all together but what if they clash terribly? Unless you're an abstract art genius, I suggest picking a theme and selecting photos, sketches, paintings, prints that center around that theme. I picked the theme of 'Exploration'. Exploration through traveling and through life. Also, if your photo wall is in a common space, include your partner/room-mate. You want the both of you to identify with it and talk about it. That's what makes a photo wall fun. It's not just decoration or art, it's all that and a personal story.

Step 2 or 3: Selecting and printing your photos and/or prints can be the next step, before you get your frames. I had a plethora of pieces that fit this theme so I went ahead and got the frames first so it made it easier for me not to fuss over which photo or print to select. I limited my choices on purpose. As for printing photos, I used Walgreens- they make it easy to upload and select the size you want to print. They can ship to your home or you can pick it up at a location near you. My final advice on this is pick a photo you or someone you personally know took. They shouldn't be fuzzy but that doesn't mean the photos need to be at Annie Leibovitz level. The frames and grouping also really dress up a regular photo.

Step 2 or 3: Check out your local Hobby Lobby, Michael's, garage sales for picture frames. I'd start with 5-6 frames with variety of these sizes - 5x7, 8x10, 11x14, 16x20. Your photo wall should have a center piece, a focal point that quickly draws attention and is complimented by the other photos. As for color, if you already have your photos selected, then you may know what color frames will bring them out the most. I'm on a budget so it was very easy for me to walk through Michael's and head straight to the Sales section. I don't like brown and black frames next to each other so I picked black and white. Six frames, wooden and metal, $50, done. 

Step 3: Get those pieces you selected framed! I had a combination of photos and paintings and one print (a really cool postcard I got from the Van Gogh museum). One of my frames had matting included and it looked wonderful but for the rest, I had to improvise. I have sketchbook paper which makes a decent background for a small photo in a large frame. Using scotch tape, I taped the photo to the sketch book paper and voilà, pressed against the frame glass, it looked almost as good as fancy matting. 

Step 4: Throw your frames on the floor! Okay, place them nicely on the floor and decide how you want to arrange them. Be creative. If you don't have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), let your photo wall be misaligned and without a perfect pattern. 

Step 5: Get your picture hangers or command hooks, a level, and hammer ready. Your local Lowe's or Home depot will easily have these items. It would help to have a partner so you could direct placement from a distance. Use a level to make sure the frames are, well, leveled but as far as aligning bottoms or tops of frames, don't worry! Make it random and fun. That's why making an arrangement on the floor is a must-do. 

Step 6: Enjoy the view. Your first photo wall project is complete. You designed it from top to bottom and you can now speak to each piece you hung up. So much better than aimlessly wandering through posters . com and picking random things just to fill up wall space.