Friday, March 23, 2012

DIY Photo Collage

I love DIY projects.  I know a lot of people do, too, because of all the massively popular craft websites like,, and  I have always enjoyed making a few things here and there, but they’ve usually been pretty small and inexpensive things.  Problem solving things, like this hanger I updated for better storage of spaghetti-strapped undershirts since they were taking up too much room in my closet to go on individual hangers:

And things for fun like this chalkboard wall that I made before Chad and I got married:

I have been anxious to get some wedding photos up around my house, ever since the wedding (which was almost a year ago already).  But very soon after we got married we switched our attention to updating outside and fixing some major landscaping issues we had.  With all our energy spent there, my indoor decorating got put on hold.  The first thing I knew I wanted to focus on, though, was some sort of photo collage for in the living room above the steps, where there is a large span of empty wall space just begging to be covered.

Chad and I spent a lot of time going around looking for already made photo collages, thinking that would be the fastest, simplest way to get some wedding pictures up on that wall, but we kept running into problems.  Most of it was that I had something really specific in mind and nothing that we found was quite living up to my expectations.  For starters, nothing was big enough.   I wanted something that would really grab attention and take the focus on the wall.  Many of the bigger collages we found were long and narrow, or oddly-shaped, or had colors and designs on them that I didn’t think would go with the room very well.  Another problem I quickly discovered was that the number of portrait vs. landscape pictures I wanted to use didn’t often match the allotted spaces that came with pre-made collages.  For example, I would find that some collages only had two spots for portrait-oriented photos and then the rest were landscape-oriented (or vise versa) and I didn’t want to have to change the pictures I’d already picked out in order to make it work.

So it was quickly looking like we were going to have to make something ourselves if we wanted to be that picky about it.  And since it was going to be the focal point of the main room, I wanted to be picky. Haha. 

The first thing that we did was visited stores that did custom framing, and eventually we ended up at Hobby Lobby with a gorgeous frame.  I will say that this is where almost all of the expense of the project came from.  Even with the 50% off that Hobby Lobby almost always runs on custom framing, it was pricey!  Mostly because of the size of the frame we chose: a large, thick 3’x4’ frame.  The nice thing is that we will have this frame forever! Nothing we put inside it is permanent, so unless something awful happens and it breaks, we can keep reusing it forever!

It took them a couple weeks to get that together and in the mean time we decided to start looking for the other materials we needed for the project.  We got a large mat to use as the background since it matched our frame size perfectly and we didn’t have to cut it at all.  This was $8 at A.C. Moore.  You can also get them for about the same price at Hobby Lobby.  (We actually started with one from there, but didn’t like the color against our walls, so we found a slightly better shade at A.C. Moore). 

Then we got a few already cut smaller mats, also at A.C. Moore, to frame the individual photos within the larger frame.  I ended up with three sizes: 3”x5”, 5”x7”, and 8”x10”.  Which were between about $2 and $5 each depending on the size.  Altogether these cost us right around $35.

We didn’t use the gold part of this frame but the store ran out of the double mats that we were using so we had to buy two different ones and match them up for a few of the smallest frames

I ordered my prints from (which came recommended for quality by my photographer), except for a few of the 3”x5” ones which I already had on hand from (just to add in here, I love love love Shutterfly because they keep sending me promo codes for free things.  Minus shipping costs, I have spent about a total of $40 there and to show for it, I have 500+ wedding prints, 3 8”x8” photo books and 1 more I am currently working on, a custom photo puzzle, 2 sets of address labels, a custom 5”x7” notepad, a wall calendar, and probably about a dozen personalized cards, and I haven’t even taken advantage of all the promos they’ve sent me due to time constraints and such.  So I LOVE shutterfly and recommend it highly if you like free photo-things!) So altogether the costs for photos (including free ones) was about $15.

After getting all these together it was pretty simple.  I glued the double mats together since they came separated and then glued them onto the photos. 

Then I arranged them the way I wanted them on the large background mat (I came up with so many different designs, It was so hard to pick one!) and then glued them down.  Then all that was left was to slide the whole thing into the frame and secure the back on again.  The hardest part was hanging it on the wall.  My dad helped us with this because he is amazing at that kind of stuff!  I really wanted it centered, but that was a bit of a challenge since the studs that we needed to put the screws in to hold up the picture where not quite centered in the wall.  We ended up making it work though, by adding a drywall screw off to the side of one of the studs and were able to slide the picture over so it was just right!!  I love how it looks!

Asher wanted to help me set the scene, I guess. I didn't put him there, but I thought it was adorable.  He always seems to know exactly how to involve himself in whatever I'm doing. :)

And the best part is that the actual collage only cost me around $60!  So if in a few years, I want to change out the pictures, or make a different design, or do something completely different, it’s not too hard on my bank account!  I’m really happy with it and I’m ecstatic that after all this time I finally have some pictures on the wall!