The Unexpected Photo Wall

Top 5 Rules for Hanging Your Art


Time and time again I see a plethora of “pins” that display a wall with a collection of photos.   Women just can’t seem to get enough of this look!   Yet, when it comes to the “real world,” many of my friends seem overwhelmed by the idea of actually creating their own wall collage.  When will I have time? What tools do I need? Where do I begin?!  This is what I like to call “falling into the Pinterest gap.”  We “pin” these concepts with idealistic aspirations that one day we will magically turn into Martha Stewart “mini-mes” but before we know it, our dreams turn into discouragement and those “pins” turn into nails, forever stuck to that board called  “never gonna happen.”

It is this common occurrence that sparked the beginning of the Ivory and Bone Blog.  Within our blog, you will find anything and everything regarding home décor such as: how-tos, latest trends, common misconceptions, and general artistic expression.  By writing about our experiences and perspectives, my Mother and I hope to narrow the Pinterest gap and help our readers turn their visions into reality.

So let’s get started with our first entry that addresses how to create a photo wall.

Rule #1 Open Your Mind

Free yourself from the idea of, I have a 5x7 photo, I need a 5x7 frame. This does not always need to be the case.  A lot of the time, a matte makes a photo or a print more dramatic and graphic.  Next, ask yourself, what size? I always love an irregular size matte opening that is not consistent with the frame opening.  For instance, with a 3x3 matte opening and a 16x20 frame opening, the matte is oversized and unexpected.  Yes, it’s cheaper to stick to the standard sizes but if you take the extra effort to professionally cut your mattes; your collage will appear custom, unique, and sophisticated.



Rule #2 Pick Your Art Carefully

I have always found that I gravitate to photos that are up-close and personal.  They are more emotionally moving, creative, and catch the eye.  Of course they can include a lot of people or things but detail is imperative here.  In terms of black and white vs. color, do not feel tied down by uniformity to decide this quandary.  Which tone do you like better for that particular image?  Let the photo guide this decision, your collage will look wonderful either way.  And lastly, we love photography (hunt down your parent’s family albums or keep a camera with you to capture those candid moments!) but illustrative prints are a nice surprise as well.  You can blow-up any legal image; you can use an actual page from your favorite book (a great nursery idea!), showcase your kid’s artwork, or dig up that old shoebox and use an artifact from a past experience like a ticket stub or playbill.  The options are limitless; try adding objects like clocks, mirrors, or letters to your display for a touch of personality.



Rule #3 Decide on a Layout and Just Roll with it

There are two types of collages: mix and match or symmetrical.  Symmetrical looks clean and can really streamline a room, although a mix and match can look artistic and playful.  The choice is yours.  If you choose to go with a fresh look, make sure you measure twice, nail once.  This layout needs to be pristine. (Tip: I prefer to use a long leveler with a ruler, diagonal hangers for plaster walls, and screw-in anchors for heavy objects. With these anchors, create the hole first! I usually use a screwdriver to make this or a drill bit depending on the size of the anchor.)   For mix and match, just go!  Always always always start with the center picture and work your way out.  Do not be limited by creating the same space between pictures or placing each frame at the center of another frame.  That type of perfection will only contradict the organic nature of the collage itself. Just roll with it and like the one and only Britney, get chaotic.  Finally, end with an odd number.  It‘s nicer on the eye.



Rule #4 Frame Quality is a Non-Negotiable

I can’t stress enough how important it is to select frames that are constructed well and look high quality.  Not only will this help in terms of durability but aesthetically, this can make or break your collage.  Whether your frame is thick or thin, make sure the material is sturdy, in other words not plastic or artificially distressed.  Look for texture like wood, leather, rope, and burlap.  Texture will add dimension to your work.

Bummed that your favorite frame has only a stand-up option?  You can purchase hardware that enables hanging. Also remember that the price tag has little bearing on quality.  I have purchased beautiful frames at Homegoods while some of the high-end stores have fallen short. You do not want to rush your selection.  A frame is just as important as what is inside. Honor the piece you prioritized by choosing your frames wisely. Only purchase what you absolutely love, your art deserves it!


Rule #5 Rethink Position

A display going up the stairs is a go-to staple but there are many other locations and positions that are often overlooked.  For example, you can hang a symmetrical collage from floor to ceiling in a hallway, lean and layer multiple frames on a mantel or a bathtub ledge, use your photos as a kitchen back-splash, and even hang a picture low for comfort or high for a grander look.  Rethinking the ordinary will provide your home with character, depth, and originality.




So that wraps up our Top 5 rules and Ivory and Bone’s very first blog entry!  Happy Hanging!!!


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