A couple of days ago Kacey of Chronicles of a Mommy posted this picture from Real Simple magazine. (If you haven't checked out her blog yet, do it now. It's fabulous. She always finds the cutest ideas for decorating and crafts and has the most adorable children. I always feel so inspired to be a better mom (and a more crafty one too) after visiting her blog...which I do everyday. That makes for a lot of inspiration.)
Anyway, the picture got me all excited because I'd done something similar in my front room and learned quite a few useful things doing it that I thought would be great to share. Here's what my arrangement looks like:
It's the only thing "done" in my front room otherwise I'd show you the rest of the room. I realize now that I should have straightened some of the frames before taking the picture.
(I know it's not important to anyone but me, but still I'd just like to note that the medal in the shadow box was my dad's from service in the Air Force. He gave each of us kids a framed one when he retired a few years ago.)
Here are my time- and money-saving tips:
First, I bought all my frames at a thrift store (total cost $10) and spray painted them all black to make them seem like they belonged together.
Then when I got ready to hang them, I traced each frame on butcher paper and cut them out.
Next, I marked each piece of paper with a small dot where the nail would have to go when I hung them up. (e.g. in the middle of the frame 1/2 inch down where the saw-toothed picture mounting thing was. How's that for a description?) Where the dot went varied from frame to frame depending on how far down the frame the mounting thing was.
I then taped each cut-out "frame" to the wall and rearranged them until I found an arrangement I liked. This way I didn't have to put hole after hole in my wall, and I could still get some semblance of an idea of how they would look on the wall.
With the cut-outs still hanging up, I hammered in my nails using the dots I'd drawn a guides. (None of my frames were very heavy.)
Then, I hung my pictures up on top of the cut-outs so that I would remember which on went where. Finally, I pulled the cutouts out from under the frames.
Here's my little secret regarding my framed "prints" like the one above. I didn't buy my prints, I made them...in minutes...and if you have a printer and some nice heavy paper you can too. (Sorry about the awful flash in the pic. I was too impatient to wait for the light to be brighter in the front room to take a picture without it. Just realize that this looks better in person.)
I searched online and found a few etchings by Rembrandt that I liked. Then, I printed them out on cheap, heavy watercolor paper with my inkjet printer. To give them more of that art gallery feel I tore the edges. To do this, I placed my ruler on top of the print about 1/4 of an inch from the edge and then, holding the ruler firmly with one hand, I pulled up on the edge of the paper with the other hand tearing it in a straight line along the ruler. Then I mounted it on black paper to really bring out those torn edges.
I also cut my own matte-board to save money. You can find instructions here at eHow. My one change to their instructions would be to overshoot the edge by 1/8 inch or so on each end of each side. It doesn't show up on the final matte and makes everything clean looking. You can usually find discounted mattes at framing stores already cut to normal frame sizes made from their leftover boards from previous framing jobs. All you have to do is cut the hole in the middle.
If you look at the pictures from Real Simple , they don't even have matte boards. They are just mounted in the middle of a piece of white paper or board. How simple is that?