budget frame collage

21 Jun

I spent a few days last week rearranging the furniture in my bedroom. Despite the hassle of unpacking and repacking bookcases and the subsequent burn in my pathetic biceps, it’s felt like a real blessing to be able to change things up. My Aunt J swears that no matter how she rearranges furniture, it makes a room feel bigger. I don’t think I’m deluding myself in the thought that a physical change can be symbolic of starting a new chapter. And it’s my hope that this chapter will be better than the previous one. The best is yet to come, and all that.

With a new furniture layout, I found myself taking down all the photos in my room and contemplating new arrangements and walls for them to live on. I also found myself struck anew by the intensity of the pistachio green paint on my bedroom walls; it was definitely one of those “better-on-a-paint-chip-than-saturating-an-entire-room” colors. I thought briefly about repainting, but the thought of moving those bookcases back away from the walls was not enticing. I can live with my pistachio room a while longer.

Rearranging gave me a little more space to work with in terms of wall art, and after hanging my old frames I had a few ideas in mind for that space. I headed out to a favorite local thrift store and spent some time looking for interesting pieces. I didn’t see any awesome Velvet Elvises or creepy owl paintings, so I decided to focus on finding some cool frames.

John and Sherry Petersik, the couple in Richmond who write one of my favorite home improvement/DIY blogs, Young House Love, were my inspiration for the following project. They’ve done a number of frame collages in both their first house and their current one. From early efforts in their guest bedroom to an adorable heart-shaped collage in their daughter’s nursery to their dramatic new hallway with two frame collage walls, I’ve admired this look for being both charming and modern, and a great way to add visual interest. With the caveat that extra visual interest might not be necessary in a pistachio green room, I decided to attempt a frame collage of my own.

I picked up ten frames at the thrift store as well as a fun (bronze) leaf ornament. I was looking for frames that were diverse in size and texture, decently made, and inexpensive. I paid about $13 for my eleven items, which felt like a mission accomplished. Here are the fruits of that labor, laid out on the living room floor. Sorry for the poor image quality, this was taken with my phone.

I knew from what I’d seen on YHL that there are a few ways to tie frame collages together. If the photos and art featured are composed of many different colors, having frames of the same color is helpful to keep the look cohesive (see John and Sherry’s hallway, with all white frames of many sizes and shapes). If you’re using black and white photos, you can probably get away with a rainbow of frames. Given the bold color of the wall I was working with, I decided to paint my frames a neutral gray color. I used inexpensive acrylic paint from Pat Catan‘s, and I actually decided to make my frames range from light to dark gray. I used a combination of lights and darks on the leaf ornament and really liked how that looked. I applied 2 coats of acrylic, and then a coat of Mod Podge in matte finish to act as a sealant. As far as the artwork, I used some photos I had on hand, and I went through some artsy magazines and even pretty cards from friends and family. In the largest frame, I made an attempt at some amateur graphic art.

Here’s the finished product on my wall:

I’m feeling good about the way things came together. I agree with John and Sherry that it’s tempting to keep adding more frames and grow the collage further. Since it’s only been up for a few days, I’m going to enjoy it as is for a while. Maybe if I stumble across a fun creepy owl that I need to add I’ll break out the gray acrylic again and my hammer and nails again!

Total Cost of this project:

10 frames + 1 bronze leaf ornament: $13.20

three bottles acrylic paint (light gray, dark gray, and silver): $4.85

Mod Podge and paintbrushes: already owned.

artwork for frames: free!

Total = $18.05

By painting pre-owned frames instead of purchasing new ones, I definitely saved some dough. I did invest a few hours in the painting process, but I mostly worked on it while watching TV with my roommate. It’s totally unique to me, and I think it adds something sweet to my room. I’m calling this project a win!

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9 Responses to “budget frame collage”

  1. Julie June 22, 2011 at 6:57 PM #

    I love Young House Love. Now that you mention it I think that you are the one who told me about them a couple years ago.

    • hopingfor June 24, 2011 at 8:31 AM #

      yeah, it has remained on my list of faves for a while now. and this project had a little shout-out to you, julie! i don’t think i’ll ever use Mod Podge without thinking about how much you love it!

  2. Annie Michaels June 22, 2011 at 11:26 PM #

    I like the way that came together. I still like the color of your walls a lot, as well. Nothing wrong with going all the way with pistachio.

    • hopingfor June 24, 2011 at 8:34 AM #

      thank you! i have mostly gotten used to it… there was just something about seeing it with all my pictures off the wall that felt overwhelming. it’s not subtle.

    • Jon L. July 17, 2011 at 6:17 AM #

      You had pistachio walls while living in Margaret’s basement, right, Annie? Or was that more of a guacamole?

  3. Marissa June 23, 2011 at 1:11 AM #

    I’m so glad you decided to blog! Even if it is a terrible word. Loving the frames here.

    • hopingfor June 24, 2011 at 8:33 AM #

      thanks! it really is a horrible word. i feel obnoxious saying it out loud.

      • Marissa June 24, 2011 at 4:30 PM #

        Vlog is even worse.

  4. Jon L. July 17, 2011 at 6:19 AM #

    I love it! We need to have you and Alicia be our living room redecorating consultants!

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