A few weeks ago, we had people over our place on a Sunday evening for drinks, grilled meats, and the usual enjoyment of a Southern California day in our backyard. One of Matt’s friends from school came with his adorable girlfriend, which was a welcome addition to our usual group of six or so.
At one point, I came in from outside to check on the food or something, and I caught our new friend standing in our living room, intently staring at the wall.
“It’s like you live in Pinterest,” she said, studying each individual photograph in the 84 image collage. “It’s so cool.”
“Thanks!” I replied. “It was easy!”
And it really was. I mean, I get it, I suppose. What I think of as a simple little weekend project gives a lot of people anxiety. The fear of a project becoming overwhelming, or worse– terrible once it’s complete– tends to hold people back. I know it does for me.
But I’ve always been one to decorate. I’ve never been the type of renter who throws their hands up and says “nope! Can’t change a thing!” when trying to live somewhere. I usually don’t paint, but I will bang nails in the walls, and cover the cabinets in temporary wallpaper, or sometimes hang fabric everywhere, and occasionally even stick seven dozen photos to the wall with removable adhesive.
But the result is always a place that feels like home, whether we live there just a year or longer. I may be thousands of miles from where I grew up, but this little apartment in the San Fernando Valley feels like it’s just where I’m meant to be.
So anyway. What were we talking about?
DIYing shit! That’s right. I encourage you to do this. If you have an Instagram feed that you’re proud of, there’s nothing like scrolling through the past few years and picking favorites you’d like in a tangible form. I printed way more than these 84 pictures, and I had a tremendously hard time choosing which to put up, but I’m thrilled with the result. I catch people admiring it often, whether it’s their first time at our house or the hundredth.
While you could do this with frames, that would probably quadruple the price. I’d rather just stick them all the wall with removable mounting squares and not worry about aligning eighty four nails. Thanks?
On that note. Let’s do this, shall we?
What You Need:
- A level
- A tape measure
- Painter’s Tape
- Scotch Foam Mounting Removable Squares, 1/2 x 1/2 Inch
- You need four of these per photo, so for my collage I needed 336. I bought the six pack for $29.99 and had 384 to play with.
- Instagram photos, 4″x4″ size, as many as you want for your collage – I did 84
- I had these printed at Walgreens and they turned out great. They have a lovely app that lets you scroll through your Instagram feed and select your images, so that took quite a while. I went back pretty far, and tried to select a good combination of people, places and things that were both pretty and captivating.
What You Do:
- First, decide how large you want your photo wall to be. I wanted this to be the only thing on the wall opposite our TV that you see when you enter our house, so I went big. I did fourteen photos across and six down.
- Sort your photos. Put people, places, and objects/abstract things into piles, and rank your favorites toward the top of the pile. You’ll undoubtedly shuffle through them hundreds of times as you create, but if you have more than enough photos for your collage (I printed upwards of 200–whoops!) you want to ensure your favorites are featured.
- Do the math for your collage. Each photo is 4″x4″, and you’ll have a 1″ border between each photo. I sort of winged this part, to be honest, as I knew I had more than enough photos to fill the space. If you only have the exact amount, though, you’ll want to work from the center out.
- Measure a foot or two down from the ceiling with your tape measure, and mark with a pencil. Do the same where you’d like your collage to end, and a few spots in between. Grab the level and the painter’s tape, and run a piece of tape, parallel to the floor, from your first mark to the end, creating the top reference for your collage.
- Place a mounting square in each corner of your first photo, and align it to the top piece of tape, in the left hand corner. Once placed, rip off 5″ pieces of tape at a time, and create a border to the right and below each photo. I worked down and across simultaneously to ensure I didn’t go too far off in one direction.
- As you place photos, consider offsetting color with the occasional black and white image, don’t place too much of one thing (babies, dogs, nature) near each other. I also liked to put photos of Boston snow near palm trees, to generally keep things balanced.
- Once all your photos have been placed, carefully peel off the painter’s tape around the photos to reveal your amazing new statement wall!
What it Costs:
- Mounting squares: $30
- Prints (84 @ $0.39/print): $33 (I actually found a half price coupon code online and paid half the usual price – $0.19/print!)
- Painter’s Tape: $4
- Total: ~$67