The story behind the creation of the photo wall is this:
Some time ago, we purchased a large framed mirror from our neighbor's garage sale. It was nice (like, Pottery Barn nice) and I'd been trying to find something for a big blank wall in our dining room. At $30, it was the right price and seemed to be just what I'd been looking for.
Our dining room is the center of our home in the sense that it's the room which connects the front of the house to the back of the house so we walk through it frequently throughout the day. This also meant that I was walking by that mirror countless times a day and looking at it. It's no secret that I'm someone who struggles with self esteem, and beauty and appearance is totally an unhealthy obsession of mine. I feel awkward confessing this, but it's the truth and I'm positive I'm not the only woman out there who can't seem to walk by a mirror without looking into it. Yes, out of vanity but more so out of insecurity just to make sure I look ok. Some of you probably think this sounds totally self absorbed, and you're right.. it is! But it stems from years of believing that my value as a woman is found in my appearance, and never feeling as though I measure up. Which is why I had to take that mirror down. There are days when I'm so consumed with the displeasure I experience when seeing my reflection that it brings me to tears. Sometimes anger. Sometimes anguish. This has been my pattern for years. I think it's the pattern of many woman. For those of you interested, Killing Us Softly is so worth the watch if you struggle with self image like I do (I think this is just a trailer, but you can find the full version presentations elsewhere on youtube). It was eye opening for me. And it explained a lot about why I feel the way I do about myself. I bet this whole conversation was not what you were bargaining for with a post on home decor!
Anyways, long story short, putting a giant mirror in a high traffic part of our house was probably the worst decision ever and only fueled the fire of an already serious issue. It was after a few Providential conversations and "ah-hah" moments that I realized the mirror had to go. It was an idol in my house. If I could have, I would have smashed it with a baseball bat. Instead, it's in our closet because we hope to sell it - hopefully not to a woman with self image issues.
Of course, now I was left with that giant blank spot on my wall again and nothing to fill it with.
Or so I thought (dot dot dot).
A picture wall, like these, is something I've been dreaming of for a while. But to achieve this, you need... you guessed it, a large blank wall! Thank heavens that mirror was removed from it's throne and in its place I now have a beautiful collection of photos depicting our story. God is so good. He gave me beauty for ashes. Max Lucado once painted the picture of us as little children sitting and eating dirt and God, being the loving Father that He is, coming over and wiping our mouths, giving us a sip of water and handing us an ice cream instead. As cheesy as it sounds, this picture wall is my ice cream (and that mirror was my dirt). I can not tell you the freedom I feel now that mirror is gone.
Phew. Ok, well here's where the heavy stuff ends and the easy part comes: the how to!
First, you need frames (duh). Ideally, you're one of those people who has the patience to make multiple trips to thrift shops to slowly build an eclectic but inexpensive collection. I am not one of those people. Thankfully, I was blessed to already have a number of frames around my house to utilize. Another option is to buy a pre-made collection (which I tried at first), but that can be expensive and I prefer picture walls with variety rather than uniformity. It was amazing once I started looking around the house how many things I found to build my collection - even though it meant pulling a frame or two that was already in use elsewhere. Truth be told, all of the included pieces were better showcased on the wall then they had been elsewhere in the house. I did purchase two frames (about $25 total) - one large oval one and a smaller decorative one to complete the look. So far, that's all I've spent!
Once I had my frames together, I played around with the arrangement on my floor to visualize spacing and placement. The trick, of course, is figuring out how to transfer your setting from the floor to the wall. Lauren Conrad's blog, of all places, is where I found my answer. She suggested arranging the frames on top of butcher paper, tracing your placement and then taping it to the wall (you can read the whole tutorial here). Ingenious! Except I didn't have butcher paper on hand (who does?) so I just used sheets of computer paper for the small frames and some plain brown wrapping paper I had for the larger frames. I then cut them out individually and placed them on the wall as I had on the floor:
If you think you'll have a hard time remembering which frame belongs to which cut out, then I suggest you number both. After you've done that, it's time to hang! The best part about using pieces of paper as placeholders for the frames is that they'll help you determine where the nail should go; once the nail's in, just rip the paper down. I have to give a shout out to Tim who did all the nailing and hanging himself. He's far better at this part than I am. Of course, he may have had a tiny helper.
Here's a picture of the final product. I was so excited to be able to use those white shelves (which Tim got for free a while ago) because they add such a great dimension to the space.
That big gap at the top is where the oval frame goes (I wasn't sure if I was keeping it at the time). It's currently hanging in it's place but it's a gloomy day and this shot was from a sunny day with better lighting. Plus, the frame is still empty as I'm waiting on some photos from our family photo shoot with our friend Danielle. Here's a sneak peek (in case you didn't see it on Facebook).
So that's the story of the photo wall.
Or the story of me taking steps towards a healthier self image.
Either way, my heart is lighter because I'm eating ice cream instead of dirt.