Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Daily Diva Style: Photo Collage

I always knew I wanted to be an interior designer. My mom loved rearranging the furniture in our house when I was a kid, and I was always right there next to her helping and reconfiguring. For birthdays and Christmases, I would often ask for things to re-do my room with, i.e. a new comforter, pillows, sheets, bookcases, etc. Thank God I married Hubby who has some interest in design and has similar tastes as me.

Just a year after we got married, we purchased our first home - a condo. It's 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a smidge over 1000 square feet. Perfect for a new couple getting their foot in the real estate door in Orange County. We went to work picking out paint colors and furniture for our new place. Hubby even got his dream flat screen TV for the living room.

After the dust settled and our new furniture arrived, we were out of decorating funds for a while. At first I didn't mind the blank walls. I just surfed the internet and wandered through various stores imagining all of the fun things I could put on our freshly painted, and yet very bland, walls. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore. Aaron Brothers was having their Penny Frame Sale (Buy one frame, get the 2nd for a penny). I had decided that I wanted to try my hand at composing a photo collage. We picked out frames that varied in size, shape, and even color. Then we got them home and laid them out over and over until we got the arrangement just right. There is no right or wrong in arranging them, but I think you just get a sense of balance when you hit it right on the money. Hubby is great at finding the perfect arrangement. After they were hung on the wall - which is a very long and tedious process... - it was time to pick what photos to put in them. We decided to use photos of places we've been together. The Bean in Chicago, The Trevi Fountain in Rome where he proposed, the sunset in Maui from our Honeymoon, etc. We only used 4 photos that actually had us in them, but they are also our favorite photos of us from our rehearsal dinner, engagement photos, and wedding - major events in our life together.
Here's the end result:

After WEB was born, I started taking my lack of design stimulation out on my parents' house. For my mom's birthday, I made her a photo collage for over her sofa. This year has been rough, to say the least, with the passing of our family dog, Fumble, and her mom, so I knew that these were photos that needed to be included. I ended up using photos of our family in all of them. This is what is important to my mom, so that's the theme I went with. I bought the frames at Ikea, so they were a steal and came with mattes.
Here's the end result:

Here are my tips for creating a collage:

- Make the photos all the same tone. I did both collages with black and white photos, but you could use sepia instead. If you're a Photoshop wiz, you could change all of the photos to have the same funky tone. This just makes the collage more cohesive. Having lots of bright colors in all of the photos looks like a mess. If there is one photo you want as the focal point, keep that in color and make the rest black and white. You just don't want all of your photos competing against each other.
- Buy lots of frames. Our collage has 10 frames and my mom's has 8. You can always buy more than you need and return what you don't use.
- Get your photos printed at Costco. They are by far the most cost effective I've found. You can upload them online and just go down and pick them up when they're ready. Super duper easy!
- To make hanging them easier, make a tissue paper replica of each frame. On the tissue paper, mark where the hanger is, so you know where to put the nail. Then you can tape the tissue paper models on the wall and arrange them exactly how you want your collage to look. Hammer the nail right through the tissue paper and then you can just rip the paper down.
- Use a level when hanging the frames. Eyeballing doesn't always do the trick.
- Have fun! It's a great way to add as much or as little personal touch to your wall. Have fun with photography. You don't need a fancy camera to take memorable photos. Although a fancy camera is going on my Christmas list. ;)

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