Home Decor: Stairway

(This is a long post and probably super boring. Feel free to skip 🙂

Two years ago we hung our family portraits on the wall in our stairway and I was happy with them.

But not much time went by before I decided there weren’t enough pictures for that large of a wall. It’s the focus wall in our Living Room and everyone faces it when sitting on the sofa. I’d done a lot of browsing on Houzz and decided to go with a full, top-to-bottom, end-to-end showstopper of a look. Oh, it was going to razzle and dazzle and be the perfect offset to our otherwise pretty toned-down decor.

Luckily, we have a million photographs! We just needed to sort through them and decide which ones we wanted. We spent $40 on prints from Costco and called ahead and asked them not to roll our large sizes. That way they lay flat in the frame rather than bow out.

I already had half the frames but I still needed a lot more. To keep costs WAY down I headed to DI for some DIY. It took a couple of trips but I ended up with 16 frames sized 5×7 up to 30×40. Most of them are solid wood and built by professional framers (business stickers on the back). I took them all apart and painted them black. This cost me under $50.

I thought I’d be able to use most of the mats that came with them but once taken apart I found out that everything was glued together with whatever horrible print was in the frame. So unfortunately I had to spend almost $100 on getting mats cut plus $10 on supplies to put the frames back together.

This whole process was a pain! There were so many different frame sizes, mat sizes, and print sizes to keep track of, many of them un-standard. The mat cutter at Hobby Lobby also cut a few of them wrong which we didn’t know until I brought them all home and tried putting them together. Back to Hobby Lobby. I had to pay for 3 mats to be recut even though it wasn’t my fault. Because I didn’t have the frame with me the first time they wouldn’t hold themselves liable.

We spent 3 nights putting everything together. It’s amazing how long things take sometimes. There also was an accident with the largest piece of glass but we opted to leave it hoping it isn’t too noticeable. We were just so done at that point and still had so much further to go so we kept on going.

Next we needed to decide on a layout. There isn’t enough floor space in our home to lay out the entire wall worth of pictures so we opted for photoshop. Everything looked great!

Now all we needed to do was hang everything. Let me first explain something. Rob hates ladders. He is fine with heights, just not while climbing up rungs. Every time he would have to go up high to hang a picture he would hum and haw for 10 minutes before he’d work up the nerve. Then he’d step up       s-l-o-w-l-y. He would make sure both of his feet were firmly planted on each rung before he’d take a deep breath, hold it, and head up to the next. Then he’d exhale loudly. He says he’s just “safety conscientious”. Granted, half the time he was carrying a frame and hammer in one hand. He was in such a grumpy mood doing this!

Anyway…we put up a few frames and then I made Rob stop because I was just not liking it at all. The frames looked heavy and felt like they were going to fall in on me. Something wasn’t right. We went back to photoshop and it still looked great but once it was multi-dimensional in my living space I just hated it. I’m embarrassed that we even got this far with it. After a few days of mulling it over I made Rob get back up on the ladder and take it all down. Oh, I’m such a mean wife!

After a week or two of researching, drawing out different layouts, and laying portions out on the floor I came up with a new plan. We ended up taking out 10 of the smallest photos from our original plan. Then we spent another day and 2 nights hanging and straightening.

This time, it worked! At least I think it works. It’s not quite the look I was originally going for. It’s more symmetrical and traditional now. At least to me it feels natural and not like I tried and failed at a certain designer look. It really is a whole lotta Snow goin’ on now, though!

These pics are taken with my phone since I don’t have a wide angle lens for the SLR. Someday I’d love to change out the lighting to some beautiful pendents.



Project Cost: under $210.
Project length: Way too long. Hands on time was probably 33 hours or so over the period of 2 months.
Would I recommend this DIY project? If you’re looking to do a smaller collage then I’d say “for sure.” But if you’re looking to do a large collage on a high wall, I’d most definitely say “No, come up with an easier idea.”The cost savings were SUBSTANTIAL but SO much time and energy was used to get it done.

So glad it’s done…


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