Hanging a photo collage

I have been collecting white frames and photos since we moved into our home a year and a half ago. After a trip to IKEA, I was able to get all the rest of the frames I needed at a great price and a few weekends ago, we finally got them up on the wall.  Since I only have about 4 walls in my house that are big enough to have any sort of artwork or frames, I decided to cram as many photos on one wall as I could:)  

Hanging frames in relationship to one another other can be tricky (you should see some of our wall-hanging disasters when we were first married) so I thought I would share some quick tips I tried this time to make it go a lot smoother:

I laid out all the frames on my floor and moved them around until I got them where I wanted them.  It took awhile to get it "perfect" but it's a lot easier to test it out on the floor rather than put a bunch of holes in the wall and realize you don't like where you placed things.  My eye is drawn toward balance but I didn't want it to look too perfect so I tried to give even visual weight to both ends of the composition but still have different sized frames throughout. 

As a sidenote: all the frames are all the same color but different types and sizes.  It helps to have a common denominator when doing a collage like this.  You could use various colored frames but have similar colored photos (black & white, sepia OR bright colors).  But if you really feel avant garde and think it would match your homes decor (usually eclectic), you CAN throw out all the rules and just hang any type of frames together with any type of photo.  It can just be hard to pull off.  

Also, feel free to throw in other objects besides photos (decorative keys, clocks, alphabet letters) and even different images in the frames like special handwritten notes or illustrations from magazines.  

For some reason a photo can help you decide if you like the layout.  It gives you a different perspective.  So I snapped this one and then moved things around a bit more.  After I was sure everything was ready to hang.  I used craft paper to trace the frames.  I labeled each paper frame for the photo it represented so I wouldn't get them mixed up.

Jer and I measured the distance from the left to right side of the collage and from the top to bottom.  We marked the center of the wall we wanted to place the photos on and then marked the points we had just measured and started transferring the paper frames on the wall in the respective positions.

I used drafting tape to hang the paper so I could move it around easily without damaging the wall.

Jer was genius and marked inch marks on my finger so I didn't have to hold different tools when I was determining where to hang the frames in relationship to each other.  If he told me a frame was 2 inches from the one to the left of it, I would simply use my finger and measure to my knuckle to know where to place the next frame.  

Then, we started nailing.  We hung the photos over the paper to make sure they were in the right spot.  We make it a rule to only use one nail per frame.  If there's two nail hangers attached to the frame, Jer will connect a wire between them both so we can use just one nail.  This gives us much more of a chance to hang the pictures straighter. Finally we ripped the paper off the wall aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnndddddddd  Ta-Da!  It's finished!

But if you look closely, you'll see Grandma Vivian is on her side and two of the frames don't have photos in them at all. He he. It seems every project is always a work in progress... :)


  1. What a cute idea! I have always wanted to do something like that in my hallway next to the bedrooms. I really like your idea of tracing them before you started to hang them. I might just need to try it sometime!!
    For other fun craft ideas, check out http://www.sawdustandembryos.com/ This gal and her husband do some pretty cool stuff. I think you might just like it.

  2. Your photo display looks wonderful, Rachel! That trick of marking inches on your finger is genius!

  3. Rachel I love this! We must be on the same wavelength here b/c I have a "wall collage" post in progress on my blog too. I am still in the filling/painting frames stage so I've got a lot to go. SO happy to find your post now so I can use your advice when I get to hanging, and I'll be sure to post a link to this post for my readers too.

  4. I love your use of the clock in the middle, I'm thinking of doing a decorated letter "J" to hang in ours for my new last name : )

    I LOVE the canvas print of Judah- so cute.

  5. Looks really good Rachel! You make me tired with all of your energy for "projects". Want to come do some for me??

  6. Thanks for all the positive feedback everyone. All three of us appreciate the love and comments:)

    Luann- I would love to help you:) We should make it a blog series!

  7. Good job! You sure you shouldn't write for magazines... or did you get these ideas from someone else? Anyway, it takes lots of thought & some time for projects like this...

  8. much cuter than my little "wall collage!" i tried to incorporate my monogram and white frames and it just seems like its missing something...i should have started with a white paper layout like you! so smart!