Friday, January 21, 2011

Empty Picture Frames Part I: Find and Cluster

I have been looking for something to fill my long spare bedroom wall since we moved in.  I needed it to be cheap, because we’re poor like that, but still look good.  I was inspired by these pictures:

Tag-Sale Upgrades

Martha Stewart

The Nester

I fell in LOVE with the monochromatic Martha Stewart picture on top.  It seemed to have more depth and character than the frames that were painted all one color and I definitely needed some character in this plain room.  The great thing about the empty frame approach is that you can truly customize it to your space to make it fit and fill your wall without making it look empty. 

My first step was to find me some old picture frames. 

The most important things to remember when looking for frames are:

  1. Don’t pay attention to the color!  You will paint over that nasty pink so don’t let it sway you!
  2. Get different sizes, from big to small – it gives the cluster more dimension.
  3. Vary in frame width – look for both chunky and thick frames to narrow and skinny and everything in between.
  4. Don’t be afraid of different shapes – throw in a circle, oval, or perfect square!
  5. Texture matters – look for frames with interesting details, lines, groves, and patterns.
I thought Goodwill would be the best place to start, but I was sorely mistaken.  I came out empty handed because the one picture frame I did find that would work was $6.00, and since I needed around 13-14 frames to make the cluster big enough for the wall the $6.00 frame didn’t make the cut.

The best thing you can do is ask your family and friends if they have any old and outdated picture frames you can use.  As soon as I mentioned this project to my mother she informed me that the thrift store Up North she goes to had a bunch of frames for FREE!  Major score!  I made the trip ASAP and came out with 13 frames for $8.00 – not to bad!

The next step is to cluster!  Well technically you take the glass and pictures out of the frames first, then it’s onto clustering. Lay the picture frames out on the floor first so you can get an idea of how the arrangement will look.  Start with your bigger pieces as anchors and let your smaller pieces be the fillers. Don’t focus on making it perfectly balanced, an asymmetrical look is great, as long as you are loving the look!  I also like the idea of putting smaller frames in bigger frames or using letters in your cluster! Play with the arrangement until you get something that you are satisfied with.  I came up with this:

Don’t mind the pink stickies, I’ll get to them later. 

Next, since I am a bit anal retentive, I drew up a quick sketch of the arrangement and created something similar on Microsoft Publisher being sure to make the background a similar shade to my wall.  I created squares with the shape feature and adjusted their width to match the frames.  What’s the purpose of this you ask? Well, I wanted to decide on colors and shades before I jumped into painting.  I first started out with a mix of yellows and grays, but then decided on monochromatic gray color scheme that would make my yellow bedspread pop!  I came up with something like this:

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