Wednesday, February 05, 2014

HUGE check off the list. And a Giveaway!!

Let me start with a "Yay!  This wall looks great!!"  And then follow it with a "I hate this stupid wall!"  I don't have a ton of in-progress pictures to show you cause this took FOREVER (we're talking months) and made me angry along the way.  But, I think you'll enjoy the tale...just not many pictures.

But seriously, I love what I did, but the process - whew! 

Please don't email me and tell me which ones are crooked.
Inspired by John and Sherry's book, I bought a pack of postcards from that all had this vintage vibe.

I didn't know what to do with them, but after seeing J&S make a collage of sorts in their book and then seeing the postcards on sale on, I knew I had to at least buy them.  Then we moved into this place with a giant blank wall in the dining room.  And...idea!  The plan started off very easy.  I went to the dollar store and bought a ton of frames.  And by ton, I mean EXACTLY the number I needed, with no thought as to what might happen if one broke (this is called "foreshadowing").  Jon and I went through all the postcards and picked out 24 places we had been (sometimes together, sometimes separately) and I took them to Home Depot.  I lined them up and picked 4 paint colors that seemed to compliment the postcards and got little sample pots of each.  The colors I used were:

All from Lowe's Olympic line
Then the time consuming part.  I spray painted each plastic frame with a primer, then I actually spackled the places where each side met, because the cheap frames had natural separation at their seams.  THEN I sanded down these cheap little frames (I got a bit obsessive, I admit) and THEN painted 6 of each color.  Well, to be honest, I put them up there approximately one row at a time, so it didn't happen as fast as it perhaps sounds.  

The layers were frame -- glass -- white mat -- postcard -- white construction paper -- frame back -- command strip.

Which leads me to command strips.  A rental's (and, honestly, a homeowner's best friend).  They let you eyeball the exactness because as long as enough of the sticky strips connect, you're golden.  No need to aim for an elusive nail AND put a crap-ton of holes in your wall to patch before your move-out inspection, amiright??

To hang them up, I measured an area down from the ceiling and put a big piece of blue tape across the wall and repeated three more times, then pulled the tape away as I was putting the frame on.  At least, the first rows went like that.  After that, you could really just eyeball it if you put the complete connected two-piece command strip on the frame and then just pushed the whole thing on the wall.

Progress.  I put the stripes up first, but didn't use them much after the first row
So everything was going so well....until two fell off.  It was my own fault - I moved something and I knew the command strip wasn't as sticky as it originally was, but I was an idiot and the frames fell and broke.  Not the glass (yay!) but the plastic frames.  I don't know why - they cost $1 each.  Obviously quality.  But no big deal right, just run to the dollar store and get a new one.  What?  What's that?  We've DISCONTINUED THE LINE OF FRAMES AND THEY CANNOT BE FOUND ANYWHERE????

Yes, that's right.  I dug and dug through a store to find ONE frame that matched the other 22 in my house, leaving me one short.  Two trips to various stores and I was just SOL.  Even online, that frame isn't around anymore.  But, let's face it, it's rare that a project goes well in my house.  So, I bought a very similar frame (it's just more beveled around the edges) and put it in the corner with hopes no one looks/cares.  And honestly, as I type this, I'm turning around checking it out and it's not noticeable at all.  So, sorry, Austin, TX.  You're not different, you're special. 

Lessons learned:
  • Buy 30 of whatever you need 24 of.  Always.
  • If you move command strips, put up a new command strip
But, all bitching aside, I think it looks really really good.  A great way to fill up a wall with postcards representing places we've been.  I'm thinking about writing when we went there on each mat, but that would require me to take them down, and I'm just not in that place right now :-)

Here's the approximate cost breakdown.  Not bad for an entire wall!
- 27 frames: $27
- 3 paint pots: $12
- Various painting supplies: $10
- Postcards: $24
- Command Strips: $20
- White mats: $20
-Grand total-ish: $113

Have you ever had to fill up an entire wall?  How did you do it?  How do you display travel memories and memorabilia?  Have you ever dug through something in a store trying to find what isn't there?  Leave me a comment below and let me know!

Speaking of - I really enjoy reading comments on my blog, and I don't get a lot of them.  Most people comment on FB, but it's a real high point of my day when I get an email saying that someone has commented on here.  I usually assume the only people that read my blog are my mom (Hi mom!!) and the Russian spambots (Здравствуйте you bastards!) that bump up my blog numbers.  So...if you're so inclined and have the time, drop me a line and let's start a conversation! entice you to comment, I am giving away a set of these postcards from to celebrate being finished with this project!!  Commenting below will give you an entry and I'll use a random generator to pick someone to get all 24 of the ones that I used, plus a ton more!  They look great on a wall (ha ha) or you can pick one at random and plan your vacation.  Or, gasp!  You can use them as postcards :-)  How cool would it be to go to each place and then send someone (!) a postcard from each one?  I look forward to reading your comments that I've bribed you to leave!!!

Be sure to check back here on Friday to see if you won!


Julia said...

The wall looks great! And I think the postcards would look great in coasters (although they might have to be cut into smaller pieces). Great job!

Lauren said...

Looks great! And I have a big blank dining room wall! Or how about using them as thank-yous instead of buying cheesy ones?

Vinnie said...

It looks great! I am big on the repainting of frames (as you know), I also discovered this epoxy that if you pour it over something such as a post card, it will seal it underneath almost like 50 layers of clear varnish or poly. Endless possibilities, counter tops, table tops, beer pong tables (for those college kids or young at heart)I think those post cards would have worked well for something like that too. Its kind of a notch above decoupage.

I think since you had such a large wall, you achieved a great impact, with a lot of color, but still made it look organized and professional, this looks like a wall someone spent a lot of money on! Way more than you actually spent, good job!

Lauren jonczak said...

This is a great idea! I love the way your wall looks. I am about to become a home owner after my meeting with my mortgage company (Avrus Mortgage) closes next week. I have a huge empty wall in my living room that I have no clue what to to with. I really like the idea of all these picture frames. I hope you don't mind if I do the same. I just have to figure out what I want to put in the frames. Thanks so much for the great idea!

Vinnie said...

Lauren, Good luck on your home purchase, besides vintage postcards like Alison has used here, a fun idea is also wall calendars, yes some are just boring landscapes, but sometimes you can find fun vintage ones too, I took a calendar of antique black and white photos of paris, and vintage travel posters (think 1920's art deco, colorful) both from calendars, and cropped and framed them in inexpensive frames, and they look amazing! And if you are super crafty, I have also been known to scrapbook in a frame, you end up with a fun custom look basically a framed scrapbook page, and it also gives you an opportunity to put other things in the frame besides just the pictures :) But have fun! And do what you love, you'll never regret it!

Mary Kate said...

Too cool, Ali! You inspire me to fill the blank walls of my house! Sometimes I'm just too afraid to put holes in the wall, so the command strip idea is a good one. Are you just applying 2 sticky command strips to the actual frame?

Alison Beach said...

Julia and Lauren A- coasters and thank yous are great ideas!

Vinnie - that epoxy sounds amazing. What have you used it for?

Lauren J - knock yourself out! It's a super easy project. Maybe you'll win the postcards and then you'll have something to frame :-) I'm a big user of the calendar as well, like Vinnie suggested.

MK - I just used one (in hindsight, that was stupid) so I definitely recommend using more than 1!

Kristy DeMasters said...

First off I tried to post to your post about your entryway, but it would never let me for some reason...! I love comments too, so I hear ya! :)

Second-wall looks good! I have a big, blank wall in my dining room as well. I'm always looking for inspiration!

Alison Beach said...

Kristy - that's weird, but if you have ideas, I am all ears, for sure.

Andrea Messina said...

I love this wall! I've been collecting show cards and want to frame them and hang them on a big blank wall. I think you've inspired me to get it done! Command Strips just might give me the confidence.

Also..yes...have gone the way of searching for one item to not find it in multiple stores. Very frustrating.

Alison Beach said...

Andrea, do it! Command strips are the BOMB!

Jenn said...

Looks amazing!!

yudizt said...

Such a great idea. I think i have to do this to make my room looks more cool! but i think i have to clean it first. nice idea :)

Alison Beach said...

Thanks, Jenn and yudizt! It's definitely an easy way to add some personality. Just learn from my mistakes :-)

Manda said...

Love the giveaway. They would look great on a wall.

Lauren jonczak said...

Thanks so much Vinnie, these are amazing ideas. I can't wait to open a bottle of wine, sit on the floor and put some things together!

The Pin Junkie said...

I know this was a lot of work, but you did such a great job! It looks fantastic and I no one would guess these are dollar store frames! Thanks for sharing this fantastic project at The Pin Junkie. It was featured at this week's party. Please stop by to grab a featured button and party with us again at

Alison Beach said...

Woot - thanks, Pin Junkie! Honored to be a fave of yours for the second time!

razz said...

That was well worth the time and effort you put into it!

Alison Beach said...

Thanks, razz! So far they are all still hanging on! (fingers crossed)

Ariel Eckblad said...

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