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New Picture Frame Wall + one ring to rule them all

I used to think wedding rings came with power.

Not power to defeat Mordor and conquer Middle Earth (wow – buckle your seatbelts! It only took us one sentence to head straight to nerddom on warp speed!) — but power to suddenly know grown-up things, like how to make a roast, or when the fiscal year begins. Or what that even means.

Turns out I did NOT wake up on day 2 of my marriage with magically-acquired knowledge. Maybe there was something wrong with my ring?
power is mine
I thought I would be the kind of person who would not go wacky when I had kids. I would keep it together. My kids would know their state capitols before they emerged from the womb. Their first words would be complete Bible verses. They would probably not even have snot.

And I would NOT be the kind of person who created shrines to my children by displaying pictures of them on every surface of my house – we would have REAL art.

Well. Throw that theory out the window too. In the last post I told you we had a plan to replace the temporary stand-in mirrors surrounding the fireplace with DIY oversized frames, photos, and some inexpensive art I found online.

Check it!
Grid of oversized DIY picture frames! (And lots of great art ideas!)

There it is: evidence of my complete surrender to my mama-inclinations. There are baby pictures. There are wedding pictures. I tried to keep it from being too shrine-y by adding in watercolor maps and framed wallpaper samples (like we talked about in this post), but friends, there’s no denying it: I’ve gone off the deep end. And I love it.
Wall of DIY picture frames
Also, we won’t go into great detail about it, but one or two of my expectations about how MY children would be different? May have been a smidge off. (I did have a dream when I was pregnant with Mila that I was able to take her out of my body for short periods of time wherein I taught her to read, then re-inserted her until it was time for her to be born. Thankfully there was no actual repeated baby-removal-and-replacement.)

HOW did you get me talking about THAT?! I meant to be telling you how amazing Andy is for BUILDING those frames to the exact specifications I requested.
how to build DIY picture frames
I was going to tell you how we laid them out on the floor and rearranged them over and over until they felt balanced on either side. How we tried to keep the “busy” pictures opposite each other, and light and dark pictures opposite each other so if you squint, both sides of the fireplace feel as “equal” as possible.
How to arrange a picture frame collage
…and I was going to tell you how we used our laser level and my FAVORITE trick for hanging picture frames exactly where you want them – (check out the details here!) – to get these on the wall in less than one naptime. (That paint stirrer trick might be my favorite little hack we’ve ever done.)
How to hang picture frames the easy way!

But I was NOT going to mention how we started making these frames in the year 2010. (Yes, literally.) I was not going to tell you that we just never got around to ordering acrylic or deciding what to put in the frames. I was not going to emphasize how long it takes us to complete projects around here.
wall of oversized picture frames
And I was not going to talk about snot. Or Mordor.

Things got out of hand quickly today. I think it was that extra shot of espresso in my peppermint mocha.

Do you think another before-and-after look at the wall will bring this post back around? Let’s try it.

Grid of oversized DIY picture frames! (And lots of great art ideas!)

What’s your take on displaying family photos? Did your wedding ring work like it was supposed to?

DIY picture frames surrounding a fireplace!

Let's connect


  1. Wow. I LOVE IT.

  2. Nope. Mine did not work at all. Maybe because we got it at Samuel’s and not from the fires of Mt. Doom.
    It also makes me feel better that you started this project in 2010 because there are projects around here that have been on the to-do list from longer ago than I care to admit and that makes me frustrated. (Like some were ideas thought of in previous houses, and will still work in this one but yeah…)
    But your wall is super cute. When you were talking about laying them out and trying to balance color and darkness, etc. it reminded me of doing my living room curtains. Except I took the strips up to the church so I could lay them all out in a big enough space and tried to balance colors and lightness and pattern across four panels and then I had to decide which panels went together and it was kind of way more work than I ever anticipated. Also, I grossly miscalculated seam allowances, etc. and instead of being floor length they are a like 3 inches off the floor. That really bugs me, but really only one panel is seen at the floor so I just try to avoid looking at that one.

    • I like your method of problem avoidance: just stop looking at it. Sounds like our calculation skills are pretty much the same. 🙂

  3. i’m the same way. i just told my bff that when i have kids i promise not to post *JR is 29 weeks and 2 days* as a facebook status every single day…we will see.

    I love that you mixed it up with what photos you chose. It is not shriney at all! and we all have projects that take awhile…even 3.9 years 🙂

  4. Kelly!!! I looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooove it! Now I want to do something like that in my living room. Hmmmmm. You are going to tell us how to make those frames, right?

  5. Looks so good! And the family pics are so cute! Cheesy as it is, that’s what makes a house a home. 🙂

  6. I totally love that these frames took you so long. We have so many projects like that, but when the outcome is as beautiful as yours, it is worth the wait. 🙂 Love the mixture of prints and portraits. Simply beautiful!

  7. Guuurrrrrlll! I love it! It’s amazing how something so simple can have such an impact on a room, eh? Good job, missy! So great!

  8. As a shameless “shriner” of cute pics of my very-special-and-different kids , I love your gallery wall! The mix of photos and textural art is great.

  9. Love the wall and it is not shrine-y at all especially with the maps/artwork mixed in! Are your pictures a “standard” size; it’s hard to tell? Great job on the frames, it all looks amazing.

    • Nope, they’re 10×10 squares. I don’t know WHY I did that to myself. 🙂 I ended up cropping all my photos to square on my computer, then printing them all at 11×14 size.

  10. What a great post :)! When tastefully done, family photos are perfect. Who lives in your home? Your family, that’s who. It should reflect you and the things that you love. period. You nailed it. period. 😉

  11. I’m all about the family photos! I have one up above my nightstand of the bebe’s crazy beach hair and I love it. I think there is plenty of room for family photos and then the real art and stuff. I love the placement of the frames, it really opens up that wall a bunch. No judgement here on the amount of time it did or did not take to complete this. It looks great!

  12. Love it Kelly! I really they add so much character and your ring scenario cracked me up 🙂

  13. no family photos at all? that’d be a “shrine”? wow. yes, in that case, my wedding ring failed miserably. my mother’s rule was no family photos in the living room or i guess the “public rooms” in general. but the bedrooms were fair game. in my house, i have family photos everywhere because that’s what makes me happy and what i’d rather look at, and hey, it’s my house! you did a fantastic job in your living room. absolutely fantastic. very impressive. congrats.

    • Thanks! I used to be the same way about family photos in the common areas, but now I’m all about decorating for US since we live here. And we like to look at pictures of our kids. 🙂

  14. Looks awesome! Makes the room look bigger too.

  15. DUUUUUUUUDE…..Look how TALL your room looks now! Love the change! It’s the breath of fresh air that room needed 🙂

  16. Looks so good – totally lighter, brighter, and lovely! How can you not put up kid pics when you have cute kids?!

  17. Weird, my kids ended up having snot and poop too…not what I was expecting 🙂 I love your gallery wall- shrine on! And kudos to your handy hubby once again!

  18. LOVE! I’m a big fan of family pictures in the…well, FAMILY room :). Can’t believe Andy made those frames–he’s such an overachiever 😉

  19. You’re killing me. That dream is killing me. And for what it’s worth, you appear to have your $#!* together and appearances are everything right? And homemade frames?! That’s hardcore! Are you taking orders??

  20. LOOOOOOOVE it, friend! frames out the fireplace so beautifully. you may not have the power of the ring, but you have punky power.

  21. The frames look amazing! I love having photos of the family in our home. I think it gives our kids a sense of belonging and a reminder each day that they are truly loved. 🙂

  22. I think it’s ok to go a little mommy crazy, especially when the display is so chic and beautiful! Well done!

  23. love it! you have a great eye and i think it’s a great mix of art and family photos. nice work (as always!)

  24. Who’s bright idea was it anyway to say that personal photos can’t be “art?” Phooey! I think yours look AMAZING! Why wouldn’t you want to look at your favorite people and memories every day? Love the frame project, and your paint stick trick! And, you are hilarious. 🙂

  25. eeeeeeeeeeeeee! and i here i was thinking your living room couldn’t get any better. to say i LOVE it would be an understatement. it is so gorgeous and homey and inviting and artsy all at once. job well done!

  26. I especially love that picture on the top right? 🙂 looks awesome friend!!

  27. Oh, the nerdiness makes me smile! I still can’t believe I’m married and have a kid sometimes simply because I didn’t acquire any new knowledge when I got married either. I just knew I would be perfectly organized once I became a mom. Nope.

    Aaaannd, your living room looks amazing! The frames fill out the space on either side of the fireplace beautifully! Much better than the mirrors. Love it!

  28. I swear, both you and Andy never cease to amaze me. It looks awesome and I cant believe he built the frames himself. Geesh. And honestly that paint stirrer picture hanger contraption might be the most genius thing ive seen in a long time. Oh and Im totally gonna be the bad guy here, but im pretty strongly convicted that art is for walls and pictures are for frames strategically placed atop tables, bookshelves, and nightstands throughout the house. Sorry, I know Im bad:(

  29. We have family/baby photos plastered all over the walls of our home and I wouldn’t have it any other way! I love the way your new art looks and I’m once again so impressed that your hubby actually made the frames!

  30. I adore large art installations, and family photos, so this is a huge win in my opinion. And my ring malfunctioned, too. The first time I ever tried to bake for my new husband, I forgot the baking powder and the cake came out flat and rubbery, not unlike a tire. He still tried to eat it. #honeymoonphase

  31. Julia @Cuckoo4Design says:

    Wow, I wouldn’t have thought that this would make such a difference but it does. I adore how they look and they give the space such a different look. Gorgeous!

  32. Love this! It makes your wall looks so much bigger and is such a statement!!! Gorgeous Kelly 🙂 xo Kristin

  33. My bff calls it the Ring of Power. Not the engagement ring- the actual wedding band. I’m not exactly sure what kind of power it gives, but I’m pretty sure it means you’re a grown-up.

  34. I absolutely LOVE it! Would you be willing to share the how to for the frames? I would love for my husband to make some for our walls as well! Did it turn out less expensive than if you all had bought them? Would really love to know! Thank you! 🙂

    • Andy said as long has you have a couple standard tools around, this project is pretty do-able. I’ll ask him if he’s up for a tutorial! Cost-wise, it ended up being a couple hundred dollars for us when it was all said and done, mostly because the acrylic was not cheap. (I think $180 for all 12 frames.) It would’ve been MUCH cheaper if we could’ve gotten glass instead of acrylic (but didn’t because the frames are at the kids’ level and we needed something lighter and safer) or if the frames had been more standard size or just a little smaller, even 18″ square instead of 20. But I wanted a pretty specific size and other than buying super-expensive custom ones, this was our only option. So you could definitely do it for cheaper than we did. But anyway! I’ll try and get you a tutorial soon! 🙂

  35. I got married a month ago, and almost immediately we started saying “with our rings combined…” because we are children of the ’90s, and Captain Planet, he’s our hero. Anyway, my husband would probably say his ring has power because a mere two weeks after our wedding, I started reading Lord of the Rings. I however, would say his ring does *not* have power, because he still has difficulty getting a pot clean. So you know, it’s up for debate.

  36. Love it. I love the that the photos/maps/wallpaper samples you chose add some color to the wall.

  37. The frames look GREAT! They make a huge difference in the look of your family room too! I love the idea of hanging family photos. But the occasional random art/print is awesome too. If I could, I would cover all of my walls in photos/prints/arts. I would make my walls a collage of pictures from side to side, top to bottom. But right now I only have two frames up. LOL! =]

  38. It is stunning! I can’t believe how much it opens up the room, and actually makes it look bigger. And I don’t care how long it took to make the frames, even if it was 3 years, it was so worth the wait. Do you just keep walking into the room to look at your new creation? I know I would be 😀 Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful!
    My ring had to be returned to Mordor and thrown into the fiery depths of Mount Doom so it didn’t spread it’s evilness! he he he … and Smeagol didn’t bite half my finger off either!

  39. I don’t know if it’s my ring or just me that has super powers but they work. The wall looks excellent, is that Andy with a pony tail walking in the woods?

    • I had never noticed that it does look like has a ponytail in that picture! Which confirms for me that he shall never, ever have a ponytail AND be married to me at the same time.

  40. It’s just gorgeous! Those pictures took your room from pretty fantastic to magazine worthy!

    I grew up with a Dad who shared all kinds of potty humor which I passed on to my kids so I have to say, I enjoyed the reference to snot.

  41. oh I love it- so balanced and clean looking!
    my general rule right now is “art goes on the walls, pictures go on the shelves”… but I’m pretty sure if there’s ever babies that is going to go right out the window. 🙂

  42. Well, it’s quite brilliant if you ask me and your ring MUST have incredible decorating smarts! No matter that your kids didn’t come out reading “War & Peace.” They’re for sure wall-worthy. 🙂
    xo Heidi

  43. Love love love!! And hey, I say rock that mama/wife thing like a boss. Our pre-marriage/baby selves had no idea the love and goodness coming our way. Display that stuff!

  44. Thank you for being nerdy. 😀

  45. Total game changer. Looks absolutely fabulous and I much prefer that arrangement over the fireplace. Also, where did that other couch come from?

    • Thanks! We’ve actually had it for a long time. It’s an Ikea Ektorp just like the other one, but I couldn’t find a good “before” picture that had both couches. 🙂

  46. LOVE how it fills the space! Looks amazing!!

  47. That picture hanging hack is GENIUS!!!

  48. Okay. Mordor, yes. So many yesses.
    And, that wall. Even more yesses. IT IS GORGEOUS. You did so so good. I love it! It’s perfectly balanced. My eyes are loving the symmetry so much.

  49. Yeah … the only thing my ring has done is give me ring rash. Well, there was that one time that it got someone to help me at Stuffy Mall Boutique Store. IT wasn’t forged in the fired of Mt. Doom. My husband’s was, though. I’ll have to ask him.

    The room looks so much bigger with the frames! Like, it looks at least twice the size!

  50. Oh, you mean like finishing my office I have been talking about for 2 years…

    Love the frames! I like how it’s family photos but not BAM!!! FAMILY PHOTOS. Does that make sense?

  51. Oh my goodness! I love this! Those frames are perfect for that wall! Seriously, love!

  52. Girl you cray. Yep had to add an out of control comment to the mix. 🙂

  53. I love it! I have been debating for a long time if I should do a photo wall. I felt exactly the same way as you, no photo shrines. I love how simplistic your gallery looks- this is on my to do list!

    Thanks for the inspiration!!!

    BTW: I wish my wedding ring gave me powers- if only I could be super wife/mom! HaHa!

  54. No wayyyy!!! Kelly, those look amazing! You know I’m a sucker for all-things-gallery-wall!! Seriously awesome! xo

  55. Talk about a handy man! Looks great!

  56. Just beautiful! I love that so much!

  57. I love it! And I love family photos – kids or not. I just think it makes a home homier.

    But your use of family photos still manages to look put-together and chic. Love the colors, too. Great choice over black and white.

  58. You made those?! I totally thought they were IKEA when I first saw them! I am super impressed! And I love that you included personal pictures. It’s your home, and the pictures are a great reflection of that. Stunning before/after. Wonderful job, Miss Kelly!

    ~Abby =)

  59. Hi! I love this idea- casual, clean and balanced. I was curious as to the size of the frames? I’m estimating 2′ x 2′?

  60. I am a photographer so I am just going to blame my shrines on that fact to some extent 😉 Our little one definitely covers the walls. She is 3 and last year was diagnosed with cancer. Lots of time has been spent making memories and taking photos since then. The photo shrines are always a great reminder to us of what is most important. They also make her feel incredibly special I think. <3

  61. You, girl, are hilarious. And your living room is amazing. I love your picture frame wall, and tell me, what is that amazing blue color on the wall? I solemnly swear not to run out and paint my living room that color and try to decorate around it.

  62. The project looks great, it totally opens up the space on either side of the mantel making the room look larger. I do however shed a small tear when folks DIY their precious as I own a frame shop. The main thing to consider is the archival quality of the materials you use. A good framer can and will provide these for you to DIY. It will cost more, but you’ll know you have the correct UV filtering glass, acid free mats and mounting board to protect your treasures. Kudos on a job well done!

  63. christine love says:

    Hi, I am just absolutely loving the idea, I love white sofas but have 3 little ones and now this seems like a possible dream! Can you tell me how the ikea sofas are holding up in terms of comfort???

    Thank you.

    • They still feel the same to me as when we bought them before so I’d say if you like them at the beginning, you’ll probably like them later. 🙂 They’re not the most comfy sofas of all time, but I like them a lot!

  64. Rochelle says:

    Gorgeous room!!!! Would you mind sharing your wall color?? I have those same navy stripe curtains and love that paint color with them!! rpettingill at gmail dot com


  1. […] the photo grid wall in my living room? This was my first major departure from that rule and just one of many steps […]

  2. […] Don’t forget to use personal photos to add “life” to your rooms. Print them in black and white and frame them in simple, minimal frames. A great modern touch that adds warmth is to use oversize mat borders with ordinary b&w family snapshots. See how ‘View Along the Way’ created their own picture frame wall! […]

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