Project 10: Make and frame large family portraits for long neked wall

One project down, 23 more to go!

Last week I gave you a peek inside my chaos that is my life by showing you 24 projects I should have finished by now, but haven’t.

It was the kick in the butt I was hoping for, and I’m happy to report that I can now check Project #10 off the list:
“Make and frame large family portraits for long neked wall”

Here’s the before:

Here are my new framed portraits for my “neked wall” in the piano room.


And a close up…


family_portrait_prints_huge_3scaled  family_portrait_prints_huge_2scaled  family_portrait_prints_huge_1scaled

I chose these prints over any other for two reasons:

1) I needed pictures that were vertical. I easily narrowed down my selection to only ones that were taller than they were wide. And…

2) Formal Living Rooms are too stuffy for me. I wanted to lighten the look by adding silly playful pictures instead of the traditional formal portrait with pearls and the family golden retriever.

And now for the break-down of the project. How I created the look, how much time it took me, and how much cash I had to front for it.

I started with my pro-portraits, and then I went out and purchased the frames I wanted for the room. I wanted them to fill the wall and be HUGE, so these 32×40 frames from IKEA fit the bill nicely.


Before I entered the store, I measured my wall space then went online and researched all my frame options. The sizes of the frames are listed on IKEA’s website, so it’s easy to decide which frames will work best for your space. I measured twice before I dropped $30 per frame (which is a great deal, but when you are buying three at once it adds up!).

Next I used the measurements on IKEA’s website to determine how large my prints needed to be. They needed to fit within the mat inside the frame. Once I had my dimensions I headed to (where I have an account) to check out their standard printing sizes and found the size (20×30) that matched my mat most closely. After a few clicks, the pictures were uploaded and ready for pick up the very next day.

(The text on this photo is incorrect. It should read 20×30)

I might have squealed out loud when I went to pick them up. They were exactly what I was hoping for.

Next up, unwrapping the frames and carefully getting the prints into the mats without putting any dings in the frame or the pictures. Not such an easy feat when you are working with frames and prints this large.

This is a handy little tip… When you have loads of those annoying little metal tabs to bend upward to remove the backing on your frame, use a butter knife. I’ve tried every tool I can think of, and the butter knife works the best.


It took me a minute to figure this out, but the plexiglass in the frame comes coated with thin plastic on both sides to protect it from scratches. Make sure you remove all this plastic (carefully!) or your pictures will look cloudy.


Once the plastic was removed from the plexiglass, I used Scotch tape to attach each portrait to the back of the mat. Pretty simple, but again, be careful because it is very easy to put a crease in your print.


Finally, I put the frames back together and I was finished! Or so I thought. I stepped back and couldn’t get over the horrible glare on each picture. Not to mention it’s totally impossible to photograph this room if the pictures have such a terrible glare. I guess that’s what happens when you are using cheap frames with plexiglass in them.


There was no way I was going to be blinded every time I walk past this room. I want to see my pictures, not the reflection of the light through all the windows. So, back to the drawing board. I finally decided to take all the frames apart again and carefully remove the plexiglass from each of them.


It was risky, and now the pictures are not protected. Also, they are not as stable as they were with the plexiglass inside holding everything in place. But this isn’t a high-traffic area, and no one is going to be touching them so I’m hoping they will survive glass-less.

Also, one last thing. In the process of all this hoopla with changing out the frames twice each, one got a little nick in it. Not surprising considering their size and the fact that they are made out of particle board. It’s such an easy fix though, especially if your frames are black. My secret weapon? A sharpie.


Finally it was time to hang them. I don’t offer any quick and easy tips for getting your frames in the perfect spot. I used a tape measure and a level, and lots of math. First I hung the center frame, then I measured how far apart I wanted them and hung the other two. It took me a few nail holes to get them perfect.

And now, finally…



I couldn’t be happier with the outcome! It’s exactly what I had in mind, yet at the same time, so much more than I was picturing.

And now a quick cost break down:
3 frames @ $30 a frame – Total: $90
3 20×30 prints @ $9 a print – Total: $27
Grand Total: $117 plus tax

Not to shabby considering I now have THREE huge portraits hanging in my piano room. And as for time it took me? I uploaded the pictures one evening, drove to Costco to pick them up, then drove to IKEA to purchase the frames. From there it took me about an hour or so to assemble the frames and prints and hang them on the wall. It was a pretty quick project.


Here’s a fun blast-from-the-past. Check out this waaaaaay before, and now today.

August 2010:

September 2011:

Definitely not finished, but sooooo close! Phase 1 should be complete by the end of the year (I hope!). (Phase 2 will consist of painting the piano and hanging crown moulding. Those projects so far in the distant future I can’t even see them yet.)

I love seeing the before pictures because it reminds me just how far this room really has come.

Do you decorate your home with pictures of your family? What are some creative ways you’ve displayed your photos? I’d love to hear how you’ve done it. Also, if you’ve blogged about it I’d love it if you posted a link to your project so we can all see it!

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