Vintage Photo Grid

I’ve mentioned before that our larger rooms – the living room, dining room and studio – are rooms that will be evolving slowly. Sometimes a bit too slow for my impatient ways, not to mention, we find ourselves being hesitant to make purchases at all unless we know for sure. Which, by the way, no pressure! Despite this, we’re not immune to mistakes. I’ve admitted to our rug hesitations (and now we may have a game of musical rugs on our hands; should a high-patterned Persian live under the dining table and a subtle, low-patterned rug live with the couch?), we’re super unhappy with the nook rug again (the quality leaves little to be desired), and I may have taken down (read: I totally took down) the gallery wall in the living room to bring some antique frames into the mix. I’m still working on that, and Scott says nothing – with a hesitant smile.

In any case, we’re now in-between projects, tying up loose ends and tackling long standing want-to-dos while also meeting with kitchen contractors, cabinet guys and dissecting the anatomy of a pocket door (!). All that to say, there was one project I could knock out that I’ve been yearning to do for years – framing my vintage photo collection!

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Part of the slow studio evolution has always included this perfectly gridded wall. The idea has been in my back pocket for a long, long time, as I’ve been collecting these snapshots from flea markets and family albums for years. I have many more tucked away, but for this project, I pulled out my nine favorites (this took a while!).

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I’ve always chosen the photos that come home with me very carefully – Scott has come to know that I could stand over a basket of photographs for hours, making up stories for every one pictured. There are love stories, sad stories, and the thought that 50+ years ago, someone in that photo said, hey, let’s get someone to take our photo right here! Let’s remember this! It’s no secret that I love photography, and it makes my heart so happy to hold tangible proof of others who felt the need to capture a moment in time.

They’ve come from all over. Chicago, Cincinnati, Paris! Some show great, great Vargos that have been pulled from actual family albums, whereas others show posed groups of friends (some fancy, some casual), an ice skating crew, a young couple on vacation and a retired husband and wife. They’re friends that are celebrating an achievement, troops that are coming (or going?) and a honeymoon that has just started. At least, that’s what I think.

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The idea has always been to create a tightly spaced perfect grid, which would balance the varied photos. Large mats give them space to stand on their own, and the photos’ small size invite you in – they say, come closer! I like to think that if you take a look, you can make up your own stories, too.

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I decided on 16″ squares to fill that wall, using these in brushed gold. Ace Hardware cut the glass, and those large mats with their teeny, tiny openings were cut and shipped by my friend Kyley at Studio 3. I couldn’t be happier to see this longstanding idea come to life! Although the studio is slow moving, this gallery grid helps to get us one step closer to the finish line – you know, whatever that is.

PS… That last photo gives you a good idea of just how dipped our second floor is! Although it was raised significantly last year, it will never, ever be perfect. Aah, old houses!

PPS… Can you spot the Maddie?

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  • Love Audrey - November 6, 2014 - 6:47 AM

    I absolutely love this! I do the same with old photos and even find myself making up stories about pictures of people I know. You might like the little #photoofaphotoproject I have going on Instagram {@loveaudrey83}.

    Franky xxx

    PS. I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while now and have found it so very inspirational. Not sure why it’s taken me so long to leave a comment.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - November 6, 2014 - 9:07 AM

      Happy that you’ve commented, Franky! I checked out your hashtag, and I got a good chuckle. We’re two peas in a pod, apparently!ReplyCancel

  • Christiane - November 6, 2014 - 7:04 AM

    I love it! It looks amazing and I love the thought behind it.ReplyCancel

  • Zandra - November 6, 2014 - 7:29 AM

    Lovely! I think the large mats really invite you in to take a close look at what they’re framing. It’s almost like you’re saying “this image is really important to me but it’s small so I’m going to make it look really big so that you pay attention!” Oh, and I love the brushed gold!
    Cheers,
    ZandraReplyCancel

  • celene - November 6, 2014 - 7:38 AM

    Such a lovely space with gorgeous light! I am wondering about the wall color…tried to search for it in your archives…would you mind sharing? PS: guest room is fantastic!!!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - November 6, 2014 - 9:07 AM

      Thanks, Celene! It’s Pale Bud by Behr, and it’s the softest pink ever – almost white.ReplyCancel

      • celene - November 6, 2014 - 12:08 PM

        Beautiful, thanks again!!!!ReplyCancel

  • jenn aka the picky girl - November 6, 2014 - 8:40 AM

    First of all – GAH I love those chairs so much.

    Second, love this. Two years ago, after my grandmother died, my mom and I went through her entire house to prep it for an estate sale, and there were so many amazing photos. I’ve chosen my favorite but wasn’t sure what to do with them until now. This is so perfect. Thank you.

    Also, re: the honeymoon comment – I came across a postcard that my grandmother and grandfather sent home from Mexico:

    “Dear Me & You
    Are we having fun –

    Yes (Her)
    Yes (Him)

    See You –

    Duck and Edith”

    It’s my favorite thing, and I want to blow it up for my mom. :)ReplyCancel

  • emily @ go haus go - November 6, 2014 - 9:27 AM

    I love this. I have been so drawn to warmer tones for frames lately…. like golds and honey oaks. It brings so much warmth without losing any of the modern.ReplyCancel

  • Cara@theprojectaddict - November 6, 2014 - 9:43 AM

    i love photography too. Your wall looks great. I always feel sad when I see family photos at garage sales and flea markets. I would never get rid of my family photos even if they are so old I never knew the people. Glad you can rescue some of them.ReplyCancel

    • Carol - November 7, 2014 - 10:18 AM

      I’m the same way. I’m the keeper of all our old family photos; there are photos of people I’ve never seen in my life, but I can’t toss them out. I put them in a separate plastic bag of “unknowns”.ReplyCancel

  • jillian - November 6, 2014 - 10:09 AM

    these look great! can’t wait to see what you’ve done with the gallery wall!ReplyCancel

  • ann - November 6, 2014 - 10:10 AM

    Did I spot a photo of Scott ‘ s great grandmother Becky? She was wonderful. This made me smile.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - November 6, 2014 - 10:15 AM

      You did! She looks just like my Aunt Min, so we loved it for many reasons.ReplyCancel

  • Amy - November 6, 2014 - 11:00 AM

    This looks beautiful, and I’m happy to see you and others talking about making up stories for the photos. I tend to be pretty sentimental, and didn’t know if it made me weird to be so enchanted by old photos. (Now I can say no! Ha.) I have a bunch of really old family photos I want to put up, and may just steal your technique here. :)ReplyCancel

  • Kyley at Studio 3 - November 6, 2014 - 11:09 AM

    These turned out fantastic! (I’m a sucker for big mat boarders too) And I LOVE your choice of simple gold frame. :)ReplyCancel

  • Caroline - November 6, 2014 - 11:27 AM

    Wow, I am in love with this grid! I’ve been wanting to do something similar with old family photos (like an ancestry wall of sorts) but I’m so glad I saw your version first! Could you tell me the size of frames you went with? I know what I order will depend on my photos but I just wanted a good reference point and I love your sizing. Also, did you select the “no backing” option for the frames? Does that meant that it came with just the gold frame and no back board at all to hold the mat in place?

    This is my first time commenting but I came across your blog a month ago and have been loving reading through your old posts. So inspirational!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - November 6, 2014 - 11:41 AM

      I chose 16″ frames, and they did NOT come with backing, however, they come with wire and clips and everything you’d need to hang. I had foam core cut to size at our art supply store, OR anyone who cuts the mats for you can also cut the backing. That would be up to you! And as I mentioned in the post, we got our glass cut at Ace Hardware :)ReplyCancel

      • Brittany - February 1, 2016 - 1:12 PM

        Wow! This gallery wall is so stunning. I’ve been shopping around for brass frames like these and can’t seem to find a good deal–until I found your DIY (in a sense) version. Did you find that you saved money by having the glass cut at Ace versus ordering it with the frames? Do you remember if your savings were significant? I never thought of going that route… Thanks a lot!ReplyCancel

        • Kim - February 1, 2016 - 2:22 PM

          Hi Brittany, happy you found us! Ace cuts glass for so, so cheap, so we did find it more inexpensive. However, it can be a bit of a guessing game to ensure a PERFECT fit. If you’d rather not deal with that hassle, sometimes ordering through them – the more convenient route – can be well worth it!ReplyCancel

  • Tina Slocum - November 6, 2014 - 11:36 AM

    Stunning! The framing and matting really do pull you into the precious world inside each photo. The gallery, placement and wall odor is beyond perfect!ReplyCancel

  • K.Thro - November 6, 2014 - 11:44 AM

    The symmetry happening here has me in utter heaven. Also, now you have me wanting to paint my office pink again! I loved Olympic’s “Rose Geranium” in theory but not so much in actuality. Sigh.

    As for old photos, I love them too! However, as much as I love nabbing old photos from my familys albums and imagining what my great-great relatives were like, any time I come across old photos at a thrift store it makes me feel a little sad. How did these end up here? Didn’t someone want these? Anyone who knew these people and cared for them? These are memories of happy moments and celebrations and occasions that people had presumably hoped to look back on forever and somehow they’ve been discarded like an old outdated sweatshirt, you know? At least people like you or I can give them a new home and happier endings.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - November 6, 2014 - 12:19 PM

      Well said. I wonder the same things, and I get so hung up over it!ReplyCancel

  • Gloria - November 6, 2014 - 11:50 AM

    This is beautiful! I found this old coffee table book with a bunch of illustrations that I’ve been wanting to do a grid similar to this, just waiting for the money to do it right. I love the oversized frame and tiny pictures, it really does draw you in!ReplyCancel

  • Michael - November 6, 2014 - 12:01 PM

    Looks beautiful. Slightly random question but, where did you find your door hardware?ReplyCancel

  • Kelly - November 6, 2014 - 11:39 PM

    Those gold chairs! Perfectly married with the thoughtfulness of the beautiful framed photographs. Honestly, i have to say, the fact that each of these photos have found their way to your home is so special. What a great imagination, creating stories from the past of people unknown. Thanks for sharing. Will be following more of your blog! K x http://www.thepoetryofliving.comReplyCancel

  • Michael - November 9, 2014 - 10:50 PM

    Just the way you placed the pictures on the frames signifies how valuable those moments you’ve had in your life. At first, I felt like the space wasn’t properly utilized, that you could have included more pictures on every frame. But you’ve created an outstanding vintage design by just keeping it simple, with deeper meaning through the pictures on the wall. This is a good inspiration for interior designing, which I want to apply in mine as well. Thanks for this.ReplyCancel

  • Krista - November 10, 2014 - 6:53 AM

    That room looks fantastic.
    I’m a sucker for a perfect grid and it looks great in this space!
    Nice pink!ReplyCancel

  • Kyla @ HouseOfHipsters - November 10, 2014 - 2:52 PM

    OK, I”m finally back here. I was dying to comment last Thursday but my phone was not having it. Anyhoo, I LOVE THIS!!!!!!!! Swoon! I love all the negative space you created with the oversized matting.

    I too am a collector of old vintage photos of people I don’t know and I love making up little stories about them. Not sure how you managed to narrow it down. BTDubs, I’m thinking about organizing a blog run to the Elkhorn flea next summer. If I make it happen, you NEED to come!

    Also wanted to let you know about a new linky party starting this Saturday at 8pm called “Found & Foraged” Can’t wait to party with you at http://www.houseofhipsters.comReplyCancel

    • Kim - November 10, 2014 - 4:00 PM

      Oh, I would love to be a part of that Elkhorn run! Scott too! I don’t know who enjoys the flea more – me or him. Please let us know!ReplyCancel

  • Lynn - November 10, 2014 - 6:13 PM

    LOVE this! What your trick for hanging this type of grouping to keep them so evenly spaced?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - November 11, 2014 - 9:19 AM

      We started in the middle and top, then we measured to the left, to the right, and down… then repeat! We also used this trick for the wire on the back, and sort of gently pulled or tugged the frames until they were all level. It required a bit of patience, but I think it took us about 30 minutes to hang it all. The longest part of the process was actually putting the frames together!ReplyCancel

  • Rae - February 20, 2015 - 5:08 PM

    So if I wanted to blatantly copy this gorgeous arrangement…I noticed you said you bought the “brushed gold” frames, and the link directs to “frosted gold” frames. Are brushed and frosted the same, or did they stop carrying the finish you purchased?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 20, 2015 - 5:15 PM

      Ooh, good call. I just checked, and “frosted” looks the same as “brushed” online, but now I’m not sure if it was my error, or if they just renamed it? They do send 3″ samples for FREE, so I highly recommend getting some samples before you decide. That’s what we did, and it helped to solidify our decision!ReplyCancel

  • Angela - April 13, 2015 - 8:45 PM

    Please tell me where to find these chairs!ReplyCancel

  • Marjon - February 10, 2016 - 7:53 PM

    I love this photo grid idea! Thank you for sharing. I am currently decorating my first home and I have found your blog very helpful! You have such great taste. (: You made such a great point about the photos’ small size and how they draw people in. I decided to re-create this idea in our kitchen/dining room area. I ordered the 16inch frames from the website you suggested (thank you so much for sharing. Love the frames). I had a question about getting the glass cut from Ace hardware. How exactly does that process work (i.e., did you take the frame there and have them measure it so they could then cut glass that fit? Did you purchase the glass there?).ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 11, 2016 - 10:50 AM

      Hi Marjon! If you’re unsure about the size of the glass, I would take the frame to Ace and ask them to help you with the exact measurement. As a rule of thumb, I would suggest making the glass about 1/8″ or 1/4″ smaller so that it will sit nicely inside the frame. Because these frames are super thin, I would suggest leaving the glass as large as possible, but just a tad smaller than the actual size so it doesn’t break when you drop it in!ReplyCancel

  • Daniela Sicuranza - March 1, 2016 - 7:12 PM

    Hi – I’m so glad to have found your blog. I’m planning a similar grid in my dining room with old family photos.

    With the frames that you ordered – are you able to change out the photos if you wanted to?
    I have so many photos that I thought it would be fun to change them up every once in a while (or when we host different groups of people over!)

    Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - March 2, 2016 - 9:38 AM

      So happy you found us! Yes, you can definitely change out the photos, but you’ll just have to take out the spring releases (provided with the frames when you purchase), and take apart the frame to do so. With this style of frame, it would be a bit more difficult to do so, BUT it’s definitely possible because the back isn’t papered off like a ‘finished’ framer would do. Let me know if you have any other questions!ReplyCancel

      • Kim - March 2, 2016 - 9:38 AM

        A quick update to add: You could always just grow, grow, grow your collection so you don’t have to worry about switching up! Could be really fun.ReplyCancel

      • Daniela Sicuranza - April 2, 2016 - 4:51 PM

        Thanks for responding. Are you happy with the size of the frame? Most of my pictures will be 4×6 and I’m hoping proportionally it works!ReplyCancel

        • Kim - April 4, 2016 - 10:15 AM

          I love the look of large white mats with smaller photos. If you have 4×6 photos, your mats will look pretty similar to ours if you order the same size. Our photos range from really small 2x3s to regular 4x6s, and we couldn’t be happier!ReplyCancel

  • Leda - January 23, 2017 - 11:47 AM

    Hi Kim!

    I followed the link you provided to the frames but it seems that they only have a frosted gold option now; am I looking in the wrong place?

    Thank you!
    LedaReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 23, 2017 - 11:52 AM

      Hi Leda! It looks like those are the exact same frames I purchased. Sometimes a company will switch up the exact name, and it looks like that’s what happened here. I feel confident saying that my link still takes you to the right place!ReplyCancel

  • Carolyn van Arkel - April 6, 2017 - 7:44 AM

    Kim, how far apart are your frames?ReplyCancel

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