A long, long time ago (aka last summer), I shared with you that we were considering DIY artwork for the huge blank space above our Tree House sofa. Every fiber of my being was trying to avoid a massive photograph, because I wanted to spread my wings and do something different than our Chicago home. Scott and I talked about painting a diptych – something neutral. Calming. We sketched endless ideas, and I started leaning into something sweet and simple. Geometric, maybe.
… One summer day, our family took a beachy hike through Grand Mere State Park, a few miles up the road from Tree House. If you’ve never experienced Grand Mere, I can’t recommend highly enough. It’s essentially a half mile walk through the woods, followed by a half mile hike up and down sandy dunes, and then you find yourself on the shore of Lake Michigan! It’s a unique experience, and we like to joke that the hike itself actually weeds out a lot of the crowd. If you’ve made it to the lake, the whole beach is yours.
The lake is a show-stopper, sure, but if you look behind you, the dunes rise up at a sharp angle, and, wow, the patterns. The patterns! The unpredictable midwestern weather – hot sun, rain showers, cool evenings and the occasional thunderstorm – imprints the dunes with the prettiest road map. I turned to Scott and said, this is the image we need above the sofa, right? And so there we were, ultimately deciding to go with what our heart really wanted from the beginning – a big, massive photo above the sofa. We weren’t mad about it, not one bit.
Choosing The Perfect Print
Of course, the first time we saw those dunes, I didn’t have my camera with me (I’m still kicking myself!), so we made a plan to go back the next time we were in town. When we returned, I took countless photos, but I decided that they all looked too busy, so we went back again. And again. And, um, again. By then, I had hundreds of photos to sift through, I narrowed them down to a top 10, then 5, and finally – The One.
The winning photo wasn’t what we thought we’d gravitate towards, but it felt so peaceful. It was abstract enough to pull you in and make you ask, What is that? Where is that? If you unfocus your eyes, it almost looks like an aerial view. Can you see the canyon, there, on the top right? Can you see the peaks and valleys of a desert landscape on the left?
The Printing + Framing Logistics
Knowing we would be printing this photo very large, I took my photos as raw images and at an extremely small f-stop to capture every last grain of sand. I edited the photo in Photoshop, increasing the contrast and diluting the color further, and I removed small debris, such as twigs and rocks. Once I was happy with the image, I chose to have it printed as a 60″ x 40″ through Artifact Uprising, which I found to be the most cost effective service for high quality, rich color printing on thick matte paper.
Note: I did an extensive amount of research on printing, and while there are less expensive options, it’s due to a lesser quality paper.
To build the frame, we used the exact same method that we did for our Chicago home! You can find the full tutorial here. Why reinvent the wheel when we had already figured it out?
What Makes the Space?
We couldn’t love it more, and we are so, so happy to have it on the wall! We hung it while Lucy was napping, and our sweet bub noticed it from the moment she woke up. (My girl!) The giant print makes the space! Or is it the sectional? Or maybe it’s those exposed beam ceilings. Ugh, we’re thrilled with it all. It’s so very Tree House.
Find It In The Print Shop!
I’ve also added this photo and our dunes grass photo to our Print Shop for you – and to celebrate the end of our decision paralysis, I’m giving everyone 20% off with the code DUNES20 at checkout! All of our prints are made-to-order and printed on a matte velvet paper for the richest color. The promo code expires on 2/6 (1 week!) and can be used on anything in our Print Shop.