One of the rooms in my new place has a bare white wall that was just crying out for some creative sprucing up—so armed with this previous Lifehacker post on a DIY photo wall project and a few ideas on how to modify it for my own tastes, I went ahead and created a cheap, easily-reconfigured photo wall. For under 20 US bucks, using some wire, black card stock, and mini binder clips, it's easy to create your own wire photo hanger. Let's take a photo tour of how to get the job done.
What You'll Need
First, you'll need a bare wall with a place to screw mounts in about 1/4" away from the wall on either side, with no obstructions in between. You'll also need:
- A length of cable that spans your wall. I got 1/16" thickness, and lots of extra length in case I screwed up. ($2.00 at your local home store)
- 2 wire sleeves, the same thickness as the wire, so 1/16" for me. ($0.78 at your local home store)
- A set of 2 screw eyes. I got the 1 5/8" size. ($0.92 at your local home store)
- 1 screw eye with hook turnbuckle. I got the 5 1/4" size. ($4.13 at your local home store)
Of course, you'll need photos prints. In the original project that we linked, they used slats of wood to mount the photos on, but I didn't like that look—I wanted something darker and sleeker. So I went with black card stock—actually, the Staples near me didn't have that, so I used black certificate holders instead. Use double-sided tape to fasten the photos to the card stock, that looks like a faux matte.
My photos were originally digital, but I had them printed at a place that can automatically include a nice white border around them to make them stand out against the black background even more. (Coincidentally, Photoworks in San Francisco can print photos in Flickr, and they offer several border options, plus glossy or matte finish on the prints. I used them and I was pretty pleased with the results—except for a little unevenness on the side borders of one of the photos, the prints came out very well.)
Gathering the supplies is the most annoying part of the project; once you've got those down, the fun begins. You can probably imagine where all the pieces fit, but let's step through them.
- First, loop one end of the wire through the turnbuckle screw eye, and slip on one sleeve to seal the loop. Clamp down the sleeve to make it permanent. (I had trouble with this part; see the end for more info.)
- Drill a hole on either end of your wall about 1/4" in and screw in the eye screws. (Do yourself a favour and use a level.) Unscrew the turnbuckle so it's as open (and wide) as it can be, then hook it onto an eye screw on one side of the wall.
- Loop the other end of the wire around the other eye screw, and slip on the sleeve. Trim off any extra wire.
- Pull the wire taut, and fasten the sleeve.
- Now you should have a bit of slack in the line, but reduce it as much as you can. For the wire to support your photos, it needs to be tight. When your sleeves are clamped, tighten the wire by turning the middle part of the turnbuckle, which will contract it and pull it tighter.
- Mount your photos on black card stock with double sided tape.
- Clip the cards to the wire with mini binder clips.
- Arrange and space the photos to your liking, and admire your finished product.
- For a cleaner look, you can optionally remove the binder clip silver handles, as shown.
The main trouble I had with this project was getting the wire sleeves to clamp down—I'm going to have the toolmaster in my life take a look at them this weekend. (In the mean time, I made small knots in the wire outside each sleeve to hold them in place.) Also, cutting 1/16" thick wire isn't easy with regular around-the-house tools.
But overall I'm pleased with the results of this project, given the price and time investment. The card stock isn't as sturdy as the wood slats in the original project, so mounting the card stock on wood slats may be a worthy upgrade.
What's your favourite, flexible, inexpensive way to mount art and photos around the house? Let us know in the comments.