my little corner of the world

jackie miller : : graphic design + whatnot

Great wall of 186

No more beige!

So… again with the tirade against rental properties and the vast expanse of beige paint that has surrounded me for the past 15 years, more if you count those dorm years… (aw, the memories. Founders Hall circa 1995).

Ok, back to 2016. This time, I attacked the dining room. I wanted to do something big to the wall without spending a lot of money or ruining the wall itself. But before I go into the actual project, I will give you a very brief glimpse into life at 186… I live with 2 friends who happen to be guys and while I wouldn’t say they don’t *care* what goes on in here as far as decor, I will say they do have their opinions. That being said, since they are completely fine with the current state of beige, this was my challenge to tackle… but without getting too “girlie” (their words, not mine).

What to do…

So my grand idea was sparked by a simple purchase I made over the summer at Philadelphia’s Art Star Bazaar. A tent showcasing large plywood cut-outs of numbers caught my eye from across the bazaar. I was in love… oversize typography, yes please! Here’s her website:

I couldn’t get all three numbers (186 – our address) in the same color, but I figured I could just paint them when I got home.

Now what? Enter IKEA. Did you know they have these black papery/ cardboard frames in a pack that sells 2 for $3.99? (Update, I believe they are discontinued…but they still have something similar) so I decided to fill the offending wall with pictures from the three of us, our respective friends, family and different memories. I thought that having the photos in color would be a bit much, both for my eyes and my aging HP printer, so I decided on black/white prints. Originally, I bought three colors of paper from Paper Source and was going to color code each person’s pictures but my fear of the wall looking like a Rubik’s Cube pushed me to accidentally buy incredibly similar shades of paper which are complete indistinguishable in the end result. Happy accident, I like the look.

So I got the boys to send me some crazy photos. There’s car photos, there’s golf photos, there’s family photos, some photos from various trips we have gone on together. We have only lived here for about 16 months, but we definitely have enough adventures to fill that wall. I wanted a mix of images, so we chose some that were extreme close ups and textures to random snapshots of our adult snow day. Its a good mix of photography and memories.

I laid out a grid and got to work. You know the best thing about those little paper frames (besides their price?) Is the fact that they are incredibly light. So I was able to use 3m Command Velco tabs to put them up on the wall… (cheap and no damage? Mission accomplished!). And using those little Command things mean that I can get a nice tight grid on the wall. Yeah! I also used them to put up the numbers, although I had to buy the bigger ones and use a whole pack on each letter because of their weight. You can find the Command things here.

So, that’s my wall… but it’s definitely a work in progress. I think at my next dinner party, I will find pictures of my guests and use those as the place cards to be added to the wall later in the evening. I recently purchased the red locker (also from IKEA), so I am considering painting the numbers a contrasting color. Thinking turquoise? Let me know what you think in the comments and I will be sure to update with another picture once the paint dries!

Update: Here’s a pic of the first version of the installation. Obviously, I did throw my dinner party using framed pictures as place cards for my guests (shown above), which made the wall so much larger and adds way more interest in the room. While I won’t do the place card idea again (unless I get all new friends) but I have continued to add or update the pictures to keep the display fresh and interesting, at least to me… not sure if the boys ever noticed.

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