My fiance and I moved into a new house in June – our first house together. Exciting? Yes! But it’s December now, and we still don’t have a single. thing. on. the. walls.
It feels a bit like living in your first apartment in college. Or an insane asylum.
Short on time? Skip to The Steps at the end.
A Killer Deal
Jo-Ann’s has a 50% sale on their frames. I know, RIGHT? But the problem is that I try to buy local and/or handmade whenever possible – and Jo-Ann’s is…neither. In just 2.6 seconds on Etsy, I found this gorgeous frame, and there’s more where that came from. The cheapest single 11×14 frame I could find on Etsy was $18. I could get THREE frames from Jo-Ann’s for the price of that.
And that’s when my conscience rounded the corner and came face-to-face with this horribly selfish lady I’ve never seen before. My conscience put up a good fight – I was super proud of her. This is how it went down: my conscience’s eyes got real big, then she threw her $18 at the selfish lady, turned tail, and ran away.
So I – um, the selfish lady – scooped up that $18 and went to Jo-Ann’s. I found an 11×14 frame matted to an 8×10 display on sale for $5.99. I WILL TAKE THEM ALL.
Except now I had a bunch of empty frames. Hmm.
A Photographic Conundrum
I flipped through the digital pictures I’d taken over the last year and was forced to confront the following facts:
- I never actually remember to take pictures when I should.
- When I do remember to get the camera out, it’s because I’m bored and there’s nothing interesting going on. Which means all the pictures are of my
four grayfive cats.
- My camera is more complicated to run than a nuclear reactor, and I’ve never bothered to read a how-to book or take a photography class. So my pictures typically turn out looking like a 2-year-old took them.
My sampling of photos was shaping up to be a blurry, overexposed homage to my monochromatic cats. They’re cute and all, but I’m already “that cat lady” to some people, and I wasn’t doing myself any favors reinforcing that. I would have to look elsewhere for frame filler.
Enter My Favoritist Web Site
To be fair, I should say it’s my second favoritist given my Pinterest addiction. But Flickr was like Pinterest version 1.0 for me. When bored, I would go to the Last 7 Days Interesting page and hit Reload until my index finger got carpal tunnel.
A lot of the awesome photos on Flickr are protected by the photographer so you can’t download them (or even pin them, gasp!). But some photographers choose to share their work under the Creative Commons license. This means as long as you adhere to their terms, you are welcome to download, distribute, or display their work.
The terms are pretty easy – either you need to give them credit when you display it and/or agree not to use it for commercial purposes. Translation: Don’t download someone else’s work and sell it to make some extra scratch, duh.
Let the Search Begin
At this point, I started spending every waking moment on Flickr looking for the perfect images to fill my empty frames. I dashed off a quick note to Pinterest explaining that I needed some space for a while and that I was sure after the dust settled, we’d be back together again, happier than ever.
I settled on a wintery theme for my empty frames. After the holidays, I can swap out the photos for ones I’ve taken myself. (Because surely, someone will get me a photography class for Christmas so I can start capturing the priceless moments of my life?)
The challenge was finding photos at a large enough resolution to be printed at 8×10 and also photos that could be cropped to the 8×10 dimensions. I’ve shared the fruits of my wintery search at the end of this post. But first, a quick public service announcement…
Please do not print photos belonging to someone else unless you’ve gotten their permission to do so, or the photos are shared under the Creative Commons license. Even the horribly selfish lady who kicked my conscience’s butt wouldn’t condone that type of behavior. She’s got standards, y’all.
Print Those Suckers
If you have a fancy printer that cranks out high-quality photo prints, just print your Flickr finds, fill your frames, and you’re done!
Otherwise, do what I did: Make sure all the photos you find are licensed for commercial use – more on that under The Steps. Then set up an account with the Costco Photo Center and upload your images. The best part is, when you order a print and pick the size you want, Costco will warn you if you need to crop the image or if the resolution isn’t high enough for the photo to turn out good. Oh wait, I’m wrong.
THE BEST PART IS THE COST. I printed several 8×10 photos for just $1.99 each.
No Costco near you? You can also have the photos shipped to you at home.
- Get cheap frames. Try Jo-Ann’s, a thrift store or your local Goodwill store, or IKEA. Or here’s a frame from Amazon for $7.68.
- Find awesome photos. Choose your favorites you’ve taken, or poach from more talented people by using the Flickr advanced search. Just enter your search terms and check the Creative Commons box at the bottom of the page. If you’ll be paying to have the photos printed, also check the box for content you can use commercially. (This is necessary because money will be changing hands, even if you don’t plan to sell the photos.)
- Print those suckers. At home if you can. If not, the Costco Photo Center is pretty cheap. (Again, just make sure all your photos are licensed for commercial use.)
- Fill the frames and hang them!
Here’s how my wintery wall turned out:
Each framed photo cost me $7.98:
- $5.99 – 11×14 frame matted to 8×10
- $1.99 – 8×10 photo print
I loved it so much I went and bought SIX MORE frames. That makes nine framed photos on my poor bare walls for under $50.
Here’s the creme de la creme from my search. To use these: Click the links below the image to visit the Flickr page, click Actions»View all sizes, select the size you want, and save the file to your computer.
If you need more photos, check out my Christmas Decor board on Pinterest and look for the images with the little blue and pink dots under them to indicate they’re from Flickr. For non-wintery images, check out Photos I Love.
For more ideas for easy home decor, follow my Pinterest board Pretty Home.
How do you decorate your walls on the cheap? Please share in a comment below!