Do you love gallery walls? I love gallery walls. But gallery walls can get expensive – you need to buy several frames that go together, then find pictures/photos that will fit into the pre-cut mats inside those frames, or get custom mats cut (which again can cost a pretty penny). Today I’m going to show you my sneaky way to get a gallery wall on a budget; by cutting your own picture mats.
This was the gallery wall in my parent’s basement – yes, the same one that I’ve been making-over for 5 weeks.
I feel their pain. You can relate too right? When you collect photo frames from here there and every Mother’s/Father’s Day and try to hang them in some kind of gallery wall fashion…. but end up with a mish-mash of frames and sizes and images – like the top row 2nd from the right and 4th row second from the left – which are actually not our family at all, but the model family that came with the frames. One is even hung sideways to fit the space. lol
I wanted to give them a ‘better’ gallery wall – something with some consistency and symmetry – and fewer ‘non-relatives’ in the mix. Instead of buying frames online, or shopping the stores, I decided to check out the dollar store first… with fingers and toes crossed.
As luck would have it, I found a fantastic option:
Wood-look, simple and at $4 a frame it was well within my budget. Perhaps you noticed that these frames don’t come with mats? Not to worry.
I purchased a mat cutting kit a few years ago and have been using it ever since. I’m going to show you how easy it is to cut your own picture mats.
- Measure the photo/picture you want to mat, and the size of the glass (or model family picture) inside the frame.
- Cut down your mat to that size – in my case it was an 8″x10″ opening.
Subtract the width of the picture (5″ above) from the width of the mat (8″) = 3″ Divide that number by two so that you have equal spacing on either side of your picture = 1 ½” Draw a line on the BACK of your mat 1 ½” in from either side. (or whatever your measurement was)
Repeat for the top and bottom: Mat (10″) – Picture (7″) = 3″ divided by two = a line 1 ½” down from the top of the mat and up from the bottom.
- Line up your mat cutting ruler with the outside edge of one of those lines. I’m right-handed, so I started with the outside of the left line:
- Click your bevel blade to the ruler and line up the dash line with the line you drew on the back of your mat. (see the white/silver dash line above?)
Press the bevel blade down and slowly move it up your mat until the dash line meets your top pencil line.
- Lift the blade up and repeat on the remaining three sides.
That’s it – you’ve just cut your own picture mats!
Cutting on the back side of the mat means the bevel on the front will slope outwards from your picture – flip it over and see:
- Centre your picture within the mat and hold in place with a bit of scotch tape on the back.
Open the back of your dollar store frames, insert your new matted images and seal them back up.
The dollar store frames I chose had table stands on the back so I just pulled those off and flattened the hinge they were attached by.
Small photos, large photos, all are centred, matted and looking gorgeous ready-to-hang.
I used my favourite (and best) technique for hanging pictures and started by hanging a central image and then worked outwards.
For spacing on a gallery wall, I like to space the pictures at least the width of the frame apart.
If you want multi-layer mats, cut the inner mat first and then cut the outer mat (top mat) slightly larger afterwards.
My mat cutting kit came with a whack of mats in different colours so I didn’t need to go out and buy any more – however, you can purchase uncut mats at craft stores and online if you need more.
This is the kit I use/suggest for cutting your own picture mats (affiliate link):
Would you guess this was a Dollar store gallery wall? If the pictures were un-matted maybe, but I think adding that one, easy detail, makes a world of difference.
Note to self (and family): Quit buying frames for Mother’s/Father’s Day.
Have a great one!