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.
2. Cut down your mat to that size – in my case it was an 8″x10″ opening.
3. 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)
4. 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.
5. 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:
6. 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?)
7. Press the bevel blade down and slowly move it up your mat until the dash line meets your top pencil line.
8. 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:
9. Centre your picture within the mat and hold in place with a bit of scotch tape on the back.
10. 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!