Sunday, July 15, 2012

Within These Walls

One day about a year ago, R handed me a picture she had drawn and announced, "This is for you so you will never forget me."  It prompted me to look around at my walls to see how well she was represented up there.  It turned out that the only wall photos of her were from when she was an infant.  Her three-year-old self didn't even recognize them as images of her.  No wonder she thought she was in danger of being forgotten.  It made me sort of sad.  And determined to do something about it.

The only problem was that I was terribly short on inspiration.  I had oodles of photos, I just wasn't sure what to do with them.  It was also around that time that I stumbled across the decorating with portraits series over at Kristen Duke Photography.  Bingo!  Inspiration galore.

After that, the ideas just kept coming to me.  Even interfered with my ability to sleep, which was somewhat annoying.  But you have to take inspiration when it comes, right? 

I decided that I wanted to be more purposeful in what I put on my walls.  I wanted a daily reinforcement of the principles our family holds dear, the things we try to instill in our children.  Love.  Unity.  Humor.  Faith.  A love of art.  A sense of belonging.  Joy.

Complete is probably not something I will ever be able to use to describe my walls.  I want them to change and evolve along with my family.  But I have come to find so much joy in the process of creating things to hang up there.  Even when it also drives me mad.  Because I have seen the delight in my childrens' eyes when they notice something new, something of themselves that has been put up.  And considering the great importance of what happens within these walls, I believe that what I put on my walls is certainly worth some time and effort.

Before I leave this home forever, before I begin an epic journey that will forever change us, I want to preserve a little snapshot of what our walls look like right now.
This was actually my first creation, to fill a small space with a little silliness and a bit of history.  Shaggy's mom made one of those dolls and my mom made the other.  The smaller pair was purchased on a trip we took shortly after we were married.  The costumed girls are two of my babies during their second Halloween.  We have fun trying to guess which ones are which.  Nobody but me ever gets them all right.
This is a little wall in my entry way that proclaims to all who enter that we hold the family unit sacred.  It is the building block of society.  When it weakens, so goes society.
This is the nursery, where we've had a jungle theme ever since my first baby was born and my mother and I made a jungle quilt that has been passed down from one sibling to the next.  And apparently, I have a thing for Halloween photos.
Below, after trying a few different arrangements in a few different places, I finally settled on one I liked.  My mother-in-law, who is quite the gifted artist, painted those letters for each of my children.  I've always loved them, but they looked so lonely hanging on the wall until I paired them with photos.  They are simply photos mod podged onto painted blocks of wood.

Such blocks of wood and mod podge have become great friends of mine.  They are so much cheaper than frames.  And they are so very easy to do.
This is the master bathroom which had bare walls forever.  The framed photo is one I took on the shores of the Isle of Man, where my husband's ancestors are from.  We took an amazing trip there a few years back and I often find myself stopping to stare at those shells, flooding my mind with the beautiful memories of that visit.  The other two pictures are just stock photos from Costco that fit the color scheme.  I was too lazy to take pictures of shells on my own.  But not too lazy to talk my husband into cutting those blocks of wood to a precise size and then using a router to make the edges fancy.  :)
These blocks of wood didn't get fancy edge treatment, just precise measurement.  This little grouping was a long time in the making, but I love how they turned out.  I had some fun fall photos of my kids and one day when I was wondering what to put up in their bathroom, my eyes fell on their shower curtain.  I figured I could somehow combine the two images to make some whimsical art. 
 I scanned the curtain, isolating the different trees and such. Then in photoshop elements, I added a plain leaf-covered hill and a digital cutout of my kiddos. You just have to know your way around layers and the eraser tool.  Then you can turn this . . .
into this.
Although I will be the first to admit that I could have just slapped up these photos and been happy with the result.  Just not quite as happy.
 Even though I totally adore this photo of R, the tree hugger.
This display will probably be one of the first to expand when we move.  I want to add some sort of canvas artwork with our hand prints on it.  Maybe a Picasso quote.  But I love having the kids' artwork displayed.  Saving and scanning the artwork they produced through the years is one of the best things I have done as a family record keeper.  And they really love seeing their work on the wall.
Getting regular, high quality family photos is not something I have been so good at.  But I have possibly turned over a new leaf in that regard.  We'll see.  I liked the idea of combining photos with artwork, knicknacks (which have yet to be found), and a quote that ties it all together.  "The family is one of nature's masterpieces."
Vintage windows are so full of potential, waiting to be tapped.  For this, all I had to do was print the photos in the right size and put them in the frame, using foam board and masking tape to hold them in place.  It will be pretty easy to swap them out, too, if I ever decide to update them.
This is the backsplash above my stove.  The gray tile was so boring.  Almost as an afterthought when we were getting ready to list the house, I measured the tiles and discovered they were 4 inch square.  So I printed 4x6 photos of some of the prettier cakes I've made over the years, cut one end off, and taped them to the tiles.  That was the easiest display by far.  But the kids love to look at them and remember the details of the birthdays.  Brings all that joy and excitement flooding back into my kitchen without all the powder sugary mess.
I love my walls.  I love that I can use that space to build a better, stronger, more unified, more joyful family.  My walls are my canvas, my chalkboard, my trip down memory lane.  I will never give them back to the realm of the unused and underappreciated.  My drive to decorate is here to stay.

1 comment:

Mom said...

What unique and creative ways to celebrate what you hold most dear and decorate what would otherwise be empty, boring walls! How on earth did I raise such a talented daughter? Just think, in a few weeks, you'll have even more walls to work your magic on. :-)