House For Six


Picture Ledges, Photo Gallery Tips, and a GIVEAWAY!!

Deme Crinion35 Comments
This giveaway is officially closed - congratulations Rebecca Rooney! Check your email, Girl!

I'm embarrassed to admit how long it's been since we've had family pictures up on the walls.  Or on a nightstand.  Or even tucked into a wallet.

Where they have been, is multiplying on my computer for years. Which made the task of actually sifting through and printing them even more intimidating.

But this big open space above our couch was calling for attention, and I felt like maybe it was time to add some evidence of the family who actually lives here. Since we tend to have a lot of rooms in progress, it can be easy to put off the finishing details of a room.  Those usually come towards the end, but they're what gives a space personality...makes it relatable and meaningful.

I finally decided to stop waiting and have been intent on adding some personality to our home through those details over the past month, finished rooms or not. OK, all our rooms are pretty much in the 'not' category, but the living room just nudged a bit closer to 'done'.
IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery

This project all started with a long RIBBA picture ledge from IKEA that used to hang in my office, now the babe's nursery.  I'm intimidated by gallery walls (which would have been a great space filler) but a picture ledge gallery seemed more doable.  Little measuring, no nails.  I could handle that.

But I needed a ledge about twice as long as the RIBBA to span the majority of the couch. Observe one RIBBA, alone and afraid:

Heeeey......maybe I could shove two of them together to make one long ledge...but what about the seam in the middle?  Could I caulk it and paint it?  

Why yes.  Yes, I could.  Because someone smarter than me had already done it (check out the ledges Jenny did in her mom's home here.)

I made the trip to IKEA to stock up on 3 more RIBBA ledges, and had a minor panic attack when I discovered they were being replaced with the MOSSLANDA.  It was like a flashback to the traumatic news of the discontinued EXPEDIT.  But lucky for us, the MOSSLANDA  turned out to be a great upgrade....and a steal at just $9.99 for the large ledge (a $5.00 price cut from the RIBBA ledge)!

The MOSSLANDA is a bit chunkier than the RIBBA but keeps its slim/sleek footprint.  I really liked the more substantial feel, but especially loved the addition of this groove down the middle.  It acts like a stopper for the frames layered in the back, leaving space to add another frame in front.  It would be a really nice feature if you wanted to create a display with plates or something similar.
IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery

We did some quick measuring, some checking with the level, and lots of eyeballing. We ended up with the bottom of the lower ledge  12 inches from the top of the couch, and 18 inches between the front lip of the lower ledge and the bottom of the upper ledge.

As I perused some of my favorite pins, most picture ledge galleries that caught my eye were black and white (both the frames and prints).  I also liked white mats and preferred the look of a thin black frame vs. a wide edge.  

Fortunately, I had a few black and white frames on hand, but certainly not enough to fill the ledges.  I really needed to keep this project from becoming too costly and was excited to find these frames (holding our baby girl announcement below) on the end cap at Target for $3.00 a pop.  I grabbed a few 11x14 (matted to fit an 8x10) and a couple 8x10 frames (matted to fit a 5x7).
IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery

 After playing musical frames for a day, we finally had it.
IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery

I wanted it to feel balanced with the various sized frames, but not too cluttered.  I kept the prints mostly black and white, but did work in a few color prints (most of which are not super saturated and have black/white somewhere in them). 

IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery

IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery

IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery

IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery

From my uber-extensive frame tweaking experience, I walked away with a few simple tips for success: 

-Large frames are key to keeping the group from feeling too busy.  I recommend 2-3 large frames on each ledge.

-Place the large frames first, then work the smaller frames in around them.

-Balance elements.  I made sure I didn't spread load one side with color prints and the other with black and white.  I also tried to vary the frame orientation for a good spread of horizontal/vertical, and to equally disperse the few white frames I had among the black.

-Shift the frames so that they aren't perfectly aligned with any of the frames above/below.

When I did this it looked good, but something still felt off.  Until I tried this: make sure that none of the gaps line up vertically.

See this?  There's a gap between two frames and if you trace a line to the ledge below there is another gap right below it. 
IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery

So, I slid one of the top frames over and now if you trace a line up from that gap on the bottom ledge, your eye hits a frame.
IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery tips

Just follow that rule of thumb throughout.  Wherever there's a gap between frames, make sure the vertical line leads to a frame, not another gap.   All the gaps in the arrangement below have a frame along the same vertical line on the opposite ledge.
IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery tips
I suppose you could just layer the frames without any gaps all the way through, but I felt like a few spaces helped the whole thing breath.  If frames could do that.

I tried to include a baby, toddler, and current individual pic of each kiddo and then a few of our family favorites.  I was so happy seeing these pictures in no-kidding frames and not the screen of my computer.  I loved the black and white frames, but a few other items made this area just a bit more special.
IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery

I've been loving neutral rooms with a small pop of bold color, so I thought this mostly black and white set up might benefit from the same idea.  This print from Jones Design Company was the perfect touch of color and whimsy.  And it really captured the heart of these photos.  The time goes by so fast and it's those little things, their little way, that I want to remember.
IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery
(*I have not yet caulked and painted the seams but will update once I do!)

I had a gap on the lower shelf but didn't have another frame.  This horseshoe was a special gift from my inlaws and perfectly filled the space on the wall.
IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery

My friend Katrina recently opened the most beautiful hand lettering and art shop on Etsy  Hatch Prints . She has so many amazing designs that it took me forever to place an order because I wanted. them. all.  This one seemed to be the perfect mantra for us.  I hope those that witness the love between our family, also witness the Gospel in action. Every time.
IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery

I also snagged this print from her shop, and can't wait to find a spot for it in my kitchen.
Picture ledges and photo gallery tips

 Gorgeous right!? Her prints are striking online, but even better in person.  The print quality is so fantastic they would look good in or out of a frame.  

The best news is that she's giving away two gorgeous prints (one 8x10 and one 5x7) to one of you!  Just check out Katrina's lovely shop and leave a note in the comments with your favorite print.  You can also use the code HOUSEFORSIX at checkout for an extra 15% off your Hatch Prints order through the end of October. I have several of these beauties in mind for Christmas gifts, but you'll find so many great options for newly arrived babies, and even loss.

You can follow Katrina behind the scenes and get shop news over on the gram and FB.  But don't miss out on the goodness of her blog Cedars and Tiny Flowers either!

And what the heck, lets throw in a $30 IKEA OR Target gift card (your choice) from me to help get you started on your own gallery wall, or putting those personal touches on your home.  That's one 8x10 art print of your choice, one 5x7 art print of choice, and one gift card to one mothership, for one lucky reader.  Good luck, ducks!!!

*Giveaway will run through Friday, Oct 30th at 11:59pm EST.  Winner will be chosen using and notified via email. 

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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Tips For Staging Your Own Christmas Card Photo Shoot

Deme Crinion4 Comments
For the past 4 years I've made our own Christmas cards using my point-n-shoot camera, digital scrap booking kits, and Photoshop.  I have them printed as 5x7's at Costco and can usually get 50-60 prints for around $15.00.  The pictures for the cards are usually of the kids, and then we grab a good family shot when we are all decked out in our Christmas duds.

We've staged our photo shoots with the kids anywhere from the living room rug to out in the backyard.  We've found a few things that make it easier on us each year, so I thought I would share them here in one DIY Christmas card post!

Getting a great shot really isn't so intimidating once you let go of any preconceived ideas of perfection.  So let's get to it...

Choose a good backdrop
Of course, nature always provides a great background.  You can't go wrong with trees, pathways, beaches, or a cool landscape behind you!  Other interesting outdoor elements can make great backdrops too...think old barn doors, brick walls, cool doorways. 

If you decide to stay inside, find something with little distraction and/or that fits the theme (i.e. in front of the Christmas tree).  Our shag white rug was the perfect backdrop for this pic of Mia (2) and Sully (3 months). Totally neutral, so they were the stars of the show and it felt like a nod to winter snow.

Coordinated doesn't have to be matchy-matchy.  
I personally like to dress the kids (and us) in clothes with a little color as opposed to the standard fare of everyone in jeans and white or black shirts. The key is to stick with a simple color scheme with just a few colors.

Here's a fall family picture from last year.  Between the five of us we're sporting some brown, plum, and green (consider jeans a neutral).  Mia's hand is covering a green flower on her dress.  Wearing the colors of the season are great and if you're still not sure, stick with wearing mostly neutrals like white and grey then add a few pops of one seasonal color....maybe someone wears a mustard scarf and another a mustard cardigan for fall.....or a few pops of red in your outfits for winter.  

Take pictures in natural light.
Most photographers (one's smarter than me) recommend the "golden hour" for the best light outdoors - one hour after the sun comes up or one hour before it sets.  If that's not feasible, just go for a spot with indirect light, enough for a well lit picture but where the sun's not glaring in everyone's eyes.

For indoor photos, avoid using a flash and use natural light whenever possible.  Pay attention to what time of day the room you'll be shooting in gets the best light and plan to be ready to snap your pics at that time. 

Make em' laugh.
Forget trying to get them to look at the camera and say "cheese" or something else with an "eeee" to make them smile. You'll either get blank stares or super-teethy "cheese" grins complete with squinted eye lids. It's best if you can have your partner in crime standing directly behind the camera making a fool of him/herself while you snap away. The kids will be looking right at them, and therefore in the direction of the camera...with big natural smiles.

Sometimes we will ask questions like "What's your favorite dessert?"...a question that they will be excited to answer and again produce a natural smile simply because they are thinking about something they love. Not cheese. Or maybe they do love cheese and that would get the biggest smile of all. You know your kids, go with what makes them smile.

On a side note, this particular card gets me all sappy....we had moved into our new house just a month prior and my baby boy was due on Christmas Day.  He arrived the day after Christmas in all his 9lb 7oz glory, and just missed the photo shoot that year :)

Think about using props.
If you decide to use a prop, go with something that won't distract from your subjects.  We used a wagon for the shoot below.  The kids were all smiles playing in it and the red color worked right into the colors scheme for the shoot (red/navy/grey).

Props can also give you a great chance at capturing the perfect action shot.  A child looking at an ornament on the tree.....opening a big bow on a present....setting up the nativity set...all can provide some really sweet photos.  Some of our favorite pics of our kidlets are simply "life in action" shots....catching their genuine reaction to things around them.

Just keep clicking.
This year we're going with the pj's again.  The kids are just so darn cute and snuggly in them.  I've also been eyeing these flannel Christmas sheets at Target for awhile and finally grabbed them on sale for just $16 for a complete queen set.  They'll be great for winter guests and fun for the kids' traditional Christmas eve sleepover by the fireplace (on our queen size air mattress).   And also good for this year's photo backdrop!

*SPOILER ALERT!  Anyone that would like their 2012 Christmas card from the Crinion's to be a complete surprise should probably stop reading now.*

I pinned the flat sheet to the wall behind our bed with some thumb tacks and the fitted sheet went on the bed along with our white quilt.  We hung some sparkly ornaments from the ceiling, grabbed a Christmas book, piled on 3 pajama clad kids and got to snapping!

Since the kids would be in pj's I thought it would be fun to do a photo shoot with them in a big bed, playing with pillows and with Mia reading the boys a Christmas story.  I worked the camera and James was on humiliate-yourself-for-a-smile duty.  I just kept clicking away.  You never know if the shot you thought was perfect was actually blurry, or if that shot you didn't think would work out actually captured 3 great smiles. You don't have time to check each shot after it's taken.  Just keep clicking!  I had over 100 shots from this shoot, granted we tried a few different set-ups, and ended up with several good options for our card.  

Some were more posed...

And others, great action shots...

Crop and Zoom are your friends.  
Don't discard a picture just because one kid is smiling and everyone else is picking their nose.  This shot of Jack was cropped from a pic where Mia and Sully both had closed eyes.

Zooming in on a subject is always one of my favorite types of photos.  It will capture great details and can give you a really intimate shot with a totally different feel.

I've been trying to make the most with my point n' shoot, but if we can't afford to upgrade the camera in the next year, I think I'll ask to borrow a friends.  They really will give you a better quality photo and allow you to have a little more fun zooming in on your subjects with that coveted bokeh blurred background.

All of these points can easily apply to a shoot without kids....mine just made for good subjects today ;)  So, if you've been tossing around the idea of doing your own card this year, just go for it!

And as I was perusing my reader this morning, it seems that a lot of people are chatting about this very thing.  So check out this post here by Centsational Girl and this one by The Girls With Glasses for more tips on getting a great shot this holiday season!

I would love to hear your tips too!  Teach us your camera wielding ways!

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to keep in touch!