I’ve been complaining about the empty space over my sofa for…well…way too long! Unfortunately, rather than err by hanging the wrong thing on my wall, I’ve instead erred by leaving the wall blank.
No one feels worse about that than I do, believe me. I had an idea for that wall in mind, but executing it wasn’t going to be easy or without expense. A new arrangement for the family room finally gave me the motivation I needed to finish my barren wall, with deeply satisfying results.
I had seen this in Southern Living…
And I loved it! Especially knowing I had this…
This letter is old…really old, written in 1848 to my great-great-great grandfather by my great-great-great uncle who was stationed in Asheville, N.C., in the U.S. Army. It’s both letter and envelope, since the postmark was stamped right on the outside of the folded page. I love that it’s addressed to Barbourville, (albeit misspelled,) in Knox County, where both of my parents were raised. Incidentally, we have another fascinating letter from this uncle that includes a gruesome account from the Mexican-American War. But I’ll spare you the details of that one… 😉
This old letter is exactly what I wanted on my wall.
Of course, when you enlarge a photograph, you enlarge its imperfections along with its beautiful aspects. I loved the aging and the creases and the wrinkles, but some of the stains and apparent doodling, while adding a certain amount of charm and interest, weren’t exactly elements I wanted to see magnified on my family room wall.
So my husband, who has the eye and the patience for this sort of thing, scanned the letter and did some photo editing, removing the doodling and softening the stains until my letter looked like this:
Is that beautiful or what?
So it was ready to go, but I didn’t know what size I wanted it to be! Stumbling across this giant frame in Hobby Lobby’s clearance aisle pretty much decided that for me.
It was a little nicked up, but still sturdy and solid and as I planned to paint and distress it anyway, (it was originally stained a rich chestnut color,) the nicks didn’t bother me one bit! The old price tag read $69.99. I got it for $7!
At Hobby Lobby I also had a 2 1/4-inch-thick mat cut and with my 40% off coupon, I paid just $8 for it. It’s chocolate brown, a nice contrast to the distressed white frame.
You can get poster-size prints from several online photo finishing sites, but going with the local FedEx Kinko’s gave me more sizing options and allowed me to see exactly what I was getting before I ordered. To me, that was worth a little extra investment. In-store they were able to upload my photo from my flash drive and on a huge monitor we played with the dimensions and stretched the photo slightly so I could perfectly fit my print to my frame and mat. In the end, the print was 20 x 32 inches, which cost me a total of $38.43 including tax. I thought that was very reasonable, especially considering the quality of the print and the fact I was able to pick it up the same day.
Back at Hobby Lobby I bought heavy-duty hangers for my frame for $2 and a sheet of foamboard for backing for $6. At Lowe’s I purchased a 24 x 36-inch sheet of glass for my frame for $13 and somehow got it home and thoroughly clean without breaking it! And, yes, the edges were very sharp. Next time I’ll remember to wear gloves…
When I finally had all the necessary pieces, putting it all together was a cinch! I attached the hangers, one on each side, then put the glass, mat, print, and foamboard, (which I secured with a few strips of 2-inch tape,) in place.
I used a staple gun then to cover the back with craft paper, just to give it a clean look and provide an extra layer of protection to the backing.
Finally, it was time to hang!
Still debating flanking it with something on the sides…Metal sconces, maybe? Hmm….
But I love, love, love it!
Now it wasn’t a project without some expense, (including materials I already had on hand, I spent a total of about $75,) but I still feel I did very well. Many similarly sized and framed prints I found were $300+. And having my letter custom framed could easily have cost that much or more.
I could have searched the world over for the perfect over-the-sofa item and never found anything as lovely or as interesting or as personal as this. I have more than something filling my wallspace; I have an amazing piece of family history hanging on my wall for all to see and love!
And I couldn’t be happier!