Framing Photography Note Cards With Big Colorful Paper “Mats”

Well well well, if isn’t those little photography note cards again. You know, the ones we bought on our anniversary from a local art gallery to hang in our bathroom? You might not even have registered them in that post since everyone went bananas over the whole Sherry-haircut thing.


Anyway, hanging them in the bathroom was the initial plan. Until I noticed some of the photo colors were in the same neighborhood as our framed $5 scrapbook paper. That neighborhood being Sue-the-Napkin-ville. Or is it Sue-the-Napkin Heights?

We figured that maybe our $4 a pop Sherri Conley note cards were destined to live in these eight frames (plus we couldn’t decide on a configuration for the bathroom, so we liked the idea of enjoying them out in the living room). But it meant we had to get four more of them first, so we shucked out another $16 to round out our “local art collection” (from Crossroads Gallery here in Richmond).

The idea was to add the small square of art into the middle of the colored paper square that already sat inside the square frame. Thereby making the colored square of paper into a fun little colored square mat. Wow, lots of squares going on. We’re one do-si-do short of a square dance.

First we had to cut our rectangular note cards into… you’ll never guess… squares. I used an exacto and a ruler to keep my lines straight, but was brave enough to just eye the placement of my slice. Yup, my middle name should be Danger. Or soda. Or both. John Danger Soda Petersik. I like it.

As you can see, we left a thin white border on the pictures to, I dunno, further emphasize their squareness? They sort of looked like little polaroids to us.

Then one by one the frames came off the wall so the photos could be scotch taped into place on each colorful background which essentially became the “mat.” To get them centered we eyed them, then used a yardstick to make sure they were actually centered. To do that we just lined up the yardstick across two opposite corners, and then repeated that with the other two corners to make sure they seemed to intersect equally.

Finally, everything was reframed and ready for our viewing pleasure.

Only problem, we weren’t totally psyched by the result. We didn’t mind the small size (it just makes us want to lean in and take a closer look) – although I know some folks might think bigger is better (that’s what she said). Our issue was that something about them was really interrupt-ish and busy and, well, just too square-y (it honestly looks better in pictures than it did in real life). And yes, the reflection on the glass totally bites for taking pics, but we’re not quite ready to splurge on eight panes of museum glass just yet.

We realized the white borders I left on when trimming the note cards might be the problem. It made the distinction between the photo and the colorful mat so defined that we kind of lost the fun coincidence that each pairing was sort of linked by color. So rather than the paper feeling like an extension of the art’s hues, it just felt like a tiny picture on top of a thick bright mat on top of a thick white mat. It was a square vortex and it was threatening to eat our brains.

So after a few days of living with it (and not growing any fonder) Sherry took it upon herself to remedy the situation. And since she has a much steadier hand than I do, she didn’t even use a level and an exacto (just a regular old scissors). Cocky much?

Of course her cuts were great. And now we’ve got this:

We like it muuuuch better – especially in real life. Although we’re the first to admit that for some reason the white framed note cards didn’t photograph as crazily as they looked in person, so there’s not as much of an obvious improvement from the square-on-square-on-square action that was going on before. But in person it was such a relief. We worried we might have to scrap the whole note card idea entirely, but once they were trimmed down and put back in place, all was right with the world. Or at least with the left wall of our living room.

We like that they feel less busy and that subtlety is much preferred. They don’t scream “check-me-out!!!” but are nice when your eyes meander around the room and happen to land on them. So for a total of $4.64 per frame (64 cents for the scrapbook paper backgrounds and $4 a pop for the photo note cards) we’re psyched.

I still wouldn’t go as far as to call this our forever art solution for these frames. We’ve learned our lesson when it comes to making those sort of giant declarations since our house is always a WIP (work in progress). Not to be confused with an ORB (even though Sherry is definitely demonstrating her undying love of all things oil-rubbed-bronze). So we think adding these small photographs are a good warm-up for us since they might end up laying the ground work for something else that we may want to transition to a bit further down the line. So let’s call it a baby step. We’ve introduced some small photography, so maybe in a while we’ll try some larger photography, rehang the note card photos somewhere else, and scrap the 60 cent scrapbook paper altogether… who knows.

What I do know is that looking at some of these photos makes me want to go on a ferris wheel. Oh, and eat funnel cake. Yeah, definitely that.

Has anyone else made any art-y updates lately? Or used note cards as wall decor? Or gotten sucked into a square vortex, never to be seen or heard from again? Well, if you have, I guess you wouldn’t be able to comment…

Psst- We announced this week’s giveaway winner. Click here to see if it’s you (plus the $15 discount code for everyone is still valid until August 31st).


  1. says

    FUNNEL CAKE! That isn’t nice… now I will think about eating one for the next hour. Good thing there’s no carnival nearby right now.

    The art looks great! I have a similar plan for the ribba frames in our nursery – scrapbook paper with cutouts of b&w animals on them – hope they turn out as great as yours!

  2. says

    I like the end result both with and without the borders, but you’re totally right about some things just bothering you in person no matter how okay they seem in photos, and it’s your house, so obviously you should change it if it bugs ya.

    The only wall art I’ve emarked on lately is making a giant family manifesto. It was a cheapo way to get a pop of color and something meaningful to our family.

  3. Ali says

    Hi YHL…quick question…do the notecards look as small in person as they do in the photos? Maybe it’s b/c the photo is snapped from a few feet away, but it seems like the notecards are a little lost n the colored mats, and I’m curios if that how it appears in person.

    • says

      They’re like little polaroids in person. Subtle and sweet. Someday we might go with big bold photos or prints, but we like how these “tuck in” and don’t scream atcha. Haha.


  4. Sandy says

    Great idea…I have scrap paper up, but never thought to put anything of top of it. Also, I thought your walls were brick and I had a question about nailing into brick. I guess it can be done, but anything special I need to do? I want to hang a mirror so it’s kind of heavy. Thanks!

    • says

      We had brick walls in our last house (and on another wall in our living room in this house) so we just used a masonry bit on our drill to go into the mortar (never go into the face of the brick). Good luck!


    • JennyB says

      We have a friend who runs a frame shop. On the side, he goes to people’s homes & hangs heavy pictures, mirrors, etc. for people. He’ll also hang items on tricky surfaces like brick. Maybe someone at a frame shop in your town know someone who can do it for you.I’m always nervous about hanging large and/or heavy items.

  5. Emily says

    I like them! I wish the photos were bigger, but then that might defeat the purpose of having the colorful scrapbook paper underneath.

    And not to be a stickler but you wrote “oil-RUBBER-bronze” up there. Since it’s already been established that Sherry has the humor of a 12 yr old, I have to admit to giggling a bit. Maybe I’m the only one who thought the oil/rubber combo was funny though…

  6. Veronika says

    Clever little Petersiks!
    I love it! I love the grellow ones the most (with the Ferris wheels) because they seem to blend with the color better, I mean the transition from background to center photo is smoother. But the fact that the others aren’t as smooth is great because it creates an abstract feeling.
    I think. Either way, I like it! It’s a lot of fun too, just looking into the art closely to see the photos does it for me!

  7. says

    I really like the way these turned out because I loved the plain paper that was up before, but with the pictures it compliments it well without totally taking over. I just ripped out a few prints from a old, large coffee table book to use as art. I have yet to frame them, they’re just pinned to the wall. We have no Ikea and frames aren’t cheap. I guess I’m channeling the Petersiks, live with it before deciding.

  8. says

    Maybe it’s just from spending too much time with a particular friend of mine who’s a professional archivist, but I cringed when I read that you used scotch tape on these pretty little pictures. Even if something’s not your eternal art solution, I would still highly recommend using some kind of archival tape, available in the scrap booking section of craft stores everywhere. I’ve personally found little tape runners like this one to be very handy to use;

    Thanks for listening. -Bey

  9. Miranda says

    Nixing the white was a great move, it totally threw off the balance of the photos. Nothing like a white, color, white, color pattern going on from frame to photo. Nice job! Love the images you chose, by the way… :)

  10. Louis Cameron says

    The photo art cards reminded me of instagram pictures as soon as I saw them squared. I have been printing out my instagram photos of my pug and trying to fill one of my cubical walls at work. Here’s a link to a picture of it:

    Love it after the white was cut off too. It looks like it “pops” and goes much better with the scrapbook paper!!

  11. says

    Love the pics! Nothing like inexpensive wall art…I love stretch fabric over a canvas, and right now, I have framed Targe wrapping paper ;)

  12. says

    Hey guys,

    I can’t help but stare at your Karl sectional and wonder how it magically looks great all the time. I have the Karl in ullevi gray (with the tufts) and our cushions are always scooting off the couch. I’m thinking about doing a Velcro attack on them to keep them lookin as fine as yours do. Whats your secret?

    • says

      Maybe it’s our fabric? It’s like denim, so it doesn’t slide at all. Everything stays put really well. It is kind of magical. But I bet velcro will help yours!


    • Wendy says

      I had the same problem with a very slippery leather couch. It was so bad that you couldn’t sit on it when I got it home. I bought a roll of the rubbery shelf liner stuff from target and just laid it straight across underneath the cushions. Problem solved!

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