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. Sarah says

    We LOVE to decorate with little notecards, postcards, etc. I’ve had a group of them taped on the wall of every bedroom I’ve had since I went away to college. We just moved into a new place in March that has a plate rail (I think that’s what its called) all around the dining room. While it made painting the room and even BIGGER nightmare, its the perfect way to display a whole bunch of cards leaning against the wall. And since they aren’t mounted in any way, its easy to swap em out and rearrange them.

    My favorite cards come from this local artist from Portland, ME:

  2. says

    Off the subject but I feel totally jipped not having the Burger cameo appearance in any of these photos! I always look to see how he horns in on your action. Kind of like Where’s Waldo. Only cuter. :)

  3. Eilene says

    I had a square 12″ black frame with a pretty designed scrapbook paper, then on that I put a picture of my son in the bottom left corner, and on the right his initial cut out of paper… it was soo wrong. I think it’s exactly the same problem you had. There is a border around the picture and it’s driving me nuts. I’m going to leave work and fix it!
    ;-) but not really because that would be bad.

  4. Kim says

    Jenna Smith-how about one of those no- slip rubber mats that go under rugs, cut to size? I think that would work.

  5. says

    Oh! I didn’t realize how small they were. Maybe I just read it wrong, but I was expecting them to fill up the entire colored part.

    Reading comprehension aside, they look great!

  6. Kate says

    We are in need of art for our bedroom, but it just hasn’t happened yet. Maybe I’ll take some inspiration from the two of you and get my art on this weekend!

    And I see a big difference with the white edges trimmed off, even in the pictures. I’m so glad you did it, I was a bit concerned when you left the white border on at the start.

  7. Kristin says

    Haha, I like the “WIP” and “ORB” abbreviations.I love “WAF” ( ), partly because when we bought our new TV and hi-fi system, it was actually me who wanted the larger TV and the giant floorstanding loudspeakers. I love them.

    Like your new art, too. Especially the color-matching coincidence. However, from the picture I would say that they’re a bit too small for the frames. But maybe that’s just the picture.

  8. Casey says

    Totally un house related. I have a friend that actually used Danger as their son’s middle name. Blue Danger. He will forever be able to tell people that Danger is his middle name.

  9. says

    This is such a great look! I love when art is arranged in such a way that it looks precious. When you use d a big frame, large mat (or background in your case) it really makes the art more elevated and important. I LOVE what this has done for your space- it looks SO great!

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