Grouping Picture Frames

Ever wondered how to display your motley crew of photos or artwork? Having framed photos strewn about can create a comforting atmosphere, but sometimes border on looking too cluttered. I love putting things in frames and arranging them on a wall so they become the focal point in a room or hallway. Some people have a knack for assembling varieties of frames, but an easy way out is to buy a bunch of varying shapes and sizes, then painting them all the same color (black, white, fuschia perhaps…).

Even easier is to buy a set of frames all the same size and color, but these look best hung up with equal spacing and in even rows, which can be a pain unless you love rulers and levels (if you’re set on doing it this way, I recommend laying the frames out on the floor on top of a large piece of butcher paper, tracing around the frames, then hanging the paper on the wall with tape and hammering in nails right through the paper). Some ideas to inspire, below:

White and brown frames hung in a repeating pattern

Another grouping of neutral-colored frames

Frames in the same color and style arranged on a line

A great collection of greens


DIY Headboards

Lately I’ve been thinking of putting a headboard in my bedroom, but want to avoid the cost of anything too fancy or the effort of actually building something from scratch. There are lots of options out there, such as painting a headboard design directly on the wall, using a wall decal, or painting a piece of salvaged wood or a door (you’ll just need hardware to secure it to the wall).

Most big cities have salvage stores where you can find old doors (and so much more) worth re-purposing. In Seattle, I like Earthwise Architectural Salvage, and Second Use. If you’re in Portland, OR, definitely check out Hippo Hardware.

A few inspiring ideas:

Wall decal from

Wall decal from

Wicker spray-painted fuschia

Salvaged door painted and attached to wall

Salvaged wood propped against wall

Cutting Out Mail Clutter

The easiest way to cut down on the clutter mail can cause is to keep less of it from making its way into your home. Not only does this mean less junk for you to sort through, it means less thrown out as trash or energy spent recycling it so you’ll be helping the environment too. A few ideas:

  • Pay bills online whenever possible (most companies have this option, just check your paper statements or head to the company’s website), then opt for paperless statements
  • Check out to opt out of receiving catalogs, junk mail and phone books
  • Stop receiving credit card and insurance offers by opting out at

Once you get your mail to consist of magazines, catalogs, and letters you do want, you’ll want to store it someplace where you can access it without it taking up a lot of space. My favorite method is with wall organizers, which are super easy to install and can typically live in an inconspicuous spot in your entryway, kitchen, or office. The ones pictured here are from Ballard Designs and Pottery Barn.

A Google search for “wall file holder” will give you a ton of options, including some that are much cheaper, albeit not quite as easy on the eyes. One option is to buy a few cheap, mesh metal versions from an office supply store, spraypaint them white or as close to your wall color as possible so they blend in, and hang a few in a vertical line. This idea works nicely for households where each person needs their own bin.

Picture Frame Necklace Holders

I think there’s an unwritten law that when two necklaces are left alone in a box, they will get hopelessly, inexplicably tangled up with each other. A way to avoid this is by hanging them up, which offers the added benefits of serving as pretty wall decor, and as a reminder of the cool stuff you own that might otherwise go forgotten when not in plain sight.

The easiest way to do this is by finding a cheap, wooden picture frame that has hanging hardware on the back of it. Paint the frame if you’d like, then either hammer in a row of small nails or attach small screws (you can find these fairly easily in hardware stores or Home Depot) along the top edge. Make sure you remove the glass from the frame when you’re hammering in the nails so you don’t break it, then replace and add a picture, or trace the size of the opening and add a sheet of construction paper in a color you like.

Color-Coded Bookshelves

This may not be the first time you’ve heard about color-coding your bookshelves, but it seemed like a natural place to start since it’s one of the first things people notice about my living room. Organizing your books by color is an easy way to make a cluttered space look more artistic, and lends some order to what’s often a chaotic mix of color (I also organized my DVDs this way, before getting an entertainment stand with drawers to hide ’em in).

You don’t have to put everything in rainbow order (and how many of us have purple books?), but consider doing groups of beige and brown with reds and oranges, blues and greens together, and grays and blacks.

My favorite bookshelves right now are the Expedit ones from IKEA. They have a modern look that goes with most decor, and you can get a variety of coordinating storage bins that fit the shelf space.