Category Archives: Home Styling

6 Ways How To Host A Party In Style

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dress: Parker New York for Barney’s // tights: American Apparel // booties: Seychelles (similar online) // belt: c/o Nona E. Rose // necklaces: etc… and c/o Gorjana Griffin

This past weekend, a friend told me that I’m going to be “The next Martha Stewart…but with an edge.” I’ll take that, especially as I love to host a good gathering like Martha.

The hubby and I hosted a post-holiday party for a few close friends that has become a tradition, as the holiday season can be a tricky time to make plans with friends. We celebrate everything from Christmas to Chanukah and even the Chinese New Year with a menu that reflects all of that, but centered around our favorite traditional Chanukah fare, Latkes.

Just when the holidays may have gotten the best of you, there are more celebrations to be had. Whether you’re hosting a New Years Eve soiree, a birthday celebration, or even a post-holiday party, you too can be a Martha with my go-to tricks for being the “hostess with the mostest.”

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1. Create a menu and post it somewhere for your guests.

It’s helpful for your guests to clearly write out all of the menu items somewhere, so they can leave room for items coming out as they are ready. Additionally, you can use it as your own checklist. You can also leave out labels for each item on the table as well, in case you have any guests with allergies or dietary restrictions.

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2. Create a signature cocktail or two and make sure there are non-alcoholic refreshments available too.

Your guests will appreciate that they aren’t standing at the bar area dumbfounded on what to make.

Some sort of punch or sangria is perfect for guests because you can make quite a bit of it ahead of time. Make sure if your recipe calls for club soda, to add it right before guests arrive so it doesn’t go flat. I tend to make these cocktails slightly weaker, so party-goers don’t feel so guilty when they tend to drink it like juice.

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If you decide to make a signature drink that cannot be made beforehand, then leave out instructions for your guests, so in case you’re busy greeting someone, they can handle it themselves.

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3. Set up all of the dishes and plates for your hors d’oeuvres and bites prior to serving

It’s helpful to lay everything out prior, so you’re not scrambling while guests arrive. We even try to make as much as possible the night before so we can reserve last minute touches for the day of.

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4. Get a head count of your guests and make enough food for a third more.

While you may have politely asked for RSVP’s on your invite, there will always be those that bring a friend without mentioning it or those that come pretty hungry. It’s always best to prepare more and have leftovers for yourself and guests to go home with. Nothing makes people want to leave a party more than one that has run out of food and drinks.

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5. Create an activity for your guests.

Whether it’s a parlor game like the ever popular Cards Against Humanity, or another group activity, it’s great to have an ice breaker or something that guests can participate in. I leave out some games like Jenga or Apples To Apples for people to play with just in case the party starts to get quiet.

It’s become a tradition for this post-holiday party to do a “bad gift exchange,” where friends can bring a gift they received over the holidays that they weren’t a fan of (like the moldy farmer’s market turnip my mother-in-law gave us…just kidding) and trade it in for someone else’s wrapped gift under the tree before they leave. The subjectively “bad” gifts this year included a kitten calendar, a heart shaped candle, a tinsel scarf, texting gloves, and the one I received and am actually excited about, paper and binder clips. It made for some great laughs and actually made guests leaving early much less awkward for them.

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6. Make an easy and unique appetizer that your guests will demand at every party

The most memorable parties are the ones with the food that you continue to talk about. My agent once made this cream cheese wasabi spread at a party and I begged her for the recipe because it was such a hit. Turns out it was ridiculously simple to assemble and now my friends are demanding it for all of my gatherings and even to bring to their own.

Here’s how to make the Cream Cheese Wasabi Spread Served With Rice Crackers.

ingredients:

1 block of regular cream cheese (low fat is difficult to work with!)
wasabi paste
soy sauce
sesame seeds
rice crackers for serving

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Cut the cream cheese in half lengthwise.

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Spread on a thin layer of wasabi paste.

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Drizzle with soy sauce.

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Place the other half on top and repeat the last two steps. Then sprinkle a layer of sesame seeds on top. Serve with a spreading knife and pair it with rice crackers.

Of course the best way to host a party in style is by making sure everyone is having a good time, introducing friends to each other and making sure that even you are enjoying yourself.

Have a happy, healthy and *stylish* New Years. See you in 2014!

A Closet Fit For A Stylist

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“You need a wall of shoes.”

That was the first thing my friend Jason, the owner the NYC bar, The Wayland, when he saw the sad looking closet area in our new Brooklyn apartment. Jason designed his award-winning bar (DailyCandy even declared it the best bar in the country for 2013) from reclaimed materials, such as flooring from a school gym that was torn down a few blocks away and even a wine casket that creates the perfect sculptural rest for bar snacks. When he said he would help design my closet, I was all ears.

I knew that the reach-in closet in our garden-level bedroom wouldn’t be enough room for this stylist’s wardrobe, so I originally had a popular closet company come in to design and estimate for a walk-in closet to be created around this space. When I found out that they wanted to charge me $1500 to put up shelves and that didn’t even include the wall, door, moving the lights, etc., I gave those blueprints to Jason and we came up with a game plan—and of course, scrapped all of their plans. Here’s what we came up with:

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This is the same wall as the pre-existing reach-in closet, but we decided to raise the bar (literally and figuratively) and include a second bar for my pants to get more out of the space.

Jason came up with the idea of partitioning the left-hand side for my longer items like dresses and gowns.

To the right you can see there’s shelving we created for my sweaters, hats and even a cubbie for my sunglasses.

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The plan is to share this closet with the hubby, but of course it was devised more with my needs in mind (oops), as he tends to shove his daily wardrobe into drawers and shelves. We created a long bar for his nicer clothing to hang and one big shelf for him to throw his pants on at the end of the day, which is right above this nook that we customized for our hamper unit to tuck into. Brilliant, right?

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It wouldn’t be a stylist’s closet without a wall for shoes. Jason told his contractor to create different sizes based on my shoe heights and they actually measured my shoes to fit! What they didn’t account for where the ridiculous amount of handbags I own, so I had them stop adding shelves to fit them.

Somehow the hubby’s wardrobe is going to fit in here (to the left), but no one will be looking at that when there’s a wall of shoes!

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Insta-Redecorating

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I’m a little embarrassed by this picture above, to be honest. I’ve lived in my Brooklyn condo for 9 months now and have spent all of my time and money (hence some of my last fall wardrobe that you may be sick of already) updating each room. Still, I haven’t gotten around to redecorating my bedroom, which remains pretty much in the same state as when I moved in.

This room is a hodgepodge of hand-me-downs like the antique chair that was my grandmother’s, as well as the antique rug and dresser passed down from my mother-in-law. I recently updated the large dresser with a coat of paint and some knobs from Anthropologie, which are always my solution to perk up furniture.

I’m still saving up for the perfect headboard/bedframe, lamps and night stands, not to mention, my much-needed walk-in-closet addition. As you can see, I haven’t even hung much on my walls because I’m not ready to commit to anything until I have a plan of action. I’ve been so focused on the rooms that my visitors see and don’t know where to start on this one!

That’s where Remodo came in.

I was a little bit hesitant at first to have someone else style for me, but I was curious to see other ideas. I did warn my personal designer that I wanted a more adult room than most of their customers, who are often tweens, teens and college students. She listened to that and everything else I requested, including that I didn’t want to re-paint the walls.

Here’s what she came up with:

 

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Not bad! If only I could replace my tiled floor with that wood!

There were a few items that she hit the nail on the head, like the headboard, which is exactly what I’ve been wanting.

She also opened my eyes to some ideas that I haven’t even thought of like black and white photos over my bed with a Brooklyn theme. It’s very elegant and also very me. A chaise lounge, especially in a chevron pattern, is also a brilliant idea that would be a nice addition for those who spill over from my backyard get-togethers (yes, the door to my yard is oddly in my bedroom).

I’m not sure if the rug is something I’d want in my bedroom–I tend to opt for cooler colors, as they are soothing. Though, I think modern rug would freshen up all of the antiques.

You can try Remodo yourself with these 3 ways:
1. Work With A Designer (fill out a questionnaire and someone will get back to you within a day or two)
2. Be Your Own Designer (design your own room with their library of items)
3. Shop Remodo’s Online Store (shop for what you like. duh.)

Now you can try it for yourself and get 25% off on both the designer package (WWAD2013) and on all Remodo products (Shop10).

Post your room makeover on Twitter and let both Remodo (@myremodo) and myself (@dear_andi) know what you’ve designed!

How To Cover An Eye-Sore In Your Home

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art by Randy Howard

When we found our condo in Brooklyn, there were certain elements that nearly turned me off—and I’m sure other potential buyers as well—one of which being these eye-sore of air conditioner units being the focal point of two rooms. While I can’t complain that we have a/c during summers in the city (#firstworldproblems?), I didn’t love that was the first thing I noticed when I walked into the room.

My solution was to hang a great piece of art over it when it’s not in use, but how in the world do you hang something that is that far away from the wall?

Fortunately I have a retired aerospace engineer as a father, and he came up with using curtain rod hooks to rest the canvas on. Brilliant.

Now you know the secret in this stylist’s home!
STYLIST TIP: Don’t have a large canvas of beautiful art hanging around? Purchase a blank one at the art / craft store and create your own art! Even a wash of one or two colors can be an interesting conversation piece (hello, Rothko). You can also paint the canvas one color, then cut up vegetables and have your kids stamp them into another color paint onto the canvas for a personal piece.

Friday Favorites: Office Edition

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image courtesy of Jonathan Rodriguez

When I recently moved into my new condo in Brooklyn, I was psyched to finally have a separate office space for both my styling and jewelry line, instead of taking over half of our living room with clothing racks, files, bags, etc.

I turned this little lower level nook into my home office space, but found I was using it more as a storage space (thanks to a huge closet) and working upstairs. My office became an after-thought and always “it’s a work in progress” when I gave a tour of my new place. What gives?

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I was totally embarrassed when photographer Jonathan Rodriguez came to take pictures of me and my home, and  realized it was the paint color that was bugging me. I needed something more inspiring and soothing, so this pale gray color did the trick. Less clutter helped inspire as well.

Some of my desk favorites include these cute printed filing holders from the Container Store and this affordable Ikea lamp.

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Speaking of inspiring, an assistant of mine, Brenda of B Designs Interior Decorating, made me this adorable picture as a house-warming gift. It’s the perfect addition to my desk space.

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Any of my assistants know that I’m a sucker for these T.J.Maxx shopping bags. For $.99 each they are a stylish and convenient way to hold all of my purchases for shoots while I trek around the city. I found myself holding up the line yesterday because I just had to have the black and white one instead of a different print that was closer to the register!

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Three apartments in NYC later, and I still can’t seem to get rid of my stack of Vogue Magazines. How very Carrie Bradshaw of me, but perhaps this is getting out of control? Send me your thoughts and ideas!

How to DIY an Organic Herb Garden with a Black Thumb

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I not only love to wear black but I seem to have a black thumb, rather than a green thumb. How apropos for this city girl?

I managed to kill just about every plant—even cactus! My aloe plant is just barely hanging on. I’m great at making things look pretty, but only if I can actually keep them alive.

One of the main things I wanted to add to my backyard in my new Brooklyn condo was an herb garden. Of course, I’m on quite a budget so I needed something that didn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Here’s how I did it for under $100 (and I will have an endless supply of herbs if all goes well):

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STEP 1: Pick out which herbs you would like to plant.

I chose ones that I cook with most like basil, rosemary, sage and cilantro. I also added lavender because it’s an insect repellent. Just be sure to not mix herbs that grow out of control like mint with these other herbs. As your garden store if you’re unsure and also ask if they’re organic.

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STEP 2: Find the perfect planter.

I picked up a whiskey barrel planter that would hold a lot from Lowe’s for only $29.99. It wasn’t in the best shape but I loved that it looked weathered and old instead of a lot of the outdoor stuff you see in catalogs.

STEP 3: Make it mobile with wheels.

The one problem with using a massive barrel like this was that it’s not moveable if you decide you want it elsewhere, so we found a solution for that. The hardware store carried these wheels for just $2.50 each and we drilled them on so the barrel is now mobile so I can arrange it over and over again until I love it where it is.

STEP 4: Scrub the inside clean with 1 part vinegar and 1 part water. Let dry.

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STEP 5: Make sure there are holes on the bottom of the barrel (drill if not) and  then fill the bottom of the barrel with drainage rocks. We used two bags of rocks, but you can use a layer of packing foam to make it lighter. 

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 STEP 6: Pour in organic potting mix and Perlite (those white things) to break up the soil up until no more than 3 inches below the top of the barrel.

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STEP 7: Carefully cut away at the herb containers and gently loosen up the roots of each plant. Don’t hold the plant by its stem—it’s like holding someone by their neck!

STEP 8: Dig a small hole to plant the herbs and space each kind at least 6 inches away from the other. Then fill in with the soil.

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STEP 9: Add some mirrors to your garden. Someone from GRDN told me that squirrels hate the reflective nature of them, so they’ll keep away from your plants!

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STEP 10: Label each of your herbs.

I used popsicle sticks and hand wrote them. There are a ton of other fun options on Etsy and Pinterest. I’d be interested to find a more exciting (and affordable) alternative to this if anyone knows of one.

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STEP 11: Add some earth worms.

They add an instant and affordable fertilizer and will keep your garden healthy.

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STEP 12: Water your garden and enjoy.

top:  Soft Joie (at Marshall’s, similar online) / sweater: Calypso (c/o friend who works for the brand) / jeans: J.Crew / bracelets worn as necklace: c/o E.Kammeyer / bracelets: etc…, Baublebar / ring: Sonya Renee / lip color: Josie Moran

Herbs from Carroll Gardens farmer’s market and Grdn, all other garden supplies from Lowes

How To DIY A Bookcase

DIY Book case

Okay, so you’re probably asking why are you showing that book case again? Well, Mariel of the home and lifestyle blog, So What’s Bloomin’, brought up a good point in my comments section yesterday:

“Love love love that blue paint! I’m a little bummed that a) you didn’t give a close up shot of the shelf/paint color combo bc it’s a real bowling alley, hello!, and b) you didn’t show the photograph of your lovely grandfather which just adds that much more character :P

Well, here it is…plus more…

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Here you can see how we created the shelves with blocks of wood with heavy screws to support the shelves we had custom cut from salvaged bowling alley flooring from Build It Green (as well as my careful taping job before I painted).

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This is what the shelf looks like. Pretty cool, right? I may lacquer it one day so it has the total bowling alley effect. See how it pops off of the navy walls and the supports just disappear.

STYLIST TIP: If you’re going to use a darker finish for your shelves, try a lighter or bold colored paint.

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Next came the really fun part (besides nervously making sure the shelves fit to my measurements): decorating the shelves with personalized items. This nook is right next to my office, so I wanted to fill it with things that inspire me, like these old diaries that were my mother’s, where she actually wrote “Dear Andi” in every page.

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STYLIST TIP: Break up books by categrory, like I did here with my “New York” books, or with art, cooking, travel, novels, etc. It makes it easy for you to find what your looking for and more interesting for guests to sift through.

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STYLIST TIP: Shelves shouldn’t be for JUST books. Fill them with personalized items (like I did with my wedding bouquet in an antique silver pitcher) and art pieces to create an interesting focal point, rather than just a stuffy and overwhelming library. The rule of thumb is to break up the section after around 10 books.

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I always hated that I would get these random buttons with a new piece of clothing, but could never find them when I actually needed one. I save them in an antique medicine jar so now they not only look cool, but are also in a spot where I can find them.

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My art books are most important to me of all. They’re what inspire me—the older the better too. That Picasso book, which was my first book ever, as well as old magazines and sewing books are some of my favorites to get ideas from.

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I’m a sucker for a beautiful book. I received this gorgeous cook book from one of my favorite restaurants in Brooklyn, Frankie’s Sputino and its antique gilded edges made me excited to display it on my shelf.

STYLIST TIP: Have some books that you love by hate the way they look on the shelf? Throw away (or recycle!) the dust jacket. I always discard mine and it makes for a cleaner look when I display my books.

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These old milk crates were my father’s “bachelor bookcase” back in the day, but now that they’re stained and fit nicely under this nook, they’re perfect to house our favorite photo albums. Yes, I still have printed pictures.

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My new favorite addition to the shelves is this frame we picked up in NOLA with a hologram of what looks like it could be my grandfather (that’s my actual grandmother on the left), but then you walk by and it has that Disney’s Haunted Mansion effect. My husband and I chuckle every time someone walks by. I love decor with a sense of humor.

If you have any DIY or styling questions, send them this way (dearandistyle@gmail.com) and I may feature you on the blog.

How To Update With Paint

Not only do I style fashion, but I’ve styled home decor clients like One Kings Lane, Gilt Groupe, Plow & Hearth and Target. That means my personal home styling is as important to me as my own wardrobe.bookcase_paint_navyBookcase paint: Benjamin Moore in Midnight Navy

Since recently purchasing my first home in Brooklyn, I’ve been on a tight budget. That means I’ve had to get crafty with how I’ve been decorating. It’s kind of like how if I was creating a set of a room for a photoshoot and I wanted to tie it together cheaply and quickly, I would add a painted wall or backdrop. It’s amazing what a difference a little paint makes.

This alcove in my new place was screaming for something to be built in it. After a contractor suggested to go to Ikea for shelves that he could install for us, my husband and I decided to head over to Build It Green to get some eco-friendly and affordable materials—and to do it ourselves.

We loved the look of bowling alley flooring and wanted to have it stand out as shelving, while making it appear like it’s floating sans ugly brackets. The solution: Painting the alcove and the supporting wood blocks a rich navy color.

Now it’s become quite the focal point when I give a tour of my new apartment.

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Mirror paint: Golden acrylic paint in Silver

I also don’t have the budget for new decor, so as you saw in this post, I’ve been trying to salvage the antiques that I didn’t totally love for my new place. This dark mirror frame looked out of place in my airy apartment, so a rough coat of silver paint made it like new.

Stay tuned for more of my home styling adventures on a budget!

How To Antique Furniture

Everyone knows I’m a sucker for all things antique and vintage—especially things with a story. This antique wardrobe that I found at Brownstone Treasures was the first piece I purchased when I left my cramped space in Manhattan for an upgraded Brooklyn apartment.

I love that it gave some much needed extra closet space, but I never loved the unfinished look of the wood. I finally got around to giving it a little makeover while still keeping its antiqued charm. Here’s how:

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Tools you will need:
Benjamin Moore Primer
Benjamin Moore paint in Chantily Lace (trim)
Benjamin Moore paint in Pebble Beach (inside)
paint brushes
painters tape
steel wool or sandpaper
drop cloth
an antique piece of furniture with good bones!

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Step 1: Paint a coat of primer on the furniture and allow to dry fully.

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Step 2: Paint the trim with one color. You may need to tape it off before painting if it is a darker color and only do one coat if you want the antiqued look to it.

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Step 3: Use painters tape to mark off the section you want to paint a different color.

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Step 4: Distress the paint with a piece of steel wool or sandpaper. This works best before the paint is completely dry.

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STYLIST TIP: Only distress the edges of the piece to make it look like it naturally aged over time. That’s where furniture wears the most.

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Enjoy!

xoliz

How To Do A Frame Wall

Whether I’m designing a set on a photoshoot to feel like a well-designed room or just styling my own home, I try to plan out as much beforehand as I can with sketches or even laying out items on a table or floor prior to the final look. It’s kind of like how you may pick out an outfit and throw it all on your bed to see how it looks together. It always help to visualize your ideas.

I’ve only been in my new apartment for a week now, but I’m one of those kind of people that needs to get it all done as soon as possible. This weekend, one of my priorities was hanging up pictures to make it feel more like home.

Now that I own instead of renting my place, every hole needs to be precise and it feels more permanent than before. That’s why when I designed this wall, I took my time planning and measuring.

You can try this easy trick too:

dearandi wall DIY

What you will need:
-picture frames (works best in the same family ie. color/shape/style)
-tape measure
-pencil
-paper (newsprint is cheap and large enough to measure your bigger frames)
-xacto knife (for more accurate cuts) or scissors
-ruler and board (if using blade)
-painter’s or artist’s tape
-picture hanging nails
-hammer

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Trace each frame on the paper and cut out to the size of the frame.

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Label each piece of paper with the corresponding image in the frame (ie, my image of Brooklyn was labeled “Brooklyn” so I could remember what it was).

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Put up each piece of paper in a formation that you like with either painter’s tape or artist’s tape (both will not damage the paint on your walls). I left 2″ in height and 3″ wide of spacing between each frame, but you can do it by eye as well. This helps visualize what your wall will look like before you put holes all over your wall and you can keep changing your mind. I left this up overnight to see if I still liked the formation—which clearly I changed my mind.

Frame Wall _dearandi

Finally, you can put up your frames on the wall. I measured the length of the wall and then marked the center, which is where I put the middle frame. Then, I measured the rest of the frames against that one. Be sure to measure for where the hook is on the frame, which may be up to a couple of inches below the top of the frame.

Now you can enjoy your gallery of pictures that you’ve curated and get ready for your friends to enlist you to curate their walls.

xoliz

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