Awhile back I decided it was finally time to do something about the gaping blank wall in our living room behind the sofa. We moved in September 2021 and kind of decided to let things be until our new sofa arrived. We ordered custom so it took few months to make and ship. Fast forward to May of last year when she was finally delivered, anddd I still wasn’t sure what to do with this wall. I knew it had to be something big to match the scale of the room and sofa which are both long and massive. I’m not real big on family photos, and didn’t want to spend a fortune on custom art so I was kind of at a loss. I wanted something meaningful but also that fit the style I was trying to achieve in this space. Took a few months of thinking on it, but I figured out what to do!
In the process of home buying, I learned how to pretty thoroughly research potential houses using available public resources. (I.e. House stalking.) One of those resources is through our county; it’s called GIS – or geographic information system. Through this online mapping database, you can search for a property and find a LOT of information about it, including historical maps and aerial photography. That’s how I came across historic aerial photos of our property and the surrounding area.
I was easily able to download four hi-resolution pdf prints of these historical photos right off the website and upload them to my local OfficeMax for poster printing. The four are of the same area but different years so it shows the development of our area over time – cool right? If your county doesn’t have a way to access to these online, you could contact your local records office to track them down. It’s public information, so they are required to provide it upon request, although sometimes they charge a small fee for a digital or hard copy.
After measuring the wall and taping off some possible sizes, I settled on 24” x 36” prints. They were ready for pickup within a day!
After picking them up I got to work gathering all my additional supplies:
4 – Poster Frames
2 – 8′ Sections of Primed Pine Chair Rail
1 – Brad Nailer and Nails
1 – Wood Filler
1 – Sanding Sponge
1 – Paint to Match Wall
2 – 10′ Lengths Brass Plumbing Chain
1 – Package Brass Hooks
1 – Staple Gun and Staples
1 – Laser level (optional)
I wanted to fill the majority of the space from couch to ceiling so I held up my frames and used masking tape to eyeball a good height for the chair rail, chain length and poster hanging. Then once I had that figured out, I cut my chair rail pieces to center the length of the wall over the couch. I ended up having to use two pieces so I mitered the seam together in the middle to make it appear seamless. To finish off the ends of the chair rail I mitered the ends and then ran a tiny piece back to terminate the trim into the wall, following the chair rail profile.
I used a laser level to make sure I had a nice level hanging height and used a brad nailer to tack the chair rail to the wall. I then took wood filler and filled the nail holes and caulked the seam between the trim and the wall. Once those dried, I sanded down the wood filler and painted the chair rail to match my wall. It took two quick coats, since my chair rail was pre-primed.
Next, I got to work prepping my art. I framed my prints in these basic frames from Target. From my earlier calculations I knew that I wanted the frames to hang 15” below the chair rail. I got to work cutting 8 – 15 inch sections of brass chain.
Once those were cut, I attached them to the frames. I marked 2 inches down from the top of the chain to make sure the chain was even on both sides, then I attached it using a staple gun. This part got a little tricky trying to get the staple to line up to go through the chain. I kept a pliers on hand to pull the ones that missed the mark and used it a few times.
It was now time to hang the frames! I measured the full length of my chair rail and subtracted the width of my frames (4 x 36” = 144”). I decided I wanted 6 inches on the ends of the rail before the first frame so I subtracted an additional 12”. With my remaining total, I divided by 3 to find equal spacing between 4 frames. I ended up with a little under 4” between each frame. I then went down my chair rail and hung my hooks. So 6” in to the first one, 36” down to the second one, 4” over to the next, etc. All the way down the rail. Then one frame at a time I hung the chain on the hooks down the rail.
I love this project! The large art makes big impact on what was once a blank wall in our living room. Plus having a chair rail while beautiful, is also versatile – I was able to add a few nails and some Christmas wreaths to this space in a snap for the holidays. It’s also cool knowing that the photos are meaningful and specific to our home.
Poster Prints – $116.00 (Normally more but I found a coupon for 25% off)
Frames – $112.00
Brass Chain – $28.00
Brass Hooks – $7.00
Chair Rail – $30.00
Anything not on the cost list I already had at home. Obviously if you’re working in a smaller area, the cost could be much less, but compared to other large scale custom art I call this a win for our living room!
Eventually I have big plans to change up the flooring in here and add some more character but for now I love the look and feel of this space. What do you think? Would you tackle a project like this?
Thanks for reading,