The Simplest DIY Photography Wall Display

simple-diy-wall-art-final-01We are notorious cheap-skates, to the point of friends dubbing me “Cheap-ass Al.” (Trust me, it’s one of my more noble titles.) No, we’re not as extreme as some, perhaps, but we definitely don’t shy away from an opportunity to save money. Most everything in our home is second-hand, so the idea of splurging for something as simple as wall hangings is nearly laughable.

Case-in-Point: My previous post detailing how to make a unique wall display using an old set of crib springs we dug up in the basement. Get the details here!

Our daughter is a sensitive, sentimental young lady, a trait she inherited from her lovely mother. She’s always borne a burden for those around her and holds those she loves close to her heart. When asking her what she wanted prior to her fifth birthday, her most frequent answer was to the effect of some type of display for photos of those she loved most. My wife and I thought of various ways to create a display in her bedroom, but all seemed to fall short of what we really wanted. Then, my wife, the genius that she is (cha-ching!), came up with a creative, easily-interchangeable setup that was wicked cheap to implement.

And, so…I present to you, you faithful followers of all things do-it-yourself and cheap, one of the simplest, start-to-finish, photographic wall displays you can easily create in your home. (Enough with the drumroll, please.)

What You’ll Need


drywall-screwsScrews/NailsCost: Virtually Nothing
Drywall screws work best, but, depending on the material you are drilling into, a variety of screws would work. Nails are also an option. Something that is 1/16″ to 1/8″ thick at the shaft would work best. Screws can be picked up in any hardware store, home improvement emporium, or your local department store.

hanging-wireHanging WireCost: $2-$4
This can be purchased most anywhere, from hardware stores to home improvement shops to bloody Walmart. Something like this from Amazon (or Home Depot) is perfect.

Want to go even cheaper? Bailer twine or kite string would work as well. After all, we’re not attempting to create the Mona Lisa.

diy-wall-art-clothes-pinsClothes Pins/ClipsCost: Pennies-$4
We used mini clothes pins because, well, we are fans. However, something like mini binder clips or even paper clips would work…the choice is up to you. There’s really no limit to how low you can go… These clothes pins from Walmart work well, and, while one pack ($2) may be plenty, pick up a second pack just to be sure. We’re confident you can find a use for the leftovers.

PhotosCost: $3-Infinity
Okay, so maybe infinity is stretching it a bit, but it’s really open-ended. We chose about 15-20 4×6 photos and had them printed in black and white at Walmart’s one-hour “lab” for approximately $4. (Yes, I cringe when I admit that, too.) If you have them developed off-site (which includes some additional time, but, hey…time is money, right?), you can get them cheaper. If you want to include larger photos, go for it! I’ve actually been thinking of creating a multi-tiered display similar to this for my office with 8x10s.


  • A drill, a screwdriver (for the physically ambitious), or a hammer (for those with anger management issues) should suffice.
  • A measuring tape, a yard stick, or the back of a McDonald’s napkin…whatever works for you to determine distance in household increments.
  • Wire cutters (or a favor that needs returned from the Hulk).
  • *A level (for the obsessive-compulsive among us).

How To Pull It Off

1. After determining where you want to put the display (I didn’t include this as a separate step because you are all intelligent people), FIND A STUD. Once you have found your stud, have him locate a brace in the wall behind your surface material (i.e. drywall, paneling, old newspaper clippings from 1978).

2. Measure. Please, measure. Make sure that you are placing this testament to art and cheap-assishness at exactly the right spot while being able to drill/hammer into the stud in the wall.


3. Drill a screw (or hammer a nail) through your wall’s surface into the stud behind. Sometimes, you will be able to simply tap into the surface material (especially if you have thick tongue-and-groove paneling on your walls), but sinking into a wall stud ensures that your display will not be easily removed by the winds of change or the careless people you allow into your home.

4. After you have your screws placed, cut a piece of hanging wire to length, making sure to leave about two inches (just to be safe) on either end. If your wire is a little longer and sags in the middle, that is fine…it simply adds to the aesthetic. But, don’t be ridiculous about it.


5. Wrap one end of the wire around your screw or nail several times, making sure it is fairly secure. Then, wrap the other end around your second anchor point, adjusting the length and slack of the wire as desired. Trim the excess. Or braid it and put tiny bows in it. This is your project, after all…


6. Hang your photos. This part of the masterpiece is entirely up to you. For us, we chose to first hang a row of photos and then attach additional ones below using the mini clothes pins. That way we were able to achieve a more “full” look and include as many images as possible. Be creative. Perhaps create the outline of your favorite footballer’s jersey…who knows…

7. Admire and be awesome. …and share on social media immediately.


The Final Product

And, there you have it. No, it may not be the fanciest and definitely won’t be the most expensive piece of decor in your home (it’s tied for third in both categories in ours), but it is a very inexpensive, durable, and flexible way to display photos throughout your home. And, when you tire of continuously seeing that snapshot of Aunt Judy after winning the pie-eating contest at last year’s reunion, you can simply switch it out for another image with not harm done (with the exception of some bruised egos).

And, our daughter? …she absolutely loved her wall filled with an eclectic display of the people she is closest to and the special memories we’ve made along the way.


What About You?

What’s a creative way you have displayed your throughout your home? Have pics? We’d love to see them! Submit your photos and a brief description or share them on Facebook, and perhaps you could end up on!

  • Sam

    beats keeping all those photos in your lightroom catalog!

    • Allen Mowery

      No kidding! It’s sad, but I am horrible at actually getting personal images from my hard drive into printed form. But, something like this allows you to print whatever images you want whenever you want to and simply switch things out as desired.

  • Karl_N

    My daughter did something similar in her dorm room but used 3M Command hooks instead of screws. Costs a little more, but doesn’t make holes in the wall and is easy to rearrange.

    • Allen Mowery

      The Command hooks are an awesome idea! Thanks for the feedback!