DIY || rustic picture display

I have been anticipating sharing this DIY for some time now & am so excited that today is the day! For months I had been wanting a way to display black and white photos without having to frame every single one and bit a million nails in the wall. After searching and searching for the right display both in stores and online, I came up completely empty so my handy husband and I decided to design our own. 

While there are a few steps involved, this is certainly a DIY project you can complete in a weekend. It is inexpensive and the finished result is well worth the work. Ours is hanging over our oversized sectional in our basement and it brings the whole room together. Plus I've always felt a big part of making your house a home is hanging special photos. It's amazing how much cozier our basement is now that this is part of it. On our display, I show the progression from our engagement photos through current day of Olivia. It is such a joy to see how far we've come in just a few short years! 

I also love that I'll be able to easily change out which photos I display as the seasons change and we have new photos printed. You could even hang special cards, love notes, or anything you wanted in place of the photos. The vibe is rustic & its not only functional but seriously gorgeous.

what you'll need
(3) 1x6 pieces of wood, each 5 feet in length // We bought longer pieces and cut them because Home Depot didn't sell the exact length we needed
(1) small can of stain // We used Varathane 'Dark Walnut'
(1) rag for staining
(6) eye screws // approximately 1/2 inch in length [keep in mind the wood is only 1 inch thick] // also called screw eyes, eye bolts, etc. 
(1) roll of 18 gauge wire, a minimum of 3 yards in length
(2) packets of mini clothespins, a minimum of 24 to allow for 8 photos per board
(6) picture hangers to attach to the back of the boards // These often come with very tiny nails but we found the nails to be useless, so we purchased equally small screws and used them...
(12) tiny screws or nails (see above), 2 needed per picture hanger
(6) screws to hang boards on wall // We used drywall screws that were 1 1/4 inches

drill / wire cutter / crescent wrench / level / tape measure / pencil 

what you'll do
(1) start by cutting each of your boards to be 5 feet in length (if needed)

(2) in a well-ventilated area, stain each of your boards using wood stain and a rag; set aside to dry

(3) stain your clothespins if desired and set aside to dry // initially, I didn't plan to stain them but the richness of the wood looked odd against the unstained clothespins so I spent 15 minutes staining them and was really glad I did

(4) once your boards have dried, lay flat to attach the picture hangers onto one side for hanging // using a hammer + nails or a drill + screws, attach two picture hangers per board, approximately 12 inches in on each side (3 feet apart)

(5) next, flip your boards over to attach your eye screws
          » using a drill, pre-drill a hole for each eye screw that is smaller than the screw itself
          » we positioned our eye screws 2 inches in on each side
          » your drill bit for creating the holes must be smaller than the screw diameter itself, so for example our eye screws were 1/4 inch in diameter so we used an 1/8 inch drill bit for pre-drilling

(6) once your holes are pre-drilled (2 per board, 2 inches in on each side), screw in each eye screw by hand as tightly as possible; when you can no longer tighten it by hand, use a crescent wrench to finish tightening and be sure on your last turn they are oriented up and down

(7) next, string your wire:
          » unwind 4-6 inches of wire and wrap it tightly around one eye screw
          » taking your time, wrap it 4-5 full turns around the screw
          » without cutting, stretch your wire to the other end of the board and give yourself 4-6 inches of extra wire then cut
          » repeat this step with the second eye screw -- wrap the wire tightly around the screw 4-5 full turns and trim if necessary
          » repeat above steps on the second and third board
          » the most important thing is that your wire is very tight -- you do not want it to droop once you hang photos on it, and even though photos are very light, the weight of them will bring the wire down; to ensure your wire is as tight as possible, use your crescent wrench to tighten one eye screw on each board until the wire is taut (about 1-3 full turns)

(8) next, using 6 screws and a drill, hang them up in your desired location -- keep in mind they are 5 feet long and should be spaced adequately so your pictures do not overlap the boards; your attached picture hangers are approximately 3 feet apart and that helps to gauge where to drill in your screws
          » we used a tape measure and pencil to mark our holes before drilling and then used a level to ensure their position

(9) finally, once boards are hung in place, attach your photos to the wire using mini clothespins and arrange as desired; our photos are 4x6s and I've found that 6-8 per board looks great

It sounds like a bit of a lengthy process, but it goes super quick! If you want to complete this in a weekend, I would suggest getting everything & staining your boards + clothespins on a Saturday and then attaching all the hardware and hanging on a Sunday! If you like this DIY & do it in your home, I'd love to hear from you! We are so pleased with how it turned out and had a lot of fun designing it start to finish! Happy almost-weekend!


  1. What a great project!! I love all the black and white photos!! I have the hardest time editing things out so this is perfect!!


  2. What kind of wood did you use!? We just re-did/finally did our office and this is perfect for the blank wall!

  3. Oh this is gorgeous!! I love the dark wood, it's SO pretty! I have a huge empty space in our bedroom, this would be perfect! Thanks so much for sharing it with us at Motivational Monday!! Hope to see you again next week! :)


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