Create & Hang a Custom Wall Collage in 5 Easy Steps
One of my favorite ways to decorate a room, hallway, or staircase is to a create a custom wall collage. This is an easy and fun way to showcase your favorite photos as well as an opportunity to bring in some unique decor pieces to feature your signature style and tie the space all together.
In this tutorial, you'll learn how to create and hang a custom wall collage in 5 easy steps.
wall collage items (see below for ideas)
kraft wrapping paper or plain paper for template
tape (to tape pieces of kraft paper together to make a large template)
painting tape (to hang the kraft paper template to the wall)
measuring tape/stick or L-square ruler
1. IDENTIFY YOUR SPACE, THEME, & COLORS
Before you begin, locate the room and wall that you would like to display your custom collage. Make sure the space is large enough to accommodate a collage. In the below picture, I used the wall above the sofa for one of my wall collages.
Now that you've determined where the collage will be displayed, now it's time for the fun! Start brainstorming a few ideas. What theme, overall feel, and colors do you want to carry throughout the collage?
2. DISCOVER / GATHER YOUR ITEMS
Highlight some of your favorite family photos, vacation pictures, or artwork along with design elements and decor pieces that show off your personal style.
Start with some of your favorite pieces that you've been waiting to showcase. This could be anything from a favorite clock, arrows, window frames, artwork, picture frames, quotes/sayings, decorative pieces, signs, mirrors, letters, different shapes to frame, words, or anything else that comes to mind. Think outside the box! Sometimes this is as easy as taking a tour of your home and storage area for inspiration and to see if any pieces jump out at you. What pieces bring you joy? Keep in mind your general theme and colors that you aim to carry throughout the collage. If you need some extra help or inspiration, check out Pinterest for some design ideas as well.
If you need to shop for a few pieces, here is a list of some of my favorite places to find decorative pieces and fun finds:
home decor shops
craft shows & shops
If you're on a budget, there are still plenty of ways to make this work without breaking the bank. Peruse consignment shops, Goodwill stores, and garage sales in your area. Checkout Facebook Marketplace and local buy-sell-trade groups for some great deals! Sometimes you'll find just what you're looking for. Keep in mind you can always add a quick coat of paint to give an object an instant makeover and make it your own! I did this for a few of my larger frames that I found at a local Junkstock festival.
I recommend initially gathering more items than you need as you can return (most) items that you don't end up using. This way you have options when creating your layout.
3. DETERMINE THE LAYOUT
After you have found your items, the next step is to create a layout for your wall. This step can take a little time and patience.
Tip: You can start by laying the items on kraft paper or white/plain wrapping paper if you want to save a step later, or just start creating the layout on the floor as you can always add the paper later.
In the below picture, I clearly put my hubs to sleep as I was arranging and rearranging my items until I was satisfied with the overall look.
Note: If you don't want to create a layout, there's always the option of just winging it as you hang pieces on the wall as you see fit, but I don't normally recommend this for your first collage making experience, as having a plan and an idea of how it will all look together will save frustration later. I did create a picture collage in my photo studio (shown towards the end of the tutorial) without a layout or template, but it's much easier and less of a headache later if you take the time to create one now so that you can arrange the pieces in a creative way without adding unnecessary holes in the wall later. :)
To create your layout, start by placing objects on the floor and keep moving them around until you are satisfied with the overall look. I generally separate similar colors and shapes. Create arrangements by clustering some of the smaller pieces together. Keep an open mind and think outside the box. Using a larger frame to frame another picture, sign, or object is a fun and easy way to draw attention to elements on your wall, while keeping things interesting.
Tip: Have fun, take your time, and play around with the arrangement. Make sure to take a break and come back to it if you're feeling stumped. You'll likely be surprised at what new inspiration or ideas come to you.
4. CREATE YOUR TEMPLATE
Once you're satisfied with the layout, lay a piece of kraft paper or white wrapping paper underneath your layout. If your collage takes up more space than the height of your paper, you may need to tape two pieces together (as shown below).
Tip: You can always use the backside of old wrapping paper or get a roll of kraft paper or plain wrapping paper at the Dollar Store, for you guessed it, $1!
Make sure your layout is even and parallel with the top of the paper as this will help to ensure your wall collage is level and not angled or crooked once it's on the wall.
Once you have your collage laid out on the paper and it's parallel to the top of the paper, it's time to trace the layout. Use a pencil so that you can correct any mistakes if needed. Before you start tracing, check out the "Tip" below.
Tip: Flip each item over one by one to check and make sure your objects are all facing the right way and not upside down when it's time to hang them. Ask me how I know... When I initially laid the arrow down, I didn't check to see how it would be hung before I traced the arrow (shown below). I then realized the hanging bracket was on the bottom instead of the top, so I had to redraw the arrow so that the hanging bracket would be on the top.
Trace the outside (and inside, if possible) of each piece.
After you are done tracing each piece, flip each object over, then measure and mark on the paper exactly where you will be hanging it with a nail. You will need a measuring tape/stick or an L square for this. Measure from each side as well as from the top of the object, so that you can identify the appropriate spot for it to be hung correctly. I marked these spots on the paper, and then I circled each mark to help me quickly locate these spots (see the green circles in the picture below).
Tip: For smaller objects/frames, you might find it easier to make a copy of the backside of the frame with a copy machine to easily locate where you will be hanging the frame. Just make a copy of the back, then cut the frame shape out of the paper, lay it back on the template, and tape it to the template. I've never actually done this, but I've heard of others who have and liked this tip, so thought I'd pass it on as well.
Lastly, if you have extra paper that wasn't used, cut off the remaining paper in a straight line as this will help you visualize and give you a better idea of where to place the collage on the wall. Trimming off the unneeded paper will help you see more accurately how much space it will be taking up on the wall.
5. HANG YOUR COLLAGE
After you have traced the objects along with the corresponding spots for the nail holes, it's time to hang the template on the wall.
Use painting tape (or any tape that won't leave a a mark on your wall) to hang the template on the wall. Use a level to make sure the paper template is straight and not crooked. After you have taped it on the wall, stand back and make sure it looks good and is in the right spot. Use the level one more time to ensure the collage will be straight after it's hung.
Next, with the template still hung on the wall, locate your hammer and nails and start hammering in the nails in the spots which you identified (ex. using the circled marks as your guide). Place nails in all of these spots by hammering each nail into the wall.
After you have checked and double-checked to make sure all of your marked spots have nails in them, you can now remove the template from the wall. It's easiest to just carefully remove the template while keeping the nails in the wall so you don't have to find the holes again later (as well as preserve the template for future use). It's not the end of the world if the nails fall out while doing this step, as it's an easy fix to find the holes on the wall again, once the template is taken down.
Tip: After your collage is completed, roll up your template and save it somewhere safe in case you move or want to recreate your collage on another wall in the future.
FINALLY, layout your template on the floor again. While referencing the template, locate your items and place them in their corresponding spots on the wall, using the nails as your guide.
Keep up the good work until the wall collage is complete.
As you can see, the wall collage added quite a bit of character to our basic blue walls.
That's all there is to it! If you'd like your custom collage creation to be featured on My Soul Essence blog or Pinterest, just send me an email with a picture of your creation!
If you'd like to see the rest of the decor for this room or want to know where I discovered some of these items, check out my Home Makeover page for a room-by-room tour and design inspiration!
OTHER COLLAGE IDEAS:
Here are a few other wall collages I've created.
This wall collage (below) is in our entryway hallway. The blue rectangle with white words (on the left) is actually a lid from a decorative box that I found in my storage room. Adding a bench with some pillows pulls the space all together.
This wall collage (below) is in my photo studio. I didn't use a template with this one, as I wasn't as particular about the placement, but it ended up turning out pretty darn well for just winging it. I just used an assortment of different silver frames in various sizes, shapes, and textures.
I helped a friend with this wall collage (below). We also rearranged her two adorable shelves on the adjacent wall to bring in some more rustic elements. It turned out pretty darn cute if you ask me!
Thanks for reading my wall collage tutorial! Check out more home decor ideas and design inspiration with a room-by-room tour in the Home Makeover section, learn how to redo and repurpose furniture on the Furniture Makeover page, or check out easy home project ideas and updates on the Home Projects page!