Friday, October 23, 2009

Gallery wall for cheapskates

In my last post you caught a glimpse of my upstairs hallway.  Back in March when we were looking into refinancing our less-than-8-month-old mortgage to get a one of those sub-5% rates, we were on a mission to clean up the interior of our house for an inspection.  More to come on that later.... 

We had finished the downstairs bath, stairway, and carpet removal right before our refinance in early April.  In the middle of all that work I needed to paint this hallway (Behr Antique White) and all the trim to make the house look clean and worth some big bucks.  I would come home from work on my 1 hr lunch break, throw on old clothes and paint for 45 minutes then swipe at my sweaty pits with a towel get dressed and go back to work.  It was dedication, people.  What took so long was the **8** doorways in this hall that all needed to be sanded, primed, and painted.  You can see here that I've only done the trim, not the doors themselves.  Patience is a virtue.  Painting all this trim was one of the only times I cursed having a home with five bedrooms.  Here is a progress picture:

After the painting was completed, I also knew that we had to put something on the walls in here to make it feel more 'finished.'  I had envisioned a small gallery wall of sorts, so I went to Kohls when they had all their frames 55% off and bought four matching gallery frames, to create this look:

It was a small thing, but I feel it dressed it up for when the inspector walked through.  I wanted to display black and white photos, but I didn't want to just go buy some.  I wanted photos that were a conversation piece and FREE.  So I did some googling and found a few websites that had amazing old photos of Milwaukee and my home city of Racine.  Some of the sites charged for prints and downloads, but others had free ones.  I saved the images I liked to my computer and printed them out on photo paper.  A closer look:
The quality isn't superb, but they are old photos so you can't really tell.  I also printed them a smaller 4x6 size so they weren't pixelated or stretched.  All of the pictures are dated from 1880s - 1930s and are taken of various areas in downtown Milwaukee.   Some of the ones I used on my wall are:
The Pabst Theater (which is still there and is the fourth-oldest continuously operating theater in the United States) with city hall (which is also still there and was the tallest building in the country from 1895 - 1899) in the background:

View down East Water Street from Wisconsin Avenue (1885):
Pabst Theatre again from bridge (1935):

The rest of these I haven't used, but I love them and may come up with other projects to use them in the future.  I may also purchase some prints in a larger size to support the Wisconsin Historical Society website. 
A coal wagon and pedestrians downtown (1904):
All the newsboys waiting outside the Milwaukee Journal building on 4th street (1920):
A bunch of little tough guys chillin on a corner (undated):
Wisconsin Avenue from the west bank of the Milwaukee River. The Pabst Building is on the left (1912):

This is a hysterical photo from 1905.  Check out the look on the ladies faces as the two men at the bottom of the steps tip their hats to them.  The caption says this is Mrs. Joseph Smith and her family.  Love that porch!!

 Oh yeah, and here is the other side of the hallway:

As you can see, we have one of those little 'phone nooks' that I have no idea what to do with.  Right now it holds a drawing Shaun did for me while he was on a fabulous vacation without me years ago.  He will never live that one down.  Any ideas?


  1. You were right, the small update did have a big impact on the hall.

    For the nook, I really like it when people use antique telephones (it might go with the look of the old photos).An architectural vase with or without flowers would be nice as well. You could also use it as a spot for seasonal decorations.

  2. Through the power of blog stalking, I stumbled upon your blog and am glad I did!I love your hallway gallery and had to let out a low whistle at those foxy mirrors!

    I actually have been looking for a round, affordable mirror to go above my guest bedroom and I think your blog answered my dilemma. So, thank you!

  3. I feel your pain on painting all the trim and doors in your house. It will be worth it though! Love those old pictures. You're right - they do dress up the hallway. Hooray for cheap art projects!


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